What makes Vancouver unique? – 13 Cool Features 🇨🇦

Welcome to Vancouver! This is a city known for activities like hiking and surfing and being ecologically minded with its many preserved forests. It’s also notorious for being one of the topmost expensive cities in the world — like, top 3 — but Vancouver doesn’t stop attracting ex-pats and tourists alike. Come check out a quick profile about the city, then learn about some features that make this place truly special in Canada and in the world.

VANCOUVER: Quick Profile

Location within Metro Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada
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satellite map of Vancouver and surroundings
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Vancouver is the biggest city and urban area in British Columbia, located in the southwest corner. There are over 631,000 people in the city and over 2,264,000 in the urban area. This makes Vancouver the 3rd biggest urban area in Canada and its most densely populated one. It also happens to be the most expensive city to live in, as many of you may know.

In the greater Pacific Northwest region on the Burrard Peninsula, the city has coasts on the Burrard Inlet and Vancouver Harbour to the north, along with a strait of the Pacific Ocean to the west that separates it from Vancouver Island. Most of its southern limits are on the Fraser River. (By the way, Vancouver city isn’t on Vancouver Island. It’s also not that city in Washington, USA.)

Read more: about Toronto; about Montreal

The climate here is comparatively mild by Canadian standards as far as both cold and hot weather goes. They certainly get a lot less snow and a lot more rain than most large cities here. The area is surrounded by wet oceanic forests and swamps that lead up into mountains on the north shores across the harbor. Those mountains do get snow and form an important part of the city’s skyline.

Vancouver was first established as Gastown, a post outside of a mill. Later it was called Granville before major railroad connections were brought in. Its current name is for British Navy officer, George Vancouver, who had explored the region.

Read more: about Canada; other Canadian provinces and Earth’s Face places

So why is Vancouver unique, again? …

1. Because of Neighborhoods like Gastown & Chinatown

What are they?:

Vancouver is stocked with many interesting neighborhoods to hang in, and one of the most famous is Gastown. This is the area originally settled by Europeans and remains as a sort of historic core to the city. Several other areas and points of interest can be found throughout the city.

What do they have?:

There’s the rustic feel of Gastown with hip shops, eateries, and a cool art scene. Don’t forget the famous steam clock! Chinatown here is an elaborate neighborhood with beautiful Chinese-style settings like the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden or the strangely thin Sam Kee Building.

Commercial Drive, aka “The Drive” is a hood better known for its main street that fills with vendors, commerce, ethnic food options, and diverse people and attractions to get caught up in. Another option is the West 4th Ave area with more local shops and restaurants.

2. Because of Granville Island

What is it?:

Well, it’s not an island. Granville Island is a peninsula on Vancouver’s False Creek. Once an industrial center, it’s now open for tourism and one of the most popular spots in the city.

What does it have?:

Granville has an array of activities on it, including public art, restaurants, parks, and a popular public market. One of those is an old factory that’s been turned into a work of art. There’s also the waterfront to get a nice view of Downtown across the water, or to ride a ferry to the other side.

3. Because of Stanley Park

boat cruising by a lighthouse ahead of the seawall in stanley park
the Seawall Luc Tribolet

What is it?:

Stanley Park is one of the biggest urban parks in North America, as well as one of the best-rated parks in the world. It is a huge expanse of largely undisturbed forest and shoreline just at the opening of Vancouver’s inner waterways.

What does it have?:

The park is filled with things to do besides admire the natural setting. Along the shore are numerous sites like lighthouses, totem poles, beaches and pools like Second Beach, and statues like the Girl in a Wetsuit.

There’s also a “gun” or cannon that goes off every day at 9 pm, and the Seawall that functions as a trail for people to wander the park’s coastal edges. Within the park are attractions like a train and the Vancouver Aquarium. And let’s not forget the towering Lions Gate Bridge over the straits.

