Things to Do in British Columbia - page 4
The centrepiece of Vancouver's gleaming downtown waterfront is made of graceful white "sails," which create a translucent pavilion above the Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal, gateway to the majestic glacier-carved fjords of the northern Pacific Coast. The city itself is stunning, a sparkling metropolis of glass spires and lush city parks atop the Burrard Peninsula, cradled in the snow-capped North Shore Mountains, just visible in the distance.
More than half a million happy passengers cruise through Vancouver Port each year, headed to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and Alaska, some of the most fantastic coastal scenery in the world. Yet many of these intrepid travellers soon realize, after spending only a day or two here in Vancouver, that this charming Canadian city is the place to which they most want to return.
As you walk gingerly out on to the world's longest (140m/460ft) and highest (70m/230ft) suspension bridge, swaying gently over the roiling waters of tree-lined Capilano Canyon, remember that the thick steel cables you are gripping are safely embedded in huge concrete blocks on either side. That should steady your feet - unless the teenagers are stamping across to scare the oldsters...
The region's most popular attraction - hence the summertime crowds and relentless tour buses - the grounds here also include rainforest walks, totem poles, and a swinging network of smaller bridges strung between the trees, called Treetops Adventure. This series of open-ended suspension bridges link eight towering Douglass fir trees. At heights of up to 25m/80ft above the forest floor, the bridges have viewing platforms where Capilano’s naturalist hold court on the area’s ecological attributes.
The Capilano Salmon Hatchery is a fish farm that was established in 1971 to save the strongly declining salmon stocks in the Capilano River, which was then threatened by the construction of the Cleveland Dam. Today, the hatchery not only breeds Coho Salmon and Steelhead Trout, but has also introduced Chinook salmon into the system to provide for the ceremonial as well as food fishery of the Squamish First Nation. The facility is also open to the public and invites people to learn more about Canada’s most popular fish.
Visitors are guided around the hatchery largely via a self-guided tour and witness the fascinating and tragic life cycle of the salmon, beginning with their development from eggs to their release into the river in spring and their heroic efforts as adults to reach their spawning grounds upriver, after which they promptly die. Displays and exhibits explain the whole fascinating process as well as inform about the hatchery’s operations.
Grizzly bears, a grey wolf, birds of prey and hummingbirds all live and play at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. The refuge has plenty of interpretive programs, too, which allow visitors to learn about these exciting species and their habitats.
The main attractions, undoubtedly, are the two gfrizzly bears, Grinder and Coola. Both were orphaned in 2011; Grinder was found along a logging road in BC’s Kootenay Mountains, while Coola was scooped up off the roadside near Bella Coola. At the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, both bears coexist despite their unique personalities. A variety of interpretive programs, from the Bear Discovery tour to Breakfast with the Bears, help teach visitors all about these enormous animals. Alpha, the only grey wolf at Grouse Mountain, is often spotted right from the parking lot as he explores his personal protected habitat.
Get a bird’s-eye view of everything British Columbia, from mountains forests to oceans and rivers, aboard the Sea to Sky Gondola. The 10-minute ride takes up to eight passengers at a time just over 2,900 feet (885 meters) above sea level, all in a gondola with floor-to-ceiling glass windows for the very best views. Upon arrival at the top, there are a number of outdoor activities to choose from, including the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge and various hiking trails.
There are three easily accessible main viewing platforms to take in views of the coastal mountains and fjord, and the Summit Lodge Viewing Deck is the closest to the gondola’s unloading station. It’s attached to Summit Lodge, which has a restaurant and bar.
From 1900 to 1974, the Britannia Mine was a major copper source on the eastern shore of Howe Sound, and until the railway and highway were constructed in 1965, Britannia was an isolated community. Today, the site's museum, housed in the original mine buildings, is both a National Historic Site of Canada and a Canadian Tourism Commission Signature Experience.
Whether chugging into an early haulage tunnel aboard a mine train or panning for gold (keep what you find!), you'll discover the mine's rich history. It's Mill 3 that leaves most visitors speechless; the massive cathedral-like interior was once considered the heartbeat of the community because it’s where ore was produced before being shipped off to nearby ports.
The mine closed in 1974, and by 1978, it was sold to a real estate company that realized its potential as a tourism attraction along the rapidly developing corridor now known as the Sea-to-Sky Highway.
