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22 Absolute BEST Places to Visit in British Columbia (Suggested by a Local!)

22 Absolute BEST Places to Visit in British Columbia (Suggested by a Local!)

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British Columbia (BC) is Canada’s westernmost province. BC offers quite a diversity of climate and scenery, making it a beautiful, diverse area to explore.

But where do you even start? There are so many amazing places to visit in BC that it can be overwhelming. That’s why I decided to craft a list of the 22 BEST places to visit in BC, Canada.

I have spent many years exploring BC, and I even have plenty of family who live there – I grew up in the Okanagan! So, I have had plenty of time to experience what this province has to offer. From the wineries in Kelowna to Granville Island in Vancouver, you’re sure to find a place that piques your fancy on this list!

Not only does this post round out the best places to visit in BC, but I’ve also included some of the best things to do at each destination as well as some restaurant and accommodation recommendations. By the end, you can decide which places in British Columbia best suit what you!

Don’t have time to read the full article? British Columbia is full of amazing areas to visit, but here are my absolute favorite places and activities!

  1. Vancouver is my favorite city and has world-famous whale watching tours!
  2. Surfing in Tofino on Vancouver Island is a must!
  3. Go wine tasting in Kelowna – BC’s best wine region.
  4. Whitewater rafting in Revelstoke is a classic BC activity!
  5. Mount Robson Provincial Park is home to the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

22 Absolute BEST Places to Visit in BC

Unless you’re planning an extended holiday, you won’t be able to hit all 22 places on this list – British Columbia is simply too big! To make your planning easier, we have split the list up into three major regions: West BC (West Coast and Vancouver Island), Central BC (Okanagan Valley), and East BC (Kootenay Region). You can use these regions and the map to help plan out your British Columbia adventures, embark on an epic road trip, and find some hidden gems along the way!

West BC (West Coast and Vancouver Island)

1. Vancouver

Vancouver City from above
The beautiful city of Vancouver!

Vancouver is one of Canada’s most vibrant cities. For outdoor enthusiasts, adventure lovers, or even those who are interested in food and culture, Vancouver has something exciting to offer! 

Being from Canada, I have been to Vancouver countless times. Each time I visit I cross a few different activities off my Vancouver bucket list. Since so many people call Vancouver “expensive” (and it can be) I’d like to point out there are definitely activities that are cheap or even free things to do in Vancouver – so even those on a budget can enjoy this amazing city!

The 1,000-acre Stanley Park in Central Vancouver is a great place to chill out in nature and bike the iconic seawall trail.

You can rent bikes and explore on your own or join this specific bike tour that goes through Stanley Park and the seawall trail. It’s done on e-bikes so you won’t spend all your energy on one activity! It costs $150 CAD and goes for 4 hours which is plenty of time to cover many more areas including historic and modern neighborhoods. Book this bike tour before you go here and check out the other great tours in Stanley Park!

Bailey rides through Stanley Park on a tour in Canada
I think exploring Stanley Park on a bike is best!

Another one of the areas you can’t miss while in Vancouver is Granville Island. This is a small island that you can reach by ferry, drive to from downtown Vancouver, or join a tour to Granville Island to see. 

My personal favorite idea to explore Granville Island is to book a guided tour through the huge indoor market here which sells everything from cakes to groceries to coffee. Touring with a local will give you the inside scoop and let you find the best food – we ate so much and loved every second of it! We have a full review of our Granville Island food tour for all the tasty details.

Spend a few hours on the island and watch the many street performers performing outside the markets, or visit the Kids Market if you’re traveling with little ones. And if you’re a craft beer lover like me you just have to check out Granville Island Brewing.

Speaking of beer, this behind-the-scenes craft beer tour will take you to a handful of different breweries around the city, where you can try tons of local beer. At each brewery, you will get a behind-the-scenes look at how the beer is made – a super cool tour if you ask me! Plus, it includes transport so you can drink as much as you want without having to worry about a designated driver. You can book this tour for $125 CAD, which includes all your beer tastings!

Some of the other most popular things to do in Vancouver include:

  • Go Whale WatchingWhale watching is by far one of Vancouver’s top activities! From out on the open water, you’ll have the opportunity to spot various types of whales, including Humpback whales and, my favorite, Orcas. But besides whales, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot other wildlife, including seabirds, seals, and otters. You can expect to pay about $236 CAD for this half-day whale watching tour that includes tea and coffee as well as expert naturalists to teach you all about the whales and area.
  • Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge – The Capilano Suspension Bridge is just a 20-minute drive from Vancouver city center. This area is not only home to the huge bridge which is 137 meters long (450 feet) and hangs 70 meters (230 feet) above the Capilano River but there are also various hiking trails here too. As well as that, there’s a treetop walk and a glass floor lookout! Tickets cost $66 CAD per adult.
  • Hike through Lighthouse Park in North Van – As a coastal city, there is no end to gorgeous beaches and walkways alongside the Pacific Ocean. One of our favorite places to enjoy the seaside is Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver. There are a lot of trails in this area, where you can see some of the largest Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir trees. The trails are fairly easy with minimal elevation gain. The walk to the lighthouse is just about 10 minutes along a wide path. There are plenty of picnic tables to have a view while taking in the gorgeous scenery!
  • Visit Grouse Mountain – for the best views of Vancouver catch a cable car the 1,200 meters (3.900 feet) up Grouse Mountain or if you’re keen for a workout complete the ‘Grouse Grind’ to reach the top, this involves climbing up over 2,800 steps (see the details here)! It’s an especially popular activity with local Vancouverites, some even do this as their daily workout! The views from the top of Vancouver CBD and the Howe Sound are well worth the climb. In fact, this is one of the best hikes in Vancouver. If you want to catch the cable car to the top I highly recommend booking tickets in advance – it’s popular!
  • Relax at Kitsilano Beach – as I mentioned Vancouver is filled with urban beaches and one of my favorites is Kitsilano Beach. It’s a nice, clean beach that’s a great spot to head for sunset. Surrounding the beach is the trendy neighborhood of Kitsilano which is home to lots of cool restaurants, bars, and stores. The Maritime Museum is also located here as well as a great waterfront public swimming pool.
  • Ride in a Seaplane – This has been the most exciting thing I have done in Vancouver! Taking off and landing on the water was new and a little scary but don’t worry, the pilots are trained professionals. While this scenic flight is only a 20-minute Vancouver city seaplane tour, it was such a fantastic experience and we got to see so much of the city and surrounding mountains. The best part is that it only cost $187 CAD! Can you believe that?

Where to stay in Vancouver

Make your stay in Vancouver luxurious at the Fairmont Pacific Rim! It has a full-service spa and rooftop swimming pool, on-site restaurants that have live music, and an outdoor terrace. The views from this hotel are phenomenal, as it’s right at the waterfront. 

For something a bit more moderately priced in the West End in the middle of the action try The Listel Hotel Vancouver. There is an on-site restaurant and is a short walk to major attractions like Stanley Park or the Vancouver Art Gallery.

The Cambie Hostel Gastown is perfect if you’re looking for a budget option! There are not as many hostel options in Vancouver but this one in Gastown is a good option. While it doesn’t have super high ratings it is in an excellent location.

There are literally hundreds of places to stay in Vancouver. Read our blog about where to stay in Vancouver for info about the best areas to base yourself and the top-rated hotels.

Related Read: You could also start your BC travels in Vancouver with one of the many Rocky Mountains tours that leave from here!

2. Victoria

The Empress Building and the water in Victoria, BC
The beautiful Victoria waterfront!

Victoria is the capital of British Columbia. Although smaller than Vancouver (Victoria has a population of approximately 100,000) and located a ferry ride away on Vancouver Island, it’s extremely popular with tourists. That’s because Victoria sure does pack a punch in terms of prettiness, things to do, and excellent tours.

Not only is downtown Victoria exceptionally pretty, but especially in the fall when the tree-lined streets are an explosion of color! There are also lots of unique stores, cafes, and great restaurants such as Il Terrazo on Johnson Street and Bodega on Broad Street here. From the harbor, you can choose to go in search of Orcas on a boat cruise, or why not go on a guided bike tour to some of the best breweries in Canada. 

