Food and Wine
1. Food Trucks
Food and wine are fuel for the soul, so it seems obvious that they head up our colossal to-do list. Starting in style, Vancouver’s food truck scene tops our list of culinary delights. What originated in New York as a late night answer to the munchies, Vancouver has run with the idea of food trucks and now has dozens operating around the city. But these mobile kitchens don’t serve up any sidewalk grub; we’re talking top notch cuisine including gourmet salads, seafood, Japanese icecream and the true Canadian classic, Poutine. Place your order when you get a chance, because these trucks don’t adhere to the standard 9-5.
2. Sample Whistler’s Cuisine
Whistler is in the good books for a lot of reasons; skiers haven, mountain bikers’ mecca and hiker’s delight. But with culinary gems posted on most corners of town, Whistler has also earned a solid reputation as a foodies’ retreat. From fine dining restaurants to sports bars and rustic pubs, you won’t go hungry in this culinary hub. Take your tastebuds on a journey of their own or join Skai Dalziel on a guided tour of the top spots.
3. Explore the Fraser Valley
Located a stone’s throw from downtown Vancouver (if you’ve got a really good arm) lies the Fraser Valley – an agricultural hub which provides over half of BC’s agricultural revenue. With such an impressive stat like that, it’s no surprise that food and wine is something the Fraser Valley does well. Almost 30 vineyards and 15 wineries are tucked in this hub of BC, producing some of the most acclaimed wine labels in the province. The experience is not limited to tastings, and several venues also offer culinary experiences such as farm tours and bistro dining.
4. Wine Tasting in the Okanagan
Home to Canada’s only desert, the Okanagan Valley is BC’s premier grape growing region. Producing more than 80% of the total vineyard acreage in BC, it’s a cinch finding a good drop of vino. But the best (and most enjoyable) way to find that stellar bottle of red is to sample for yourself. From world-class operations to family run boutique vineyards, Okanagan wineries are consistently ranked among the world’s best. Local guide Dino Vino from Grape Escape Tours is passionate about merlot, sauvignon blanc and everything in between, and he knows where to find the hidden gems.
5. Vancouver Bites
Let your tastebuds in on the action in downtown Vancouver. The Molson Coors Brewery is a good place to whip your palette into shape with tasty samples of craft brews and bites. You can also learn how to pour the perfect pint on a guided tour in the hipster hangout of Gastown. Or take your tastebuds on a trip to the far east by visiting Chinatown and indulging in Dim Sum.
6. Treat your Tastebuds in the Rockies
Not all the good stuff stays close to the shore. The Kootenay Rockies also boasts some of the freshest produce and quirky eat outs that give the bigger regional cities a run for their money. Nelson boasts an eclectic mix of fine dining restaurants and whole food eat outs which blow expectations out of the water for a town of just over 10,000 people. Heading further north, smaller communities such as Fernie and Revelstoke are no exception, with family owned cafes which will make your mouth water.
7. Farm to Table dining in Kelowna
Kelowna has earned its stripes as a foodie’s haven, with organic farms and orchards scattered right across the region. Farmers and chefs are passionate about locavore culture, so there is a strong focus on using ingredients that have been picked on the same day. Farm to table restaurants are easy to come by, including Hotel Eldorado, Bellisimo and Bonfire Grill, but many farms also offer on-site experiences such as tours, demonstrations and special events.
8. Pick-your-own Cherries
Nothing that says summer like fresh cherries, and the Okanagan produces enough to sink a ship every year. You can buy buckets of ripe cherries, apricots, peaches and plums from dozens of roadside stalls, or take it one step further and pick your own straight from the tree. Vendors are easy to come by from Kelowna through to Osoyoos, but timing is crucial, so plan your trip from July through to mid August.
9. Catch Your Dinner in Vancouver
Not satisfied with just purchasing food and consuming it? Rather have a bit more adventure with your dinner? Then consider hiring a Vancouver charter boat and guide who will take you out to catch your own meal, whether it be fresh salmon, crab, prawns or any other seafood delight. Granville Island is a great place to start looking for charters where you’ll also find Captain Rod Hebert who offers half-day or full-day trips on his 40-foot Chris-Craft “The Angler’s Dream.”
10. Victorian Nightlife
Victoria becomes a hive of activity after the sun sets, with plentiful pubs, clubs and watering holes to choose from. Vancouver doesn’t get to steal all the fun, with great home-grown music and top venues also on the island. Drop into Hermann’s Jazz Club if you’re in the mood for blues, The Irish Times if you’re after good old food and cheer, or the Solstice Café if you’re looking for something different (with a hint of poetry and activism). Lucky Bar also pumps out live music of every genre and you’ll find alternative country and punk music at Logan’s Pub.
12. Catch a Game at a Sports Bar
If you’re looking for a place to wet your whistle, British Columbia has no shortage of sports bars. Drop in for a cold one in Kamloops; Canada’s Tournament Capital. Home to many sports bars, you can saddle up to the bar or pull up a chair and enjoy nibblies while watching the game. As a province which has grown up with spectator sports, bars are easy to come by in any part of BC whether you’re looking to catch a game at the Red Card in Vancouver, the New Grand in Nelson or Rusty’s Steakhouse in Kelowna.
