Money’s tight, and gasoline’s sky high. Travels abroad might have to be scratched. But wait—Vancouver is just across our border, accessible, exciting, and GLBT-friendly.

Gastown, where the city began, is its epicenter, full of restaurants, plus shops like the marvelous Inuit Art of Vancouver on Cambie Street, within walking distance of most everywhere, including the affordable Day’s Inn on Pender. The hotel, which abuts fabulous Smiley O’Reilly’s Pub, is within blocks of the Vancouver Art Gallery, from which one may stroll into the Rainbow District.

A must-see, however, is the magnificent Butchart Gardens, a ferry ride away on Vancouver Island. The 55 acres (and attendant 66 gardeners) were the inspiration of Jennie Butchart, wife of entrepreneur Robert Pim Butchart. In 1904, they established residence near Robert’s limestone quarry, profitably mined to supply the burgeoning Portland cement industry. When the limestone was exhausted, the Butcharts were left with a gaping chasm in the backyard.

Jennie, choosing to see her glass as half-full, ordered tons of topsoil to be brought in by horse cart to cover the crater floor, and created therein a vast Sunken Garden. Thence, she tackled her Rose Garden, Bog Garden, Japanese Garden, Italian Garden, and so on, until by 1920, more than 50,000 visitors were flocking annually to Benvenuto, as the couple dubbed their home.

Today, there are restaurants, coffee shops, a show greenhouse, a fireworks viewing area, and a concert lawn and stage. The generosity and flair of the Butcharts continues to delight and enthrall.

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