Plan your trip to Prince George

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British Columbia’s northern capital, Prince George is the gateway to the Northern BC. This bustling city of about 75,000 rests (or, should we say, rarely rests) at the intersection of Highway 16 and Highway 97, where the Nechako River meets the mighty Fraser. Prince George is not only the arts and culture hub of the north, but it is also a veritable playground for outdoor enthusiasts. The city is surrounded by hundreds of lakes and rivers, hiking and biking trails, and deep powder waiting to be carved.

WHAT TO DO IN PRINCE GEORGE

A night out in Prince George can range from a raucous concert at the CN Centre to a more laidback evening at the symphony, or a movie night at the Park Drive-in, one of the few remaining drive-in theatres in the province. Prince George is also a sports lover’s delight, often hosting top-level tournaments in a variety of sports, as well as regular Spruce Kings and Cougars hockey matches, and exciting UNBC Timberwolves basketball games.

In recent years, Prince George has seen a welcome mix of eclectic restaurants ranging from the aptly named Crossroads Brewery to the popular Betulla Burning, as well as classics like Nancy O’s, Cimo Mediterranean Grill, and the Copper Pig BBQ House. PG is also home to BC’s northernmost winery, Northern Lights Estate Winery, gladly offering tours and tastings.

There’s a local market downtown every weekend, and Food Truck Friday brings some of the best local grab ’n’ go food in Northern BC together in one place. Be sure to sample the delicious and unique flavours from Frozen Paddle Craft Ice Creamery.

There are also hiking and snowshoeing trails in and around Prince George. One popular and rewarding hike is Teapot Mountain; the Great West Life (GWL) Mobility Nature Trail is a wheelchair friendly trail; and for a quick hike or bike ride, be sure to explore Cottonwood Island Nature Park to check out the tree carvings. If mountain biking is your thing, visit the Pidherny Mountain Bike Trails.

Pidherny trail network in Prince George | Dave Silver

In summer, head to the Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park on the banks of the Fraser River. Here visitors and locals alike will find picnic sites, floral gardens, tennis courts, ball diamonds, a bandshell, a mini train, and the Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre.

If golf is on your hitlist, the course at Aberdeen Glen Golf Course and Estates, carved through valleys of dense natural forest, is 7,114 yards of challenging elevation changes and immaculately groomed fairways. Or cool off on the water with Backwater Paddling, a full-service outfitter offering kayak, canoe, and paddleboard programs for people of all skill levels on lakes and rivers around Prince George.

The lodge at Tabor Mountain Ski Resort near Prince George.

The lodge at Tabor Mountain Ski Resort | Andrew Strain

In the winter, Powder King Mountain Resort serves up an average annual snowfall of over 12 metres (40 feet). There are also local hills, like Tabor Mountain Ski Resort, Purden Mountain Ski Village, and Hart Highlands Ski HillOtway Nordic Ski Centre, home of one of the largest Nordic ski clubs in the province, has more than 40 kilometres (25 miles) of groomed trails, evening skiing, a biathlon range, and a full-service day lodge.

Prince George is also renowned for its love of motorsports. Check out motocross at the Blackwater Motocross Track, drag races at the NITRO motorsports park, or oval track racing at PGARA raceway. There is something in PG for every throttle junky, including the 154-kilometre (95-mile) Wells ATV and Snowmobile Trail.

WHERE TO STAY IN PRINCE GEORGE

There’s no shortage of places to stay in Prince George, from no-frills motels to high-end hotels. If you’re looking to remain in the city limits, the Salmon Valley Campground along the Salmon River is a full-service RV Park with all the amenities (including an espresso machine for fresh coffee in the morning). For cabin rentals, try Vivian Lake Resort or the Norton North Ranch.

HOW TO GET TO PRINCE GEORGE

There are daily non-stop flights from Vancouver and Calgary, and the drive up Highway 97 makes for a fantastic road trip. Be sure to stop at the historic living museum of Barkerville, just south of Prince George, on your way up. Or, take Highway 16 from the Rockies and be sure to stop for a stroll through the Ancient Forest.

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