12. Try your Luck at the Slots
If you’ve got a great poker face, then try your luck at one of several casinos in Vancouver. The River Rock Casino Resort offers round the clock gaming, Edgewater Casino boasts 48 game tables, and Boulevard Casino has 950 slot machines to keep you busy. Cascades Casino in nearby Langley is one of the latest additions, and Lake City Casino in Kamloops may add a bit of luck to any night out.
13. Whistler By Night
Whistler is a buzzing resort town, considering its population clocks in at only 10,000 people. With over two million visitors each year, the village comes alive on weekends as party goers head to town for a slice of the action. Rustic pubs, dance clubs and live music venues are easy to come by, but the Whistler Dessert & Drinks tour hits plies you with sweet temptations before serving up VIP treatment at a local nightclub. Your guide Joe Facciolo will provide the fun… All you’ve got to do is find your way home.
14. Pool Halls
If nightclubs and dance parties aren’t your style, put your geometric skills to the test at a local pool hall. Kamloops has almost a dozen pool halls including Cactus Jack’s, Halston Pub and Sports Central Lounge. Most sports pubs and bars also have billiard tables so you can shoot some pool and knock back a couple of drinks into the wee hours.
15. Late Night Vancouver
Vancouver provides all the right excuses to stay out late. Take your pick from laid back pubs, live music venues, dance clubs and hip lounges. You’ll have no trouble finding find live music, whether you’re looking to check out the local scene or take in an international act. And there’s no shortage of Irish pubs. Van’s nightlife is buzzing on the weekends, but you may also find low key concerts, burlesque shows and housebands on school nights.
16. Watch a Game
Canadians are a friendly bunch, but anything goes when it comes to spectator sports. The locals are passionate about their sports – especially hockey and football – and there’s plenty to keep the sports enthusiast entertained while visiting the region. Local sports clubs include the Vancouver Canucks (hockey), the BC Lions (football), the Vancouver Canadians (baseball), the Vancouver Whitecaps FC (soccer), as well as the Hastings Racecourse. In addition to pro sports, you can find regional specialties, such as Canadian-style lumberjack competitions.
17. Head to The Island
Vancouver Island has an impressive population of creative people for a small island. You don’t have to look far for big name fashion outlets, but it’s the quirky retailers which set the shopping apart from the rest. Local artisans deliver their crafts to local shops and markets, many which are tucked into heritage buildings. Hand made soaps and sweaters, unique folk art and hand blown glass; you name it, Vancouver Island has got it.
18. Farmer’s Markets
Thanks to the mild climate, the Greater Vancouver region has a large farming community — and no shortage of farmer’s markets. The Granville Island Public Market is worth a wander for its fresh produce, artisan cheeses, homemade jam and fresh eggs. Most neighboring towns have markets of their own, such as Lonsdale Quay Farmers’ Market or Abbotsford Farm & Country Market. Take a tour at one of the Fraser Valley’s many farms, or visit a ‘pick your own’ farm in nearby Richmond.
19. Explore Vancouver
Shopaholics, eat your heart out. Vancouver is a shopper’s dream whether you’re after high fashion, local designs or vintage finds. Robson Street offers big-name retailers, while Gastown and Main Street offer more eclectic shopping, from antique furniture to vintage clothing. For artsy boutiques, check out Granville Island, Westminster Quay and Lonsdale Quay.
20. Boutique Shopping in Nelson
Unique is a term that doesn’t go far enough in describing Nelson. The people are eccentric, the vibe is like no other and the scenery is outstanding all year round. The shopping follows a similar vein, with boutique stores and craft shops offering up quirky clothing, antiques and wares to suit any occasion. The region also produces some outstanding artists, so locally made art is easy to come by if you’re in the market for something different.
21. Hit the Malls in Kamloops
If you’re looking for big brands at reasonable prices, Kamloops has got you covered. With several colossal malls and shopping centres to choose from, you will be able to hunt down a bargain with your eyes closed. And if you don’t find what you’re after in the big box retail outlets, head downtown to find quaint boutiques and unique merchandise.
22. Pop-Up Shops
Vancouverites are always on the front foot of new trends, and the shopping scene is no different. Creative cool cats are spread right across the city, and entrepreneurs have found new and exciting ways to sell their wares to the public. Pop up shops are exactly what the name suggests; mobile shopfronts which allow urban artists to sell their creations with relative ease. You’ll pick up funky art, clothes and everything in between, but you’ve gotta move quick when you find one of these gems, because they could be gone tomorrow.
Art, Culture & History
23. Aboriginal Experiences
British Columbia has a rich cultural history which dates back some 12,000 years. Needless to say, the land has deep roots in the traditions and culture of the Coast Salish First Nations including Squamish, Lil’wat, Sto:lo, Musquean and Tsleil-Waututh. The Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver details how the First Nations shaped the land into what it is today, and features a collection of Aboriginal art and artifacts from across the globe.
24. Music & Culture
Vancouver is a cultural hub offering something to suit every taste. From Latin to jazz, folk and even traditional Peking Opera, the line up changes round the clock. Rogers Arena and BC Place host concerts for large scale international performances, while the historic Orpheum Theatre is home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
25. Historic BC
History buffs won’t be strapped for choice in British Columbia. Langley is a great place to start where visitors can explore historic villages and sites, including the Fort Langley National Historic site. Once a Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading post, this historical gem is now an outdoor museum complete with interpreters in period costumes. Visitors can also try on a historic garb at the historic town of Yale or head further afield to see how mining shaped historic towns such as Nelson, Kaslo and Castlegar.
