Know Before You Go:

Find current travel restrictions, wildfire info, and other key resources. Learn more

CLOSE

Places You’ve Probably Never Heard of in BC

Share  Facebook Twitter Pinterest | Print Your browser does not support SVG.
Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery in Creston | Kari Medig

Discover the British Columbia that’s hiding in plain sight.

You may think you know British Columbia. But there is always something new to discover here, experiences so thrilling you just can’t wait to tell your friends back home. A mountain trail that leads to the most heart-stoppingly scenic peak. A bike route that soars along breathtaking canyons. Historic towns with charming shops, gourmet eats, and world-class wineries. Yep, BC has got it all.

And oftentimes the best, most exclusive experiences can be found off the well-trodden track. So be open to more by discovering the British Columbia even the locals don’t always know. Find it in these regions that are just waiting for you to explore.

Note: This story was written specifically for the unique travel circumstances of 2021. Information is accurate at the time of publication; we recommend you contact businesses directly to confirm availability and familiarize yourself with their COVID policies.

Taves Family Farms | @vancitywild
Taves Family Farms | @vancitywild

Fraser Valley

The Fraser Valley is a vast region on Vancouver’s doorstep, where city deliciously meets country. Venture off busy Highway 1 and you will discover country roads that wind past farms, through historic communities, and along the mighty Fraser River as it continues its 1,375-kilomtere journey from the Rocky Mountains.

For thousands of years before the explorer Simon Fraser made his way to the valley that bears his name, Indigenous people have made this their home. Sto:Lo Cultural Tours based out of Chilliwack are a fun, thoughtful way to learn about the traditions of the vibrant Coast Salish people. Europeans arrived in the 19th century, and among their oldest communities is Fort Langley, the village that grew up around the former Hudson’s Bay Company trading post established in 1827. Its shops, restaurants, and historic homes make it a lovely place to explore (and may look familiar from all the movies they’ve been featured in). So, too, are the beautifully updated shopping areas of both Historic Downtown Abbotsford and District 1881 in downtown Chilliwack.

Outside the urban centres, there’s plenty of family-friendly fun to be had on the farm. Go apple picking in September and, in October, visit the pumpkin patches at Taves Family Farms, Willow View Farms, and Maan Farms.

Among the valley’s most famous crops is hops, and this is an excellent place to enjoy a pint of the best. Follow the BC Ale Trail to exceptional breweries, brewpubs, and tasting rooms like Trading Post Tap House & Eatery in Fort Langley, the Indigenous-owned Ravens Brewing in Abbotsford or, in Chilliwack, Farmhouse Brewing. One good place to sample all that’s brewing here is Langley’s brand-new tap room, The Barley Merchant.

This is also wine country, with a number of wineries tucked in Langley’s rolling hills. Among them is Township 7, whose sparkling wine is considered among the world’s best, Backyard Vineyards, Chaberton Estate Winery, the new fruit winery Sinocan, and Vista D’oro, which is equally famous for its inventive preserves.

Where to stay:
One of the easiest ways to get to the Fraser Valley is to take a flight from Calgary or Edmonton to Abbotsford International Airport. For overnights, consider the cute Princess and the Pea B&B in Langley, Abbotsford’s Brookside Inn, with its exquisite small property with epic breakfasts and movie-themed guest rooms, or the vintage touches, including claw-foot tubs, at The Royal Hotel in Chilliwack.

Cathedral Provincial Park | Stirl and Rae Photo
Cathedral Provincial Park | Stirl and Rae Photo

Similkameen Valley

The ruggedly beautiful Similkameen Valley winds through the mountains west of Osoyoos, its steep slopes striped with vineyards and fruit trees. This is the organic capital of Canada and a growing wine region, and until recently the best reason to stop here was to hit the fruit stands and load up on peaches, cider, and samosas.

But over the last few years, the Similkameen has become an under-the radar destination for people-in-the know seeking breathtaking outdoor adventure, stunning natural beauty, and some of the best food and wine in Canada.

