Things to do in British Columbia run the full gamut of experiences from hanging out in sophisticated cities and championship golf courses to the wineries of the Okanagan Valley and whale watching in the Pacific Ocean. There is something for everyone, whether you're on active family vacations or enjoying the pristine beauty of the mountains. Whether you stay in charming family-owned bed and breakfasts or elegant Victoria hotels, you will find the accommodation that suits you.
One of the most outstanding attractions of this westernmost province is its extraordinary natural beauty and huge tracts of pristine wilderness. For many who come to experience this, hotels won't do at all. There is camping available on the beaches along the coast and beaches on the central lakes. You can enjoy hiking and backcountry camping in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies or in the wilds of the Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park. Camp on the border with Alaska near Juneau or within close proximity to beautiful and sophisticated Victoria on Vancouver Island.
As with all places in North America, indigenous people were the first inhabitants. Many of the things to do in British Columbia will reveal the rich culture and heritage of the people Canada refers to as First Nations. You can explore the iconic totem poles of the Haida people on the Queen Charlotte Islands or attend large inter-cultural pow wows in the Okanagan Valley. An offshoot of this history in many places is casino gambling. While there are no First Nations casinos in British Columbia, you will find many traditional casinos, including traditional paddlewheel riverboat casinos and luxury resorts around Kelowna and Kamloops.
Cruises & Ferries
Vancouver is one of the most important cruise ports on the west coast of North America. It is a major embarkation and disembarkation port for cruises to neighboring Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands. You can charter boats for scenic cruises from Vancouver or use less expensive ferry transportation to the many communities on the hundreds of offshore islands along the entire coast of British Columbia. Ferries offer a major transportation link between these islands and the mainland, but simply walking onto one is often a cheap way to get out on the water.
Many of the most popular things to do in BC Canada involve the water in some form or another, and fishing is right at the top of the list. There is superb saltwater fishing where anglers look for Chinook salmon, halibut, yelloweye, and lingcod. In the many rivers and lakes inland around Kelowna and Vernon you will find trout and more salmon. You can flycast in rivers or surfcast on beaches. The lakes especially are also excellent places to find vacation rentals, from charming little cabins and cottages to houseboats.
There are hundreds of golf courses and golf resorts in this province. Many of them are located close to the province's largest city of Vancouver. Many more are located in the Okanagan Valley, which has wonderful recreational lakes with beautiful beaches as well as more than 100 wineries and vineyards. Most of the golfing opportunities are located in the southern half of the province, which boasts surprisingly warm weather throughout a good portion of the year. You will, however find that golf is among the things to do in BC Canada in the more northern climes, including Prince George.
More active outdoor things to do in British Columbia include hiking, which goes hand-in-hand with the province's wilderness and the great camping available. Because of its breathtaking coast, varied mountain ranges, and vast areas of wild places, getting around on foot is both accessible and rewarding. There are wonderful mountain vistas to be had from the Rocky Mountains to the Coast Mountains. The West Coast Trail runs nearly the length of Vancouver Island, offering magnificent vistas of the sea and great tide pooling opportunities along the way.
Hot Springs & Spas
Many of the better Vancouver and Victoria hotels offer full-service spas, and you will even find them in the more upscale fishing lodges on islands and coastal waters. There are also a significant number of natural hot springs scattered around. One of the most relaxing things to do in BC Canada is to find one of these for a nice indulgent soak after a day of skiing or snowshoeing, golfing or fishing. Try the Fairmont Hot Springs nestled between the Purcell Mountains and the Rocky Mountains, or try out Ainsworth Hot Springs in the wilderness of Kootenay National Park. Near Vancouver are luxury resorts around Harrison Hot Springs, and you will even find Haida Gwaii Hot Spring on the Queen Charlotte Island.
The coastal waters off British Columbia and Alaska are prime summering territory for numerous species of whales. They are so ubiquitous during the prime season that most whale watching operators offer guarantees that you will see whales or your next excursion is free. On organized cruises, you can see orcas, humpbacks, minkes, and even the rare giant blue whale. Sometimes the great creatures can be seen from the shore. A bonus almost anytime you are near the sea will be dolphins and sea lions, sometimes sea otters around the islands.
More things to do in British Columbia of a less strenuous nature than all the rugged outdoor activities, winter sports, and camping include wine tours. Head to the Okanagan Valley where you will find more than 100 wineries, cellars, and vineyards. The valley is 155 miles long, running from about Vernon, through Kelowna, and south to the Washington State border. There are packaged vacations available to visit many of these, but you can also use rental cars for leisurely self-guided tours where you stay in charming bed and breakfasts.
Skiing is a big sport almost everywhere in Canada, but most especially the western provinces. The Canadian Rockies lie north and south along the Continental Divide on the western border of British Columbia, and the skiing here is magnificent. There is also superb skiing quite near Vancouver around the city of Whistler. Here you will find the excellent Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort.
No matter where you go in this expansive province, you are sure to find something to do to suit your interests and serve as the perfect highlight or highlights to your vacation.