4. Because of the False Creek Waterfront

What is it?:

False Creek is a kind of harbor that cuts into central Vancouver. It happens to have a really pretty waterfront with lots of amazing urban scenery.

What does it have?:

Besides the already-mentioned Granville Island, other cool attractions to do here include sparking curiosity at the spectacularly designed Science World. Sports games and events are always happening at BC Place with the stadiums and arenas. There are also a number of parks that perfectly mix the urban, natural, and waterside landscapes like David Lam Park.

5. Because of Vanier Park & Sunset Beach

What are they?:

These two public spots are located right at the entrance of False Creek out to English Bay. Both are beachside parks that offer some interesting points to check out.

What do they have?:

Other than the park and beach settings, Vanier is home to cool-looking museums like the Museum of Vancouver and the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Just across the water — accessible by street bridge — is Sunset Beach Park, another one of the city’s many coastal hangouts.

6. Because of the Harbor Front

What is it?:

This is the waterfront of Vancouver’s port on the north side. It’s a popular stop for cruise liners in the area, as well as a major civic center.

What does it have?:

CRAB Park at Portside is a nice park right on the water with very scenic views of Vancouver’s many highrises (both manmade and geologically made). In addition to views of the mighty mountains opposite the city, there’s bustling Canada Place. With a cool sail-like roof, the place has a convention center, Vancouver’s World Trade Centre, and some fun attractions to go with them.

7. Because of VanDusen & Queen Elizabeth

What are they?:

These two green areas sit right next to each other in the inner part of Vancouver, further away from what we’ve been looking at so far. They are Queen Elizabeth Park and the beautiful VanDusen Botanical Garden.

What do they have?:

Both parks are noted for their exquisite naturally-made and manmade designs. Enchanted and royal gardens mix with pretty structures like the Bloedel Conservatory filled with exotic species. There’s also a prominent hill in Queen Elizabeth Park to view the city from up high.

8. Because of the area around UBC

What is that?:

The University of British Columbia itself is one of the oldest and best-ranked universities in all of Canada. Located a ways on the outskirts of town, the university lies at the heart of several natural and historical wonders.

What does it have?:

UBC has a famous Botanical Garden with open spaces, treetop activities, and mazes all near the coastal waters. There’s also the Museum of Anthropology which looks very unique, at the site of a former protective fort. Also among the many forested areas is Pacific Spirit Regional Park with its towering groves and coastal trails.

9. Because of Robson Street & Central Vancouver

What are they?:

Robson is a street that rides straight through Central Vancouver, the Downtown neighborhood. This part of town has a lot to do and see, being part of the city’s urban and entertainment core.

What do they have?:

Up and down the streets can be found major shopping centers and entertainment venues, especially around Robson Square. Around the square are major cultural centers like the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Commodore Ballroom, among other popular performance halls. There are important architectural feats like the Christ Church Cathedral with its gorgeous interior and the Harbour Centre, one of Vancouver’s most iconic towers.

10. Because of its Beaches (& Events)

What are they?:

Well, frankly these are the urban beaches of Vancouver’s long coastline. I can’t promise the water will be warm (it honestly won’t be) but there are some events and locales to enjoy next to these beaches.

What do they have?:

Besides the beaches we’ve already talked about, other ones with nice city views include Spanish Banks Beach, Jericho Beach, and English Bay Beach. Kitsilano is also a popular one with some great skyline views and a commercial area right near it.

Some of these places host a couple of Vancouver’s many festivals and events. English Bay Beach hosts a great view for the Celebration of Light with tons of fireworks, and Hastings Park near the coast hosts the fun Pacific National Exhibition.

11. Because of the North Shore Mountains

What are these?:

These are the general mountain range lying across the inlet from Vancouver. They are home to many natural sights and wonders for urbanites to immerse into the region’s pre-colonial past.

What do they have?:

Several pretty parks and natural areas can be found like Cypress Falls Park, Mount Seymour Provincial Park, and the Cove Forest, to name a few. Some places offering spectacular vistas of Vancouver would be Cypress Provincial Park and Grouse Mountain.

