1 . Sooke

Sooke, British Columbia

CALL DIRECT: +1 (250) 860 - 5858

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Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Sooke derives its name from the T’Sou-ke Indians. Sooke offers one of the mildest climates in Canada; only occasionally does the town see snow.

For centuries, Sooke was a traditional logging, lumbering and fishing community. Today, the town has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in British Columbia. Sooke is proud of its rich history and All Sooke Days is an annual festival celebrating the town’s humble beginnings. Situated between a rainforest and the ocean, Sooke provides a variety of ideal outdoor adventures. With the Pacific Ocean tumbling against beaches and hollowed-out caves, Sooke is a surfer’s paradise. Sooke Harbor contains a number of coves and bays to explore by kayak or sailboat. Fishing is also a highlight – some of the largest salmon and halibut in the world roam these waters. Visit Race Rocks for a marine adventure. You’ll discover killer whales, stellar and sea lions, seals and porpoises. Hiking is one of Sooke’s greatest attractions and East Sooke Regional Park is considered one of Canada’s premier parks where you’ll follow creeks and streams through the rainforest. Visit Sooke’s vast beautiful playground and you may never want to leave!

Population

Sooke has a population of 9,704.

Highlights

Sooke is well-known for its artistic community and proudly displays their work annually at the Sooke Fine Arts Festival.

Elevation

50 m (164 ft).

2 . Golden

Golden, British Columbia

CALL DIRECT: +1 (250) 344 - 7990

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Golden, British Columbia is located in one of the most beautiful regions in the world. The town has long been a favorite of explorers and tourists.

Located in Kicking Horse Country, Golden is near six of the most beautiful national parks in Canada – Banff, Glacier, Jasper, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke and Yoho. With three mountain ranges and endless rivers and lakes, you’ll be surprised by what you find in Golden. The town is the birthplace of heli skiing, in 1965, and Golden now houses four heli ski operators. Golden also features the heaviest concentration of backcountry lodges in North America - more than 20! The ski touring capital of the world, Roger’s Pass, is minutes away. Golden hosted the longest singletrack downhill mountain bike race in the world for 10 years – Psychosis. Whitewater raft on Kicking Horse River, one of Canada’s wildest and fastest whitewater rafting rivers. Kicking Horse Country has the largest grizzly bear refuge in the world. And Golden is the only place in Canada where you can literally walk with wolves as they often wander into town. Discover Golden, a town that has grown from humble beginnings into one of the most beloved tourist attractions in the world.

Population

Golden has a population of 3,811.

Elevation

800 m (2,625 ft).

Fun facts

Golden is home to the longest covered pedestrian bridge in all of Canada – the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge – which was built with over 100 timber frames.

3 . Rossland

Rossland, British Columbia

CALL DIRECT: +1 (250) 362 - 7375

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In the Monashee Mountains sits the town of Rossland. Set in an ancient volcanic valley, Rossland is surrounded by outdoor adventure and was voted Canada’s No. 1 Outdoor Town.

Rossland is a true mountain town, with no traffic lights or malls. Close to the US border, Rossland has earned the title of the Mountain Bike Capital of Canada with its extensive trail system running through the mountains. Christina Lake is one of the warmest lakes for swimming in Canada and Champion Lakes offers the best beaches for sunbathing. Rossland also boasts some of the best ski and snowboard terrain in the world. Red Mountain is one of the oldest ski mountains in Western Canada, opening in 1897, and has been adding to its collection of trails and lifts. Cruise down Rossland’s flagship trail, Seven Summits, with the Monashee Mountains providing a beautiful backdrop. Rossland is also known for its festivals. The Rossland Council for Arts & Culture organizes several throughout the year including the Rossland Winter Festival, the city’s definitive event. As one of Canada’s oldest winter carnivals, you’ll participate in numerous activities and delight in hearty regional cuisine. Rossland, British Columbia is a true alpine city for all seasons.

Population

Golden has a population of 3,500.

Elevation

1,203 m (3,410 ft).

Fun facts

Rossland is derived from the name of a miner, Ross Thompson, who staked claim to the town in the late 1800s.

4 . Kelowna

Kelowna, British Columbia

CALL DIRECT: +1 (250) 860 - 7900

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Deep within the Okanagan Valley, Kelowna is natural sanctuary surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in British Columbia. Settled by a French Roman Catholic missionary, Kelowna was originally named L’anse au sable (Bay of Sand).