Bailey sits on a bench surounded by greenery at The Butchart Gardens
The Butchart Gardens are beautiful!
Daniel on Government Street in Victoria BC
Exploring downtown Victoria

Some of the best things to do in Victoria include:

  • Whale Watching – The water surrounding Victoria is not only home to Orcas (aka ‘Killer Whales’) but also humpback whales and dolphins. The best time to see the whales is from May to October. This 3-hour zodiac boat tour is in a low-to-the-surface open-top boat and it’s the most highly-rated whale-watching tour in Victoria. For $203 CAD you’ll explore the waterways of the Haro Straight to the Strait of Juan de Fuca while learning from your captain about whales’ life cycles and migration habits. In case of cold or rainy weather, you can also book a traditional whale watching boat tour.
  • Butchart Gardens – This 55-acre Butchart Gardens is a Victoria icon and has been open to the public for over 100 years. Featuring over 900 plant varieties, you’ll find a Rose Garden, a Japanese Garden, and even an Italian Garden. It’s so colorful here, especially in spring, and if you visit over Christmas be sure to check out their epic light display! You can visit on your own or join one of the highly-rated Butchart Gardens tours. This tour in particular combines your ferry ride from Vancouver, admission to the gardens, as well as some sightseeing around Victoria for just $250 CAD per person!
  • See the Legislative Building – One of the most iconic buildings in Victoria and is definitely worth a visit. It was built in the 1890s and is located right in the heart of the city. You can go on a free guided or self-guided tour, explore by yourself, or simply stand outside and admire the architecture of the facade.
  • Guided Food Tour with Tastings – This 2-hour tour is by far the most well-loved food or drink tour in Vancouver with a perfect 5-star rating! It includes food and drink tastings at a minimum of 6 unique places. To get an idea, there will be things like craft beer, chocolate, tea, tapas, cheese, bread, olive oil, and other local products so it’s perfect for foodies! You’ll also walk past many iconic landmarks while gaining insights from your guide. For just $99 CAD you really can’t ask for more!
  • Royal BC Museum – The Royal BC Museum is an easy way to spend a few hours learning all about British Columbia’s history. The museum has been open since 1886 and showcases artifacts and documents that detail the region’s natural and human history. 
  • Discover Craigdarroch Castle – Just a 20-minute walk from central Victoria you can visit Craigdarroch Castle and check out the inside on a self-guided tour for just $20 CAD. You can also visit Craigdarroch Castle as part of a guided tour. For $68 CAD, this bike tour starts at Huntingdon Manor and then takes you to the Legislative Building, Craigdarroch Castle, and Beacon Hill Park. It’s a great way to see some of Victoria’s top sights in one fell swoop, all while getting some exercise in.
  • Ride in a Seaplane – In my opinion, one of the best ways to see any city is from the sky! In Victoria, you’ll have the opportunity to witness panoramic views of the city and its coastline, all from the comfort of a small seaplane. This Victoria Seaplane Tour lasts around 20 minutes and prices start at $161 CAD. The meeting point is conveniently located at the Victoria Harbour Airport. We did this in Vancouver and it was the perfect mix of thrilling, beautiful, and scary – there’s nothing quite like the feeling of taking off and landing in the water!

Where to stay in Victoria

I highly recommend spending a few nights in Victoria and some of the best places to stay in Victoria include:

Fairmont Empress Hotel – known as ‘Canadas Castle on the Coast’, this iconic hotel has been open since 1908. With no less than 464 luxurious hotels, an on-site spa, three restaurants, and a gym, this is surely the best place to stay in Victoria for those with a high-end budget.

Best Western Plus Inner Harbor – is a reasonably priced option that overlooks the harbor. The rooms here are clean and comfortable and some come with a separate kitchenette. 

Related Read: For epic views of Vancouver Island, head to one of the newest attractions – the Malahat Skywalk! There’s an amazing viewing platform and a 20-meter (66-foot) slide!

3. Tofino

View from Cox Bay Lookout, Tofino
Long Beach near Tofino is definitely worth visiting.
  • Location: Vancouver Island
  • Why you should visit: Amazing beaches and surf, cute small-town atmosphere.
  • Can’t miss activity: Learn how to surf at Cox Beach
  • Time needed?: 2 days

Known as ‘Canada’s surf town’, Tofino is one of the most popular and beautiful destinations in British Columbia. On any given weekend and especially during the summer months, this small town of around 2,000 people increases its population tenfold. Tourists flock here to experience insane sunsets, learn to surf, go whale watching, and try the unique activity of storm-watching during the winter. In fact, this is one of the best places in the world to go storm-watching!

Tofino is, without a doubt, one of my favorite places to visit in all of Canada! Some of the best things to do in Tofino include:

  • Learn to Surf – would you believe there are over 35 km (21.7 miles) of beaches in and around Tofino and it’s exposed location means the surf here is epic! If you’re a beginner, head to Cox Bay, which is where you’ll be sharing the waves with the locals. A good way to learn is to book a lesson through Surf Grove Campground, they also rent surfboards here!
  • Eat awesome seafood – In a town surrounded by the Pacific Ocean you would expect awesome seafood, and luckily Tofino has fresh seafood in abundance. Salmon is the most common fish caught here, especially King and Coho varieties, as well as halibut – so expect these to feature heavily on menus in town. One of the best places to try seafood is Shelter Restaurant, which has an upscale feel, delicious seafood, and nonseafood dishes for those who want other options!
  • Go on a whale watching tour – Nearby Clayoquot Sound is known for its large population of orcas, humpback whales, and gray whales which hunt in these waters from February to October. On a whale watching tour from Tofino, you’re likely to spot all of the above as well as seals, sea lions, otters, dolphins, and a variety of unique birdlife. You may even spy the elusive bald eagle if you’re lucky!
  • Storm-watching – One of the most unique things to do in Tofino during the winter months is to go storm-watching. Tofino is, in fact, known throughout the world as one of the best places to go storm-watching. That’s because it’s so exposed – would you believe the next landmass across the Pacific is Japan? It’s also exceptionally windy here in winter, as anyone who’s visited will attest to – this wind results in waves of up to 6 meters (20 feet) high at Tofinos beaches! The best place to watch a storm is at Chesterman Beach. 
  • Hike to Cox Bay Lookout – It’s a short hike, but by no means is it easy. For 20 minutes, you’ll be on a trail that’s practically vertical, so be prepared to sweat. Once you reach the lookout point your efforts will be rewarded with epic views of Cox Beach and mountains in the background! It’s definitely worth doing and one of our favorite hikes around Tofino just be sure to go on a dry day as it can be dangerous when slick.
View of Tofino Bay from a viewpoint with a totem pole
Tofino is so beautiful!

Where to stay in Tofino

Spending a few nights in Tofino is a must especially if you’ve traveled from Vancouver to Tofino or Victoria to Tofino. This spot really is a Canadian gem. Some of the best places to stay in Tofino include:

Duffin Cove Resort – Perched above Duffin Cove, this resort is one of the most scenic and luxurious properties on Vancouver Island. Most rooms here come with a sea view and it is just a couple minute’s walk from town.

Tofino Resort & Marina – The only full-service resort conveniently located on Clayoquot Sound waterfront and just a 10-minute walk from central Tofino, this is a very modern, comfortable, and reasonably priced option that’s popular with families especially. 

4. Pacific Rim National Park

boardwalk through a mossy green forest in Pacific Rim National Park
This place is magical!
  • Location: Vancouver Island
  • Why you should visit: See the untouched Pacific Northwest wilderness and long stretches of beach!
  • Can’t miss activity: Hike the West Coast Trail
  • Time needed?: 1-2 days (longer if you’re hiking)

At a huge 511 km² (197 sq miles), the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is easily one of the best places to visit in British Columbia. Its claim to fame is the West Coast Trail, a 75 km (47 mi) multi-day hike that is a bucket-list item for hikers worldwide. As well as that, there are also lots of sandy beaches and over 100 sheltered small islands that you can kayak to. It’s an area of incredible natural beauty and is a must-visit on Vancouver Island. 