Deep Cove seems to be a great place for boating and water sports inside the harbor. A bit further from these other spots is Golden Ears Provincial Park with its amazing waterways, mountain views, and splashing waterfalls. Another feature is the Sea to Sky Highway which takes a scenic coastal route along the mountains and up to Squamish.

Read more: Southern British Columbia

12. Because of the Sunshine Coast

What is it?:

Following the Strait of Georgia, this is a large coastal region outside of Vancouver. It’s completely outside the reach of the city but close enough to be on this list.

What does it have?:

Sunshine Coast has a lot of coastal towns and villages like Gibsons to provide a quiet rural feel to the Vancouver region. There are also pretty beaches and islands like Bowen with a sort of secret exclusive vibe. Offering markets and fairs, there are also inland beauties like the rugged Tetrahedron Provincial Park.

13. Because of its Suburbs

What are they?:

These are the cities surrounding Vancouver, some of them among the biggest cities in all of British Columbia. They offer cultural experiences with the metro’s diverse inhabitants while preserving lots of natural spaces and parks. The main cities are Richmond, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Surrey, and Burnaby.

What do they have?:

Richmond is home to many Chinese cultural spots like the International Buddhist Society, among other temples. With different kinds of markets, including a night market, the region was also an important wharf and industrial center, showing at places like Steveston and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. The park around the Olympic Oval is also very pretty with some cool architecture and waterside gardens.

North Vancouver has a nice waterfront with markets at Lonsdale Quay, as well as a cool Polygon Gallery. Attractions mixing the environmental landscape with the thrill of heights include Capilano Suspension Bridge, Lynn Canyon (and suspension bridge), and the Cleveland Dam. Among Surrey’s features is Peace Arch Park on the U.S. border. All of these suburbs boast beautiful parks and green spaces, especially Coquitlam and Burnaby.

14. Because of the Culture

Vancouver is a city known for its super diverse identity. Most of the residents come from a visible minority and about as many speak languages other than English (or French for that matter) at home. The urban area has a huge East Asian and Asia-Pacific influence as can be noted throughout, though the indigenous peoples and cultures are represented in many ways too.

Pushes for technological advancements, preservation of its nature, and the struggles of dealing with an astronomical cost of living all pose constant motivations for the city to develop. I mean, logging is still the main business in Vancouver, and the city has its own style of urban design with elements of conservation and the native landscape in mind.

A bit crowded in some places and a popular tourist destination, the city is used to constant cruise ships on its waters or visitors that flock in for its many events like TED Talks or sports competitions. Vancouver is also one of Canada’s main film industry hubs and a major place for the nation’s TV and film culture.

There’s so much art, history, sports, and excitement going on, but one never feels too far from nature. Forested parks and snow-capped mountains all form a part of the nature-minded concepts of this city. Vancouver is Pacific Northwest at its heart (or just west, if you’re Canadian), and it truly is a one-of-a-kind city.

**Did you like reading about Vancouver? For those that have been there or are from there, please share more with us about your amazing city! Read more posts here on Cult-Surf, and check my email to contact or collaborate; tietewaller@gmail.com. Thanks again, and be great! Peace.

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What makes Northern British Columbia unique? – 8 Cool Reasons 🇨🇦

Mount Robson and Berg Lake in Northern British Columbia
Mount Robson & Berg LakeZeljko Kozomara
Provincial Flag of British Columbia
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Up to the north side of the Canadian west coast. Well, sort of. Less expensive than the south and a lot less populated, what Northern British Columbia lacks in those areas, it more than makes up for in God-given beauty. I guess it was just born that way.

