20 Must-Visit Attractions in British Columbia

Fall in Queen Elizabeth Park | © Hayley Simpson
Fall in Queen Elizabeth Park | © Hayley Simpson
Photo of Hayley Simpson
Writer6 December 2018

British Columbia is a Canadian province with a lot to offer visitors. It is home to beautiful national and provincial parks, wineries, historic towns, and some of North America’s best ski resorts. Keep reading to discover the 20 attractions you must visit when exploring British Columbia.

Stanley Park

Stanley Park is Vancouver’s answer to Central Park. There’s a lot to do around and within the urban park. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium, bike or walk around the Seawall, relax at one of its beautiful beaches, see the totem poles at Brockton Point, photograph a certain controversial statue, or go exploring along the paths that wind through the park.

Views from Stanley Park | © Hayley Simpson

Butchart Gardens

An award-winning attraction in Victoria on Vancouver Island, Butchart Gardens is 22 hectares of impressive landscape. Inside, discover the Sunken, Rose, Italian, Japanese, and Mediterranean Gardens. Butchart Gardens is also wonderful to visit in all seasons, as there’s always something new to look forward to. This includes winter, when Butchart Gardens is decorated in thousands of colourful lights over the holidays.

The Japanese Garden | © 2009fotofriends / Shutterstock

Whistler Blackcomb

Located in Whistler, Whistler Blackcomb is North America’s largest ski resort. With over 8,000 acres of skiable terrain, it is home to three glaciers, five terrain parks, and over 200 runs. The resort also has one of the longest ski seasons in North America—stretching from November until mid-May on Blackcomb Mountain. After the snow melts, it becomes one of the province’s best Mountain Bike Parks.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Located on Vancouver Island, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has a lot to offer visitors. It is home to Long Beach, which is a popular surfing beach that stretches for over 16 kilometres (10 miles). Then there is the 75-kilometre (46-mile) Wild Pacific Trail, and more than 100 small uninhabited islands off its coast. The national park is also the perfect place to storm watch in winter.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of Vancouver’s top attractions. The lengthy suspension bridge stretches for 137 metres (450 ft) above the treetops and Capilano River, but that isn’t all there is to see at the Suspension Bridge Park. There’s also the Treetop Adventure Park, the Cliffwalk, the Story Centre, Kia-palano education area, and Canyon Lights during the holidays. It’s the perfect day trip from Vancouver.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park | © Maridav / Shutterstock

Sea to Sky Gondola

One of the best things to do in Squamish (Canada’s adventure capital) is the Sea to Sky Gondola. It’s a relatively new addition to the area’s landscape, and offers amazing views overlooking the turquoise waters of Howe Sound. At the top of the gondola, go for a hike/snowshoeing adventure along the trails, and cross the suspension bridge.

Yoho National Park

Yoho National Park is a must-visit in British Columbia, as it is a part of the beautiful Canadian Rockies. It has over 400 kilometres (258 miles) of trails, including the Iceline Trail. Other things to see in the national park include Emerald Lake, Lake O’Hara, Takakkaw Falls, and Wapta Falls.

Takakkaw Falls | © Kavram / Shutterstock

Museum of Anthropology

Designed by renowned Canadian architect, Arthur Erickson, the award-winning Museum of Anthropology is home to cultural artefacts from around the world. Located on the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver, the museum houses over 535,000 archaeological objects. It is also home to some of the best Northwest Coast First Nations Art you will find around the world.

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is a popular day trip hiking option from Vancouver. Located near Pemberton, north of Whistler, people can hike to three different glacial-fed lakes within the provincial park. These are aptly named Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre Lakes. Hikers visit in both summer and winter, to see the area covered in snow.

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park | © karamysh / Shutterstock

Hatley Castle

Found on the Royal Roads University campus outside of Victoria, Hatley Castle is a must-visit National Historic Site. The castle itself is in the Scottish Baronial–style, and is surrounded by gorgeous manicured gardens. It has also been used in films and TV shows, including becoming the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men movie series.

