Nelson, BC: 15 Must-Do Experiences for Unforgettable Adventures Await

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Nelson, BC, is one of those charming small towns you will encounter. It’s also the Queen City of the Kootenays, with 350 restored historic buildings from the time of the silver rush.

It is located in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, midway between Calgary and Vancouver, and close to the U.S. border. We become enmeshed in Nelson’s beauty, experience a wide range of feelings we have never experienced before and are left speechless and craving more due to travel.

Nelson is a quiet and peaceful place. There are stores, restaurants, a flourishing arts scene, natural wonders, outdoor adventures, live performances, and excitement around every corner in Nelson. You can feel here that adventures are the best way to learn.

Nelson has a sizable French population, it turns out. It’s refreshing to walk through Nelson’s neighborhood and see how many old Victorian homes and a surprising number of art deco homes remain standing.

So, if you are thinking of spending the holidays in a quiet environment, then Nelson, BC, has plenty of places to visit and things to do, whether it is summer or winter and even on sunny days or hot days.

The sleepy, laid-back town in British Columbia’s west Kootenay region lies on the edge of the Selkirk Mountains.

List of 15 Incredible Things to Do in Nelson, BC

1. Baker Street

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By Min An at pexels

Baker Street is the heart of the city’s bustling downtown area, and it is a tree-lined street with independent stores, craft breweries, street performers, statues created by local artists, heritage structures, dining establishments, coffee shops, and many other entertaining things. The Kootenay Bakery Café and John Ward Fine Coffee are the top cafes for spending meaningful time with family.

The majority of Nelson’s hotels are accessible by foot from Baker Street. If you want some change, you can drive here on Baker Street and side streets because metered parking is available here.

The Nelson Farmers Market occurs on Saturdays at Cottonwood Falls Park from May to October. Also, Market Night in Nelson is a vibrant outdoor community celebration.

Backroads Brewing Company is on the Baker Street. Here, the beer is brewed on-site and travels 100 feet from the serving tanks in the back to the taps in front.

2. Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort

Daytripper comes here to relax in the hot springs. Ainsworth Hot Springs is a natural mineral hot spring in a historic village on Kootenay Lake in British Columbia that the Ktunaxa people discovered for its curative properties. The water is mineral-rich and originates in the nearby Cody Caves.

The resort and spa are both excellent places to spend an afternoon. If you want to stay longer, you can spend the night at the resort and eat at the Ktunaxa Grill.

Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort also offers comfortable lodging facilities and various services and lodging options designed to enhance your visit to the historic location.

3. Whitewater Resort

Whitewater Ski Resort is a ski resort in western Canada about a 20-25 minute drive from Nelson, BC. This resort is well known for its tree skiing and steep runs.

The areas surrounding Whitewater, especially West Arm Provincial Park, are well known for their ease of access to backcountry split boarding and skiing touring.

4. Pulpit Rock Hike

Pulpit Rock is the best attraction and a hiking trail in Nelson. Nearly all residents and visitors to Nelson, BC, have hiked up to Pulpit Rock. Pulpit Rock is a great way to spend a few hours in Nelson,

If you’re fit and accustomed to hiking, you can probably reach the Pulpit in 30 minutes or less; otherwise, allow yourself to take about an hour. Pulpit Rock’s best attraction is a hiking trail in Nelson, BC.

Nearly all residents and visitors to Nelson have hiked up to Pulpit Rock. This quick hike is a fantastic way to spend a few hours in Nelson.

The 1.8-kilometre climb (short hike) to Pulpit Rock from the trailhead is dotted with switchbacks, pleasant people, and enthusiastic dogs.

5. Kokanee Creek Provincial Park

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park

Swimming, playground play, bike rides, access to the trails leading up to Glacier Kokanee, and other outdoor activities are available at the park. If you go in August or September, you can see Kokanee salmon spawning in the creek.

The park also has easy access to the beach for a fun day at the beach. So gather your beach essentials, including the floaties, and go outside for fun. We recommend bringing a bathing suit with you when swimming.