Experiences tend to be understated and casual, so one of the best ways to discover the region is by taking a tour. Valhalla Helicopter Tours offers a bird’s-eye view of the valley as it follows the twisting Similkameen River, where you’ll often spot anglers fishing for trout. Similkameen Sip and Cycle provides bike rentals and self-guided tours around Keremeos and Cawston, including their exceptional wineries. If two-wheeling is more effort than you’d like, or you plan to buy some of the big, well-structured reds and electric Rieslings, Grape Escapes Tours lets you explore in comfort.

For a deeper dive into the mining and other history of the region, step into the past at the Snaza’ist Discovery Centre, operated by the Upper Similkameen Indian Band. And if rugged outdoor adventure is more your thing, Cathedral Provincial Park is a place of jagged mountain peaks, crystal-clear lakes, the rustic Cathedral Lakes Lodge and, in fall, the brilliant colours of changing leaves.

Where to stay:
Outside of RV parks, accommodation here is mainly in guest houses attached to farms and wineries, such as the ones at Crowsnest Vineyards, Orofino Vineyards, and Rustic Roots Organic Winery and Cidery.

Cascade Falls near Christina Lake | @kootenay.time
Cascade Falls near Christina Lake | @kootenay.time

Boundary Country

Caught between the Okanagan Plateau and Monashee Mountains, just north of the U.S. border, Boundary Country is a place of lakes for boating, mountains for climbing, and a fascinating history that can be discovered in charming towns including Christina Lake, Grand Forks, Rock Creek, and Midway.

That history includes the thriving culture of the Sinixt, an Interior Salish people who live throughout the region and into Washington State. It also recounts how the landscape changed dramatically in the 19th century with the quest for precious minerals—first gold and then copper. Those who struck it rich built grand homes in Greenwood and Grand Forks, and created the Kettle Valley Railway to get the ore to market.

In the 1990s, the railway was transformed into the multi-use Kettle Valley Rail Trail, which stretches from Hope to Castelgar, with some of its most scenic stretches in Boundary Country. It is part of some 2,000 kilometres of trails to explore here—including the Trans-Canada Trail—so bring your hiking boots and your mountain bike.

If you’re not on a trail, you’ll want to get out on the water. Several rivers run through the region, but the 290-kilometre-long Kettle River offers the best options for floating, paddling, and fishing, especially drift fishing by pontoon boat. Meanwhile, the deep, warm Christina Lake is a paradise for boaters, paddlers, and swimmers alike.

Afterwards, pop into one of the nearby towns for a bite to eat and a taste of culture—check out Gallery 2 in Grand Forks or the Kettle River Museum in Midway.

Where to stay:
This area is popular for campers and RV-ers, but for those seeking something different, Second Breakfast Hideaway is a hobbit-house-like earth dwelling east of Osoyoos, while the Old Cowboy Ranch near Rock Creek is a working ranch with easy access to the Rail Trail.

Bighorn sheep | Kari Medig

Kootenay Rockies

Nature is wild in the Kootenay Rockies. Jagged snow-capped peaks tower over lush valleys. Rushing rivers tumble down rocky slopes. Dark, mysterious forests rustle with wildlife. Lakes plunge to untold depths.

Countless hiking trails for every fitness level meander through the hills near Kimberley, Invermere, Nelson, and Golden, all offering spectacular views. Prefer a gnarlier, more heart-pumping adventure? Then hop on your bike and explore the countless cycling trails.

While you do, keep an eye out for wildlife. The Birdwatchers Route is the best way to spot the hundreds of species that call this home, as well as the thousands of migratory birds that flock here in spring and fall. The 7,000-hectare Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area is home to an incredible array of biodiversity, including more than 300 bird species and 60 mammals such as bears, lynx, and elk. Don’t miss the annual Headbanger Festival in Radium, which celebrates the magnificent bighorn sheep each fall.