Pacific Rim National Park is also an area rich in indigenous history – the native Nuu-chah-nulth people have called this National Park home for hundreds of years. 

Some of the best things to do in Pacific Rim National Park include:

  • Hike the West Coast Trail – this 75-kilometer (47 miles) West Coast Trail will take between 6-8 days to complete and it’s incredibly difficult. Along the way, you must climb more than 100 ladders, wade through mud and fast-flowing rivers as well as deal with the notoriously wet and windy West Coast weather. The challenging hike is worth it if you’re fit enough though as it passes beautiful secluded beaches, photogenic suspension bridges, as well as many rivers. 
  • Go kayaking – this is one of the parts of Canada to go kayaking in and a kayaking tour to the Broken Group Islands is an extremely popular activity in British Columbia. See whales, sea lions, and dolphins from your kayak and stop off at some secluded beaches to take in the stunning scenery. 
  • Learn about the Indigenous history of the region – learn about the culture and history of the First Nations Nuu-chah-nulth people on this informative tour which includes a nature walk and fascinating stories of their ancestors. 

5. Squamish

The Sea to Sky gondola in winter
The Sea to Sky gondola in winter

Squamish is an awesome city and a great place to stop for a visit, or even stay overnight. Squamish is located only about an hour’s drive from Vancouver. It’s known as heaven for the outdoorsy crowd, with a lot of people attracted to the outdoor lifestyle, with plenty of hiking, rock climbing, and windsurfing enthusiasts living here – there are lot of fun things to do in Squamish!

If you’re just stopping for a bite to eat or a drink, try the Howe Sound Brewery or Zephyr Café – both fun, local stops to relax at for a bit. If you want to check out some culture and history, try the Railway Museum of British Columbia!

Don’t miss out on the Sea to Sky Gondola (pictured above)! The views were out of this world and the gondola ride was very affordable considering how far up the mountain it took us! For only $73 CAD you can catch the gondola up to a ridge next to Mount Habrich. This is one of the most popular gondolas on BC’s West Coast (and there are a lot!) and there are a lot of fun activities at the top to enjoy too.

For a laid-back activity, I highly recommend setting sail on the Howe Sound on this tour! You will be offered the chance to take the helm or learn how to trim the sails (balance them). You could also just sit back and enjoy the views and if you get lucky you might spot some wild orcas or dolphins. The Howe Sound is really beautiful, so having 3 hours to explore for only $179 CAD is a great deal if you ask me!

Bailey sits at the top of the Stawamus Chief, Vancouver
Views from the top of the Chief!
Bailey stands on a viewing platform at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola with a mountain backdrop in Squamish, BC
More great views from the Sea to Sky Gondola!

It’s also fun to just walk around the downtown area, as there are a ton of cute little shops to check out. From downtown Squamish, you can also easily access the Squamish Estuary Trails (access is from Vancouver Street or Main Street).

These winding trails are flat and easy and take in native forest and bogland, as well as views of the “Chief” and the Pacific Ocean from the estuary. There are several trails here that all join together, so you can choose to spend just a short time hiking here or up to two hours to complete the entire trail system.

One of my favorite hiking trails is the Stawamus Chief, which isn’t for the faint of heart but it’s so worth it at the end!

While in Squamish, make sure to drive out to the Squamish Spit, located at the tip of the Howe Sound near the Squamish Estuary. The main draw here is to check out the windsurfers! The natural environment here is perfect for wind sports, like windsurfing and kiteboarding. It’s pretty cool watching these athletes catch some major air and surf the waves! 

Where to stay in Squamish

For something a bit nicer go for the Executive Suites Hotel and Resort which has super clean rooms and top-class service. They also have amenities like an indoor and outdoor pool, hot tub, and gym so you will be able to prioritize self-care.

Sandman Hotel and Suites Squamish is a great mid-range option. It is 3.2 km (2 miles) from downtown, has a gym, suites with microwaves and refrigerators, and even has an indoor pool and waterslide!

Related Read: Squamish is one of the best stops for anybody driving from Vancouver to Whistler – read about all the other must-visit roadside attractions!

6. Whistler

people skiing on the mountain in Whistler
Ready to go skiing? You just have to if you’re visiting Whistler in the winter!

Whistler is an awesome city, no matter what season you go in. Obviously, Whistler is known as a world-class ski and snowboard destination, but there is so much more to do in Whistler than just that. It’s an easy road trip from Vancouver to Whistler (just 121 km/75 mi) so let’s jump into the best activities:

  • Go skiing – Skiing or snowboarding at Blackcomb Moutain is the pride and joy of Whistler from November to March with over 200 different runs, 3,307 hectares (8,171 acres) of terrain, and 36 different lifts. Then take part in Apres Ski and party all over Whistler Village! You can even join this Bar Hop Whistler to check out several of the best bars.
  • Take the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. This gondola is the longest in the world and takes you between Whistler and Blackcomb’s peaks. The ride offers some seriously epic views of both mountains and the valley below!
  • Kayak the river of Golden Dreamsthis kayaking tour travels between two of Whistler’s biggest lakes starting at Alta Lake. From here, you’ll head off down the river mouth while floating along casually paddling in the currents. Along the way, you’ll see geese, navigate past beaver dams, and enjoy overhanging greenery and stunning views. It’s a great self-guided tour that’ll cost you about $149 CAD for 3-hours on the lake with all of your equipment included.
  • Visit the Audain Art Museum – here you’ll be able to see some amazing local and Indigenous art and the building itself is a fine piece of architectural design! This is our favorite rainy-day activity and gives you a look at BC’s unique history. It costs just $22 CAD per person.
  • Go ziplining – Tackle the mighty Sasquatch zipline which is the longest zipline in North America! It spans 2+ kilometers (1.24 miles) and you can touch speeds of up to 100 km/hr (62 mph) The rush I had during this experience was unreal! This zipline experience starts at $147 CAD per person and can even be done in spring, summer, and fall (until mid-October) and it’s definitely worthy of the cost! However, if this is too intense there are many other ziplines in the area such as the Eagle or Bear.
  • Via Ferrata – Whistler is another great place in Canada to try Via Ferrata, an introduction to rock climbing. Challenge yourself to climb the entire 2,160-meter (7,086 feet) summit of Whistler Mountain with safety cables and metal rungs. The scenery is indescribable and well worth the $209 CAD price tag.
  • Have a beach day – if visiting Whistler in summer, one of the best ways to spend a good chunk of the afternoon is by exploring one of the nearby lakes! Green Lake, Alta Lake, and my favorite, Lost Lake are accessible via easy walking trails through the surrounding pine forest.
Daniel at the top of the Sasquatch Zipline in Whistler known as one of the longest
You can’t tell, but I’m a little scared!
Bailey at The Sasquatch zipline platform
Ready to ride!

Where to stay in Whistler

There are tons of choices when it comes to hotels in Whistler if you decide you want to stay a few days! If you don’t mind splurging a little Delta Hotels by Marriott Whistler Village Suites provides an amazing luxury stay. For Whistler, it’s still a great value hotel and has a swimming pool, bar, fitness center, and restaurant. The rooms are very nice and for groups they have 2 bedroom apartments.

Hi Whistler is great for those on a budget (it’s one of the few cheap options). Although a hostel, the place is very clean and comfortable and they also have private rooms. A great place to meet travelers and enjoy your time in Whistler.

Of course, if you’re going to Whistler for a ski holiday, then there may be better accommodation options!

Related Read: Did you know Whistler is a festive place to visit leading up to the holiday season? Read our blog about visiting Whistler in December for more info on annual events and special seasonal activities!