6. Lakeside Park

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By Li Lus at pexels

In the Kootenay area of British Columbia, there is a waterfront park on the banks of the west arm of Kootenay Lake. The paved waterfront pathway for rollerblading, walking, running, and sightseeing connects the park.

There are benches for sitting that look out over the lake and sand beach along the waterfront pathway. It begins at the large ” Big Orange Bridge” and proceeds along the lake’s sandy beach, passing athletic fields, scenic overlooks, and gardens.

The lakeside park has stone statues, monuments, flower gardens, and picnic tables.

7. Cottonwood Lake

Cottonwood Lake is south of Nelson, BC, on Highway 6, heading toward the Salmo River. With features like a swimming beach, picnic tables, a boat launch, walking trails, cross-country ski trails, and an outhouse, the park offers lakefront access to Cottonwood Lake.

It is a lovely, serene park in rural Nelson. The park is home to Cottonwood Falls, a beautiful garden, a summer market, a creek, and more.

It’s a great area for exploring, enjoying a picnic with the family, or simply relaxing on the rocks beside the falls while listening to the sound of the water falling.

8. Kootenay Lake

Kootenay Lake is a part of the Kootenay River System. It is between the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges in the Kootenay region of British Columbia.

It is one of British Columbia’s largest lakes, with a length of 104 kilometers and a width of 1.7-5 kilometers.

Kootenay Lake - Best of Nelson & Kaslo | British Columbia, Canada

The ferry crosses Kootenay Lake between Balfour (west side) and Kootenay Bay (east side), 35 kilometers east of Nelson on Highway 3A and 70 kilometers from Creston on Highway 3A. Lynchville was the original name for Kootenay Bay side, the eastern terminus of Kootenay Lake.

The Kootenay Lake Ferry is a free ferry between Kootenay Bay on the east and Balfour on the west.

Rainbow trout, Bull Trout, White Sturgeon, Brook Trout, Yellow Perch, Pumpkinseed sunfish, and Kokanee Salmon are among the many fish species found in this Lake. The surrounding mountains are eye-catching there.

9. Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls is one of the nicest waterfalls in the area, 6km south of Kaslo, just off Highway 31. There is an easy downhill hike to the falls from the parking lot, with some steeper descents for those who prefer a shorter, more direct route.

These 15 + meter falls at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, just south of Kaslo, drain the higher-altitude Fletcher Lake. The advantage of the falls is that they are only a few hundred meters from the beach, making it a great spot for lunch or a quick cool down.

10. Ride for Adventure Sports

10.1. Mountain Electric Bike tour

Nelson is renowned for its mountain e-bikes. In the Kootenay region, there are several regular mountain bike tracks for individuals who enjoy a little excitement.

Go to Gerick Cycle and Ski in Nelson’s area for a ride. They’ve been around for a while and can give you all kinds of local recommendations on how to spend your time based on your riding preferences. This is the best place if you prefer mountain biking.

10.2. Old Streetcar (In Summer Only )

If you are visiting with kids, this streetcar is a fun way to experience and explore the beauty of the lakeside. This streetcar typically extends from the long weekend in May until Thanksgiving.

11. Enjoy Good Food in Nelson, BC

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By Ella Olsson at pexels

There is a wide variety of cuisines and drinks to satisfy any craving during the trip.

Numerous restaurants in Nelson, BC, serve everything from organic coffee to fusion cuisine. There are many options for dinner, whether you are in the mood for Indian, Mexican, or Italian.

Are you mad about Indian food? Then we recommend Kootenay Tamil Kitchen, where you can taste Southeast Indian cuisine. If you love Mexican food, don’t forget to visit Cantina del Centro, a top Mexican restaurant that embodies the essence and tastes of Latin American cooking.

12. Discover Heritage Sites

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By fietzfotos on Pixabay

Nelson is the heritage Capital of British Columbia. There are various heritage sites in Nelson and the town of Kaslo.

12.1. Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History

To learn more about Nelson’s past and surroundings, visit the Touchstones Nelson- Museum of Art and History.

