Things to see and do in British Columbia
Attractions in British Columbia
Fossil hunters can see specimens dating back 50 million years at Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park.
Many visitors are eager for a close encounter of the furred kind with foraging black bears; prime viewing areas include Wells Gray Provincial Park and rural roads nears Kamloops and Merritt. Learn about bear safety first, and keep a safe distance. Never approach or feed them.
Gastown, the city's reconstructed old centre, is a pleasant array of cobblestone streets, cafés and shops. Museums and galleries include the University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology, Science World and the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
Salmon is especially plentiful around Vancouver Island, and the Kootenay Rockies offer the best bass fishing in the province. Other fish include halibut, cod, trout, whitefish and turbot. There are more than 200 lakes within an hour of Kamloops. Licences are required.
More than 400 glaciers continue to sculpt the dramatic Columbia Mountains and to feed the crystal-clear rivers in the spectacular Glacier National Park.
In Vancouver, stroll through Stanley Park. Long-distance hiking trails include the beautiful West Coast Trail in Pacific Rim National Park and the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, both on Vancouver Island. You can see giant trees in the old coastal rainforests on the island's Pacific coast.
Lakes and deserts
Vineyard views and their vinous produce abound in British Columbia's 'playground' around Lake Okanagan. The northern tip of Mexico's Sonora Desert ends in this rich countryside and azure-blue waters. Autumn wine tours attract many visitors. Shuswap Lake offers resort-like summer weather and excellent boating opportunities.
Other winter sports
If you tire of straightforward skiing, there's also snowboarding, glacier skiing (in summer), heli-skiing or cat skiing. Cross-country skiing is widely practised, and ski touring through backcountry forests is popular.
Historic towns are dotted along the Cariboo Gold Rush route. Common stops include 100 Mile House, which recalls the days when Cariboo pioneers measured journeys by the distance from the Gold Rush town of Lillooet, otherwise known as 'Mile 0'.
Ranches and lodges
Vast tracts of untamed lakeland, forest and wilderness define the Cariboo. The arid, desert-like terrain is best known for its guest ranch accommodation and winter lodge facilities.
Royal British Columbia Museum
The Royal British Columbia Museum in BC's capital city, Victoria, is home to exceptional collections of First Nations masks and totem poles, as well as other items from the province's history. After exploring the museum, take in the sights of charming Victoria, whose stately buildings and red pillar boxes give a pronounced British feel.
The Silvery Slocan Circle Driving Tour meanders past numerous historic landmarks, such as the historic logging town of Kaslo, which populates the hills and shoreline of Kootenay Lake, and the town of Nelson, home to hundreds of heritage buildings.
Also in Vancouver, the Grouse Mountain Skyride on the North Shore offers views of the city and fjords of the Pacific coast. You'll find more breathtaking city and coastal views in Vancouver's eastern suburbs at Burnaby Mountain Park.
The Rocky and Coast Mountains offer superb skiing. One of Canada's best-known ski resorts is Whistler, which will co-host the 2010 Winter Olympics. Other well-known centres include Fernie, Red Mountain (home to several of Canada's Olympic ski medallists), Kimberley, Sun Peaks, Kicking Horse and Big White.
Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island on the Pacific coast, British Columbia's capital city of Victoria boasts a population of 78, 000. Named after the UK's Queen Victoria it is one of the oldest cities in the Northwest and home to a number of historic buildings like the British Columbia Parliament Buildings and the Empress Hotel. Visitors can also enjoy a number of museums here such as the Royal BC Museum and the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, plus a wealth of natural scenic beauty and a beautiful temperate climate.
Volcanoes and natives
The Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed, a sacred Aboriginal site about 100km (62 miles) north of Terrace, is a unique volcanic landscape where you can learn about Nisga'a culture and legends. The Queen Charlotte Islands are also inhabited by several Aboriginal communities, and are accessible by boat or floatplane.
Excellent sailing, canoeing and white-water rafting are all available in British Columbia, with its ample lakes and rivers, and long Pacific coast. The sheltered Inside Passage from Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert is particularly popular. Expect beautiful views of the fjord-indented coastline and snow-capped Coast Mountains.
You might spot orca (killer), humpback, grey or minke whales on whale-watching cruises. In March, the Pacific Rim Whale Festival celebrates the yearly migration of Pacific grey whales. Watch for whales in remote towns Tofino and Ucluelet, near Pacific Rim National Park, which is full of sandy beaches and wilderness.
The Okanagan Wine Route winds through the vineyards of the Thompson Okanagan Valley, the oldest wine-producing region in British Columbia. There are more than 100 wineries in the region, and the valley holds four wine festivals each year.
World Heritage Site
More than one million seabirds and animals populate one of Canada's many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve.
British Columbia Tourism Visitor CentreAddress: 111 Golden Donald Upper Road, Golden, V0A 1H1
Telephone: +1 250 344 7711.
Daily 0900-1600 (Oct-May); Daily 0900-1700 (Jun & Sep); Daily 0900-2000 (Jul-Aug).