26. First Nations Tours
Indigenous Canadians share a deep appreciation for the land, but they are also proud of their heritage and keen to share it with the Western world. First Nations tours such as Takaya Tours’ West Coast Canoe Trip offer visitors a unique insight to Aboriginal culture with forest walks, kayaking and craft making. Indigenous guides such as Dennis Thomas will also share legends, songs and stories which will make the trip come alive.
27. Stroll through Galleries on the Coast
B.C.’s natural beauty serves as inspiration for the hundreds of artists, artisans and craftspeople who call it home. See what makes them tick and visualize how their creations come together by visiting artisan studios along the coast. The Purple Banner Route along the Sunshine Coast is home to more than 65 studios and galleries, and Bowen Island has over 400 artists specializing in everything from painting to handmade musical instruments.
28. Visit Vancouver’s Museums
Whether you’re interested in art, electricity or Aboriginal culture, Vancouver has enough museums to make historians dizzy. Take a step back in time at the Museum of Vancouver and the Maritime Museum as you learn about the Gold Rush, aviation and electricity. The Britannia Mine Museum is also worth a look in, offering visitors the chance to ride a rail car, walk through a mill and even pan for gold.
29. Theatre & Performing Arts
The diverse artistic community has turned the Greater Vancouver region into a hub for theatre and performing arts. Choices include the symphony, ballet, opera and jazz, just to name a few. Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach is a must for Shakespeare fans, while the Theatre Under the Stars is a great night out in Stanley Park. Granville Island also hosts live theatre productions from the Arts Club Theatre Company and The Sunshine Coast boasts several theatrical productions.
30. Pick up Local Creations
Vancouver has no shortage of arts and crafts thanks to its thriving artist community. From jewellers and sculptors to woodworkers and glassblowers, you won’t have to travel far to visit a gallery or shop for local creations. There are also a number of annual art festivals, culture crawls and craft fairs, providing the perfect excuse to plan your next trip. Vancouver-based guide Donita Dyer will help you find local creations on a shopping tour of a lifetime.
31. Northern Lights on Muncho Lake
For photos that will make your friends gasp, catch the dazzling lights of the aurora borealis on film. Take in the solitude, scenery and the sights when pale green and pink lights dance on Muncho Lake from fall to spring. Forming in arcs, rippling curtains and shooting rays, the lightshow will leave an imprint in your memory. Try your luck at capturing the spectacle on camera, or join a guided outfit to up your chances of catching a money shot.
32. Hot Springs
Mineral hot springs will help the most highly strung travellers to relax, and BC has got plenty of them. Concentrated in the south east corner of British Columbia, relieve your achy muscles at Ainsworth Hot Springs, Nakusp Hot Springs and further east at the Radium Hot Springs. Natural springs are also scattered around the area, offering up toasty temperatures and fantastic views without the crowds.
33. Stawamus Chief, Squamish
Located about 60 clicks north of Vancouver, the Stawamus Chief in Squamish is hard to miss – it’s the 700m sheer granite monolith which appears on your right. It’s hard to spot a disappointing vista from any vantage point. Watch rock climbers dance their way up rock faces or lace up your hiking boots to enjoy 360 degree panoramic vistas from the top. The trails will induce sweating and a bit of groaning, but you will be rewarded with views of Squamish, Whistler and towering mountain peaks. You can also team up with experienced guides Jonathan Price or Mark Waldbillig from Sea to Sky Expeditions to find the best vantage points.
34. Butchart Gardens, Victoria
The island town of Victoria may be smaller than its big sister, Vancouver. But it’s no shrinking violet when it comes to action, with restaurants, bohemian shops and craft breweries dotted along the sidewalks. Affectionately known as the ‘City of Gardens’, Victoria is also home to bouquets and landscapes bursting with colour. The Butchart Gardens is sure to impress, with fifty acres of floral finery to keep you entertained. June to September is the best time to catch the roses in bloom.
35. Caving near Kaslo
If you’re intrigued by dark spaces and tiny places, Cody Caves Provincial Park is the place for you. The result of 170 million years of flowing water and dissolved rock, Cody Caves is a labyrinth of ancient calcite formations. The limestone formations continue to evolve over time as glaciers pump the cave with silt and streams rinse it clear again. The only way to experience this underground maze is on a guided tour, so plan ahead so you don’t miss out.
36. Delve into the Southern Chilcotins
Aptly known as ‘wildflower heaven’, the Southern Chilcotins has its share of lush green fields. But it’s also home to some of BC’s most magnificent alpine terrain which remains virtually untouched. With so much ground to cover, this region is best explored with an experienced guide. Kelly Kurtz from Sea to Sky Expeditions knows this place like the back of her hand – and she knows where to catch the best shots.
37. Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park
The Rocky Mountains hardly needs an introduction, with dazzling peaks and lush mountain meadows that will make you want to book your tickets on the spot. Yoho National Park has all the elements of a quintessential Rockies experience –mountains, waterfalls and glacial lakes. Emerald Lake is its claim to fame, surrounded by towering mountain peaks and deep emerald green water which will delight your senses.
38. Other Gardens
You don’t have to wander far to find green space in Vancouver, with plenty of parks and gardens for visitors to enjoy. Perhaps best known is Vancouver’s iconic Stanley Park, considered a national historic site and one of the top city parks in Canada. The 1,001-acre public park has several gardens, including a rose garden, a rhododendron garden and a community garden. But the region hosts several other parks, including a floating garden on the Sunshine Coast, Chilliwack’s Minter Gardens and the Dr Sun-Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden. The latter has been one of Chinatown’s mainstays for almost three decades and is best explored on a private tour.
