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Explore B.C.’s Small Towns

Point yourself in just about any direction in the province of British Columbia and you’ll find a town to suit your tastes. To help you choose a location for your next escape, we’ve highlighted six picturesque towns that offer a vibrant culture and a warm welcome.

 

GOLDEN

If you want to bask in the glorious beauty of the Rocky Mountains, there is no better place to do it than Golden. The town is located a short distance from many of Canada’s most scenic national parks: Glacier, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke, Banff, and Yoho.

Heli hiking near Golden, B.C.

It’s a fantastic place to visit any time of year, but come winter time, it’s a ski and snowboarding paradise. Just 15 minutes from downtown Golden is Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, world-renowned for some of the best snow and powder conditions.

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Golden has an extensive selection of restaurants and pubs where you can hang out with locals and visitors while you soak in the mountain scenery and enjoy good food, good drink and good company.

 

NELSON

Nelson is one of the best preserved heritage cities in all of B.C. which quickly becomes evident after only a brief stroll through its streets. The city has more than 350 heritage buildings to explore, many of which date back to the 1800s.

View of heritage buildings in Nelson.

That commitment to preservation is part of the spirit that fuels the city’s dynamic arts and culture community that has become a magnet for new residents. Some of that creative energy extends into Nelson’s outstanding food scene which is said have more restaurants per capita than Manhattan.

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The city’s prime mountain location means it is also a hub for outdoor activities with easy access to back country adventures. Visitors and residents alike consider Nelson to be one of the best ski towns anywhere, with easy proximity to laid-back Whitewater Ski Resort and Red Mountain Resort.

Apres skiing drinks at Whitewater Ski Resort.

 

PENTICTON

Sandwiched between the sandy shores of Lake Okanagan and Skaha Lake, you’ll find the city of Penticton. Set in the heart of the Okanagan’s wine region, visitors can use the city as a base to explore the area’s many award-winning wineries, some of which are just minutes away, or simply stay put and enjoy Penticton’s own charms in its compact downtown.

The sunset view of the vineyards on the east side of Okanagan Lake in Penticton, B.C. File photo

Blessed with abundant sunshine all year round that makes it such a fertile place for farms and vineyards, Penticton is also a favourite with outdoor enthusiasts who come to bike, hike, paddle and climb. Skaha Bluffs is popular for climbers, and the nearby Kettle Valley Rail Trail can be accessed for a short daytrip or multiday bike ride.

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A couple enjoys the sunset on one of the trestle bridges overlooking Myra Canyon on the Kettle Valley Railway,.

 

PORT HARDY

Travel north to the end of the road and you’ll discover the welcoming community of Port Hardy.

Making a campfire on Storey’s Beach in Port Hardy.

Rich in First Nations history, visitors to the town can learn about the Kwakiutl First Nations and explore the land in and around the town to which they are so closely connected. Visitors will feel that connection for themselves when they explore the area’s stunning scenery of the ocean and the coastal mountains. The new Kwa’lilas Hotel is owned by the Gwa’sala Nakwaxda’xw Nation, and features local artwork and cultural tour package.

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Port Hardy is the departure point for BC Ferries’ Inside Passage route, which travels through some of the west coasts most spectacular and pristine scenery enroute to Prince Rupert. Beginning in summer 2018, BC Ferries newest vessel, the Northern Sea Wolf, will begin running on the Discovery Coast Route, connecting Port Hardy with Bella Coola and other mid-coast communities.

 

PRINCE RUPERT

Prince Rupert city is very walkable and a fun place to explore. Check out Cow Bay Marina for a variety of eclectic and independent businesses that include boutiques, and restaurants. The Northern BC Museum is home to an impressive collection of regalia and artifacts from local First Nations.

Cow Bay Marina in Prince Rupert. File photo

Prince Rupert is first and foremost a fishing town so if seafood is your thing, then it doesn’t get much more local than this. If you want to wet a line of your own, there are numerous outfitters that can take you out on the water to test your luck or simply get out to enjoy the outdoors and do a bit of wildlife spotting.

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WELLS

Wells and nearby Barkerville Historic Town, a beautifully preserved 19th-century mining town that was the focal point of the Cariboo Gold Rush, are best known as summer destinations, but are worth visiting any time of year. Wells is home to a number of artists and galleries, as well as the summer “Artwells Festival of All Things Art.”

In late October, Barkerville and its collection of historic buildings is the perfect setting for special Halloween tours and in December, visitors can enjoy a Victorian Christmas.

Wells is situated near Bowron Lake Provincial Park, which is one of the world’s top canoeing destinations. Once winter blows in it becomes a mecca for cross-country skiers, dogsledders, snowmobilers and anyone who likes to play outside in the snow.

Canoeing down the Cariboo River in Bowron Lake Park.

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