By: Susan Gerle
People have heard of Vancouver, but there are many other beautiful spots to visit in British Columbia, especially during the summer. Here are 5 of the top places to visit in BC.
1 – The Okanagan Valley, situated a 4 hour drive from Vancouver, runs 120 kilometers from Vernon to Penticton. The area is known for a dry climate and the temperatures during the summer range from 25 to 40°C. It is the only recognized desert area in Canada, complete with rattlesnakes and black widow spiders. There are many lakes in the region for recreational boating, fishing, swimming, and sailing. The area is also known for its cottage wineries, many of which have taken awards worldwide.
Penticton offers convention facilities and is also popular as a casino destination. It’s location 1 hour from the international border makes it easily accessible to Washington residents. The south end of the lake is also warm and shallow for all ages of bathers.
Kelowna is the largest city in the valley. Big White Ski Resort is popular for both winter and summer recreation. Mountain biking and hiking is available in the summer season. The downtown park offers many music and dance venues all summer long and the boardwalk along the water is a perfect place to stroll on a warm evening.
One of the most beautiful lakes in the Canada is situated in Vernon, at the north end of the valley. Kalamalka, the lake of many colours, is a great lake for boating and swimming. Well groomed hiking trails lead down to secluded parks, a perfect way to spend a day. Silver Star Mountain, a high altitude training facility, is located 20 minutes from the city and also has excellent hiking and mountain biking trails. The temperature is also 5 degrees cooler at the mile high mountain when a person wants to escape the summer heat.
2 – The Cariboo is located a day’s drive out of Vancouver. When the California gold rush petered out, prospectors made their way north to the British Columbia gold fields. Many of the stagecoach stops along the way still have markers and places like 100 Mile House and 108 Mile House are interesting stops. Turn off the highway at 150 Mile House and travel an hour into Likely and check out the old hotel situated on the shores of Quesnel Lake (pronounced quenel).
There is an old rough road that goes across the mountains to Barkerville. Or the town can be reached off the main highway, just an hour east of the city of Quesnel. It is one of the most historical regions in British Columbia. Each summer, the story of the northern gold rush is presented by a troupe of actors and singers. The townsite of Barkerville has been recreated to represent how it was in the olden days. The original graveyard still stands, tucked in against the hill, protected from the harsh, winter elements.
3 – Another area that shouldn’t be missed is Stewart, BC. It is a 2 ½ day drive from Vancouver located north of Houston, BC. Stewart, BC and Hyder, Alaska share common shopping facilities and accommodations. If you are lucky, you might be able to get your passport stamped as you cross the border, if anyone is working at the time. Both are villages located on the coast. It’s one of the few areas you could possibly observe families of grizzlies and other bear species out for their morning fishing excursion. Less than a ½ hour drive away is the Hyder Icefields, an unbelievable iceflow mass that extends into the valley. Don’t forget to take the opportunity to get “hyderized.” Only those who have experienced the famous drink can talk about it. You have to be there! Make sure you have inside accommodations because no tent camping is allowed in the area.
4 – If you are just visiting BC for a couple of days, the Sunshine Coast is a beautiful area to visit. The trip begins in Horseshoe Bay, a small fishing village situated 20 minutes out of Vancouver. Take time to have some of the famous chowder or fish and chips available at one of the local restaurants while you wait for the ferry.
The first part of the trip is a relaxing journey on the Langdale Ferry to Gibson’s Landing. During the 60s a popular weekly drama called The BeachCombers was filmed in Gibson’s. Molley’s Reach, the program’s main set, is still a popular place to stop.
You can then drive further up the coast as far as Egmont.. There are many stops in between like Robert’s Creek and Sechelt and Halfmoon Bay. The whole area has gained a great reputation for B&Bs in the last few years, many offering spa facilities. With the fantastic scenery and mild temperatures, it is the perfect place to enjoy time away on a short holiday.
If you travel up to Powell River, you can take the ferry across to Vancouver Island and do a circle route back to the mainland.
5 – Vancouver Island is also a short journey from Vancouver. There is ferry service from Tswassen or Horseshoe Bay, both located less than a ½ hour drive from downtown. For those travelers taking a weekend break, Victoria, BC’s Capital City, is a great spot to visit. The Bouchard Gardens and the Empress Hotel are definitely sites to take in.
If you have a week or two, plan to spend some time exploring up island. Long Beach and Tofino are well known for being a surfer’s paradise. Make sure you pack your dry-suit with you because the waters are pretty chilly. Whale watching is very popular in the area too. For a longer, more adventurous vacation, consider checking out the Westcoast Trail. Reservations must be made up to a year in advance.
Vancouver Island and the surrounding islands are also famous for their artisans. Whether you are looking for pottery, sculpture, paintings, or carvings it’s worth checking the area out.
British Columbia is such a diverse province with so much to offer to the tourist.
About the author:
Susan Gerle has lived in British Columbia most of her life and has travelled extensively throughout the province. Also check her site traveltypes.blogspot.com