North BC is known for gold rushes and a frontier past mixed with a Wild West persona where rugged mountains meet the green misty shores. A distinct corner of Cascadia merging the Ring of Fire and the Great Plains. Wooh, we’ve got a good one. Learn a bit about it with a quick profile, then stay tuned to read what makes this part of the province so unique.

northern BRITISH COLUMBIA: Quick Profile

map of Canadian Provinces and Territories, British Columbia highlighted in red
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map of northern British Columbia
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British Columbia takes up the entire west coast of Canada. Strangely though, most of this coast in the north is cut off by Alaska, with which it shares a long U.S. border to the west and northwest. Northern BC is considered generally what’s north of Queen Charlotte Sound or Prince George, which happens to be the biggest town on this side of the province.

There are lots of mountains and highlands up here, especially along the rugged Coastal Mountains that are home to BC’s tallest peaks. The Rockies are also prevalent in the east and middle where they morph into a general northern mountain range. With many fjords and islands near the coast, there’s also the major archipelago called Haida Gwaii.

Most of this coast has oceanic and wet climates whereas the interior is generally continental or subarctic. This includes dense forests, semi-arid plains and woodlands, and tundra. East of the Rockies is a stretch of prairies too. The name for British Columbia comes from the name of the region before confederation, which comes from the Columbia River. Read here for more details on the name and about Southern British Columbia.

Also, read more: about Canada; other provinces and Earth’s Face places

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Well, why is Northern British Columbia so special?

1. Because of the Lower Rockies

a snowy Mt Robson and clear Berg Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park, Canada
Mt. Robson Provincial ParkJeffrey Pang

What are they?:

This is a section of the vast Rocky Mountains that is in the lower part of north British Columbia. They are filled with gorgeous mountain scenery, lakes, glaciers, and an abundance of waterfalls.

Helmcken Falls and a rainbow at Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC
Helmcken Falls, Wells Gray Provincial ParkPaste

What do they have?:

In this general area are some notable provincial parks like Bowron Lake and Wells Gray. That last one has some very beautiful and iconic waterfalls like Helmcken Falls. There’s also the prominent Mount Robson, one of the tallest peaks in the province and the Rockies overall. It also has some nice glaciers and its own set of cascades in the Valley of the Thousand Falls.

2. Because of its Northern Mountains

colors of Mount Edziza volcano in northern British Columbian mountains
Colors of Mt. EdzizaHere fishy

What are they?:

In the north are a set of mountain chains that go from the northern bit of the Rockies and merge into separate ranges. These mountains cover much of the interior of the region with lots of spacious wilderness alongside the customary awe-inspiring scenery.

What do they have?:

For some of those raw wild landscapes of North America, the upper part of the Rockies has got it covered. These span places like Northern Rockies Provincial Park, the Kwadacha Wilderness, Dune Za Keyih Provincial Park, and the serene area around Muncho Lake.

In the inner mountain ranges can be found a distinct set of valleys and wildlands like in the Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness and Mount Edziza, a prominent volcano with colorfully designed soils. There’s also the Stikine River Provincial Park with more tundra landscapes, a winding canyon, and hot springs to go along with them.

3. Because of the Coastal Mountains

Lax Kw'alaams town on the coast of Kitima Range, British Columbian coastal mountains
Lax Kw’alaams, Kitimat RangeAlex

What are they?:

The Coastal Range is a set of very rugged and tall mountains near the coast of British Columbia and along the U.S. border with Alaska. It’s home to the tallest peak fully within BC — Mount Waddington — and the tallest one period shared with Alaska — Mount Fairweather. I’m guessing its weather isn’t so fair, though.

What do they have?:

Besides those two massive climbing walls, these particular mountains have tons of beauty to add to British Columbia. We have Kitlope Heritage Conservancy and the Atlin or Téix’gi Aan Tlein Provincial Park.

Tatshenshini-Alsek way up north has especially pretty valleys and glaciers. On the opposite end is Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park with stunning lake-filled valleys, fjords, and falls.