7. Joffre Lakes

A couple stand on a rock at the Joffre Lakes near Whistler, BC
At Joffre Lakes just outside of Whistler.
  • Location: West-Central BC
  • Why you should visit: Its famous bright blue water and stunning mountain views!
  • Can’t miss activity: Hiking to Upper Joffre Lake
  • Time needed?: 4-5 hours

The highlight of the hike through Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre Lakes with stunning turquoise blue water. The color is due to “rockflour” or glacial silt that lies suspended in the water and reflects the blue and green wavelengths from sunlight – it’s breathtaking! It’s very clear why this place makes the list of the best places to visit in BC!

The hike is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) long and goes uphill as you work your way to Upper Joffre Lake. Along the way, you’ll see the three amazing lakes, creek crossings, great views of the mountain range, a waterfall, and the Matier Glacier at the top overlooking Upper Joffre Lake. To get back, simply retrace your steps and enjoy the easier hike down and a second look at these stunning lakes.  

You’ll find the trailhead at a parking lot located not far from Whistler (past Pemberton) on Duffey Lake Road.

In the summer, this is a super popular destination and parking can be a problem. The parking lot often fills up and you’re not allowed to park on the road. Sometimes they run shuttle buses from a nearby overflow parking lot, but this isn’t always true. 

A man stands on a cliff at the very end of Joffre Lakes Trail
Joffre Lake is stunning!

To avoid having any problems getting a parking space, get here at sunrise to get a spot in the parking lot. You’ll also be one of the first ones on the trail and enjoy it in peace (this is exactly what we did when we visited last summer).

I recommend staying a night in the nearby Pemberton the night before to ensure you can arrive early to the parking lot before all of the day trippers arrive from Whistler and Vancouver.

Joffre Lakes Day Pass: In order to enter Joffre Lakes Trailhead during peak season from May to October a free day pass is required for each person in your group. You can get your pass on the day-use pass website two days before your visit, starting at 7 am. Simply print it or download it to your phone from your email. If you are camping this is not required (just have your campground reservation with you).

Central BC (Okanagan Valley)

8. Kelowna

woman walking the boardwalk in Kelowna, BC
Me, just walking the waterfront in downtown Kelowna.

Incredible wine, fresh fruit, and gorgeous beaches – the best things to do in Kelowna, BC are all about indulging.

Every year thousands of visitors travel from across Canada and across the globe to see what the Okanagan has to offer. And oftentimes, this means spoiling yourself and having a very relaxing holiday full of food and booze. Kelowna is a city at the center of it all, making it a top choice for a place to base yourself in this gorgeous region.

Here are a few suggestions for activities you don’t want to miss in Kelowna:

  • Ride the Kettle Valley Trail at Myra Canyon – This route was once a railway that trains passed through. But now, all of the tracks have been removed and what is left behind is one very scenic trail perfect for cycling or walking. Along the way, you’ll cross lots of wooden bridges and even pass through some old tunnels. If you want to visit Myra Canyon on a guided tour, this specific tour includes biking at Myra Canyon Park as well as wine tasting at 3-4 boutique wineries in the area!!!
  • Wine tour – Speaking of wineries, a Kelowna wine tour really is a must here. Kelowna is one of the best places in Canada for wine. There are so many wineries in Kelowna to choose from that the best way to visit is with this highly-rated wine tour! Try the famous Riesling and Gewürztraminer or the larger variety that includes favorites such as Pinot Noir and Rose. Plus you’ll have an included designated driver and tasting fees for $159 CAD.
  • Go fruit picking – If you wanted to know where to get the freshest fruit in the Okanagan, I would have to say it’s at the self-pick farms! Straight from the tree to your mouth (and bucket), you can pick some of your favorite fruit and berries at a discounted rate. You can find plenty of these farms around Kelowna.
  • Sailing Cruise on Okanagan Lake – One of the most fun ways to enjoy the beauty of the lake is to go out on a boat! Booking this private cruise means that you can enjoy the peace and calm of this setting without interruption. You’ll let the wind carry you past downtown Kelowna, City Park, Hot Sands Beach, and the Floating Bridge. Your captain will also teach you how to sail the boat if you wish to learn. The price for two people begins at $230 CAD, not bad for for this fun experience!
  • Walk the waterfront – One of the best free things to do in Kelowna is simply walking the waterfront. Head to downtown Kelowna and go for stroll along the water’s edge. Visit the marina, waterpark and playground, Hot Sands Beach, and of course the iconic bear statue! For a little longer walk, walk the Waterfront Boardwalk to Tugboat Beach – it’s beautiful at sunset!
  • Hit the slopesKelowna is an absolutely perfect destination in the winter too. Hit the slopes at their ski hill called Big White. It has 119 trails all with great views of the panoramic snow-topped peaks. The ski season here goes from November to April, but I particularly like late February for warmer temperatures and good snow cover. I just love it there!
at a winery in kelowna with a view and huge wine bottle
Enjoying the views and wine with my mom at Pyramid Winery Kelowna!

Where to stay in Kelowna

We’ve stayed at our fair share of hotels in Kelowna, but last time we stayed at the Coast Capri Hotel and loved it! Our pool-view room was perfect with a huge balcony. Plus, it was very close to lots of the best breweries in Kelowna (the craft beer scene in Kelowna is exploding!)

For a budget stay right in the heart of Kelowna, I recommend the Royal Anne Hotel. This gorgeous property is located right downtown and offers beautiful rooms at an affordable price. For a more luxurious stay, the Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort is a top option right on the waterfront.

I definitely wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to stay a while in Kelowna! Check out the best areas and hotels to stay in for your trip.

9. Vernon

Bailey in the water at Ellison Provincial Park in Vernon, BC
Vernon is such a beautiful place to vacation!
  • Location: Okanagan Valley
  • Why you should visit: It’s a cute small town with great beaches and beautiful lakes!
  • Can’t miss activity: Visit Silver Star Mountain Resort in the winter or summer
  • Time needed?: 2 days

Vernon, BC, Canada holds a special place in our hearts. In fact, we have family who call this small-town (and nearby Armstrong) home, and as such, we visit the area all the time!

Vernon, Canada sits only a 40-minute drive from Kelowna. Both places share many great activities but Vernon has a few of its own top things to do in BC that make it worth the visit! On every visit we make to Vernon, we love to get out and see the sights. This last time we were there during the beautiful Okanagan summer!

Bailey walks downtown Vernon
Downtown Vernon in summer!

But regardless of when you visit, there’s always plenty of things to do in Vernon. From visiting the ski fields to cooling off in the stunning lakes, here are a few of the items at the top of our list:

  • Spend a day at Kalamalka Beach – Kalamalka Lake is easily the most beautiful lake in the Okanagan. It shines many shades of green and Kal Beach is the perfect place to enjoy the cool water on a hot summer day. Kal Beach is located on the north side of Kalamalka Lake in Vernon. At the lake, there is a large sandy beach area and a jetty at the lake.
  • Go Wine Tasting – This whole region is covered in vineyards, so going on a wine tour is a must. This private wine-tasting tour visits East Kelowna from Vernon, where you’ll visit 4 wineries. You’ll learn about the region from your local guide, and enjoy the exclusivity of a private tour. This experience requires at least 3 people and is $300 CAD per person.
  • Silver Star Mountain Resort – The Silver Star Mountain Resort is a great destination in all seasons. In the winter, hit the slopes here for skiing and snowboarding fun. Then in the summer, take the gondola up to the top of the mountain for stellar views of Vernon and Kalamalka Lake. 
  • Okanagan Spirits Distillery Tour – Wine isn’t the only thing this region is famous for, there are some amazing whiskey distilleries too! Okanagan Spirit Distillery is the original distillery in BC, so visiting and learning the distilling process through this farm-to-flask tour is a must! Plus, you get to sample whiskey, gin, vodka, and locally sourced fruit liqueurs and brandy, all for only $25 CAD.
  • Visit Davison OrchardsDavison Orchards is my favorite place to try amazing food in Vernon. The Orchard is home to a bakery and other shops that include the sale of jams, juices, fresh fruit, cakes, pies, and so much more! They also provide a huge range of free samples so you’re bound to leave with a full belly regardless of whether you buy something or not! After you’ve tried all the food you can stomach, head to the back of the property to walk through the animal barn. Here you can feed sheep, chickens, and goats! There is also a paid tractor ride around the orchard which kids typically love!
  • Shop at the Farmer’s Market – It’s so fun to walk around a good framer’s market, looking at all of the artisan goods and getting to know the locals. The Vernon Farmer’s Market has a wide variety of products, including in-season produce, bread, pastries, meat, in addition to fresh-cut bouquets, homemade pottery, and other expert handicrafts.

