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Don’t leave this off your BC itinerary! Cranbrook, BC, Canada may be small in both population and area, but it packs a real punch in terms of activities and sightseeing.
Cranbrook is located in the Southeastern region of BC, the gateway to the Kootenay region.
Whether you are going in the summer to hit the beaches, or the winter to hit the slopes, Cranbrook has it all. Check out our top 15 fun things to do in Cranbrook, BC.
15 Things to do in Cranbrook, BC
1. Visit Fort Steele Heritage Village
Ready to hit gold? Take a step back into the 1800s at Fort Steele Heritage Town and experience the excitement of the gold rush.
Once a booming gold town, it is now a protected heritage site. You can find out what it was like to live here through street theatre, heritage building tours, and live demonstrations.
Fort Steele is just a 20-minute drive from Cranbrook (17km) and welcomes visitors in Spring through to Fall. Summer is the busiest tourism season, with the most activities and demonstrations to check out.
At just $7 CAD per adult and $5 per child, Fort Steele is, well, a steal.
2. Go hiking
Hiking in and around Cranbrook is an amazing experience for avid and new hikers alike. You can choose between low-key lake walks (Cooper Lake), full-day challenges (Fisher Peak), or absolutely stunning viewpoints (Wycliffe Buttes). There are endless opportunities here!
One of the most popular options is the Cranbrook Community Forest. Here, you can explore beautiful crown forest lands – over 2000 acres! If hiking isn’t your thing, you can bike or horseback ride as well. In the winter, you can try your hand and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Cranbrook Community Forest is located just outside of the city borders, making it easily accessible during your stay.
3. Go golfing
There are so many options in this area to golf – seven courses that are less than 30 minutes away from each other, to be exact!
So, which one to choose? Well, if you want to stay super-local, check out the Cranbrook Golf Club, right in the city center. It’s a 17-hole course in a manicured, beautiful course, surrounded by tall evergreen trees. A completely relaxing, beautiful environment to spend the day in.
Wildstone Golf Course is another great option and is considered one of the most beautiful courses around. Every section of the course has sweeping views of the mountains surrounding. It’s a more challenging course, so keep focused and don’t let those views distract you too much!
If you don’t mind a bit of a drive, then head to Greywolf Golf Course. Rated as one of the most beautiful golf courses in Canada, it is one of the top attractions in Invermere and likely worth the drive – just look at the views (pictured above!)
Related read: If you have time, why not spend a couple of days in Invermere or Radium too?! There are lots of fun things to do in Radium village. Plus, there are some great Airbnbs in Radium and Invermere well worth checking out.
4. Visit St Eugene’s Mission Resort/Casino of the Rockies
Golf course, spa, casino, restaurant – is there anything else you need?
St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino is managed and owned by the Ktunaxa First Nation, and is totally transformed it from its former history as a residential school. Here, you can experience world-class golf, relax in the Silver Water Spa, or get a bite to eat at Kiʔsuʔk k̓ikiⱡ (pronounced like key-seeouk- keekit/th), the on-site restaurant.
If you’re feeling lucky, you can try your hand at the Casino of the Rockies. If blackjack’s your game, they make the pot even sweeter with a “King’s Bounty” of bonus money.
For an extra special experience, consider spending a night or two here. Do a little gambling, enjoy dinner and drinks, and then enjoy the stars as the sun goes does in this peaceful location. St. Eugene’s is located about a 15-minute drive from Cranbrook in a somewhat remote location – perfect for relaxing!
5. Explore the Cranbrook History Centre (Canadian Museum of Rail Travel)
You’ll have noticed there are a ton of outdoor activities on this list – and rightfully so! Cranbrook is beautiful – but there are some great indoor activities as well.
The Cranbrook History Centre is the perfect place to visit on a rainy day, or if you’re just looking to learn a little more about the region.
Are you interested in rail travel? Historical photographs? Fossils? This History Centre has it all! There’s a reason visiting here is one of the best things to do in Cranbrook.
There are permanent collections that preserve artifacts and records of the history of Cranbrook, the East Kootenay region, and Canadian railways.
The History Centre offers programs to children and adults alike – paleontology field school, historical town walks, and kids summer camps are all ways to get into the fascinating history of this region.
The museum is open year-round, from 10 am-4 pm during June to September, and 10 am-3 pm from October to May. It is located in downtown Cranbrook and costs just under $6 CAD per adult or $14.50 for a family of four.
6. Enjoy a day on the water
Who doesn’t enjoy a day at the lake? We do! Luckily, Cranbrook is home to Jimsmith Lake Provincial Park. Here you can swim, relax, and have a picnic… perhaps with all the yummy food you got at the farmer’s market (check out #12 for more info!)