39. Biking in Victoria
Fact: Victoria has more cyclists per capita than any other Canadian city. With a statistic like that, it’s hardly surprising to find that Victoria has a multitude of cycling trails, both urban and rural. For a unique experience, try a culinary cycle tour for a guilt-free food-filled excursion.
If the thought of reeling in a big one keeps you awake at night, dust off the tackle box and try your hand at fly fishing on the Squamish River. With plentiful pink salmon in the warmer months, your chances of bringing home a trophy fish are promising from July to September. Bring your own gear or increase your odds of taking home a beauty by joining a guided tour with Valley Fishing Guides.
British Columbia’s good at a lot of things, but hiking is right up there as one of the main tourist attractions. With impressive mountain peaks, glassy lakes and lush green meadows tucked in every corner of BC, stellar hiking is easy to come by. And the best part is that you can find it wherever you go in the province. Explore the Southern Chilcotins with a little help from Mark Waldbillig from at Sea to Sky Expeditions, or break your hiking boots in on a 43km guided hike on Nootka Island.
42. Cycle Touring
British Columbia is an open platter for nature lovers who are hungry for their next adventure, and top notch cycle touring brings them back year after year. Choose from mellow cycle tours which showcase the region’s food and wine, or up the ante on mountain biking adventures over several days. The Sea to Sky mountain biking adventure with Big Mountain Biking Adventures showcases BC’s best over one week, but this one’s not for the faint hearted.
43. Rock Climbing
Climbers are a unique bunch. They travel all over the world, feeding their insatiable appetite for great climbing in unique destinations. British Columbia is scrawled on many climbers’ list as a must-see destination, with world class classics in several locations. Squamish features at the top of the list, with fantastic bouldering and top notch sport routes to be found. Whistler is also home to some top lines, the Bugaboos has impressive alpine climbing, and the Skaha bluffs boast hundreds of sport classics. Grades vary from mellow 5.8 classics to 5.14 testpieces, but tour guides will show you the great routes if you’re pressed for time. Tim Pochay from Canada West Mountain School knows all the local crags and loves nothing more than to share the goods with anyone who’s keen to explore.
44. Horse Riding in Cranbrook
Take a walk on the wild side and experience BC’s beauties from a saddle. On the doorstep of several provincial parks and forests, Cranbrook has more than its fair share of trails suitable for all ages and ability levels. Local wranglers know what makes horses tick and they’ve been showcasing the region’s best from the saddle for years. One will show ropes over a couple hours or you can go for a full day adventure.
45. Mountain Biking in Nelson
Nelson is a mountain bikers’ mecca, with mountainous terrain and impressive landscapes creating the perfect mix for adrenaline junkies. Located in the heart of the Kootenays, Nelson has its share of gentle railway grades, but there are also enough stunts, ladders and big drops for die hard riders. The season kicks off in April and generally runs right through to October. If you’re visiting in August, check out the annual Fat Tire Festival which celebrates all things bicycle.
46. Sport Fishing in Vancouver
Fishing can be a lot of things; a relaxing day on the water, a fun day out with friends or just a way to grab a feed. But when it comes to sport fishing, it’s all about the thrill of the chase. The friendly folks at Aquatic Ventures have been re-living the thrills for years, and know all the tricks to bring home the big kahoona. Captain Rod knows all the sweet spots of English Bay so you will come home exhilarated, exhausted and ready to return.
47. Fly Fishing on the Squamish River
If you’re an old hat at sport fishing and are after something a little different, give fly fishing a go. The Squamish River is a great place to kick off your adventure, with masses of pink salmon making their way through the waterways from July to September. Clint Goyette from Valley Fishing Guides has been fishing for longer than he can remember and relishes every moment that he can share his tricks with new travellers.
48. Hit the Kootenay Golf Trail
Every golfer has good days and bad days, but playing in stunning locations has got to take the edge off those bad days on the greens. The Kootenay Golf Trail may not help your game, but it will introduce you to inspiring scenery and challenging courses right in the heart of BC. The trail consists of eight championship courses in Balfour, Creston, Castlegar, Christina Lake, Granite Pointe, Kokanee Springs, Redstone and Birchbank. The scenery alone is a good excuse to pack the clubs and chip away at your handicap.
49. Sailing in Vancouver
Explore Vancouver’s skyline and surrounding islands from one of the best vantage points around — a sail boat. Aquatic Ventures is the proud owner of Angler’s Dream, a classic 12 metre yacht powered by clean burning gasoline engines. This beauty is designed for up to 12 passengers so you can enjoy Vancouver’s fresh mountain air with your closest mates.
50. Go Crabbing on English Bay
Crabs may look a little intimidating, but they’re tasty little morsels. You can catch your fill with the help of Captain Rod from Aquatic Ventures, who will help you to bait, set traps and prepare the freshest steamed Dungeness Crab you’ve ever tasted. Enjoy your catch with a cold beverage on the back of his classic yacht and take some home to enjoy.
51. Whitewater Rafting in Nelson
A day on the rapids will make your heart skip to a faster beat. Nelson is located a stone’s throw from class I to IV rapids, so you can get out on the water whether you’re a complete novice or a seasoned adrenaline junkie. John Dutton and Peter Johnson with Nelson Whitewater Rafting Company will show you how it’s done and leave you exhilarated with a smile.