Nature is also civilized here. There are great golf courses, hot springs, breweries such as Erie Creek Brewing Company in Salmo, Tailout Brewing in Castlegar, and the Trail Beer Refinery, as well as a growing number of wineries in the Creston area, including Baillie Grohman, Skimmerhorn, and Red Bird Estate.

Communities like Nelson and Kaslo charm with their 19th century downtowns and heritage homes, courtesy of the region’s mining boom. The Indigenous culture of the Kootenays is also celebrated through tours, attractions, and interpretative centres. Among them: Legend Logos & Lake Tours near Creston; Ktunaxa Interpretive Centre at St. Eugene, a golf resort near Cranbrook; and Ainsworth Hot Springs, which is owned by the Lower Kootenay Band, members of the Ktunaxa Nation.

Where to stay:
In Nelson, the historic Hume Hotel couldn’t be more conveniently located. Or head to the hills and check out Copper Point Resort in Invermere, Northstar Mountain Village and Mountain Spirit in Kimberley, or Fairmont Hot Springs farther north.

WRITTEN BY: Joanne Sasvari

From: North Vancouver
Joanne Sasvari has travelled to many places around the globe, writing about food, drink and culture, but her favourite destination is right here at home in British Columbia. Based in North Vancouver, she writes about BC for a variety of print and online publications, and is also the author of Frommer’s EasyGuide to Vancouver & Victoria. When not exploring the most delicious corners of the province, she edits Westcoast Homes & Design magazine and uses her Wine and Spirits Education Trust training to savour the best local libations.

MENTIONED IN THIS STORY

Museums & Heritage Sites, Accessibility

Fort Langley National Historic Site

COVID-19 update: We are offering limited visitor access and basic services as of June 8, 2020. Please see our website for details. Experience the...

Phone: (604) 513-4777

View Listing

Farms & Markets

Applebarn at Taves Family Farms

Over 30 years ago, the Taves started the Applebarn Pumpkin Farm in Abbotsford, BC, with the dream of providing a farm-fun experience centered...

Phone: (604) 853-3108

View Listing

Farms & Markets

Maan Farms Country Experience

From one small berry stand, Maan Farms has grown into a place with something for everyone, whether you want to sample the fresh berries, fruits...

Phone: (604) 852-5722

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries

Ravens Brewing Company

At Ravens Brewing we strive to make sure everyone is welcome. A great list of core and rotating beers are always available. Stop in and grab a...

Phone: (604) 467-7346

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours

Township 7 Vineyards & Winery (South Langley)

In 2001 this is where it all started in the 7th Township of Langley. While some things have changed, like signage and our new cellar style...

Phone: (250) 770-1743

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours

Backyard Vineyards

Backyard Vineyards is nestled in the lush countryside of south Langley, less than an hour's drive from Vancouver. At Backyard Vineyards they...

Phone: (604) 539-9463

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours, Accessibility

Chaberton Estate Winery

One of the largest and the oldest estate wineries in BC. Located just 45 minutes from Vancouver. Open Daily. Free public winery tours/tastings....

Phone: (604) 530-1736

View Listing

Bed & Breakfasts, Accessibility

Princess and the Pea Hotel

Princess and the Pea is a romantic country inn that has the highest standards at very affordable pricing. For one night or a longer stay you will...

Phone: (604) 833-9605

View Listing

Hotels, Accessibility

The Royal Hotel Chilliwack

Welcome to the Royal Hotel. A small boutique style heritage hotel full of charm, located right in the heart of downtown Chilliwack. The area is...

Phone: (888) 434-3388

View Listing

Sightseeing, Wineries & Wine Tours

Valhalla Helicopters

Come view the beautiful Okanagan from the air with Valhalla Helicopters. Soar over the lakes, wild lands, vineyards, golf courses, rivers, cities...

Phone: (250) 769-1486

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours

Grape Escapes Wine Tours

Dare to enjoy our wine tours without dashes of pretentiousness or hints of snootiness. Grape Escapes believes that wine should be all about having...