More Things to Do in British Columbia
British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is a popular Canadian holiday destination, famous for its warm dry summers, lakeside beaches, vineyards and mountains. Nicknamed the “Napa Valley of the North,” millions of juicy grapes ripen among the rolling hills around Okanagan Lake, and summertime temperatures are generally hotter than they are in Napa itself. Okanagan’s wine scene is dominated by sweet whites, and the local ice dessert wine is a must-try; it is made using grapes that have frozen on the vine during Canada’s chilly winter nights.
Orchards bursting with juicy peaches, apricots and cherries are also in abundance in Okanagan Valley, as well as plenty of outdoor activities. Popular among watersport aficionados, golfers, mountain bikers and hikers, the valley hosts more than 300,000 people, with the liveliest and largest city being Kelowna. Other popular cities to stay in around the lake are Vernon and Penticton.
While the biggest reason for a visitor to head out to Horseshoe Bay might be the ferry terminal, the picturesque community of just 1,000 year-round residents is worth a trip all on its own. In addition to being the West Coast ferry terminus for BC Ferries going to Vancouver Island, Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast, the little village located at the entrance to Howe Sound is also the starting point of the Sea to Sky highway, one of British Columbia’s most notable attractions. The coastal highway winds along the coast through Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton, offering world-class views of the region’s unique evergreen islands and tall mountains.
Although Horseshoe Bay is mainly a bedroom community for nature-loving Vancouverites, it does offer a variety of unique shops, bistros, and a pub. The marina is home to boats big and small, and with the ocean at your feet and the North Shore mountains at your back, the outdoor opportunities are boundless.
British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is the hub for western Canada’s growing wine industry, with nearly 200 vineyards and wineries dotting its sun-baked hills. Kelowna, the region’s largest city, sprawls along the shores of Okanagan Lake and offers all the services you need for a wine-touring holiday.
In downtown Kelowna, a good place to start your explorations is at the Laurel Packinghouse Building, which houses two museums. At the British Columbia Wine Museum – part exhibition space and part wine store – you can learn about the Okanagan wineries and the types of wines you’ll sample as you visit local producers. The Okanagan has long been BC’s main fruit-growing region, too, a history that’s on view at the British Columbia Orchard Industry Museum. The Kelowna Art Gallery, a small contemporary art museum nearby, is also worth a visit.
In the 1800s, fur traders were at the forefront of the ever advancing British Empire and Fort Langley was one of the trading posts built by the powerful Hudson’s Bay Company, which back then functioned as a de facto government in the Pacific Northwest. Originally, the fort was established due to the British interest in sea otter pelts and to once and for all assert control over the Columbia District in the face of American competition, but soon the site’s purpose shifted to a more supportive one. What is today known as the Fort Langley National Historic Site moved on to influence history in profound ways, helped establish the international border with the United States and due to its strategic location, became the birthplace of British Columbia. Visitors can step back in time at the restored and reconstructed Fort Langley to interact with costumed fur traders or dress up themselves, get introduced to blacksmithing in a working forge.
Squamish is called the eagle capital of the world and it is here, at the Brackendale Eagle Reserve or Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park, where the largest congregation of wintering bald eagles in North America can be found. Accordingly, the best time to visit the reserve is from late November to late January. During those winter months the eagles get attracted to the area due to the spawning salmons in the river and gather in huge numbers to feast on the fish carcasses. In fact, the Brackendale Eagle Reserve holds a world record from 1994, when 3,769 bald eagles were counted in a single day – that’s more eagles than there are residents of Brackendale.
Just outside British Columbia’s largest city lies a tall-sided glacial fjord, carved into the landscape during the last Ice Age. Because road access is limited, Indian Arm provides some of the most dramatic mountain scenery and wildlife in the region. The calm, salty waters are surrounded by steeply rising granite cliffs and heavily wooded hillsides. There are also dozens of waterfalls and creeks, which can freeze in entirety during the winter season. The largest accessible waterfall is Granite Falls, on the eastern side.
A rough hiking trail extends around the perimeter of Indian Arm, with the possibility of viewing local wildlife such as bald eagles, seals, black bears, and salmon. Many choose to take in the natural beauty from the water, with a variety of boat trips offered through the fjord. You may even pass by one of the area’s many islands or secluded beaches.
Things to do near British Columbia
- Things to do in Whistler
- Things to do in Vancouver
- Things to do in Victoria
- Things to do in Sunshine Coast
- Things to do in Vancouver Island
- Things to do in Washington
- Things to do in Oregon
- Things to do in Alberta
- Things to do in Seattle
- Things to do in Portland
- Things to do in Banff
- Things to do in Wyoming
- Things to do in Nevada
- Things to do in California
- Things to do in Utah