52. Stand Up Paddle Board in Kamloops
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) has gone from zero to hero in recent years and now stands next to kayaking as a popular recreational activity. Suitable for all ages and fitness levels, you can give it a try on Heffley Lake just outside of Kamloops. If you’re new to the sport or want to learn some tips from an experienced guide, tours are also available on the Thompson River upon request.
53. Tour the Waters of Indian Arm
Experience the intricacies of BC’s wilderness and explore the waters of Indian Arm by canoe or kayak. Takaya Tours will introduce you to the area’s unique ecosystem and immerse you in the tradition and history of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. Hear legends, songs and stories over two hours and top off the afternoon with a grilled salmon feast.
54. Go House Boating on Shuswap Lake
Wake up to 360 degree waterfront views every morning on Shuswap Lake. Even better, enjoy breakfast on the deck or drop in a fishing line anytime on a houseboating holiday. Shuswap is blessed with miles of waterfront, sunshine and scenery, making it easy to adjust to life on the water. Houseboat rentals can be picked up from operations in Sicamous and about 30 kms south in Salmon Arm.
55. Windsurf Vancouver Island
If wind and waves are up your alley, then windsurfing will certainly suffice. Thousands of enthusiasts flock to Nitinat Lake every year to ride the lake’s consistent winds and breezy outflows. The Squamish Spit at the mouth of the Squamish River is another hot spot which boasts warm wind and sunshine to set the stage for a good day out. Truck in your own board or take lessons from the pros.
56. Jetski Vancouver Harbor
Jetskiing is an activity which instantly ups your sex appeal. It’s fast, pulse-punching, and all the cool cats are doing it. Several tour operators offer trips on the Vancouver Harbur catering for experienced riders, groups or families who are keen to give it a try. Vancouver Water Adventures will get your heart racing on Seadoo GTIs with speeds that reach a whopping 100km/h.
57. Canoe the Bowron Lakes
Picture yourself in a canoe, paddling on a glassy lake surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery. It’s not a bad picture, really. In fact, it’s what keeps bringing people back to the Bowron Lakes each and every year. Rent a canoe over a couple of days or sign up to a guided outfit with Mark Waldbillig from Sea to Sky Expeditions. You won’t regret it.
58. Scuba near Squamish
Squamish has earned its stripes as a haven for hikers and climbers, but its underwater attractions have also been attracting tourists for decades. Howe Sound is a diver’s delight with a variety of underwater terrain from extreme walls, rocky pinnacles and colorful marine life. Porteau Cove and Pam Rocks are also a stone’s throw from Squamish, offering top notch diving for all levels. Guided tours are available throughout the year and are a great way to learn more about what lies beneath the surface.
59. Take a Dip in Okanagan Lake
Okanagan Lake becomes a hive of activity in the warmer months when kayaks, jet skis and bathers hit the water to escape the sun’s rays. Spanning a whopping 110km from north to south, the lake boasts 30 beaches of varying size and scope, most featuring bathrooms, amenities, and most importantly, ice cream vendors. Dip your toes in the water, take a dip, or pack your snorkel and explore the secluded bays near Knox Mountain.
60. Surf in Tofino
Tofino, located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is knows as Canada\’s surf capital. There are about 35 kilometres of surf-able break there, which range from large swells to mild rollers – perfect for the enthusiast or beginner. Chesterman Beach is where most beginners go to catch their first waves while Cox Bay and the aptly named Long Beach (which is 16 kilometres of sand) over waves for everyone.
61. Ski the Whistler Backcountry
You’d be hard-pressed to meet anyone who hasn’t heard of Whistler. While the resort has some of the best terrain in the world, there’s no substitute for getting into the backcountry and away from the crowds. Head out on your own or team up with a guide to find the best untouched powder in the region. Keith Reid from Extremely Canadian has over two decades of experience under his belt and he’s passionate about sharing the best spots with like minded folk.
62. Hit the Slopes in Nelson
Poised above Nelson BC, Whitewater Ski Resort has powder hounds eating out of its hands each and every year. With 40 ft of the white stuff blanketing the ski hill each year, Nelson is renowned for its deep powder skiing and boarding. In fact, Powder Magazine has dubbed it the best ski town in North America and National Geographic has also given it the thumbs up. Nelson local David Lussier with Summit Mountain Guides has been guiding around these parts for more than 15 years, and he knows where to find the hidden gems.
63. Snowmobiling in Revelstoke
British Columbia has plenty of places for snowmobilers to play, but Revelstoke leads the charge with a wide variety of terrain with super easy access. With an annual snowfall in excess of 40ft, Revelstoke has no shortage of powder. Trails are also easy to come by and there are plenty of groomed lines and sledding areas topped with fresh snow. Boulder Mountain offers up over 30 miles of moderate trails and nearby Turtle Mountain will keep more experienced riders entertained.
64 Heli-skiing and Cat-skiing
Heli skiing was born and bred in British Columbia, meaning there are awesome big mountain drops to be found right across the province. BC’s huge snowfalls, cool temps and massive mountain ranges translate to untouched powder, epic descents and wild terrain. There are more than two dozen heli ski and cat ski operators dotted around BC, but the best way to get amongst it is with the help of an experienced guide. Neil Brown is based in Whistler and is pumped to take people out into the elements for a wild ride.
