Quirky Attractions in the Kootenays
Unique, historic, and cultural gems to visit.
BC’s cities have many secrets—be it a little-known speakeasy, a historic bowling alley, or out-of-this-world pineapple buns. Discover each gem for yourself. Bowling shoes optional.
Visit Chinatown’s Rennie Museum, and view pieces from one of the country’s largest collections of contemporary art. Post tour, head to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden to try your hand at Tai Chi or participate in a tea ceremony that is steeped in tradition.
Cap off the night in BC’s biggest city at the Commodore Lanes on Granville Street. Five-pin action, billiard tables, and an arcade—plus the licensed lounge—beckon at Canada’s oldest bowling alley, set beneath Vancouver’s concert-friendly Commodore Ballroom.
Start your day at the Parliamentary Dining Room in Victoria’s Legislative Building. Order the classic Rattenbury breakfast (a nod to the building’s architect), and rub elbows with political decision-makers in BC’s capital. Tip: sign up for the free tour that follows. Continue your education at nearby Emily Carr House, where curator Jan Ross provides an insightful account of the celebrated Canadian artist and author’s life.
Still got steam? Stop at Capital Iron to peruse marine artifacts, including massive compasses, ship’s wheels, antique diving suits, and disarmed artillery and naval shells salvaged from dismantled ships. Or sign up for a 90-minute Discover the Past Ghostly Walk, and explore the city’s haunted past with historian John Adams.
If you’re feeling adventurous, lace up for a two-wheel ride through Train Wreck, a smattering of seven train cars that derailed decades ago on Whistler’s south side. Set near the Cheakamus River, and accessed by a new suspension bridge from the Cheakamus Crossing neighborhood, Train Wreck draws pedal pushers, thanks to its intermediate bike trail. Bonus: dramatic graffiti art has transformed the wreckage into a photo-friendly work of art.
After a day’s play, head back to the village for a pit stop at Portobello, in the Chateau Fairmont at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. Your reward: a decadent bacon maple-cream doughnut.
The Gulf of Georgia Cannery in the historic village of Steveston was once the leading producer of canned salmon in BC. While the machines have ceased their work, the site offers a fascinating glimpse into the west coast fishing industry. Tip: admittance is free in 2017, to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation.
If you’re peckish, check out the edible delights along the wharf, or search further afield to feed your appetite. Worthy options in Richmond include the lick-your-fingers barbecue-roasted pork at HK BBQ Master, located in—of all places—the parkade of the Real Canadian Superstore on No. 3 Road. Prefer something sweet? Head to Lido’s for a pineapple bun, a soft, warm treat with a flaky top (its golden dome resembles pineapple). Ask for a slab of butter, and it let melt deliciously into every bite.
If you’re feeling creative (or just convivial), make your way to Wine & Art, in the city’s downtown core. Sit at the communal table and pair your BC beverage with halibut tacos, charcuterie, and more, or sign up for Wine and Paint Classes that include expert instruction and nibbles with a glass of red or white.
Order something different at Kelowna’s secret speakeasy: Bar Norcino. To unearth this little-known gem, ask the bartender at Curious Café for access, and wait to be escorted to a 33-seat cocktail lounge that serves up Prohibition-era cocktails, fine spirits, and single-malt whiskies.
Wrap up the weekend with a hip hop brunch at Krafty Kitchen + Bar. Here, owner and chef Chris Shaften, a Top Chef Season 3 competitor, serves up specials with a hearty side of rap music. Order a Biggie Smalls Benedict or the Straight Outta Compton Burger.
See the city through a different lens with Studio Five-O. Sign up for a Crazy About Loons Photo Tour, and zoom in on the feathered creatures that nest and raise their chicks in the area. Or channel your cowboy spirit with a photography workshop at the Photo Ranch, north of the city. For the latter, a rustic barn and more than eight hectares (20 acres) of grassland makes a unique setting for shutterbug enthusiasts.
Back in Kamloops, make like a local, and head to the The Noble Pig for deep-fried pickles paired with housemade lagers, pale ales, and more. If you need more by way of sustenance, aim for the monthly Spiked Pig dinners, where themed menus include five courses paired with the latest from brewer Trevor Zechel.
Featured image: Victoria’s Parliament Buildings. Photo: Reuben Krabbe
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