The cities of the world are truly magnificent places to live, work, and visit. As urbanization continues into the 21st century, many people are forgetting how amazing small towns can be. Many of us here at tentree are actually from small towns. They hold a special place in our hearts.
British Columbia is known for bustling cities like Vancouver and incredible natural scenery, but its small towns are overlooked. Here are 10 of our favorite towns in BC.
I know what you’re probably thinking. Way to start your list of small towns with an island, tentree! When it comes to awesome rural areas of BC, Mayne Island deserves to be on this list. The island has only 1,100 full time residents, but don’t let the small population fool you; there’s a lot to do here.
Mayne Island is home to a beautiful Japanese garden that can be visited and enjoyed during any season. It’s free to enjoy for people of all ages. One thing striking about the Japanese garden is how tireless its caretakers work to keep it maintained. In it, you will find memorials for residents of the island who passed on.
Another cool spot to check out is the Active Pass Lighthouse. It’s a great spot to have a picnic and look out across the sea. Many interesting vessels sail through the pass, like ferries, yachts, and sailboats. It’s even possible to see orcas during some times of the year. Locals say the beach is difficult to access but if you can get to it, it’s worth the trouble.
If you’re into kayaking, Mayne Island is an amazing place to visit too. One of the striking things about kayaking around Mayne Island is the wildlife you’ll see, from starfish and seals in the water to bald eagles soaring above.
If you love nature and a little peace and quiet, Mayne Island should be on your list.
Okanagan Valley is located in south central British Columbia. It is home numerous small towns, with Kelowna being its primary city. It is especially beautiful to visit there in the summer, with orchards and vineyards in full swing, though if you’re looking for a winter wonderland, Okanagan Valley is the place to be.
The valley itself is pretty large, stretching all the way down to the border with the United States. There’s a lot to do in the area, so be sure to plan as much time as you can to explore it all.
One of our favorite spots in the region is Myra Canyon Park. The canyon is a favorite spot for locals who love riding bikes, but is a good hiking spot also. There’s an 18km ride/hike through the canyon itself which isn’t generally too challenging. The scenery is breathtaking and there are plenty of places to pause and take it all in.
If you’re looking for a hike that’s maybe just a little bit more challenging, Anarchist Mountain is the place for you. Located in Osoyoos, BC, Anarchist Mountain gives you a breathtaking view of the lake, river, and valley as a whole. Pro tip from the locals: drive or hike up to the lookout point at around sunset. It’ll blow you away.
Finally, while there are tons of awesome local places to visit, from bookstores to kitschy souvenier shops, none may be quite as interesting as the Kangaroo Creek Farm. Have you ever wanted to hold a baby kangaroo? Then we have good news for you: at the farm, you can hold a little baby joey in your arms, and trust me, your heart is going to melt.
Where to begin with a town like Nelson? The city was built during the days of the silver rush and, over time, has become a thriving commercial sector for the West Kootenay area. But with a population of just over 10,000, Nelson is indeed a pretty small town. A lot has been done to restore its old buildings, which makes it a charming place to visit and live.
Lakeside Park is a must-visit part of Nelson. It’s easy to enjoy any time of year, though it can be pretty busy during the summer. The path itself is flat and easy to walk. The park features a tram ride and a small lakeside beach. It is a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike.
Baker Street is where you’ll find the heart of Nelson. There are tons of shops, from bookstores to antique shops and even some craft microbreweries.
If you’re a museum buff, the Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History should be on your list of places to visit. It’s filled with interesting art, artifacts, and offers a thorough explanation of each exhibit in the museum. If you want to know the history of the Kootenay region, this museum is where you should start.
If you find yourself sick of hanging around town, there are many amazing hikes in the immediate area. Our favorite is probably Pulpit Rock. It’s a fairly short hike though it can have some steep parts. Still, locals regularly bring their kids with them to hike, so we’d say it’s a moderate difficulty hike overall.
Keremeos is a very small town in the Southern Interior of BC. It’s an excellent place to visit if you enjoy fine dining, good wine, and fresh produce. It is an agricultural goldmine, earning itself the name “fruit stand capital of Canada.”
If you’re visiting, definitely take a moment to visit the Grist Mill and surrounding gardens, but beware, the place dies back at the end of the season, around mid October. The staff at the mill are friendly and happy to share with you what they know. The surrounding gardens are beautiful and well cared for too.
For the wine lover, there are few places in BC better than Keremeos. There are numerous wineries to be explored and sampled throughout the area. You really can’t go wrong.
As far as hiking goes, few spots beat Cathedral Provincial Park. It’s perfect for families and solo hikers alike. The trails aren’t that difficult and the views are extraordinary. If you’re looking for a place to see spectacular fall colors, look no further.
Bella Coola, located on the central north coast of Vancouver Island, is the gateway to the Great Bear Rainforest, a protected temperate rainforest. It is perhaps most famous for its First Nations artwork, like petroglyphs, wood carvings, and ceremonial garments.
Bella Coola valley as a whole is a stunningly beautiful place, but there are some spots that are an absolute must-see. Starting at the Bella Coola wharf you can sign up for a boat tour of the inlets in the area. Tour guides will give you a thorough explanation of the things you’re seeing and the 10,000 years of human history in the region. But sign up well in advance because tours tend to fill up quick.
If guided tours are your thing, we also highly recommend a guided tour of the petroglyph galley. Tour guides will be able to give you a lot of information about this ancient artwork. The petroglyph galley is a bit of a hike, so people with disabilities may have a little bit of trouble, but it should be accessible to most.
If you’re looking to just go for a hike and enjoy nature on your own, Odegaard Falls is the perfect spot. The drive is a little bit sketchy at times, but drive slowly and carefully and you’ll be fine. There are numerous scenic lookouts to stop and see, and we recommend taking a moment at each one.