65. Cross Country Skiing
BC is like a winter wonderland when the snow flies. There’s an abundance of pow and countless cross country skiing areas. With more than 50 nordic skiing areas around the province, every ski hill has cross country skiing of some variety. Take your pick from groomed trails, pristine backcountry and spectacular terrain whether you’re planning a trip to Whistler, Nelson, Fernie, or anywhere in between. Steve Clarke with Extremely Canadian is a ski junkie who loves to show people around local trails in Whistler and the surrounding area.
66. Pick up an Ice Axe
Rock climbing demands a certain of amount of finesse and fluidity, but ice climbing takes it to a whole new level. Put your strength to the test on an adventure that will leave your forearms bursting with lactic acid, your legs feeling heavier than lead and your adrenaline pumping at high speed. The Canadian Rockies has a number of stellar routes in its backyard, which the folks at Extremely Canadian are well acquainted with. The Coast Mountains also have their share of fun and Nelson local David Lussier will introduce you to great ice climbing in his neck of the woods.
67. Toboggan… Anywhere
Tobogganing is nostalgic for most old-timers, but it’s also a sweet ride for the young at heart. Most ski hills have designated toboggan parks where families can slide or just muck around in the snow. Bring your own toboggan or hire a sliding mat from gear shops or local providers.
Take tobogganing to the next level at one of BC’s tube parks. Whistler Blackcomb’s Tube Park has over 1000 ft of multiple sliding lanes and even a conveyor lift so you don’t have to sweat it out on your return to the top. Revelstoke also has a tube park of its own, along with Manning Park and Cypress Mountain.
69. Give Snowshoeing a Go
As one of North America’s fastest growing winter sports, you’ll be hard pressed to find a Canadian who hasn’t given snowshoeing a try. That also has something to do with the abundance of snowshoe trails and parks in the province. Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain has many groomed trails ranging from mellow loops to pulse-pounding grinds, including the Blue Grouse Loop and Dam Mountain trails. Revelstoke and Nelson also have networks of self-guided snowshoe trails and a number of guided options to help you explore.
70. Strap on Some Ice Skates
British Columbia is world famous for its hockey culture and everywhere throughout the province you’ll find people ice skating on frozen ponds, indoor ice rinks and flooded backyards in the winter. Perhaps one of the better known outdoor rinks is at Butchart Gardens, Victoria, a place not known for its cold weather. Despite this, every year a special rink is set up, along with a 12 Days of Christmas-themed walking tour, and kids and adults alike partake. The other famous rink in the province is, of course, Rogers Arena where the Vancouver Canucks play. You can rent ice time there and see the arena from the perspective of your favourite hockey stars.
For the More Adventurous
71. Bungee Jumping
Bungee jumping is an adrenaline pumper that will leave you buzzing for days. Whistler Bungee has been putting people’s hearts in their stomachs for over a decade, providing free fall jumps 50 metres above the Cheakamus River. You can also take a 46m plunge off the Nanaimo River for a brag-worthy experience you won’t forget.
Canyoning goes by many names across the globe: canyoneering, creeking, and even gorging. But canyoners agree it’s a sport which opens doors to beautiful sights seldom seen by others. BC has a great collection of technical canyons, including Cypress Creek and Brothers Creek on the North Shore and Lost Creek in the Mission Area. Guided outfits are a great way of giving it a go if you’re a newbie to the sport.
Catch a bird’s eye view of the sights while your heart skips to a faster beat on a zipline. Whistler provides the perfect stage for year round ziplining, with snow covered forests in the cooler months and lush green scenery in the summer. Operators are located in every corner of BC, including Kelowna, Vancouver, Revelstoke, Kamloops and Nanaimo. Each company has lines that vary in length, height and speed, but most courses are suitable for the entire family.
74. ATV Touring
Cruise over rugged terrain, churn through muddy dips and admire British Columbia’s natural beauty from four wheels. You don’t need to be a pro biker to make the most of an all-terrain adventure – just bring your game face and be prepared to get dirty and have fun. Guided outfits are easy to come by, with ATV companies located in Radium Hot Springs, Peachland, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler and the Okanagan Valley.
75. Dive Out of the Sky
If jumping out of a perfectly good airplane is something that\’s on your Bucket List, then there are plenty of outfits around British Columbia that will gladly accommodate you. There are those that will teach you how to parachute solo or strap a guide to you for a tandem skydive experience. Whatever company you decide to jump with, whether it\’s SkyDiveBC North in Prince George or Pacific Airsports in Campbell River, you\’re guaranteed to see the scenery from a completely different viewpoint.
76. Go Paragliding
If you’d rather keep the freefall element to a minimum, but still soar like an eagle, then give paragliding a try. With its mild temperatures, consistent winds and stunning scenery, the Okanagan Valley is the perfect place to step off a mountain and glide. Paraglide Canada in Vernon is one of the better-known operators but there are others who would be happy to take you on a tandem flight, or teach you how to go solo.
77. Dirt Biking in Kamloops
The Kamloops area is a playground for off-road motorcyclists and motorcross die hards. With an early thaw in the spring and late freeze in the fall, riding conditions are ideal for the best part of the year. The Whispering Pines race facility has some great motorcross features, while the rolling single track at Inks Lake has lines to keep everyone busy.