If you want, kayaks, paddleboards, or other rentals are available in Cranbrook city. Jimsmith Lake is just 10 minutes away from downtown Cranbrook, so it’s easy to pick up your rental equipment and head out for the day.
Other options for a day on the water include Norbury Lakes (30 minutes away), Moyie Lake (20 minutes away), or the Kootenay River (put in your kayak at Fort Steele, 20 minutes away).
Hope you have your sunscreen with you, as this is not an activity to pass on!
7. Bike or Ski the North Star Rails 2 Trails
If you’re looking to spend the day outdoors – whether in sun, snow, or rain – look no further than the North Star Rails 2 Trails. This 26 kilometer-long (16.6-mile) stretch of paved trail links Cranbrook to the neighboring city of Kimberley. It’s the perfect option to spend the day outdoors. Once completed, you can enjoy all the best things to do in Kimberley!
You can start the trail in either city, and choose to complete the whole thing or just sections. One easy option is to start at Wycliffe Park in Cranbrook and do a 10km loop outside of the city. This section has some great views and is fairly easy level. There are even amenities like picnic tables and washrooms nearby.
Biking, walking, running, and rollerblading are all popular choices for the trail. Some people even cross-country ski it in the winter!
This is a very popular trail, so don’t forget to say hi to locals and tourists alike while you’re out there!
Related read: Mountain biking is also very popular in Revelstoke, BC. Check out all the exciting things to do and see in Revelstoke and add it to your BC bucket list!
8. Visit Kimberley on a day trip
You’ll probably be able to stay busy in Cranbrook with this list, but if you’re looking for a day trip, check out Kimberley, BC! It’s just about 30 minutes west of Cranbrook (18km). The drive there is beautiful, and there’s tons to see.
Kimberley is made for the outdoor adventurer. In summer, you can try out river rafting, fly fishing, or hiking. In winter, gear up and hit the slopes to ski or snowboard, or try cross-country skiing or snowmobiling.
Whether you’re adventuring outdoors or not, downtown Kimberley has tons of coffee shops, restaurants, and bars to stop and relax in. After, you can check out Cominco Gardens, stroll around downtown to check out the Cuckoo Clock, or visit the Heritage Museum.
9. Drink locally brewed craft beer at The Heid Out
You know we love our craft beer! And The Heid Out – named after the owner Heidi – is the perfect place to grab a pint.
They brew beer right on-site (Fisher Peak Brewing) so you can have some of the best local beer around. And with names like “Soggy Otter Brown Ale” or “Hell Roaring Scottish Ale,” what’s not to love?
The Heid Out also offers a full menu of locally-sourced meals, including baked brie, jaeger poutine, Thai rare ahi tuna, tandoori chicken sandwich… my mouth is watering just thinking of it!
This local hot spot is located conveniently right in the middle of town.
10. Eat at one of BC’s most famed Restaurants
When you think of world-class dining, what comes to mind? Paris, Tokyo, New York, and… Cranbrook? Yes! There are some extraordinary dining experiences in this city, and is home to some of BC’s most famed restaurants.
While you’re here, make sure to check out Soulfood, a farm-to-table restaurant located in Mount Baker Hotel, a historic building in downtown Cranbrook.
Soulfood is owned and led by Danielle Eaton, a MasterChef Canada. This should be proof enough that it’s amazing, but winning the 2020 Traveler’s Choice award from Tripadvisor should convince you to check it out! The team at Soulfood are passionate about creating a local, Kootenay’s dining experience.
Another must-experience restaurant is Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap, also located right in the heart of downtown Cranbrook. As the top-rated Brew Pub in Cranbrook, they exclusively pour BC craft beers and put out some of the best burgers, poutines, and bowls in the city. Not to mention they’re located within a historic Firehall – how cool?!
11. Walk at Elizabeth Lake Bird Sanctuary
Get your binoculars ready! Elizabeth Lake Bird Sanctuary is the perfect place to see some local wildlife, such as western painted turtles and migratory birds.
This sanctuary is over 5.9 hectares of protected wetlands. There are multiple walking trails to explore, and picnic tables and benches to relax or have a picnic. If you go in the summer, a volunteer at the visitor center can tell you all about the area, the animals, and what to look out for.
The sanctuary is located just at the edge of Cranbrook, so within walking distance for those staying in the city center.
12. Shop at the Cranbrook Farmers Market
Don’t go here on an empty stomach! Just kidding. Do go and expect to fill your basket with delightful, local and fresh produce, cheeses, bread, coffee… the list goes on.
On top of the fresh, local food options, is 20+ local artisans. This is a great place to pick out a gift for your friends and family! You’re guaranteed to find something unique here.
