British Columbia is one of Canada’s most popular vacation destinations. While Quebec to the east offers visitors a European-like experience without having to leave North America, BC is known for it’s spectacular mountain ranges, lush rainforests, gorgeous stretches of rugged coastline, world-class slopes, and picturesque towns – each of which has its own unique flavor.
British Columbia is quite possibly Canada’s most multifaceted and striking province. It’s also one of the country’s biggest. While the size and scope of things to see and do in BC might be a bit overwhelming to a first-time visitor, there’s really no wrong way to experience the province. Many travelers will first pay the city of Vancouver a visit. Not only is the city a great starting point, but it also serves as a pretty prime base point.
From there, you can take a short flight or ferry ride over to Vancouver Island – just one of BC’s 6,000+ islands.
An hour’s drive out of Vancouver will take you to the province’s capital, Victoria. And only two hours away is the popular ski destination, Whistler. Inland, you’ll find yet another popular year-round destination, Okanagan Valley. Here you will discover the majestic beauty of Okanagan Lake, several top-rated golf courses, and quite a few highly rated ski resorts.
Simply put, British Columbia is an excellent place to vacation. There is plenty for travelers of all ages to enjoy, so feel free to bring the kids. Alternatively, you could always spend an extended weekend with your significant other at one of BC’s seaside or mountain resorts.
For a better idea of what this Canadian province has going for it, keep watching because we’re about to take a look at what we believe to be the absolute best attractions and destinations in British Columbia.
With the snow-capped Whistler and Blackcomb mountains as it’s backdrop, Whistler is the center of one of the largest and most visited winter sports recreational areas in Canada. Over a decade ago in 2010, Whistler gained widespread attention when it hosted the downhill ski events at that year’s Winter Olympics.
Most people associate Whistler with skiing and snowboarding – and for very good reason – but it’s also a very popular year-round destination for outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking, golfing, and sightseeing. If you’re an avid birder, don’t forget to bring your binoculars, as there are over 270 species in the region.
Even if you aren’t much of a skier, the town of Whistler is a lovely place to explore either solo or in the company of a good friend. One of the best attractions in town is the Peak 2 Peak Gondola which connects Blackcomb and Whistler mountains. In fact, it’s one of the longest gondola rides in the world, clocking in at an impressive 4.4 kilometers. For some truly breathtaking views of the area, make sure you take this epic 11 minute ride. It’s well worth it.
Since Vancouver is only about two hours away by car, Whistler is easily accessible. Plus, the drive between these locales along the Sea-to-Sky highway is worth experiencing on it’s own. Along this route, be sure to make a couple of pit stops at the many culturally rich communities you come across, such as Shannon Falls and Squamish.
Stanley Park – Vancouver
This spot is one of Canada’s premier destinations for getting up close and personal with nature and wildlife. The large grassy oasis offers photo-worthy views, quaint outdoor tea houses, romantic oceanfront hideaways for mom and dad, and splash pads for the little one. It makes for a great little getaway spot for families, especially since it’s the home to Vancouver’s world-renowned aquarium as well as some of the finest equestrian outlets in the province.
Since the park is located in the center of Vancouver, it makes for a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the urban jungle. Whether you’re in town for a day or two or planning on spending a week exploring everything worth seeing, no trip would be complete without a visit to this historic park.
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And don’t go anywhere just yet. Keep watching to learn about several more of British Columbia’s must-see locales.
Tofino is known for it’s surf culture, remote beauty, and indigenous roots. For those looking to explore Nootka Sound, Tofino serves as it’s gateway. Beyond that, however, it’s one of the most significant seaside resort destinations in Canada.
Whether you’re looking to engage in a little bit of coastal camping or more inclined to check in at a luxurious rental home, Tofino offers a range of stellar accommodations for travelers of all comfort levels.
While you might not think of Canada as being very ‘tropical’, Tofino certainly fits the bill. It’s one of BC’s most westwardly located towns, home to some of the best surfing in the nation, and is one of the premier places in North America for whale watching.