Hatley Castle | © Hayley Simpson

Queen Elizabeth Park

Queen Elizabeth Park is known for being at the highest elevation in Vancouver. The 130-acre municipal park has the best views of the Vancouver skyline and North Vancouver mountains. It is also home to manicured gardens and the Bloedel Conservatory; a tropical paradise within Vancouver.

Fall in Queen Elizabeth Park | © Hayley Simpson

Great Bear Rainforest

The Great Bear Rainforest is an attraction that’s a little more difficult to reach, but the rewards are worth the travel. Firstly, it’s the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, and it’s commonly referred to as the Amazon of the North. Secondly, it’s where you will find the rare kermode (spirit) bear, which is a black bear subspecies. There are only about 400 of them in the wild.

The spirit bear | © NatureMomentsUK / Shutterstock

Okanagan Valley wineries

It’s hard to choose just one winery to include in this list. The entire Okanagan Valley winery region is a must-visit attraction in British Columbia. Some of the most well-known wineries include Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, and Sumac Ridge Estate Winery.

The Enchanted Forest

Yes, The Enchanted Forest that’s mentioned in several fairytales does exist, and it’s located in British Columbia. It was constructed in the 1950s by the Needhams, who built the various fairytale and Disney figurines scattered around the forest. There’s also a treehouse, giant mushroom, Candy Cane house, and a castle. Follow the Yellow Brick Road to The Enchanted Forest.

Handcrafted figurines | © The Enchanted Forest

Barkerville Historic Town and Park

It’s not every day that a town can be described as an attraction, but Barkerville is a little different. The Historic Barkerville Town and Park is a National Historic Site located in central British Columbia. On average, 60,000 people visit the 1,130-acre park annually, which has 107 heritage buildings from its gold rush days, and 62 replica buildings. There are daily tours, shows and performances, blacksmith demonstrations, gold panning and so much more.

Science World

Science World’s geodesic dome is a Vancouver landmark that lights up in the evening. The building was constructed for Expo 86. Inside Science World, there’s plenty of exhibits, displays, and galleries to keep the entire family entertained. This includes the 400-seat OMNIMAX Theatre, Eureka! Gallery, Our World: BMO Sustainability Gallery, live science shows on the Peter Brown Family Centre Stage, and Puzzles and Illusions.

Science World | © Hayley Simpson

Muncho Lake Provincial Park

BC Parks says “Spectacular folded mountains, bountiful wildlife, and brilliantly-coloured wildflowers are just a few of the wonders to discover here.” Located off the Alaska Highway in Northern BC, Muncho Lake Provincial Park is known for two things. Firstly, Muncho Lake itself, which is over 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) of pristine jade-coloured water. Secondly, because it’s known as the best place to see the Northern Lights in British Columbia.

The colours of Muncho Lake | © VIctoria Ditkovsky / Shutterstock

Big White Ski Resort

Found in British Columbia’s Okanagan region, Big White Ski Resort is perhaps the second-most popular ski resort in the province. Although it’s hard to compete with Whistler’s size, Big White has a lot of positive aspects. It’s perfect for families, conveniently located close to Kelowna, there are lots of dining options on the mountain, and it’s great for ski-in/out convenience. Plus, there’s lots to do near the ski resort too.

Granville Island

Another top attraction in Vancouver, Granville Island is a little inlet located just south of downtown Vancouver. Granville Island is a popular place to visit, thanks to its photogenic waterfront scenery; Public Market (open daily); variety of independent shops, breweries, and restaurants; and walking and biking trails to other gorgeous waterfront locations in Vancouver. This includes Kits Beach and False Creek.

Granville Island views | © Hayley Simpson

Royal BC Museum

The Royal BC Museum was established in 1886. It is British Columbia’s primary natural and human history museum, as well as the home of the British Columbia Provincial Archives. HRH Prince Philip bestowed the Royal title on the museum in 1987, during that year’s royal tour. Its three main exhibitions and galleries focus on natural history, modern history, and First Nations history.

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