Phone: (877) 362-3382

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Cathedral Provincial Park

Phone: (250) 548-0076

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Accessibility

Fort Langley National Historic Site

COVID-19 update: We are offering limited visitor access and basic services as of June 8, 2020. Please see our website for details. Experience the...

Phone: (604) 513-4777

View Listing

Farms & Markets

Applebarn at Taves Family Farms

Over 30 years ago, the Taves started the Applebarn Pumpkin Farm in Abbotsford, BC, with the dream of providing a farm-fun experience centered...

Phone: (604) 853-3108

View Listing

Farms & Markets

Maan Farms Country Experience

From one small berry stand, Maan Farms has grown into a place with something for everyone, whether you want to sample the fresh berries, fruits...

Phone: (604) 852-5722

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries

Ravens Brewing Company

At Ravens Brewing we strive to make sure everyone is welcome. A great list of core and rotating beers are always available. Stop in and grab a...

Phone: (604) 467-7346

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours

Township 7 Vineyards & Winery (South Langley)

In 2001 this is where it all started in the 7th Township of Langley. While some things have changed, like signage and our new cellar style...

Phone: (250) 770-1743

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours

Backyard Vineyards

Backyard Vineyards is nestled in the lush countryside of south Langley, less than an hour's drive from Vancouver. At Backyard Vineyards they...

Phone: (604) 539-9463

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours, Accessibility

Chaberton Estate Winery

One of the largest and the oldest estate wineries in BC. Located just 45 minutes from Vancouver. Open Daily. Free public winery tours/tastings....

Phone: (604) 530-1736

View Listing

Bed & Breakfasts, Accessibility

Princess and the Pea Hotel

Princess and the Pea is a romantic country inn that has the highest standards at very affordable pricing. For one night or a longer stay you will...

Phone: (604) 833-9605

View Listing

Hotels, Accessibility

The Royal Hotel Chilliwack

Welcome to the Royal Hotel. A small boutique style heritage hotel full of charm, located right in the heart of downtown Chilliwack. The area is...

Phone: (888) 434-3388

View Listing

Sightseeing, Wineries & Wine Tours

Valhalla Helicopters

Come view the beautiful Okanagan from the air with Valhalla Helicopters. Soar over the lakes, wild lands, vineyards, golf courses, rivers, cities...

Phone: (250) 769-1486

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours

Grape Escapes Wine Tours

Dare to enjoy our wine tours without dashes of pretentiousness or hints of snootiness. Grape Escapes believes that wine should be all about having...

Phone: (877) 362-3382

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Cathedral Provincial Park

Phone: (250) 548-0076

View Listing

Fishing, Hiking, Cabins & Cottages, Resorts & Wilderness Lodges

Cathedral Lakes Lodge

Cathedral Lakes Lodge is situated at Quiniscoe Lake, 2000 metres (6800 ft) above sea level in the centre of Cathedral Provincial Park, BC. You are...

Phone: (888) 255-4453

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours, Bed & Breakfasts

Crowsnest Vineyards

Family owned winery in its 25th year in the Similkameen Valley. Winery, Restaurant and B&B that showcases all things Similkameen. Come and enjoy...

Phone: (250) 499-5129

View Listing

Horseback Riding & Ranches

Old Cowboy Ranch

The Old Cowboy Ranch is located just 3 km north of Westbridge, British Columbia on Hwy#33. Riverside campground, horseback riding and more. On the...

Phone: (888) 299-0592

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries

Erie Creek Brewing Company

Family Friendly Music Lounge and Brewery. Our Kootenay crafted beer is made with pure untreated water. We don't use any additives, preservatives...

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries

Tailout Brewing

Passion for everything outdoors, crafted into beer and served for friends. Make Tailout your spot to unwind after a long day of powder turns or...

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours, Accessibility

Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery

Baillie-Grohmans premium award winning boutique wines are grown, handcrafted and bottled in small lots in the breathtaking Creston Valley in...