78. Bouldering in Squamish
Squamish’s granite boulders draw visitors from far and wide every year – that is, if Mother Nature decides to play ball. Given Squamish’s proximity to the mighty Pacific Ocean, it can be hard to find a gap between torrential rain, sleet, or snow. But it’s worth the wait when the sky clears up, with phenomenal bouldering nestled at the forest floor. You’ll have no problem finding routes that will get you psyched to crank, with the grade bracket ranging from VO right up to hard V12. Turn up with a crash pad of your own or team up with BC guide Allen Rollin, who knows his way around the boulder field better than some of the locals.
Nature & Wildlife Experiences
79. Kayak with Orcas
Humans share an unbridled fascination with orcas, and one of the best places to experience them up close is in Johnstone Strait on the north east coast of Vancouver Island. Catch these majestic creatures in their natural environment as they feed and enjoy themselves near the beaches of the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve. Grey Wolf Expeditions will introduce you to their way of life on a four day kayaking journey along the coast.
80. Hiking in the Kootenays
The Kootenay region in southeastern BC is home to serious rugged mountain terrain and some of the best views on Earth. Get off the beaten path on a backcountry adventure to truly experience the wilderness. Local guides Carla Aldinger and Chris Rodman know where to find the best tracks and the most impressive mountain vistas, so you won’t have to drag your heels up the same old fire trails.
81. River Fishing in the Fraser Valley
The Fraser River’s white sturgeon attracts keen anglers each year, with some fish weighing as much as 1,000 pounds and growing up to 12 feet in length. The best times to throw in a reel are between March and November, but if it’s salmon you’re after, the world-renowned Fraser River salmon runs are where you want to be. Depending on your time of visit, you’ll have the chance to catch one or more of the five types of Pacific salmon: Chinook, Sockeye, Pink, Coho, and Chum.
82. Salmon Spawning
The Indian River comes alive when the mercury drops and schools of salmon make their ways up the channels back to their birthplace. Mid August to mid November are the prime times to see spawning in the main river, but timing varies depending on the temperature and conditions. Takaya Tours have been showing people around these parts for well over a decade, and know the top channels and streams to catch the spawning mayhem.
83. Bear Watching
Measuring in at around 2 metres and tipping the scales at around 350kgs, bears sit at the top of Canada’s wildlife food chain. But they are also nurturing creatures which go above and beyond to protect their cubs. One of the best places to see these creatures in their natural habitat is at a wilderness park in northern BC – aptly called the Great Bear Rainforest. With no roads to speak of, this area is best explored by foot and by boat. Sea to Sky Expeditions owner and lead operator Mark Waldbillig knows BC’s beauties better than most, with almost two decades of guiding experience behind him. These guys can also tailor the best bear watching trip around to suit your needs.
84. Discover the Chilcotin Mountains
Located in the heart of BC, the Chilcotin Mountains are visually spectacular with mid elevation grasslands, sub alpine meadows, lakes and mountain peaks. The Chilcotin Mountain Provincial Park is a popular hang out for hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders, with over 200km of trails through broad valleys, alpine meadows and ridges. Sign up to a guided tour with Sea to Sky Expeditions to get your fill of solitude.
85. Whale Watching on Victoria Harbor
Victoria Harbor is home to an abundant array of wildlife, but its diverse whale population is what draws the crowds every year. Passersby can sometimes catch a glimpse of these gentle giants from the shoreline, but the only way to capture impressive photos is to join a guided tour. Sign up to a day out with Eagle Wing Tours or join Captain Gord with BC Whale Tours to learn how these beauties survive beneath the water’s surface.
86. Eagle Viewing
Squamish may be a hiking haven and skiers hangout, but it also plays host to one of the largest congregations of wintering bald eagles in the cooler months. The Squamish River Valley is recognized as one of the most significant areas for wintering bald eagles and held the world record count of 3,769 eagles back in 1994. The best place to see these creatures is from the Eagle Run Park viewing facility from mid December through to mid January.
87. Explore the West Coast Trail
Hiking can be a leisurely way of experiencing nature in a relaxed environment. But not this hike. The West Coast Trail has earned a reputation as one of the most gruelling treks in North America. It’s isolated, strenuous, physically challenging and potential hazardous. But it’s also extremely gratifying and will reward you with spectacular scenery without the crowds. The West Coast Trail comes with a rich history, having been built in the early 1900s to rescue shipwreck survivors along the coast. It is now part of the Pacific Rim National Park and is often rated as one of the world’s top hiking spots. Tackle this behemoth on your own or let the guys at Sea to Sky Expeditions walk you through it over nine days.
88. Mini Golf
Mini golf conjures some kind of memory in most of us, whether it’s winning, losing or launching a ball over an 8ft fence into the parking lot. Nonetheless, it’s a great day out with the youngsters or just the young at heart. Brush up on your skills at courses in Penticton, Salmon Arm, Shuswap and Kamloops. Greater Vancouver also has several mini golf courses and Cranbrook and Creston have their fair share.
89. Cool off at the Water Parks
For a province that’s blessed with impressive annual snowfall, British Columbia has a surprisingly warm summer. In fact, it’s positively balmy in some regions, with the mercury often creeping above 40C in BC’s interior. Atlantis Waterslides in Vernon will help the kids to cool off, and the Cultus Lake Waterpark in the Fraser Valley will keep everyone happy with mellow rides and heart racing drops. There are also three water parks in Kamloops, several in Kelowna and one in the heart of Osoyoos.