4. Because of Haida Gwaii

rocky forested coast of Moresby Island in Haida Gwaii, western Canada
Haida Gwaii CPAWS

What is it?:

Haida Gwaii (X̱aaydag̱a Gwaay.yaay in the Haida language) is the name of a group of large islands off the coast of northern British Columbia. With rocky shores and densely forested interiors, these islands are also a major site for trekking and adventure.

a totem pole closeup in Gwaii Haanas National Park in Northern British Columbia
Totem pole at Gwaii HaanasVysotsky

What does it have?:

There are a number of special features on the islands like impressive rock towers on the coasts and wooded trails that lead up to sweeping views of the islands into the highlands. One particular place to view these features is Gwaii Haanas National Park on Moresby Island. Other than amazing natural beauty, the park preserves several indigenous sites with iconic totem poles among other culturally significant structures.

5. Because of the Alaska Highway

What is that?:

“But this isn’t Alaska.” I know. This iconic highway — or a part of it, more accurately — runs through the prairies and lowlands of northeastern BC. The highway also runs through regional centers like Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson.

What does it have?:

Being a sort of crossroads for rail and road traffic, the Alaska Highway cuts across some scenic parts of the province, making it a popular drive in the area. There are also major towns like Dawson Creek, pretty much the starting point to the highway with an art gallery and a cool pioneer village.

On the north side of Peace River Country, Fort Nelson is one of the more isolated towns in BC. There’s also a heritage center, the namesake fort in “Fort” Nelson, and a drive that will take you into the isolated mountains or the Northwest Territories to get really lost. Also, enjoy those pretty Northern Lights.

6. Because of Barkerville

old wooden buildings in the frontier town of Barkerville, Canada
Barkerville Cbone

What is it?:

Barkerville is a unique historic town and park that used to be a booming center during the Cariboo Gold Rush of British Columbia. Not just some ghost town, it has been preserved very well and remains a tourist attraction.

What does it have?:

This place preserves a lot of the early frontier identity of British Columbia through fully restored buildings and active historic interpreters. I love how much Canada loves its history. As far as I can tell, the town is no longer inhabited but functions as a living breathing historic time capsule. The town was also very significant for Chinese Canadian immigrants and forms a key part of the strong Asian-Pacific presence in British Columbia.

7. Because of Great Bear Rainforest

two Spirit bear cubs, one with black coat and other with white coat, in the Great Bear Rainforest
Young Kermode bearsPacific Wild

What is it?:

This is one of the largest protected parts of the Pacific temperate rainforests, an ecoregion that stretches from Alaska all the way down into California. There are lots of dense woodlands and wildlife out there too.

Lizette Falls amidst the forests falling into a lake/fjord in the great bear rainforest of British Columbia
Great Bear RainforestJack Borno

What does it have?:

It’s essentially a protective zone along the coastal ranges. You go there just to enjoy pure natural wilderness. There’s also the anomalous “Spirit bear” or Kermode bears. They are a unique kind of black bear whose offspring are born every so often with white fur. How mystical!

8. Because of the Culture

Okay, so I try to fit in the cultural aspects of all of these places, but in northern British Columbia, it’s nature that dominates. I’m not saying that the railways, gold rushes, logging, and forestry had nothing to contribute. Many of the towns up here are set on preserving what life was like for the many pioneers that sought to make this area home … even if for a short while.

This is where the most open roads, the most rugged mountains, and the whitest black bears can be found under one boreal roof. From the world’s largest temperate rainforests to one of its most expansive prairies, this part of BC shows us that it holds its own as far as natural wonders go.

Definitely more rural than the south and with a bit of that Oregon Trail-Columbia country in the blood, it’s definitely more isolated than many places on the planet. With that, the diverse people and cultures from centuries over have maintained their mark on this remarkable patch of earth called Northern British Columbia.

**Did you enjoy reading about this remarkable place in Canada? Tell us what you like about Northern British Columbia, and shout out if you’re from there! Thanks so much for being a part of this site and this journey we’re on around the world. Feel free to check out other posts here on Cult-Surf and contact me at tietewaller@gmail.com if you want to have a word, or collaborate! Talk soon. Peace.