The Cranbrook Farmer’s Market is located near Rotary Park in downtown Cranbrook and is open in spring, summer, and fall. Hours vary by season but it’s typically open from 10 am-1 pm.
13. Drink coffee at the Kootenay Roasting Company
Coffee. The true MVP of any trip.
Maybe you’ve just spent the day at the Heritage Centre and need an afternoon pick-me-up, or you are a true coffee connoisseur. Either way, The Kootenay Roasting Company is a must-visit.
Open Monday-Friday and located in Downtown Cranbrook, the roastery is a family-run business, operating in Cranbrook since 1999. They pride themselves on small-batch roasting, making sure each and every coffee bean is perfect.
When we visited here we were super impressed with how delicious the coffee was. Not to mention, the café itself is adorable with antiques everywhere you look.
Come on in, grab a cup. Then, take some beans home to remember your trip to Cranbrook by!
14. Hit the slopes
Hitting the slopes to ski or snowboard is a Canadian wintertime ritual. Whether you grew up on skis, or haven’t tried it before, Cranbrook is the perfect place to check it out. There are six options to choose from within only a two-hour drive.
Kimberly Alpine Resort is the closest ski hill, just 30km from Cranbrook. It’s the local hill in the area, with 68 trails, ski and snowboard rentals, and snow school lessons – great for beginners.
A little further out from Cranbrook are Fernie Alpine Resort, and Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, each about an hour’s drive away. Fernie Resort is a very large, popular ski hill, attracting visitors from around the world. Plus, there are lots of fun things to do in Fernie in the winter as well as plenty of places to stay in Fernie if you choose to stay the night.
Fairmont is much smaller in terms of trails, but offers the unique combination of skiing for the day and then winding down at the hot springs!
Other options for skiing and snowboarding are at Panorama Mountain Resort (one of the best things to do in Invermere), Schwitzer Mountain Resort, or Whitefish Ski Resort. All great options if you have a bit of time to drive and check them out.
We promise, hitting the slopes here is an experience you won’t forget!
15. Visit Fernie
Just an hour drive away from Cranbrook, Fernie makes an excellent day-trip option. Since Fernie is a world-class ski and snowboard destination, visitors from all over come to this small mountain town. This means that there are some awesome attractions, activities, and places to eat and drink.
Spend a bit of time wandering the quaint downtown, with picturesque buildings set against the dramatic mountain backdrop. If you need a break, stop into Fernie Brewing Co. or Fernie Distillers for a drink. You can also check out the Fernie Museum if you’re looking for a bit of local history.
If you’re looking for something more outdoorsy, hike to the stunning Fairy Creek Falls, or check out Mount Fernie Provincial Park or Maiden Lake.
Related Read: Looking for a destination over the winter holidays? Fernie is December is full of fun things to do and festive events!
Where to Stay in Cranbrook, BC
There ar eplenty of great places to stay in Cranbrook, BC! From super affortable motels to unqiue resorts to Airbnbs, Cranbrook has a huge selection when it comes to accomodation.
Here are some of my personal favorites:
End of the road B & B – $ – This gorgeous family-run bed and breakfast is perfect for a quiet escape. Located 9km from Cranbrook, this property is located in nature with hiking trails right on your doorstep. It’s also super affordable!
Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort Best Western – $$ – This Best Western Premier Collection hotel is a beautiful hotel located in the heart of Cranbrook. It is really great value considering the amenities offered including an onsite restaurant and bar as well as a swimming pool.
St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino – $$ – Already mentioned above, This is a super unique place to stay on the outskirts of Cranbrook. A casino, golf course, restaurant, and more make this resort an attraction on its own!
New Home on Golf Course Close to Ski Hill – This holiday home rental is perfect for families or groups who all want to stay in the same place. located just outside of Cranbrook, this highly rated home sleeps up to 6 people, comes with a full kitchen, and 2.5 bathrooms! Plus, the price is super reasonable!
Renting a Car in British Columbia
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 is relatively cheap especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $70 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Rental Cars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Rental Cars.com all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
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 using crown land and campsites you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Canada Travel Essentials
Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.
Crampons: In winter crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect icy conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $29 and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!
Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part though? It comes in pink!
Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.
Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.
Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.
Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in hand so many times especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $27 and they serve my basic needs without any issues!
Before you go…
Cranbrook is not a town just to drive through but deserves to be explored in its own right. Cranbrook, BC is jam-packed with outdoor activities, great food, and historical sites that will capture your heart and build memories to last a lifetime.
I hope this blog has helped you discover all the best things to do in Cranbrook, and will also help you have a great time!