90. Carriage Tour in Nelson BC
For an experience that will leave the kids wide-eyed with wonder, sign up to a horse carriage tour in the historic town of Nelson. Local guide Crystal Langford will take you on an insightful tour of Nelson’s highlights, but horses will run the show on either a four-horse or six-horse hitch. This tour is for people of all ages, but the littlies will appreciate it most.
91. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium
Belugas, jellyfish, otters, clownfish, seals – there’s everything to see at the Vancouver Aquarium, conveniently located in Stanley Park, near the downtown core. Enjoy the interactive exhibitions and shows and learn more about BC’s fascinating coastline.
92. Kids Market in Granville Island
One trip here, and you’ll be able to use it as bargaining power with the kids for years. Littlies can romp around in the ball pit, play in the arcade, try arts and crafts and check out two floors of toys and other kids stuff. A free water park sweetens the deal in the summer months and a relaxing outdoor area will give the adults some breathing space.
93. Hit the Theme Parks
The trick to a good family holiday is to wear the little tackers out, so taking them to a theme park is a safe bet. Playland in downtown Vancouver will keep the kids grinning for hours on end, with more than thrilling 35 rides and a dedicated space for little ones. Adventure Zone is a stone’s throw away in Granville Island and Circuit Circus is within easy walking distance.
94. Get High in Revelstoke
Put your nerves to the test at the High Ropes Challenge Course in Revelstoke. The outdoor obstacle course features ladders, zip lines, suspended bridges and swinging logs. But there’s one other thing… It’s strung several metres above the ground in hardwood trees. This one’s family friendly.
95. Indoor Climbing
While the idea of heights may leave you shaky at the knees, kids aren\’t perturbed by scaling walls or towering faces. Indoor climbing is a great way for youngsters to burn off steam, and there are many outlets across BC to choose from. Vancouver has the greatest concentration of climbing gyms, including Cliffhanger Climbing, Rock Wall and Vertical Reality, and the Island has its share to choose from. Kelowna, Kamloops and Golden also have their own hangouts and Whistler has a neat set up that will keep everyone entertained.
96. Go to the Zoo
Children share some kind of fascination with animals, so the zoo is a sure crowd pleaser for the kids. The Greater Vancouver Zoo will keep them entertained with daily lion and tiger feelings, and the Maplewood Farm gets full points for its array of farm animals and birds. Heading further afield, the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops also boasts over 65 species of wildlife including moose, wolves, cougars, mountain goats and grizzlies.
Tours with a Twist
97. Take a Chopper Tour in Revelstoke
Revy, as it is colloquially known, is home to one of Canada’s top ski resorts and off-piste terrain. There’s also great heli skiing to be had, meaning helicopter providers are easy to come by. If slopes aren’t your thing, there are still plenty of birds eye views to be enjoyed, including mountain peaks, lush valleys, alpine lakes and glaciers. Heli-fishing and heli-golfing are also making their mark on the local scene.
98. Photography Tour in Vancouver
Anyone can take photos, but there’s a knack to taking shots that you’d be proud to call your own. Wave goodbye to those over exposed, out of focus shots and sign up to a two hour photography tour with Suzanne Rushton from Vancouver Photowalks. Suzanne will introduce you to photography fundamentals such as shutter speed, ISO and aperture as you take a leisurely tour of Vancouver’s highlights.
99. Go Hunting in the Interior
If the idea of going out bush to hunt big game makes you want to book your next trip on the spot, then British Columbia has got you covered. Scoop Lake Outfitters in Kelowna offers 8-14 day hunting trips which will see you scaling peaks by horseback to bring home big game such as grizzlies, mountain goat, caribou and elk.
100. Jet Boat Nairn Falls
It’s hard to take a bad photo at Nairn Falls Provincial Park, about 20 minutes north of Whistler. Old growth forests and wildlife provide plenty of eye candy, but the waterways are the real showstopper. With towering waterfalls, braided channels and whitewater rapids on display, exploring this place by boat is the best way to take it all in.
101. Recharge in the Kootenays
If the daily grind is taking its toll, then it could be time for a holiday. But rather than escaping to Mexico to down tequila, Mountain Trek’s lifestyle retreat could be the ticket to clear your mind and cleanse your body. Set in the magnificent Kootenays, you will become well acquainted with nature on daily hikes and fitness classes, and hear health and lifestyle lectures to kick start your motivation. But there\’s no roughing it on this trip– you’ll stay in luxury accommodation with all the mod cons and enjoy healthy organic fare to leave you feeling rebalanced and revived.
102. Horse & Carriage Touring in Nelson
The historic town of Nelson is pretty as a picture, with many heritage homes still standing proud today. Take a step back in time and stroll through the town’s quaint streets, or see it in style with the help of Crystal Langford and her horse “Hero”. Crystal will share fascinating details of Nelson’s past as Hero leads the show around Nelson’s historic centre.
103. Get Adventurous at Scoop Lake
British Columbia is an adventure seeker’s dream, but it can be tough narrowing your to-do list down to a selected few. Luckily for the indecisive traveller, Scoop Lake Outfitters have wrapped up all the adventure activities into one pick-yourself package. Set on 2.5 million unspoiled acres outside of Kelowna, this family run business has rallied together all of the good stuff, including climbing, fishing, biking, horse riding, river rafting, canoeing, and even butterfly watching. This place has got it all, including five secluded camps, sixteen satellite camps and 96 horses. The hard part is choosing how to customize your perfect adventure getaway.