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British Columbia, Canada

British-Columbia

Great Destination:

5

Value for Money:

5

Total Stars:

9.9

Personality Types that Like it Best

All personalities like it, especially Venturesome types

Did You Know…?

  • Seventy-five percent of British Columbia is mountainous, 60% is forested.
  • The province (364,764 square miles) is larger than California, Oregon and Washington combined.
  • British Columbia hosts more than 30 aboriginal nations in 197 communities.
  • Some Carmanah Walbran Park cedars are more than 1,000 years old.
  • The province counts 451 fish species (368 saltwater).

One splendid location

British Columbia and all its visitors benefit from the province’s splendid location on Canada’s west coast, with the ocean to one side and mountains on the other. Those features create a mild climate conducive to agriculture — including grapes for wine — and a range of leisure activities as varied as sailing and golfing, skiing and mountain climbing.

The destination appeals, as well, based on a common language, proximity and a sense of familiarity for Americans, plus the contrasts embodied in spectacular and varied scenery at all elevations, the Britishness of the urban scenes and the aboriginal culture of many nations.

Americans find it comfortable to visit British Columbia. There is a sense the province is of a piece with the U.S. Pacific Northwest and the locals are like any good neighbors — very welcoming. So, it’s surprising to hear travelers say they find Canada’s west coast to be “very different” from the U.S. in terms of scenery, local attitudes and culture. Of course, these differences make travel fun.

Visitors most often discuss Victoria, the island capital, and Vancouver, the city often deemed the most beautiful in North America. Many say it is a “veddy British” outpost in Canada and that Anglophiles will appreciate the ambience — civilized, but not stuffy.

In addition, those at the midpoint in the personality scale describe a picture-book scene when they refer to distinctive architecture, flowers everywhere, little or no congestion and, above all, a “very, very, very clean” place. They praise Victoria, the “English” city, surrounded by water and filled with flowers. In Vancouver, they love Stanley Park with its gardens, Indian totems and views of the city.

The venturesome and others enjoy excursions into the interior. Places like Whistler Mountain and Emerald Lake lure these travelers for recreation and breathtaking vistas of snow-capped mountains and the lakes below. Actives fish the streams, take hikes, walk trails or ski mountain slopes.

While British Columbia seems created for the active traveler, it offers plenty for all personality types. For example, at Whistler, choices range from skiing and hiking to strolling around Whistler Village, shopping and sipping tea or wine at quaint restaurants.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Take a guided expedition — rock climbing, rappelling and cave explorations — in the caverns at Horne Lake on Vancouver Island.
  • Join the annual three-day Sun Peaks cattle drive in the province’s Thompson Okanagan region. You’ll sleep in a tent, learn to saddle and care for your horse and help move a herd of cattle up the mountain.
  • Go fishing. With the right licenses, you can go for salmon or trout or even for huge sturgeon.
  • Visit the Homathko River-Tatlayoko Protected Area in southwestern British Columbia. A good choice for experienced back-country users only, it has no trails or roads. Also, the Homathko River is considered too dangerous for canoeists, kayakers or rafters. Nevertheless, the rewards are spectacular scenery (including icefields) and wildlife viewing that can include bald eagles, grizzlies, moose, mountain goats and mule deer. And opportunities include hiking and mountaineering, as well as windsurfing and kayaking on Tatlayoko Lake.
  • Take courses in mountaineering at Burnie Glacier Chalet in northern British Columbia. Alternatively, take a more focused course in rock climbing or ice climbing. Then, use your new skills.
  • Join a snowshoeing trek and do some ice fishing at Beaver Lake Resort. Or, in another season, take a llama trek through the wilderness in northern British Columbia.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Bike Vancouver’s seawall paths (which are flat) or join one of the daily hosted city cycle tours offered by City by Cycle.
  • Go hiking. The province has more than 2,174 miles of hiking trails.
  • Travel and sightsee by rail: Rocky Mountaineer Railtours in summer operates tourist train packages between Vancouver and other points in British Columbia (Kamloops) or points beyond (Jasper, Banff and Calgary).
  • Float — on a raft, that is — along the Bella Coola or Atnarko river. Look for wildlife on the shores, in the water and in the air.
  • Attend a wildlife festival. There are around 20 such events in British Columbia, celebrating bears, birds, whales — but most often, salmon. At some events, celebrants observe or help introduce hatchery salmon to the wild, and later in the year, celebrate the return of the salmon.
  • Sample sake from Canada’s first sake winery, the Artisan SakeMaker Studio on Granville Island which sits in Vancouver’s False Creek.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Although flying is an option, take a ferry to Vancouver Island for a memorable experience. Make Butchart Gardens, where thousands of flowers flame with color, a first stop on the island.
  • See the totem poles and huge carved masks at the Museum of Anthropology on the University of British Columbia campus.
  • Provide yourself with a self-guided tour of Vancouver using the city’s hop-on, hop-off sightseeing trolleys. Tickets are good for two days.
  • Play golf. Whistler describes itself as an international destination for this, but there are courses throughout the southern part of the province, including in Vancouver, Victoria and Langley in wine country. The province counts nearly 200 courses.
  • Visit the Quw’utsun Cultural Centre in Duncan on Vancouver Island. It tells the stories of the native Cowichan people, the largest aboriginal band in British Columbia, with more than 3,900 members. Also, sample native foods in the Riverwalk Cafe. Groups can arrange for a salmon barbeque and Cowichan singing, dancing and drumming performances.
  • Spend a day in Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island visiting local wineries as well as a cidery. Or visit the wineries on the island’s Saanich Peninsula.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Destination British Columbia at www.hellobc.com