Top 5 Getaway Destinations In British Columbia

Silver Oak Casino

There’s a reason that the provincial licence plate calls Canada’s westernmost province “beautiful”. Populated with clear blue rivers and lakes, sprawling old growth forests, and some of the most untouched and fertile wilderness, it is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. But it is also a place etched with history and rich with culture, from being home to Vietnam-era draftdodgers and the Back-To-The-Land movement to having one of the largest Asian immigrant populations and being at the forefront of the liberal arts (from poetry to film-making).

Victoria

Also the capital of BC, this city is a major tourist destination in the summer months, drawing people from all over the world and cruises, and is also the location of the Legislature buildings (daily tours are free!). As one of the oldest cities in Canada you can find any number of heritage buildings, and much of the architecture of the early trading days still survives and has been renovated into apartment buildings and shops.

Whether you’re enjoying a homemade craft beer at the world-famous Spinnakers getting a ride on a horse-drawn carriage or checking out the Royal BC Museum that always features new and annual exhibits, there is something for everyone. Victoria is also home to the University of Victoria which is renowned for its arts and writing programs, and is replete with dozens of local and organic coffee shops.

Tofino

Several hours by car along Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast is the small town of Tofino which, if you can handle the winding roads to get there, offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by temperate rainforest consisting of Douglas fir, cedar, and hemlock. It’s almost like fairy land, except that the charming bed and breakfasts contain all the amenities of home. Still, it maintains that small-town feel, and walking down the main road you can expect to receive smiles from the locals.
Tofino is also famous for its beaches and draws a large surfing and kayaking crowd eager to test themselves against some of the best waves on the coast. But always be aware of the tide and rip-currents!

Nelson

Unofficially the “small crafts” town of BC, Nelson shares many of the qualities of the capital, including Victorian architecture and a rich history of mining and logging, industries which are still alive and well to this day. Walking down Baker Street can feel like you’ve stepped into another world – dreadlocks, home-made clothes, and the word “organic” on every restaurant’s signboard, it has some of the most eccentric and interesting shops around, including Gaia’s Rising, which has everything from crystals and tarot cards to books on spirituality and home-brewing. Every Saturday during the summer be sure to check out the Cottonwood Market where vendors from all over the region come to hawk their goods (home-made root beer to hand-made animal skins, and everything in between).

Nelson takes a lot of pride in being open-minded and alternative, and if you’re looking for a laidback vacation it’s one of the kindest cities you’ll find – you may even want to move there!

Haida Gwaii

The First Nation name for the series of islands north of Vancouver Island, they are also sometimes known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. Although a bit out of the way – several days trip from Vancouver – if you’re looking for “wild” than Haida Gwaii will deliver. Rainforest and thick undergrowth, as well as an annual rainfall in excess of 168 inches, make it both extremely verdant and very wet.

But that doesn’t stop people from experiencing the beauty of the landscape. Many outfitters offer rugged kayaking expeditions down the coast, and sometimes you can almost feel the ghosts of the first people who lived and died here walking over the moss.

Squamish

Located a short drive north of Vancouver along the Sea-to-Sky highway, the small town of Squamish boasts some of the best rock-climbing in the province. The towering Stawamus Chief is an epic granite face that contains nearly 300 routes on its face (there are nearly 1200 different routes just in the Squamish area alone).

If heights aren’t your thing, there are numerous hiking trails as well, ranging from beginner to advanced, which lead to the ridges and surrounding peaks. Be sure to check out the Howe Sound Brewery before-hand so that you can sip their beer while staring at the gorgeous blue bay that inspired their name. A short visit to Shannon Falls is also worth the effort it takes to get there, as they are the third highest in BC.

Photo Credit: woody1778a

About the author: Simon is a writer and content specialist who is addicted to being on the front page of anything.  A graduate of Dalhousie University, he specializes in using the em dash too often. Currently, Simon rests his typing hands in Vancouver, Canada. 

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