Middle Beach Lodge
Two cedar-sided main buildings hide among the evergreens on a rocky peninsula as far west as you can go on Vancouver Island. Families can book one of 22 cabins; all have kitchenettes, fun loft beds with ladders to climb, and wood- or gas-burning stoves to take away the morning chill.
WHERE THE GREEN FERNS GROW In adjoining Pacific Rim National Park, trails wind through silent old-growth forests on ground that's spongy underfoot, thick with fir needles and roots. The park's Long Beach stretches for six glorious miles, scoured by wind and waves and littered with bleached driftwood.
DIG THE DUGOUT Members of a local First Nations tribe take visitors on excursions in canoes carved from cedar logs. One highlight: Meares Island, with its Wild Grocery Walk in the rain forest. Or try whale-watching by Zodiac with an outfitter called Remote Passages; you'll spot gray whales in their summer feeding grounds—and maybe killer whales, porpoises, puffins, and bald eagles.
HANG TEN BLUE TOES Take lessons at Pa-cific Surf School. The waves at Cox Bay are non-threatening (only two to five feet high), though water temperatures hover around the fifties (wet suits recommended).
FOLLOW THE FIR TREES To get to Middle Beach, fly to Tofino via Seattle, or take the ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. From there it's a thrilling three-hour drive.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.