If you love a good meal then you’re also in luck because there are some really amazing restaurants in Vernon too!

Where to stay in Vernon

If you’d like to stay in Vernon check out Days Inn for a mid-range hotel with updated rooms. It’s superbly located with modern rooms and amenities.

Fairfield Inn Suites is what I consider the best-value hotel in Vernon! It has a pool and a hot tub. It also includes breakfast and the reviews are awesome. At around $150 CAD a night, this is the place I’d stay!

10. Shuswap Lake (Salmon Arm and Sicamous)

Relaxing at Canoe Beach, Salmon Arm, BC
On a hot summers day Canoe Beach is the place to go!
  • Location: North of Okanagan Valley
  • Why you should visit: Great for outdoor activities, small towns, and amazing lakes!
  • Can’t miss activity: Spend a day at Sushwap Lake
  • Time needed?: 2 days

Salmon Arm and Sicamous are both towns located on the edge of the stunning Shuswap Lake. You can visit one or both destinations on your trip around British Columbia.

I actually lived in Salmon Arm for many years. There is so much to do in Salmon Arm, especially if you love the outdoors! Explore stunning natural attractions, or spend a relaxing day at Shuswap Lake right next to town.

Aside from the outdoor activities, there is also plenty of amazing food (lots of fresh produce!) and even delicious wine. On the off chance I haven’t quite sold you yet, check out some of the top things to do in Salmon Arm:

  • Go hiking – This region has some pretty stellar hikes if you’re ready to get outside and get active. One of my favorites is Mt. Ida, which is a large 1,564-meter (5,131 feet) mountain south of Salmon Arm. There are a few routes to take up the mountain, but if you are up for a challenge, try the Mount Ida Loop. It’s a 33 km loop (20.5 miles) with 1,598 meters (5,242 feet) of elevation gain – quite the trek, but so worth it. If you are looking for a more low-key hike, try out Raven Trail or Shuswap North Rail Trail, both of which are fairly easy, and go around Shuswap Lake.
  • Visit the most Northern winery in BC – Larch Hills – You absolutely cannot visit this region of BC without trying out some local wines. Larch Hills offers some of the most delicious wines, and you can try them out during a free cellar door tasting. Once you’ve learned a little about the wine, how it’s made, and what your favorite is, you can go to the tasting room, enjoy a glass and take in the stunning views from their property.
  • Walk the largest wooden Wharf in North America – I bet you didn’t think going to Salmon Arm meant visiting a record-setting wharf! As the longest wooden wharf in North America, it’s got a pretty interesting history. You can enjoy walking on the wharf year-round, taking in the scenery of Shuswap Lake. If you’re around during the summer, you’ve got to go and enjoy some live music and meal from food trucks! It’s got a fun, community feel to it, so make sure to get in on the action.
a houseboat hot tub on Shuswap lake near Sicamous, BC
Isn’t Shuswap Lake beautiful?

Sicamous is another small town about 45 minutes from Salmon Arm and is the houseboat capital of Canada with people coming from all over to visit the beautiful lakes in the area. Houseboating on Shuswap Lake is a unique way to spend a few nights out on the water enjoying this area.  

Houseboating season goes from June until October. While there will be lots of houseboats, especially in July and August, this is a big lake with 1,000 kilometers (over 600 miles) of shoreline, so there’s lots of room.  

If you’re here in the winter, the community borders four mountain ranges and has been voted as having the best snowmobiling in western Canada. There are also some nice local trails for snowshoeing.  

Stop by for fresh milk, ice cream, and cheese from D Dutchmen Dairy where everything is produced on-site. It’s a small family-owned farm in Sicamous that focuses on high-quality ingredients. The milk is sold in glass containers to keep it cold for longer and you can even buy egg nog here at Christmas!

Where to stay in Salmon Arm

If you feel like you want more time in this area (totally understandable!), stay overnight at one of Salmon Arm’s hotels. The Hilltop Inn is a popular choice, especially with the larger rooms that can fit small families. This hotel also has a pool, free parking, and breakfast included.

If you’re traveling with your significant other or are after a luxury stay The Inn at the Ninth Hole Bed & Breakfast is really the only option. The rooms here are beautiful and surprisingly cheap. Of course, this place includes an exceptional breakfast and is in a beautiful area outside Salmon Arm.

11. Osoyoos

Blue skies and mountains in the background at Haynes Point on Osoyoos Lake
Haynes Point on Osoyoos Lake.
  • Location: Okanagan Valley
  • Why you should visit: It’s unique desert landscape and water activities
  • Can’t miss activity: Relax at Osoyoos Lake
  • Time needed?: 1-2 days

Osoyoos made it on the list of best places to visit in BC because of its beauty and surroundings. It’s surrounded by desert, vineyards, and mountains, and has Osoyoos Lake which is known for its warm water, beaches, and water sports facilities. Osoyoos Lake is actually the warmest lake in Canada!

This small town is almost to the border of the United States. It’s about 1.5 hours from Kelowna, so you can either visit Osoyoos on a day trip, or spend the night here to really enjoy this unique place in BC!

A few suggestions while you’re visiting Osoyoos:

  • Check out Rattlesnake Canyon – Rattlesnake Canyon is a fun, western mining-themed amusement park located off Main Street in Osoyoos. They have activities like go-karts and bumper boats, an arcade, and rides like the Tornado which is 30 swing chairs ready to take you on an aerial tour of Osoyoos. There is no admission fee, you simply purchase tickets individually for any attraction you want to experience. They also offer all-day passes for $64.95 CAD.
  • Visit Osoyoos LakeOsoyoos Lake is probably Osoyoo’s biggest attraction (literally and figuratively). You will find several peaceful, sandy beaches along the shoreline. There are several ways to enjoy this lake including swimming, canoeing, fishing, or water skiing, just to name a few! Regardless of how you choose to enjoy it, it’s sure to be a lovely time on one of the most popular lakes in the Okanagan Valley!
  • Golf at Fairview Mountain – Osoyoos is home to several amazing golf courses, but Fairview Mountain tops them as it’s one of the most popular golf courses in all of British Columbia. What better than a golf course in the heart of Canada’s wine country? Tee off with views of vineyards beckoning in the distance. It costs between $50 to $98 CAD for 18-holes and an additional $20 CAD to add a cart.
  • Be amazed at Spotted Lake – I know that I said each lake was different from the last, but this lake truly is like no other lake you have ever seen in the Okanagan Valley. Spotted Lake quite literally looks like a polka-dotted lake. The lake has several rich mineral deposits such as magnesium sulfate, sodium sulfates, and calcium. When temperatures rise causing some of the water to evaporate, the concentrated mineral deposits create what appear to be large spots on the surface of the lake. The spots are different colors and shades depending on what particular combination of minerals are in that specific area.

Where to stay in Osoyoos

Walnut Beach Resort gives you a luxury feel at an affordable price. Rates start at just $160 CAD per night and you will be staying on a beachfront property that has its own private beach. They have rooms with lagoon or mountain views, and even have airport transport available.

If you want to stay in Osoyoos, there are a lot of affordably priced hotels including Westridge Motor Inn which features an outdoor pool, grilling facilities, and a great location. The rooms are also very clean and cozy. Prices start at $129 CAD per night.

East BC (Kootenay Region)

12. Nakusp

woman sitting in the Nakusp Hot Springs
Some of the best hot springs in BC are around Nakusp.
  • Location: West Kootenay region
  • Why you should visit: Quaint town full of hidden gems and is great in any season!
  • Can’t miss activity: Relax in the Nakusp Hot Springs
  • Time needed?: 2-3 days

Nakusp is a small, off-the-beaten-path town in British Columbia that we just love! This small village is built on picturesque Upper Arrow Lake and is surrounded by the Selkirk and Monashee mountains – so, it’s pretty as a picture (especially in winter when the mountains have a dusting of snow!)