What makes southern British Columbia unique? (Besides Vancouver)- 9 Cool Reasons 🇨🇦

lake at Garibaldi Provincial Park in British Columbia's coastal mountains
Garibaldi Lesly Derksen

Welcome to the south of British Columbia, a province like none of the rest. Distinct habitats and identities come out to make this place as unique as it gets in Canada. The Pacific Northwest meets the Rockies in this western frontier.

Provincial Flag of British Columbia
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At times infamously expensive, other times open and welcoming to immigrants, British Columbia has a whole lot of fames and features that make it unique in the world. And a pretty large concentration of those features happens to be in the south. Learn more about this spectacular province with a quick profile. Then see some of what makes this region so special.

southern BRITISH COLUMBIA: Quick Profile

Again when talking about Canada, the south of any province is where most of the action happens since it’s further from the Arctic. Southern British Columbia is generally considered what lies south of Queen Charlotte Sound on the coast and Prince George or Mount Robson, maybe. It is the location of the provincial capital, Victoria, as well as the biggest urban area of Vancouver.

BC takes up Canada’s whole west Pacific coast and in the south borders the United States. There are many large mountainous regions throughout, especially along the coast and with the Rockies and the Columbia Mountains in the east. The province overall has about 6,000 islands off its shores and around the Inside Passage. Here can be found large fjords and islands like the big Vancouver Island.

There’s also an Interior Plateau which has drier forests and valleys with a major wine-making region. The coast and islands have mostly oceanic climates with wet temperate forests, similar to the rest of Cascadia. Some areas in the interior are humid continental and some drier Mediterranean regions. The mountains generally have a tundra or Alpine climate.

The province is called British Columbia after the old mainland colony of the same name. This was for the basin around the Columbia River, called to distinguish it from the American-owned Columbia that would later become the Oregon Territory. The mainland was named after the Columbia River, named for a boat called the Columbia Rediviva, which comes from an old name for the New World, “Columbia.” Eventually, it all goes back to explorer Christopher Columbus.

Read more: about Canada; Earth’s Face places in Canada & beyond

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Why is southern British Columbia unique? …

1. Because of Okanagan

Vineyards of the central Okanagan Valley, Canada
valleys of OkanaganMack Male

What is it?:

The Okanagan Valley is that nice wine-making region I mentioned earlier. The weather here is among the most pleasant in Canada and the scenery is beautiful to match.

What’s it have?:

Besides those features, Okanagan has a number of valley towns and cities to check out. Kelowna, for instance, has the scenic Knox Mountain Park in the hills, as well as beach parks and waterfronts to enjoy on its beautiful lake. Kamloops has a cool Heritage Railway tracking the backbone of British Columbian history, along with the natural Lac du Bois Grasslands nearby.

The city of Vernon has excellent natural areas on its lakes like Ellison Provincial Park, or in Silver Star Mountain for skiing. There’s also the Davison Orchard’s Country Village which is like a fun frontier town inside Vernon. There are a bunch of other towns that seem popular for visitors … and they’ve all got wineries.

Read more: Okanagan Wine Country Tours

2. Because of its Frontier Parks

Takakkaw Falls and a rainbow in Yoho National Park, southern British Columbia
Takakkaw Falls, YohoFir0002

What are those?:

By this, I’m just talking about the national parks out near the border with Alberta. The Rocky Mountains of British Columbia are very pretty like all the other Rockies and are home to some unique parks. Two that stand out are Yoho National Park and Kootenay National Park.

What do they have?:

Other than amazing montane landscapes and deep blue lakes surrounded by serene forest? Well, Yoho is home to the famed Lake O’Hara which is popular for photographers and nature-goers.

