Canoer paddling along the Bowron Lake Provincial Park. They are wearing a red life jacket and blue top. The lake is turquise and surrounded by trees.

Top 5 Places for a BC Summer Vacation

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Bowron Lake Provincial Park | Adam Wells

Looking for the best places in British Columbia to soak up those long, sunny days? While BC has nothing but options, here are five of the province’s top places to spend your summer vacation.

The Kootenays

Two people sit at a wooden table enjoying a beer at Backroads Brewing Co. in Nelson. There is a brick wall with artwork behind them and other people off to the side.
Backroads Brewing Co. in Nelson | @nathanielatakora

The Kootenays are BC’s southern interior paradise. The laid-back, hippy vibe of the artists, farmers and outdoor enthusiasts who love this place is infectious. Both Nelson and Rossland make a perfect home base, with thriving food scenes and friendly locals who just might be willing to show you around.

Explore Nelson & Area
Storefronts in downtown Rossland. The street is empty and purple flowers are in the foreground.
Downtown Rossland | Nathaniel Atakora Martin

A cleansing swim in the warm waters of Christina Lake will revive you. Navigating the Seven Summits trail by mountain bike will thrill you. And a trip on the longest free ferry in the world, from Balfour to Crawford Bay, to see artisans at work will chill you out. To spot mountain goats roaming wild, hike through Valhalla Provincial Park

Explore Rossland

The Okanagan Valley

A woman tips her french fry into sauce at an outdoor patio at the Hotel Eldorado. She is sitting in the sun and looking towards the other diner (not seen in the photograph).
Waterfront dining | @miraecampbell

Gaze on the clear lakes, sprawling terraced vineyards and sun-drenched hills of the Okanagan and you’ve found peak summer bliss. Relax on one of Kelowna’s nine beaches and parks or hit the water and explore Okanagan Lake by kayak, paddleboard or speedboat.

Explore Kelowna
A couple enjoys views of over the lake from the summit of the Fortress. The sun is setting casting shadows over the mountains in the distance.
Skaha Bluffs overlooking Penticton | Kari Medig

Take to the hills and hike the Skaha Bluffs just outside Penticton, or join wine aficionados on a winery tour by bike, car, kayak, or helicopter. Enjoy vineyard views and the taste of BBQ at the The Wild Goose Bistro – Smoke and Oak. The Bistro team believes in using local products and flavours in new ways to bring the world of BBQ cuisine to Okanagan Falls.

Explore Penticton

The Cariboo

A man wearing cowboy attire including a wide brimmed hat, leather pants and a blue button shirt, walks past two horses in a field. Dozens more horses are in the distance background.
Riske Creek Ranch, near Williams Lake | Kent Bernadet

When you think Cariboo, chances are you think about horses and cowboys. And with good reason. This region of the province is home to half the guest ranches in BC, and a stay at a guest ranch makes for an unforgettable summer adventure. Think: trail rides, swimming in clear lakes, fishing for your dinner, and campfires under a blanket of stars.

Explore Guest Ranches
Old wagon driving down the streets of Barkerville. Two horses pull a carriage with a driver in the seat. Historic homes line the dirt road.
Barkerville Historic Town | Steve Ogle

Enhance your knowledge of BC’s gold rush history at Barkerville Historic Town with its costumed storytellers and more than 125 heritage buildings. En route, stop and explore the colourful and artsy town of Wells. And for little adventure with your culture, continue on to Bowron Lake Provincial Park and paddle the renowned canoe circuit (book in advance).

Explore Barkerville

The Sunshine Coast

Persephone Brewing Company | BC Ale Trail

This stretch of coastline gets more annual sunshine—and less rain—than its big-city neighbour, Vancouver. And the 40-minute ferry from Horseshoe Bay is a breeze. You can drive the Sunshine Coast Highway from Gibsons right up Lund. Stop at Persephone Brewing Company—along the new BC Ale Trail—to see fields of growing hops and sip on some Goddess Golden Ale. Head to Robert’s Creek for a cruise on the local mountain bike trails before hiking around Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park, just north of Sechelt.

Explore the South Coast
A hiker takes in the sunrise from the top of Tin Hat Mountain on the Sunshine Coast Trail
Sunshine Coast Trail | Andrew Strain

The ferry at Earls Cove is your access to the upper Sunshine Coast. You can continue by car or take the path less travelled and walk hut-to-hut along the 180-kilometre (112-mile) Sunshine Coast Trail. Lund is the end of the road, but—if you want to keep exploring—it’s also the the gateway to Desolation Sound.

Explore the North Coast

Vancouver Island

A woman holds an owl at The Raptors near Duncan. They are outside at an enclosure with walkways and trees surrounding them.
The Raptors | Tourism Cowichan/Peter O'Hara

Stretching from BC’s capital Victoria in the south to the remote and rugged Cape Scott Provincial Park on the island’s northern tip, this 32,000-square-kilometre (12,355- square-mile) expanse is full of places to explore. Tour the farms and fields of the Cowichan Valley for a wine-and-dine experience and get up close and personal with the Island’s winged residents at The Raptors in Duncan.

Explore Cowichan
Indigenous art on display at the U'mista Cultural Centre on Vancouver Island in Alert Bay
U'mista Cultural Centre | Nathan Martin

Head to the historic fishing village of Telegraph Cove and take to the ocean by kayak; one of the world’s largest populations of orcas roams the waters of Johnstone Strait. At Alert Bay, just off the coast, you can study the totem poles on the Namgis Burial Grounds and tour the U’mista Cultural Centre for a glimpse of Kwakwaka‘wakw art, culture and history.

Explore the North Island

Originally published in August, 2016.


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