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Celebrate in B.C.

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Where to go? Our writer’s share their suggestions

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Northern Vancouver Island — Whale watching and wildlife tours

A humpback whale is seen off Vancouver Island on a tour with Sea Wolf Adventures.
A humpback whale is seen off Vancouver Island on a tour with Sea Wolf Adventures. Photo by Indigenous Tourism BC

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Few destinations can boast having more wildlife than people, but northern Vancouver Island is one of them. Bears, cougars, whales and wolves are some of the creatures you’ll find in this largely undeveloped region with fewer than 150,000 residents.
But the people who do live here are often just as fascinating as the animals, from hardy loggers living off the evergreen forests, to self-reliant types who don’t miss urban amenities, to Indigenous people eager to share their rich culture.
Whether it’s going on a wildlife tour with an Indigenous guide from Sea Wolf Cultural Adventures, admiring masks and other artifacts at the U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay, or searching for sea otters with the newest business in the area — Coastal Rainforest Safaris — experiencing First Nations culture is an unforgettable highlight.
Nature lovers will want to hike into Cape Scott Provincial Park to camp on a sandy beach at the edge of the rainforest.
Those seeking more First Nations culture will enjoy The Kwa’lilas Hotel in Port Hardy. And for hedonists, nothing beats Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort.
Suzanne Morphet

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Haida Gwaii — Islands at the edge of the World

Aerial view of an island in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve in Haida Gwaii.
Aerial view of an island in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve in Haida Gwaii. Photo by Destination BC/JF Bergeron

This sea-swept archipelago off B.C.’s northern coast is renowned for its natural beauty, abundant marine life, and unique First Nations culture and artistry. Called Xhaaidlagha Gwaayaai, the “Islands at the Edge of the World” in the language of its early inhabitants, the western most point in Canada should be high on any adventurous traveller’s bucket list.
Often compared to the Galapagos Islands for its evolutionarily unique flora and fauna, remote Haida Gwaii is home to millions of sea birds, a distinct species of black bear and lush rainforests thick with giant Sitka spruce and red cedar, from which master Haida carvers fashioned their world-famous totem poles.
Orcas and Pacific white-sided dolphins patrol the waters off its coastlines, and enormous colonies of sea mammals and migrating populations of salmon and halibut thrive just offshore, making these islands a world- class sport-fishing destination.
For thousands of years, Haida fishers launched their enormous dugout canoes into Haida Gwaii’s storm-pummelled waters, providing food for their clans who occupied coastal bays and inlets. Their descendants have made determined efforts to preserve, respect and renew their home- land and millennia-old culture and traditions. Today they invite visitors to respectfully experience the still hidden world of the Eagle and Raven clans.
Mark Sissons

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Nelson: From hippie to hipster

Patrons enjoy the outdoor patio of Backroads Brewing Co. in downtown Nelson.
Patrons enjoy the outdoor patio of Backroads Brewing Co. in downtown Nelson. Photo by Destination BC/Kari Medig

Separated from the rest of B.C. by the towering Columbia Mountains and winding interior roads that full-stop at the shore of slender lakes, the remoteness of the West Kootenays is part of its appeal—now more so than ever.
It’s easy to physical distance while standup paddle boarding on Kootenay Lake, cycling part of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, or hiking up to Pulpit Rock for mountain and lake views.
In the middle of it all is the charming town of Nelson, where hundreds of heritage buildings now house boutique hotels, craft breweries and farm-to-fork eateries that serve kombucha spritzes. It’s fair to say Nelson’s hippie vibe of last century has changed its frequency to decidedly hipster.
But you can still get your granola on by signing up for a halotherapy session at the new Himalayan Salt Cave (where salt particles are said to help detox the body and clean the sinuses and lungs), or by joining a tour of Cody Cave to see an under-ground world of crystalline stalactites and stalagmites. And don’t miss the displays of public art around town, which stand
as a testament to the creative expression alive and well in this hip town.
Lisa Kadane

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Kamloops – Love the Loops

Kamloops Lake is visible from every hole when you play Tobiano Gold Course.
Kamloops Lake is visible from every hole when you play Tobiano Gold Course. Photo by Destination BC/Andrew Penner

Hike wide-open spaces.
Golf award-winning courses. Bike uncrowded trails. Paddle on 100 lakes.
Trophy fish on still waters. This is Tourism Kamloops’
top-five list of things to do in the city affectionately known as The Loops. But that is by no means the end of the list.
Kamloops, the city of 115,000, located where the North and South Thompson Rivers meet in B.C.’s Southern Interior, also has wineries, breweries, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, boating, beaches, horseback riding and rock climbing.
“Our geography really sets us apart,” says Monica Dickinson of Tourism Kamloops.
“We’re located mid-province, perfect for a driving B.C. staycation, and we offer great value for everything we offer.”
If winter’s more your thing, then Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops is the largest downhill ski area in B.C.’s Interior.
Sun Peaks is also open in the summer for hiking, biking, dining and overnight stays at a range of hotels and lodges.
Steve MacNaull

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The Chilcotin – B.C.’s Wild West frontier

The Chilcotin area is cowboy country and home to ranchlands and rolling hayfields.
The Chilcotin area is cowboy country and home to ranchlands and rolling hayfields. Photo by MARK SISSONS

Stretching from the Fraser River to the Coast Mountain Range, the Chilcotin’s broad plateaus and grasslands, shimmering glaciers and cobalt lakes form some of the most spectacular scenery in British Columbia.
This is authentic cowboy country still, home to sprawling ranch lands and rolling hay fields, where horseback riding is as popular as hiking, and wildlife viewing draws visitors from around the world.
Whether you’re staying in a 5-star dude ranch or a First Nations-owned grizzly bear safari lodge, you’ll appreciate why the still largely untamed Chilcotin has been called B.C.’s Wild West frontier. Here in one of the largest expanses of wilderness found anywhere in North America, roads less travelled and rugged trails slice through breathtaking backcountry.
The Chilcotin’s original inhabitants, the Tsilhqot’in (Chilcotin) and St’at’imc (Lillooet) First Nations, called this region the “Skumakun” or “Land of Plenty” for its abundance of fish and wildlife.
Grizzly and black bears, moose, wolverine, wolf, coyote, deer and bighorn sheep still roam free, as do eagles, owls, herons and dozens more species of birds.
From grizzly viewing at Tweedsmuir Provincial Park and fishing on pristine lakes to white-water rafting, trekking, snowmobiling and heliskiing, the Chilcotin is a year-round magnet for outdoor adventurers.
Mark Sissons

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East Kootenays: Ready for two-wheel trails (and ales)?

There are more than 100 kilometres of mountain bike trails in the Kootenays.
There are more than 100 kilometres of mountain bike trails in the Kootenays. Photo by DESTINATION BC

With hundreds of kilometres of mountain biking trails and two separate rail trail systems, B.C.’s sunniest city is fast becoming a popular destination for those whose preferred mode of…

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