British Columbia attractions cover the spectrum from peaks of the greatest mountain range in North America that provide many of the winter attractions in BC to one of the most beautiful seaside cities in the world. A large percentage of visitors will begin or end their vacations in the lovely city of Vancouver, set on a mainland peninsula sheltered from the ocean by Vancouver Island and boasting the largest urban park in North America (Stanley Park). Here you can get a taste of history in Gastown, the city's oldest neighborhood, visit world-class museums, or take scenic cruises on authentic paddlewheel riverboats. This is one of the most important ports on the west coast of North America, and is also the embarkation or disembarkation point for cruises to Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands.
If the sophisticated British Columbia tourist attractions in the city aren't for you, head to the nearby Pacific Rim National Park for pristine beaches, rich intertidal lands, and lush rainforests. You can set out on a hiking excursion on the West Coast Trail or enjoy peaceful sea kayaking among the unspoiled and protected Queen Charlotte Islands. These "Islands at the Boundary of the World" also reveal the rich culture of the Haida First Nation people, credited with creating the world's first totem poles. Set sail on whale watching tours during the most pleasant weather (from May to October) looking for orcas, minke, humpback, and rare huge blue whales. The great beasts are so common along the coast that most whale watching operators offer guaranteed sightings or the next excursion is free.
These salt waters and the many rivers in the province also offer another of the important British Columbia attractions—sport fishing. Angling enthusiasts seek Chinook salmon, the crown jewel of species, as well as giant sturgeon, trout, halibut, and lingcod. Head to Prince Rupert for some of the best fishing in the world and relax in full-service spas at the end of the day. Another of the winter attractions in BC is ice fishing, which often goes hand-in-hand with skiing. There are great ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains as well as the Coast Mountains, which are home to the beautiful town of Whistler, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics alpine ski events. This is also where the famed Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort is located. More winter attractions in BC include dog sledding and cross country skiing, snowshoeing and skimobiling.
Slightly more sophisticated outdoor recreation can be found golfing on one of the province's more than 230 golf courses. You can find courses by the sea and at the foot of mountains. You might want to head for Kamloops, which calls itself the Tournament Capital of the World for some of the best championship courses. While here, you can also get in some mountain biking on some of the technically best parks and trails in all of Canada. Other British Columbia tourist attractions in this area include the historic towns of Kelowna and Penticton in the Okanagan Valley with its many wineries. There are also numerous lakes that offer wonderful beaches rivaling those on the coast farther west.
The most important of the British Columbia attractions is its extraordinary natural beauty and wilderness. You can find rustic cabins and other vacation rentals in Kootenay National Park, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or you can do some backcountry hiking and camping in the wilderness around beautiful and rugged Floe Lake. Head even more into the wilderness on the western slopes of Canadian Rockies at Yoho National Park set on the Continental Divide, or soak yourself indulgently in one of many natural hot springs.
The British Columbia tourist attractions are almost endless. You can watch grizzly bears and majestic bald eagles on the same day you take the family to a fun water park. Thrill to whitewater rafting or soak up the sun on the beaches of Savary Island. Try your luck at Indian casinos or relive the 1862 gold rush days at Barkerville. Head to Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island for unmatched natural beauty or explore the graceful architecture of Victoria, capital of the province.