Today, Kelowna derives its name from a native term for ‘grizzly bear’. It’s the largest city in the Okanagan Valley; however despite its size, the city never feels or looks too crowded. Kelowna offers numerous parks and miles of sandy beaches along the shores of Okanagan Lake. Hike or bike through the mountains. Kelowna is a favorite destination for fishing with over 200 freshwater lakes! And in winter, ski or snowboard down the Monashee Mountains for thrills. You’ll discover some of the finest, freshly groomed powder in the Okanagan Valley! There are also more than 50 miles of scenic cross-country ski trails. And Kelowna’s orchards and vineyards are open year-round for seasonal delights. The spring, summer, fall and winter wine festivals attract thousands of tourists to the city. Kelowna’s cultural community has boomed in recent years with a concentration of galleries, museums, theaters and more popping up around town. Boasting all the amenities of a large city, Kelowna oozes with small-town mountain charm.

Population

Kelowna has a population of 120,812.

Fun facts

Many former and current NHL stars live or have lived in Kelowna including Dany Heatley and Jarome Ignila.

Highlights

Visit the Kasugai Gardens, an outdoor garden adjacent to City Hall which commemorates the friendship with Kelowna’s sister city, Kasugai, Japan.

5 . Radium Hot Springs

Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia

CALL DIRECT: +1 (250) 347 - 2300

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At the entrance to Sinclair Canyon sits the old-fashioned town of Radium Hot Springs. Located on the ‘warm side of the Canadian Rockies’, Radium Hot Springs is one of British Columbia’s most rejuvenating resort towns.

A short drive from Calgary, Radium Hot Springs offers numerous activities, dining, natural hot springs and beautiful alpine scenery. This small town is famous for its hot springs complex from which the town bears its name. Surrounded by natural rock walls, these odorless pools soothe stress away. There is also a hot-tub sized pool nicknamed the ‘Plunge Pool’ because the water can either be hot (right from the source at 114°F) or cold from the creek running below the pools. Spend the better part of your day golfing at one of Radium Hot Springs’ nine 18-hole championship courses or six nine-hole courses. There’s also no better way to maneuver around the town than on horseback. Riding trails through the Kootenay’s are plenty, and you might just run into bighorn sheep wandering the streets! Plus, the mighty Columbia River is perfect for white-water rafting. A small town in the mountains, Radium Hot Springs combines old-world charm with the natural beauty of the Kootenay Rockies.

Population

Radium Hot Springs has a population of 1,000.

Elevation

808 m (2,651 ft).

Fun facts

The town is named for the hot springs complex that resides in it.

6 . Nelson

Nelson, British Columbia

CALL DIRECT: +1 (250) 352 - 7222

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Following the discovery of silver, Nelson, British Columbia became a boom town. During the Vietnam War, many draft dodgers settled in Nelson - an influx of liberal, educated young people who greatly influenced the town’s cultural landscape.

These days, the ‘Queen City’ features an impressive collection (more than 350) of restored heritage buildings from its glory days that capture the Victorian style. Nelson is surrounded by beautiful British Columbia scenery with Kootenay Lake and the Selkirk Mountains posing a dramatic picture in the background. The town has also earned a respected reputation as an artistic center. With its charming natural beauty and historic perseverance, Nelson has become an idyllic home to artists from all mediums. Nelson is filled with plenty of activities. The town is all uphill, so you’d better bring your walking shoes. Or learn about Nelson’s architectural heritage with a driving tour of the town. Spend nights at the theater! Drama, comedy, dance or music – there’s always a performance occurring. And don’t miss the galleries, boutiques and festivals that draw tourists to Nelson year after year! Blooming from a boom town, Nelson has thrived off its cultural and artistic community.

Population

Nelson has a population of 9,258.

Fun facts

Nelson was rated the No. 1 Small Town Arts Community in Canada by the publisher of The 100 Best Small Arts Towns in America.

Related activities

Skiing is Nelson’s primary outdoor activity and with the Selkirk Mountains towering in the background, you’ll have plenty of access to trails.

7 . Cranbrook

Cranbrook, British Columbia

CALL DIRECT: +1 (250) 417 - 0444

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Amidst the Kootenay Rockies, Cranbrook receives more sunshine than any city in British Columbia. With the establishment of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Crowsnest Pass in 1898, Cranbrook became a major commercial center.

Today, Cranbrook is a preserved historical city where people raise families and retire. The town has a strong community supporting everything from hockey to high school activities. Cultural and recreation as well as sports breathe life into this small city. Cranbrook is home to the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel, an award-winning museum featuring ‘Deluxe Hotels-On-Wheels’ from the 1880s to the 1930s. Be sure to visit the living museum, the restored Fort Steele ghost town. Townspeople in period costumes wander the streets and perform staged history. Hockey is the most popular sport in Cranbrook, and is home to more than 13 retired and current NHL players. Make sure to catch Cranbrook’s own team, the Kootenay Ice of the WHL in action. If you miss the season, play a round of championship golf at one of six distinctive courses surrounding the city. A railway town, a mill town and a commercial center, Cranbrook may look like a big city but its exudes small town charm and community.