Also here are Takakkaw Falls, Canada’s second-tallest and an amazing sight to see. Over in Kootenay are similar attractions, although there is a majestic glacier there, as well as its very own Grand Canyon to explore. This one has a lot more trees around it though.

3. Because of the Rocky & Columbia Mountains

Sunset by Wapta Falls.jpg
Wapta Falls, Canadian RockiesJakub Fryš

What are they?:

As you might know, the Rockies and the Columbia Mountains are two somewhat connected mountain chains that extend between the U.S. and Canada. They are home to some of the most gorgeous natural settings in all of North America. Snow-capped mountains and glaciers “cascade” down into picturesque lakes surrounded by pine forests and flowery meadows.

giant cedar trees and a forest boardwalk in Mount Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia
Giant Cedars Boardwalk, Mt. RevelstokeNatulive Canada

What do they have?:

To get more specific, there are a number of great parks to visit in the area. The Kakwa Wildland and Glacier National Park are two incredible choices, the former being the home of beautiful Kakwa Falls. In the Columbias is a range called the Selkirk Mountains.

These babies have a similar natural beauty to the Rockies but with some distinct rock compositions. The Purcell Wilderness is a notable park here, and the most incredible one based on what I’ve seen is Mount Revelstoke Provincial Park, a place that sure leaves visitors “reveling.”

4. Because of the Mountains around Squamish & Whistler

dense woodlands of the Joffre Lakes region of southern British Columbia, Canada
Joffre LakesAkshay Chauhan

What is that?:

So Squamish is a small rustic town amidst these towering mountains and wilderness areas. It seems like a cool getaway before going off on sporting adventures or to a cabin. Whistler is a similar mountain village a bit more in the hills. I’m sure it looks magical in the wintertime and with all the Christmas lights. As it happens, these two towns are surrounded by incredible mountain scenery, part of Canada’s Coastal Range.

Sea to Sky Gondola in the summertime outside of Squamish
Sea to Sky Gondola, SquamishJosephine Lin

What do they have?:

Squamish itself has a Sea to Sky Gondola which takes visitors from a sound on the ocean, basically, up high into the mountains. Whistler Blackcomb is set outside the town as a series of ski and snow sport resorts for athletes to take on. Not far is Garibaldi Provincial Park, a famed spot for hikers and explorers to reach (really high) heights and witness some of the calmest and snowiest parts of southern British Columbia.

The lake scenery there is just jaw-dropping too. Another lake haven is Joffre Lakes, similar but with a lot more forest. I’m telling you, just look up some pictures of these places, you won’t believe it. A little further out but in the general region is the Fraser River Canyon whose windy rapids lead to a cool cross-bridge called Hell’s Gate. Sinister.

5. Because of Nelson and Kokanee

people enjoying the beach at Kokanee Creek
Kokanee CreekPicryl

What are they?:

Nelson is a town out in southern BC that is utterly encircled by nature. It’s actually a quite pretty town situated on Lake Kootenay. Kokanee is really the name of a few natural parks around Nelson with amazing landscapes, as we should expect.

What do they have?:

Nelson seems like a cool forest getaway spot mixing in a unique availability of lake and wilderness excursions. Not far is Kokanee Lake with serene natural surroundings. Kokanee is also a glacier park and a creek park with some beaches to enjoy those winding waters.

6. Because of Vancouver Island

view from between trees at a lake and islet in Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island
Strathcona Provincial ParkLesly Derksen

What is it?:

Oh, only the biggest and most populous North American island in the Pacific Ocean. Vancouver Island was actually its own separate colony at one point until merging with British Columbia as a single province. Because of that, it’s got this separate Britain-y, colonial feel to it but with all the nature inclusive of the rest of BC. It’s even got a warmer climate than most of the country and is home to Victoria.

sunset on a beach near Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
beach near TofinoShlomo Shalev

What does it have?:

One of the best parts of Vancouver Island is the West Coast Trail. This trail rides the coast along with forests, quiet beaches, hidden coves, and even a waterfall or two. A major feature of this is the Pacific Rim (not the movie, sorry), a nature reserve filled with rocky tree-lined shores and some boardwalks that lead into the Pacific Northwest’s dense rainforests.