For adventurous visitors, Tofino is also a pretty decent place to go paddling, hiking, and cycling.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Just south of Tofino is one of the most dramatically beautiful National Parks in Canada. While Alberta has famed and breathtakingly gorgeous places like Jasper and Banff, the Pacific Rim is arguably every bit as remarkable. With it’s colorful and lush ancient rainforests, mineral-rich waters teeming with marine life, and infamously ferocious winter squalls, the Pacific Rim is a force to be reckoned with.
Surfers have been flocking to the Pacific Rim for decades. If hanging ten isn’t up your alley, however, taking a hike on the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Trail is another highly recommended activity. The rich history and culture of this First Nation tribe is explained in detail as you stroll along this tranquil path.
Another great trail rooted in Native Canadian history is The West Coast Trail. The First Nations traveled along this route searching for food, resources, and better opportunities. Be aware, though, that if your intention is to complete this trail, you’ll need to devote at least a couple of days and pack accordingly. It’s not for the faint of the heart, and you’ll probably have to brave the fog, rain, and rocky terrain.
Butchart Gardens –
Located in an old rock quarry in Victoria, Butchart Gardens offers guests a phenomenal display of plants, flowers, trees, and wildlife. This attraction makes for a perfect day trip if you find yourself around Victoria. The mild climate of this area means that it’s a perfect stop almost any time of the year. In our opinion though the best time to visit is anytime between spring and fall. The vibrant spring blossoms are gorgeous. Oour second favorite time to stop by is the fall when the changing leaves put on their colorful show.
This remote island chain is one of Canada’s hidden gems. While sometimes overlooked by tourists, this destination provides a wealth of natural beauty and culture. Previously known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, this natural wonder is made up of over 150 isolated islands at the Western edge of the continent.
The two most famous islands, Graham and Moresby, are located roughly 30 and 90 miles off the coast of BC, respectively. The indigenous inhabitants of the islands, the Haida people, are known to have lived on these islands for more than 8,000 years.
Historically, they were known for their 20-meter long war canoes, but today they are famed for their skillful carving and artistry. Throughout the Canadian Pacific Coast, their totem poles and ornate illiterate carvings can be found in numerous museums.
Glacier National Park
In addition to Mount Revelstoke National Park, which is a just a few miles away, Glacier National Park is a beautifully scenic area that is particularly popular with hikers, and rock climbers The parks are both located in one of the most remote and inhospitable mountainous regions of the province – the Columbia Mountain’s nearly inaccessible Selkirk Range.
The park is known for it’s dramatic landscape featuring jagged mountain peaks and deep valleys. There are more than 400 glaciers in Glacier National Park. At the lower elevation levels up to about 4,200 feet, dense forests full of hemlocks, firs, and red cedar trees and a dense covering ferns provide a suitable home environment for the parks caribou, mountain goats, grizzly bears, and black bears.
While the majority of visitors simply visit for the day, there are several campgrounds and hiking trails in the area suitable for backpackers looking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty for a couple of days.
British Columbia is, to many travelers, the crown jewel of Canada. While provinces like Montreal and Alberta are undoubtedly charming and have a wealth of beautiful and culturally vibrant destinations to explore, BC is one of the best places in North America to let your spirit soar free. You’ll be surrounded by breathtaking mountains, wildlife, and forests while being treated to some of the most attractive and historically significant towns in the nation.
On top of that, the people of BC are absolutely terrific. They are known for being accepting, giving, and particularly hospitable.
If you’ve never had the chance to visit this especially lovely region of Canada, you’re in for a treat. The memories that you’ll make in British Columbia will stick with you for a lifetime. Who knows, you might love the place so much that you’ll be tempted to move there!
Anyway, that about wraps up this video. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed our little rundown of the top destinations and things to do in British Columbia, Canada’s only province that borders the Pacific ocean.
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