Population

Cranbrook has a population of 18,947.

Fun facts

Cranbrook is home to more than 13 NHL players including Steve Yzerman and Scott and Ron Niedermayer.

Highlights

Visit the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel which features rail cars built in the 1920s.

8 . Salmon Arm

Salmon Arm, British Columbia

CALL DIRECT: +1 (250) 833 - 5800

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Halfway between Calgary and Vancouver lies the small town of Salmon Arm. On the shores of Shuswap Lake, Salmon Arm bore its roots as a railway camp. The town became an official British Columbia city in 2005.

Salmon Arm is fast becoming one of British Columbia’s most popular tourist towns. The town is surrounded by stunning natural beauty which has been carefully preserved for centuries. Numerous beaches line the shores of Shuswap Lake. Salmon Arm is home to the world’s largest wooden wharf in North American where tourists often rent houseboats for their stay. Fish off the wharf for famed steelhead and Kamloops trout. Peter Jannink Nature Park is a popular reserve for birdwatching. Dogsled through town and on through the mountains. The town is home to the annual Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival which draws national acts such as The Pointer Sisters. Salmon Arm is home to a booming arts community – you’ll find theaters, museums, libraries and art galleries. And you don’t have to travel south to see alpaca. These furry animals live in town! The unfettered topography of Salmon Arm makes it a favorite destination for tourists and residents alike.

Population

Salmon Arm has a population of 16,205.

Fun facts

Salmon Arm’s sister city is Inashiki, Ibaraki, Japan.

Related activities

The Salmon Arm Bay Nature Enhancement Area is an ecological site for wildlife viewing.

9 . Vernon

Vernon, British Columbia

CALL DIRECT: +1 (250) 558 - 5991

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Vernon’s history begins as a trading post alongside Swan Lake. The town has grown into a strong arts and culture community ranking as one of the top six most desirable communities to retire to in North America by Consumer Reports.

With more than 100 lakes, world-renowned golf, the Canadian Rockies and so much more, this family-friendly, colorful destination is a tourist’s dream. Vernon is the largest city in British Columbia’s North Okanagan Regional District. Fast becoming a mountain biking haven, Vernon offers several parks that are developed to ‘Whistler Standards’ by the North Okanagan Cycling Society. Visit the Swan Lake Nature Reserve for great bird watching opportunities – expect to see loons, herons, sandpipers and more! Several of the top ski resorts in North America are found in Vernon. Engage your creative side! A variety of art galleries, theatres, concert halls, craft fairs and festivals make Vernon a vibrant city center. The Vernon Film Society presents live entertainment on stage. And don’t forget about the Thompson Okanagan Summer Wine Festival that takes place in Vernon. Whether you’re visiting for a day or a week, Vernon is a majestic destination in the beautiful Okanagan Valley.

Population

Vernon has a population of 35,944.

Fun facts

Vernon is named after Forbes George Vernon, a former MLA of British Columbia who helped found Coldstream Ranch.

Highlights

Take in a Vernon Vipers game, one of the most decorated junior hockey teams in Canadian history.

Named after a local farmstead, Richmond, British Columbia is known for its natural beauty garnering it the nickname ‘Garden City’. Home to the Vancouver International Airport, Richmond is one of the first places you can visit in British Columbia.

Located at the mouth of the Fraser River, this coastal town is comprised of 17 islands and Steveston – the largest commercial fishing harbor in Canada. Richmond is home to a diverse population of people and neighborhoods. In fact, more than half of the town’s population is Asian. Richmond is filled with a vast amount of family-friendly, year-round activities. Visit the historic fishing village of Steveston and tour Fisherman’s Wharf and the Britannia Shipyard National Historic Site. Play at the Richmond Oval, home to several of the speed skating competitions during the 2010 Winter Olympics. And charter a whale watching excursion for an experience of a lifetime! Get close to British Columbia’s diverse marine ecosystem including porpoises, sea lions, bald eagles and seals. Discover Richmond’s cultural cuisine! The town boasts the best Asian fare and local seafood, as well as delightful international dining – Italian, Greek, French and more! Fall in love with Richmond – a multi-ethnic coastal town in British Columbia!

Population

Richmond has a population of 174,461.

Highlights

The annual Steveston Salmon Festival is held on Canada Day and includes a huge barbecued salmon sale.

Fun facts

The Richmond Oval Arena was a site for the speed skating competition for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

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