In addition to information provided by this museum on Nelson’s mining history and the creation of the first hydroelectric power plants in the province, there are displays about the First People (Sinixt and Ktunaxa nations).

12.2. S.S. Moyie Sternwheeler

One of the most significant preserved national historic site steam passenger ships in North America is the S.S. Moyie sternwheeler. It is situated in Kaslo in British Columbia, amid breathtaking surroundings.

To connect with the recently finished rail connection from southern Alberta via the Crowsnest Pass to the lower end of Kootenay Lake, the Moyie started operating on the Nelson-Kootenay.

From mid-May through Thanksgiving, the S.S. Moyie is open daily. Admission includes a self-guided tour with a walk-about brochure (in English, French, and German) with a 12-minute video.

12.3. Uphill Neighbourhood

The Uphill neighborhood has historical significance, and the area is typical of frontier town development. It is a cool place for the single-family residential area south of Nelson’s downtown commercial district.

The interior and exterior have been recently renovated, with natural elements and warm colors enhancing the interior space.

The house is in a quiet neighborhood with beautiful views of the lake and mountains from the deck.

Uphill Neighbourhood is close to other destinations, such as Whitewater Ski Hill, Ainsworth Hot Springs, and the free Balfour Ferry that crosses Kootenay Lake, approximately a 25-minute away. It is a good option to plan day trips.

12.4. Few Other Sites to Explore in Nelson, BC

The Wood Valance Building and Queen Anne Commercial in the Houston block are both Mission Revival.

Boomtown Wooden False Front Architecture can be seen at Bellamy’s Grocery. Combined, they add tremendous color and character to the city.

An impartial source of factual information for the general public as well as the mining sector is the Chamber of Mines of Eastern British Columbia.

They serve as an information and resource library with a vast collection of geological data, maps, and rock and mineral specimens, and they advocate for the mining industry, particularly for prospectors and explorers.

13. Rose Garden Cafe

The Rose Garden was named after the lovely rose gardens near the Orange Bridge. The Rose Garden Cafe is dedicated to serving wholesome, natural, organic, and locally sourced foods.

It is the perfect outdoor summer setting for everyone to enjoy. During your visit to Lakeside Park, it will provide healthy eating and beach food options for you and your family. You can easily spend a few hours here with your family and friends on your day trip.

14. Johnstone Road Mama Earth Spring

It was the only place we could get water for several months. The Spring is located 1.2 kilometres from the start of Johnstone Road on the right; in the Spring, park in the small pullover. It can be found on the roadside, emerging from a hole in the rock.

15. Cozy and Comfortable Hotels for a Stay in Nelson, BC

15.1. Adventure Hotel

The Adventure Hotel is a special place to stay near the shopping area or Civic Center and miles from Castlegar airport.

The Adventure Hotel is known for selling Stumptown coffee that is proudly direct trade, pour-over organic teas, and various fresh baked goods and sandwiches—the ideal location for a business lunch, a late-night coffee, or a dessert after supper.

Louie’s Steakhouse, Empire Coffee Company, and Uptown Sports Bar are all located inside Nelson’s Adventure Hotel.

15.2. Hume Hotel

Suppose you are looking for more budget-friendly hotels in Nelson, BC. In that case, we suggest the Hume Hotel in Vernon St. Previously known as the Heritage Hotel, it has been meticulously renovated and offers a glimpse into the past.

The Hume Hotel offers a lounge area where guests can enjoy a peaceful beverage and a formal dinner. We hope Nelson, BC, will be your next trip.

Wrapping up

Nelson, BC, is a destination in its own right. It has the most lovingly restored heritage buildings per capita in the province. Nelson is home to many artists and writers. As such, it serves as a haven for souls who have wandered off the beaten path.

This charming town is also known as North America’s best ski town. Nelson receives a lot of snow in the winter, making it an ideal location for alpine activities.

Also, Nelson has numerous post-secondary institutions, from philosophy to textile design or business; this town has you covered for all your educational and career goals.

Last Updated on by Narayani Bhardwaj

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