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British Columbia Attractions And Landmarks Guide
British Columbia has few rivals in the world as a place that combines urban with natural beauty. Its two major cities – Vancouver and Victoria – would alone warrant a visit to Canada’s westernmost province. Add to that the myriad outdoor activities available both inland and along the coast – including hiking, skiing, mountain biking, and whale watching – and you have one of North America’s most exciting destinations.
Spanning more than 350,000 square miles from the border with Washington State north to the Yukon and from the Pacific Ocean east to Alberta, British Columbia is four times the size of England with only a small fraction of its population. Tours to Canada often focus on British Columbia's natural attractions, but the cities here are also work visiting, particularly Vancouver, Victoria, and Whistler.
Its diverse landscapes include mountain peaks, thick forests, and rugged coastlines that are dotted by offshore islands, many inhabited by First Nations citizens (Haida and other Native Americans). Tours of the Canadian Rockies and other mountain ranges nearby provide much of the scenic beauty and diverse recreational opportunities.
Vancouver City & Island
A number of cruise ships leave Vancouver Harbor for voyages up Alaska’s Inside Passage, passing many of the province’s islands along the way. A few stop at BC ports such as Prince Rupert.
Vancouver’s many attractions include Stanley Park, which occupies a peninsula jutting up between English Bay and the harbor; the historic pioneer-era Gaslight District; the lively Granville Island Public Market; and the shaky-though-walkable Capilano Suspension Bridge, which stretches high above a gorge north of the city. Vancouver’s large Asian population helps foster a thriving culinary scene, while First Nations artworks and totems highlight museum collections.
Victoria, in turn, is situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island and can be reached by ferry from Washington State. It’s known for being “more English than England,” as evidenced by its pubs, flower gardens, and high tea at the iconic Empress Hotel overlooking the harbor.
Nearby Butchart Gardens features world-class floral displays, while whale-watching trips offer chances to view Orcas as well as humpback and grey whales.
The rest of Vancouver Island is well worth exploring, at least to the extent you can get around it. Most of the remaining population is located on the island’s east coast, accessed via a major road, while its west coast is wild and more isolated. You can, however, find tours that will have you paddling a dugout canoe in the waters off the village of Tofino, complete with a First Nations guide, among a number of other adventures.
Mainland British Columbia
Whistler – Canada’s top ski resort – hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and is located about 75 miles north of the city of Vancouver along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway. The highway features oceanfront vistas to one side and a series of craggy mountain peaks to the other. An alpine-style village lies at the foot of Whistler’s slopes and there’s plenty of aprés-ski action.
At Whistler and more remote mountain lodges inland, you can try heli-skiing in winter or heli-hiking in summer. The “heli” part refers, of course, to “helicopter,” which is the only available means of transport for many of the locations. The mountain settings are spectacular throughout the year and the whole effect is extremely adventurous.
River rafting, mountain climbing, fishing in the pristine wilderness, birding, wildlife viewing, soaking in hot springs, and visiting Native American villages are other popular seasonal activities.
35 British Columbia Tour Reviews - Summary
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- Additional Information About British Columbia
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