Besides all of that, Nakusp was the first place in Canada to become a Fair Trade Town, which means it is heavily committed to Fair Trade practices. 

The village here is all walkable and most of the restaurants and stores are located on Broadway Street. Chumley’s and Arrow and Anchor are two great restaurants to check out on Broadway Street. 

Some of the best things to do in Nakusp include:

  • Nakusp Hot Springs – One of the best-kept secrets in Canada, Nakusp Hot Springs has some of the clearest mineral pools in the country. The two pools here are fed by mineral springs in the nearby forest. There’s a hot pool and a warm pool with the hot pool maintaining an average temperature of 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) and the warm pool is kept at 37 Celsius (98 Fahrenheit). There are also some hiking trails that start from the hot springs, as well as rustic-style cabin accommodation on-site, should you wish to stay the night. 
  • Go golfing – There are three golf clubs in Nakusp, so you’ve plenty of choices if you’re a keen golfer. The best time to golf here is in spring or summer. The Nakusp Centennial Golf Club is a 9-hole course located just outside town on Highway 6. It’s a par 34 course. Second, is the Fauquier & District Golf Club which is a little further from town at a 45-minute drive; it’s a 9-hole par 33 course. Finally, the Slocan Lake Golf Club is a popular 9-hole course, a 40-minute drive from town. 
  • Have a beach day – In the downtown area there’s the lovely and sandy Nakusp Municipal Beach, ideal to spend a few hours on a sunny day. There’s a large green area to relax on, which has some shade in the trees to escape the heat as well as several picnic tables. 
  • Have fun in the snow – in winter in Nakusp you’re spoiled for choice with fun things to do – why not try out sledding in the valley near the Tenderfoot Glacier? There are also several cross-country ski trails, the best ones are at Nakusp Hot Springs and the Jackrabbit Interpretive Trail in Wensley Creek. The small Summit Lake Ski Hill is also located close to town and has a few downhill ski runs and a tube park. 

Where to stay in Nakusp

It’s a small town, so there are just a few accommodation options in Nakusp. Two of my favorite places to stay in Nakusp include:

The Lodge at Arrow Lakes is a cozy accommodation option just outside of town. Past guests have noted its excellent value for money. There’s also an on-site tavern serving up food and drinks. 

Nakusp Hot Springs Chalets & Campground is located at the Nakusp Hot Springs, these rustic cabins are a very popular option for families. 

13. Nelson

the iconic bridge at night in Nelson, BC
This bridge is iconic in Nelson, BC.
  • Location: West Kootenay region
  • Why you should visit: A historic town with restored heritage buildings and a prime location on Lake Kootenay!
  • Can’t miss activity: Spending a day relaxing by Lake Kootenay
  • Time needed?: 2 days

Nelson has been nicknamed the “Queen City” because of all the restored heritage buildings in downtown – there are over 350! These have been restored from the Silver Rush days back in the 1890’s. The best place to see these historic buildings is on Baker Street, which is where you’ll also find some of the town’s best restaurants and stores. 

Just outside of town is locals’ favorite Kootenay Lake which is a popular place to swim and kayak in the summer. Beware though, the water here is cold! There’s also a playground, tennis courts, as well as plenty of picnic tables. 

Some of the best things to do in Nelson include:

  • Touchstone Museum – Touchstone Museum on Vernon Street is a beautiful stone building from 1902. It’s a great place to spend a few hours learning all about the city’s history. There are also some art exhibits that take place here. 
  • See the colorful murals in downtown – a great way to see Nelson is to go in search of the many colorful murals that are dotted throughout downtown. There are new murals being added all the time. You can check out a map of all the murals here
  • Hop on a historic streetcar – I bet you didn’t know that Nelson has a historic streetcar that you can ride for a short 15-minute journey along the lake in town?! It typically runs from May until Thanksgiving. In fact, the Nelson Streetcar was once an important part of the historic Nelson Street Railway that served locals from 1925 to 1949. 

Where to stay in Nelson

Nelson has some great hotels, and some of the best places to stay in Nelson include:

The Prestige Lakeside Resort – this 3-star hotel with moderate prices overlooks Kootenay Lake and is just a 10-minute walk to Baker Street. The rooms here are stylish and comfortable and there is an on-site restaurant, indoor pool and hot tub, and a private dock on the lake for swimming. 

Cloudside Hotel – an affordable stay set in a historic Victorian building on Victoria Street right in town. The rooms are all super clean and fresh smelling and the property also features a lovely sundeck and garden. 

14. Revelstoke

Bailey about to go down the Revelstoke Mountain Resort Mountain Coaster
Ready to go on the Pipe Mountain Coaster!
Bailey enjoys a beer at Mackenzie Outpost in Revelstoke
View from the top of the gondola in Revelstoke.

Revelstoke is hands-down one of the most beautiful places to visit in BC and all of Canada! It has everything you could want – mountains, lakes, glaciers, vast forests, and friendly people!

It’s all about the outdoors here. For my nature lovers out there, Revelstoke is a paradise waiting to be explored. From hiking trails to beautiful scenery, it can be a little overwhelming when deciding what to do.

Located along Highway 1, Revelstoke is a popular road trip stop because there is so much to explore. So if you’re coming from Vancouver to Calgary or Whistler to Banff, add a stop in Revelstoke to your itinerary!

Daniel takes a selfie with the rafting crew in Revelstoke while white water rafting
But first, let me take a selfie!

Here are some of the best things to do in Revelstoke:

  • Take the gondola up at Revelstoke Mountain Resort – It’s easily one of the best views in Revelstoke with the added bonus of not having to walk up! Don’t get me wrong, I love hiking but sometimes you just want to take it easy. There are two gondolas at the resort. The first takes you to the top of the mountain coaster. This second gondola is a good 10-minute ride, and at the top, you have breathtaking panoramic views of the valley!
  • Ride the Pipe Mountain Coaster – This cool gravity-fed roller coaster is one of the top attractions in Revelstoke. If you want to, this coaster can fly down the hill, and it’s actually super fun and gets the adrenaline going. Of course, you can go as fast or slow as you want and the coaster actually has brakes – so it’s great for kids too. The Mountain Coaster is located at the top of the first gondola at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
  • Go whitewater raftingIf you want to enjoy the cool glacier water of the Illecillewaet River during the sometime there is an opportunity to book a whitewater rafting adventure for $141 CAD. Or opt for a more gentle river float tour for $77 CAD on the Colombia River – one of Canada’s most famous rivers! Either way, the abundance of natural scenery in either location is sure to make you feel alive!
  • Hit the slopes in winter – Revelstoke, BC is famous for the number of awesome things to do in the winter. It’s not hard to see that this small mountain town is a winter paradise! Revelstoke Mountain Resort is famous for huge yearly snowfalls and steep mountainous terrain that could challenge even the most skilled. But, if you’re like me and are more suited to green or blue runs then they have that too!

Where to stay in Revelstoke

Coast Hillcrest Hotel is a highly-rated hotel that offers guests a comfortable stay at a reasonable price. They have an onsite fitness center, sauna, and hot tub, as well as a restaurant. The location is central and the large selection of room types means there is something suitable for everyone including families.

Stoke Hotel is a very good budget option that includes breakfast. It’s located right in town off the highway and has really good reviews and a friendly staff!

For more ideas, check out my blog on the best places to stay in Revelstoke.

15. Mount Revelstoke National Park

Sitting on a viewpoint in Mount Revelstoke National park
Mount Revelstoke National Park is stunning!
  • Location: Southeast BC
  • Why you should visit: A beautiful national park with great hiking trails
  • Can’t miss activity: Hike the Eva Lake Trail
  • Time needed?: half day to 1 full day

Mount Revelstoke National Park is located just outside of the town of Revelstoke. It is one of the most accessible national parks in BC because you can drive right into the park and even up to the summit of Mount Revelstoke. Once here, I recommend parking in the summit parking lot and hiking on one of the many trails.  