Popular coastal towns with a similar feel are Tofino and Ucluelet. Nanaimo is another important city with a rustic throwback village for visitors to wander back in time — and get good eats, of course. There is also a petroglyph park and Newcastle Island (Saysutshun) where the native heritage can be explored. Another quaint fishing village with just enough isolation is Ganges, set on Salt Spring Island just off the shore of larger Vancouver.

7. Because of Victoria

view of Parliament Buildings from a lamp around Victoria's inner harbour, British Columbia
Inner Harbour Reid Naaykens

What is it?

Located on the mighty Vancouver Island, Victoria is British Columbia’s coastal capital. The city sits along a pretty harbor and waterfront and is right next to an abundance of outdoor activities.

Craigdarroch Castle at evening, city of Victoria
Craigdarroch CastleMichal Klajban

What does it have?:

The main spot of Victoria is its Inner Harbour. Here are beautifully-built sights like the Parliament Buildings and the Empress Hotel, as well as the colorful Fisherman’s Wharf and park. There’s also the Royal BC Museum and Bug Zoo for you insect enthusiasts. Yep, one of a kind.

waterfall in Goldstream Provincial Park, south Vancouver Island outside of Victoria
Goldstream Provincial ParkRt44

Chinatown and Johnson Street are interesting neighborhoods to stroll through. Victoria has great urban parks like Beacon Hill and Abkhazi Gardens, and count the spectacular Butchart Gardens on the outskirts.

Nice coastal hangouts are Spiral Beach and Willows Beach, and there are even some full-out castles like Craigdarroch and Hatley. Outside of town are a number of great places to get into nature. To call out a few, you’ve got Gowlland Tod, the coastal East Sooke, and the falls-filled Goldstream Park.

8. Because of the Enchanted Forest & Big White

Big White village and ski resort covered in snow, Canada
Big White VillageFlickr

What are they?:

The Enchanted Forest is a woods area with themed forest adventures. Not far is Big White, another one of Canada’s famous ski resorts.

What do they have?:

Big White has snow activities in one of the most popular resorts in all BC. Within the Enchanted Forest is a setup like a fantasy world with fun adventures for whole families, including a skytrek, salmon run, and tons of fairies. Enjoy that.

9. Because of the Culture

Southern British Columbia is essentially the center of culture and identity for this province. Home to the biggest and most popular cities, resorts, and many an extraordinary wildlife wonderland. The outdoors are such a core part of this place, even if city life gets a little mixed in. This is the core of Canada’s West Coast culture since it’s really the only west coast it has. Traditional trains and logging tell their history amidst the booming new tech and business coming from all over the globe, especially with an Asia-Pacific flare.

The distinct Vancouver Island adds its special twist to the Cascades identity of this province that got its roots set by way of the railways. Trains, frontiers, western towns, and First Nations hold a deep significance here. That’s telling from the many places native traditions and symbols like totem poles are present. The diversity of its original and more contemporary settlers go hand in hand with the wide diversity of its landscapes.

With so much wilderness and unspoiled land, Southern British Columbia still hosts many of the animals that have diminished to rare in other parts of the continent. With wineries and vineyards running through some of Canada’s warmest locations, this is the nation’s setting sun to the far west. And the weather’s just a bit better than the north side.

**Thanks for reading about British Columbia’s southern portions. What’s your favorite part about this region? Are you from BC or have you been there? Share with us what else needs to be on this list! Contact me directly or collaborate at tietewaller@gmail.com. And please feel free to read some more posts here on the site. Take care and get out there! Peace.

Other reads: British Columbia ImmigrationBritish Columbia’s Unique GeographyBritish Columbia living & expensesBritish Columbia Wikipedia