Phone: (250) 428-8768

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours

Skimmerhorn Winery and Vineyard

Phone: (250) 428-4911

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours

Red Bird Estate Winery

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Golf, Hotels, Accessibility

St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino

Framed by the Rockies, the Purcells and the famous St Mary River, the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino is a spectacular destination for getaways,...

Phone: (250) 420-2000

View Listing

Hot Springs, Indigenous Culture, Hotels, Accessibility

Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort

The Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort is a four season destination featuring contemporary hotel guest rooms, patio views from the Yaqan Nukiy rooms,...

Phone: (250) 229-4212

View Listing

Spas & Wellness, Hotels, Accessibility

Hume Hotel & Spa

The Hume Hotel is a full-service Nelson landmark originally built in 1898 and is a must-see part of your trip to the area. We just completed a...

Phone: (250) 352-5331

View Listing

Golf, Hotels, Resorts & Wilderness Lodges

Copper Point Resort

Surround yourself with gorgeous Rocky Mountain views and a staff that loves outdoor pursuits as much as you do. After a day on our onsite...

Phone: (855) 926-7737

View Listing

Fishing, Hiking, Cabins & Cottages, Resorts & Wilderness Lodges

Cathedral Lakes Lodge

Cathedral Lakes Lodge is situated at Quiniscoe Lake, 2000 metres (6800 ft) above sea level in the centre of Cathedral Provincial Park, BC. You are...

Phone: (888) 255-4453

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours, Bed & Breakfasts

Crowsnest Vineyards

Family owned winery in its 25th year in the Similkameen Valley. Winery, Restaurant and B&B that showcases all things Similkameen. Come and enjoy...

Phone: (250) 499-5129

View Listing

Horseback Riding & Ranches

Old Cowboy Ranch

The Old Cowboy Ranch is located just 3 km north of Westbridge, British Columbia on Hwy#33. Riverside campground, horseback riding and more. On the...

Phone: (888) 299-0592

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries

Erie Creek Brewing Company

Family Friendly Music Lounge and Brewery. Our Kootenay crafted beer is made with pure untreated water. We don't use any additives, preservatives...

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries

Tailout Brewing

Passion for everything outdoors, crafted into beer and served for friends. Make Tailout your spot to unwind after a long day of powder turns or...

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours, Accessibility

Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery

Baillie-Grohmans premium award winning boutique wines are grown, handcrafted and bottled in small lots in the breathtaking Creston Valley in...

Phone: (250) 428-8768

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours

Skimmerhorn Winery and Vineyard

Phone: (250) 428-4911

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours

Red Bird Estate Winery

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Golf, Hotels, Accessibility

St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino

Framed by the Rockies, the Purcells and the famous St Mary River, the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino is a spectacular destination for getaways,...

Phone: (250) 420-2000

View Listing

Hot Springs, Indigenous Culture, Hotels, Accessibility

Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort

The Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort is a four season destination featuring contemporary hotel guest rooms, patio views from the Yaqan Nukiy rooms,...

Phone: (250) 229-4212

View Listing

Spas & Wellness, Hotels, Accessibility

Hume Hotel & Spa

The Hume Hotel is a full-service Nelson landmark originally built in 1898 and is a must-see part of your trip to the area. We just completed a...

Phone: (250) 352-5331

View Listing

Golf, Hotels, Resorts & Wilderness Lodges

Copper Point Resort

Surround yourself with gorgeous Rocky Mountain views and a staff that loves outdoor pursuits as much as you do. After a day on our onsite...

Phone: (855) 926-7737

View Listing

Plan Your Adventure Now

Know Before You Go

Learn about key travel restrictions and how to travel safely in BC this season.

Travel Updates
Book Your Trip

Find accommodations, experience providers, and special offers.

Book Now
Adventure Smart

Always check trail conditions before you head out, and no matter what outdoor activity you are planning, be prepared.

Plan Your Route
CAMPER'S CODE

The Camper's Code has nine rules that are really easy to follow. When all campers follow them, good things happen.

Take the Pledge
Travel Responsibly

Follow these tips to travel safely and responsibly in BC.

See the Tips