Try out the Eva Lake Trail to see the mountain peak reflected in the clear waters. The hike here is about 12 km (7.5 miles) round-trip and is great for spotting bears. This park is also famous for its wildflower meadows that you just have to see – bring your camera!  

Another great hike here is the Giant Cedars Boardwalk – it’s located about 30 km (18.6 miles) east as you head away from Revelstoke town. Look for the Giant Cedars Picnic Area sign on the road and then start the hike from the parking lot. The entire trail is on a wooden boardwalk making it an easy walk for all levels of hiking. Many of the trees here are more than 500 years old!  

16. Glacier National Park

Hemlock Grove Boardwalk in Glacier National Park Canada
Hemlock Grove Boardwalk
Bailey smiles between trees on Hemlock Grove Boardwalk in Glacier National Park
These trees are massive!
  • Location: Southeast BC
  • Why you should visit: See the old-growth trees and wildlife!
  • Can’t miss activity: Take the scenic drive through Rogers Pass
  • Time needed?: half day to 1 full day

Glacier National Park is a great place to spot bears, mountain goats, and other wildlife. The ancient forests here with old cedars and alpine meadows make for beautiful hiking scenery.

Make sure to stop at the Rogers Pass National Historic Site inside the park. Here, you can hike along the now-abandoned railway line that first connected Canada from coast to coast. The visitor center here is great and has lots of info about the history of the area.  

On the drive, you’ll go through the Rogers Pass which I think is one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the entire country.  

There are also some nice spots for short hikes in the area including the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk, which is good for the whole family as it’s a series of boardwalks through the forest. If you want to see a waterfall on a relatively easy trail that isn’t too busy, visit Bear Creek Falls. It’s only about a 15-20 minute hike with a really impressive waterfall at the end.

Note: Mount Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park are located right next to each other. Many people explore both parks in one day as they drive between Revelstoke and Golden. This highway goes right through the middle of both national parks. Before you visit you’ll need to purchase a Parks Canada Pass. There are various types of passes you can buy that range from $11 to $151 CAD depending on the number of parks, people, and amount of time the pass covers.

17. Golden

Cedar Lake, Golden, Canada
Reflections at Cedar Lake near Golden, BC.

Golden, British Columbia is a small town of just around 4,000 people in the Canadian Rockies. But what it lacks by way of population, it absolutely makes up for in terms of epic things to do! This small town is surrounded by a bunch of national parks and mountain ranges, so there are endless outdoor activities to enjoy.

The town of Golden also has some amazing restaurants, shops, bars, and cultural attractions to offer as well. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Golden many times both in the summer and winter months allowing me to create an epic list of things to do in Golden, but here are some highlights:

  • Walk the Golden Skybridge – Why not start off with Golden’s newest attraction? The Golden Skybridge is Canada’s highest suspension bridge and it only just opened in the summer of 2021! At 130 meters (426 feet) above the canyon, you’ll experience such a thrill walking over it and taking in all the amazing views of the Columbia Valley.  If walking along a suspension bridge is not enough for you, there is also a zipline experience, a ropes course, and a spectacular canyon swing!
  • Go whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse – The best way to experience the river is to go whitewater rafting! Whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River is such an adrenaline rush. With grade 3-4 rapids, it’s one of the best rivers in Canada to go rafting. There are a number of tour groups that you can join, such as this full-day tour. For $204 CAD, you will get a 5-hour experience out on the river. All equipment is included, along with a buffet lunch! You will also have an expert guide leading the way and keeping you safe.
  • Explore downtown Golden – You’ll be pretty busy with all the different outdoor recreation activities around Golden, but don’t forget the town itself! Downtown Golden is a quaint, historic-looking town with a bunch of things to do! A good place to start your exploration is 9th Avenue, which has a lot of shops, cafes, and restaurants to explore. You can learn more about the city at the Visitor Centre or Golden Museum.
  • Visit the Wolf Centre – Wolves are only one of the many magnificent creatures that may be found in the Canadian Rockies. While you probably don’t want to run into any in the wild, the Northern Lights Wolf Centre in Golden is an excellent location to learn about wolves and even see them.
Bailey walking across the Golden Suspension Bridge
The Skywalk suspension bridge! You’re realllllly up there!

Where to stay in Golden

For a more private stay that is only half a mile from town and a rate that won’t break the bank look into Glenogle Mountain Lodge and Spa. Not only does it have exceptional views of the mountains, a hot tub, and a billiard table but it is also quiet – except for the stream that flows past the property.

Best Western Mountainview Inn is a great choice if you’re looking for something in town. This hotel is clean and comfortable and has everything you could want including an indoor pool and an included breakfast. The reviews are great and the price is modest.

If you aren’t quite ready to leave Golden just yet, check out the best places to stay in Golden.

18. Yoho National Park/Emerald Lake

Scenic views at Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park
The water at Emerald Lake really looks like this!
Bailey at Natural Bridge Lower Falls in Yoho National Park
Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park.
  • Location: East BC, almost to Alberta
  • Why you should visit: Located in the Canadian Rockies, it has a stunning backdrop without the crowds of Banff!
  • Can’t miss activity: Visiting Emerald Lake
  • Time needed?: 1-3 days

Yoho National Park, with the community of Field in the center, is an amazing place to explore – be prepared to spend at least a few hours here if not a whole day! The park is known for its towering waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, and the huge variety of activities that can be done in all seasons. Plus, there are shops, restaurants, and more to see in Field.  

A must-see is the stunning Emerald Lake with its vivid waters that are true to its name. You can easily walk around the entire lake in about an hour or snowshoe around it in the winter. It’s a great way to see wildflowers including wild orchids that grow around here as well as bald eagles, moose, and loons. You can also canoe or kayak on the lake with its calm and clear waters. Spoil yourself and stay a night at the Emerald Lake Lodge on the edge of the lake.

Another impressive sight is the Natural Bridge – an ancient rock formation over the Kicking Horse River. It’s easy to get to by car as it’s only 3 km (1.9 miles) from Field along Emerald Lake Road. You can also take a guided hike to fossil beds in the area where there are fossils from 500 million years ago.

Just don’t forget to purchase a Parks Canada Pass before visiting Yoho National Park!

19. Fernie

Fernie Alpine Resort
The Fernie Alpine Resort is one beautiful place to ski!
  • Location: Southeast Kootenay region
  • Why you should visit: Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, it is beautiful in the winter and full of activity during the summer!
  • Can’t miss activity: Skiing or snowboarding at Fernie Alpine Resort
  • Time needed?: 1-3 days

Fernie is one of the most beautiful towns in British Columbia, but it’s often left off the typical Canadian bucket list.

In fact, even I always assumed places such as Banff, Whistler, and Revelstoke were the ultimate winter destinations. And although they are, Fernie rivals them with awesome winter activities, gorgeous scenery, and of course, an epic ski resort that can challenge even the best skiers and snowboarders.

Don’t get me wrong, Fernie is beautiful year-round, but if you have the chance to visit Fernie in the winter, I highly recommend it.

