Summer vacations in British Columbia (BC) are among the most cherished of Albertan traditions, and it’s easy to see why. The drive through the mountains is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world. There are no borders to cross and the diversity of climate and landscape across the province means that there are a million different things to do. It can be hard to narrow down what to do in such a huge and exciting province, but we’ve got some ideas to help you start your own BC traditions today!
Hit the Trails
BC has hundreds of marked hiking trails, many of which are suitable for families or beginners. Depending on where you go, you can explore tide pools, experience breathtaking views of mountain valleys or enjoy dipping your toes into a freezing glacial lake! Check out HelloBC.com’s great list of hiking options across the province to choose the right path for your family, hellobc.com. Most of the towns and cities in BC have their own pathway networks, too - perfect for enjoying with an ice cream cone!
Play at the Beach
BC is full of beaches for you and your family to enjoy. The town of Parksville, on the island, holds an annual sand-sculpting competition and exhibition through July and August that must be seen to be believed. While you’re there, check out Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park nearby - with an attached campground and two kilometres of flat sand, there’s plenty of room to make your own castles!
Lake Okanagan is surrounded by soft, sandy beaches, and is warm enough to swim comfortably all summer. Okanagan Beach, found on the north side of Penticton, is a mile long and has a playground, waterpark, restaurants, and hotels right on the waterfront. Gyro Beach is popular with families and is located right in Kelowna, with plenty of shade, volleyball courts, and a playground for kids.
The Arrow Lakes in the Kootenay Rockies have plenty of beaches to enjoy. You can get the best of both worlds near the beautiful village of Nakusp, which is surrounded by beaches and hot spring resorts! Shuswap Lake is a popular destination for families and there are plenty of beautiful beaches to discover - you can even rent a houseboat at Sicamous and spend your whole vacation on the water!
Get in Touch with Nature
BC is world famous for its diverse wildlife, both land and marine. To get a closer look, there are dozens of wildlife, whale watching, and fishing tour companies available all across the province. Discovery Expeditions, based out of Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island, offers whale watching tours by kayak. For the younger or less adventurous, there are multiple whale watching tour companies offering zodiac or sheltered boat tours operating out of Victoria, Vancouver and Nanaimo.
If staying dry is more your style, there are multiple tour companies across the province which offer grizzly bear viewing safaris. For a more close-up experience, there are many wildlife reserves to learn more about how to coexist with the beautiful creatures which inhabit BC - the Northern Lights Wolf Centre near Golden offers tours year-round, and the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary offers 300 hectares of pathways and marshes for bird watching.
Attractions for Young and Old
There’s plenty to do away from BC’s wilderness if you’re looking for fun! In Vancouver, check out Granville Island, the Vancouver Aquarium, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Science World and Grouse Mountain.
On Vancouver island, the Royal BC Museum, Craigdarroch Castle, Ucluelet Aquarium, the Empress Hotel, Victoria Butterfly Gardens, the Paradise Fun Park (best mini-golf ever!) Miniature World, the Coombs Old Country Market or a show at the Chemanius Theatre all make a great break from the beach.
BC is full of amazing attractions, no matter where you are - Cultus Lake Waterpark is only 45 minutes away from Vancouver and is BC’s biggest waterpark. The Enchanted Forest and SkyTrek Adventure Park are twin attractions located near Revelstoke, and feature a large fairytale kingdom to explore, an adventure tower, a jungle gym, and a fantastic aerial trekking course for slightly older kids.
All you have to do is Google where you’re staying, and we can guarantee there will be something worth doing a short drive away! Have fun!
Allie is the Web Editor and Social Media Coordinator of Calgary’s Child Magazine.
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