Fernie is also home to one of my favorite restaurants in Canada, cute boutique stores, and even its own brewery and distillery. It’s safe to say I feel right at home when I visit Fernie. Here are a few things you gotta check out!:

  • Hit the slopes at the Fernie Alpine Resort – Without a doubt, the most popular winter activity in Fernie is downhill skiing and snowboarding. Fernie Alpine Resort is Fernie’s local ski hill and one of the best in Canada. The resort is huge and home to over 2,500+ acres of skiable terrain as well as 10 chairlifts, a 1,082 meter (3,550 feet) verticle rise, 140+ runs, and its longest run is over 5 kilometers (3.1 miles).
  • Hike to Fairy Creek Falls – Enjoy the short 4.5 km (2.8 mi) hike up to Fairy Creek Falls. This gorgeous waterfall is beautiful no matter the season. If you visit in the winter it sits frozen in time and is the perfect place to visit even on a beautiful winter day.
  • Wander the many art galleries and local street art – The Fernie Art Walk is another self-guided tour around Fernie that’s completely free and another tour you’ll find in the Fernie and Elk Valley Cultural Guide. Pick up the guide online or at the visitor center and explore downtown Fernie’s art trail completely free. There are a ton of places to explore such as famous murals, art galleries, and even painted dumpsters.
View from the top fo the Fernie Alpine Resort Sightseeing Gondola
Photo credit: Fernie Alpine Resort

Where to stay in Fernie

Stay in Fernie to experience all that it has to offer! The Park Place Lodge stands out as a great hotel only a few blocks from the historic area of Fernie. The rooms are certainly more luxurious although you’re mainly paying for the location and the included breakfast. The hotel also has a gym and pool as well as a bar downstairs (The Pub Bar & Grill).

The Raging Elk Adventure Lodging is a cheaper alternative with a fun and social atmosphere. There is an on-site bar with great snacks, a game room, and a sauna. Rooms range from private double and family rooms or deluxe POD beds ideal for solo travelers.

20. Kootenay National Park

A man stands on a bridge at Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park
Marble Canyon is stunning!
  • Location: Southeast BC, almost to Alberta
  • Why you should visit: Amazing scenery, tons of wildlife, lots of hiking, and stunning Canadian wilderness!
  • Can’t miss activity: Hike Marble Canyon
  • Time needed?: 3 days

The stunning Kootenay National Park is another epic park in British Columbia. Seriously, you will not be able to put your camera away during this visit.

Kootenay National Park is located right next to the Alberta border between the town of Radium and Banff National Park (you’ll pass through it when driving from Calgary to Radium). From Radium town, get on Highway 93, which runs right through the middle of the park. You can explore it through an hour-long scenic drive, where you can get out at different viewpoints and enjoy the sights. Some highlights are the Vermillion River and the massive 3,424-meter (11,234 feet) Deltaform Mountain.

If you’re looking for something more active, there are tons of backcountry trails to try out. Marble Canyon is our favorite. It’s just about 1.5 hours to complete, and you are rewarded with a view of the magnificent Tokkum River, carving through the canyon in a way that is just spectacular.  

woman sits in the radium hot springs in winter
Any day is a good day to visit Radium Hot Springs

Kootenay National Park is also home to Radium Hot Springs, which is one of the Parks Canada operated hot springs open all year around! For only a few dollars, you can soak here surrounded by nature. I personally enjoy visiting in the winter the most!

There are plenty of different attractions to check out in Kootenay National Park.

Note: As part of Parks Canada, there is a fee to enter all national parks mentioned in this blog. It’s either $11 CAD for the day, or you can purchase a Discovery Pass for $75.25 CAD, giving you access to all national parks for a year’s time. We promise – it’s totally worth it for a day in this gorgeous place! There are also group rates available. Check rates and buy your pass online here.

21. Invermere

Two people relax in inflatable tubes on the Columbia River float near Invermere,BC
Check out those mountain views!
  • Location: Southeast BC, almost to Alberta
  • Why you should visit: Off-the-beaten-path for visitors, but has great lakes, hot springs, and winter activities.
  • Can’t miss activity: Float down the Columbia River
  • Time needed?: 2-3 days

Invermere, BC is one of the most beautiful places in BC. Surrounded by mountain peaks, two stunning lakes, more golf courses than one can handle, and a huge range of natural and manmade attractions, Invermere is a paradise that needs to be explored.

Despite the area’s beauty and the sheer number of things to do in Invermere, the town has remained off the beaten path for international visitors. Instead, the area is enjoyed by local Canadians who come for summer fun on the lakes, or the ski hills and hot springs in the winter.

Although small, the town is vibrant. You’ll find plenty of delicious cafes and restaurants in Invermere, as well as a local craft brewery and a craft distillery (that was once featured on the TV show Dragon’s Den!)

Overall, this combination makes Invermere a must-visit and one of my personal favorite places to visit in all of BC!

outside the tanton bay distillery in invermere BC
Just bought a bottle of delicious vodka to go!

If you’re a first-time visitor and need some personal recommendations, here are a few:

  • Columbia River float – This is by far the most beautiful river float I’ve done in Canada and a highlight of my time traveling the world (I know that’s a big statement, but this river float is seriously stunning!). The river float starts in one of two locations and has you drifting at a slow pace on the Columbia River through the town of Fairmont along the golf courses and houses. The entire way there are breathtaking views of the mountains.
  • Have a boat day– The last time we went to Invermere we rented a boat on Lake Windermere for 4 hours from Pete’s Marina. Between the 7 of us, including fuel, the rental was only $490 CAD. That’s $70 CAD each for a fun day on the water! We had a blast cruising around the lake, stopping along the way to swim and even have a few drinks.
  • Go skating or cross-country skiing on Lake Windermere – If you’re in Invermere during winter, skating or cross-country skiing on Lake Windermere is (literally) a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! It holds the Guinness Book of Records for the longest skating pathway in the world, so you can’t find anything else like it.

Where to stay in Invermere

Copper Point Resort is located on the Copper Point Golf course and is a great mid-range option for travelers. Although a few kilometers out of town, the views are spectacular and the hotel has really good reviews.

Also, check out Invermere Hostel for a cheap place to stay on the outskirts of town with dorm, queen, and family-sized rooms.

You can browse all of the hotels available in Invermere here!

22. Mount Robson Provincial Park

Emperor Falls on the Berg Lake Trail in Mt Robson Provincial Park near Valemount, BC
Emperor Falls on the Berg Lake Trail!
  • Location: East BC, near Jasper
  • Why you should visit: It’s the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies, so the whole area is goregous!
  • Can’t miss activity: Hike the Berg Lake Trail
  • Time needed?: 1-2 days

Without a doubt, one of the most popular places to explore in BC is Mount Robson Provincial Park. This provincial park is home to BC’s tallest, and most impressive mountain, Mount Robson. Most people explore the park while staying in the nearby town of Valemount, however, you can camp in the park too.

Of course, the most famous attraction is the iconic Berg Lake Trail but even visitors without a few days can visit some pretty spectacular places within the park. For those short on time, be sure to head to the Mt Robson Visitor Centre to not only read up on the park but to admire those breathtaking views of Canada’s tallest peak in the Rocky Mountains.

If you want to get closer to the action, then consider riding or hiking to Kinney Lake. This 7-kilometer (4.3 miles) journey (each way) starts near the visitor center and leads to a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. You can enjoy your packed lunch here and even go for a swim (if you dare!) If you ride a horse, it only takes 45 minutes each way, and hiking is around 2 hours each way.

Not a hiker? Then take a drive a little further to Moose Lake. Here, there is a pullover bay where you can enjoy the gorgeous mountain views and on a calm day, mirror-like reflections!

2024 Update: Parts of the Berg Lake Trail and the Kinney Lake Trail were closed due to flood damage in 2021. The Berg Lake Trail is currently open until the Kinney Lake Campground and will be fully open by 2025. Check for updates here before you go!

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $22.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

Renting a Car in British Columbia

A rural road with Mt Currie in the background
Road trips are the best way to explore Canada!

If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province, and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Car rental in Canada isn’t relatively cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pick-up and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Discover Cars. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Discover Cars all over the world, including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. Read my honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter). Using Motorhome Republic, you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada and you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable! Read my tips on using Motorhome Republic here before you book!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, BC
Thanks for reading!

There are so many beautiful places to visit in BC! I have been lucky enough to have gotten to experience so many of them, and I hope that you get the chance to do the same. Each of these places listed truly does have something unique to offer.

Which place are you most excited to check out?! Be sure to check out our other British Columbia blogs as well as some other popular posts:

Sea to Sky Gondola vs Peak 2 Peak Gondola

22 BEST Places to Visit in Alberta, Canada

COMPLETE Guide to Visiting Lake Cowichan +17 Things to do!

33 BEST Things to do in Toronto, Canada