British Columbia encompasses every inch of Canada’s 15,985-mile (25,725-kilometer) Pacific coast. Much of the province has Pacific rainforest and glacier-lined mountain ranges. British Columbia also features two of Canada’s largest cities. Enjoy their history and culture before making your way into the subarctic terrain.
Start out in British Columbia’s largest city of Vancouver. This Pacific coast metropolis features a Downtown area surrounded by extensive parks and miles of pleasant oceanfront. Rent a bike and ride along the 17-mile (28-kilometer) Seaside Greenway, a path running along Vancouver’s English Bay and False Creek shoreline. Begin your ride in the beloved Stanley Park, featuring the Vancouver Aquarium with its 9,000 sea creatures. End at Kitsilano Beach, a popular beach surrounded by countercultural attractions.
From Vancouver, take a ferry to Vancouver Island, North America’s largest Pacific island. Explore British Columbia’s capital, Victoria, where the grand British Columbia Parliament and extensive Royal BC Museum tower over a delightful harbor town famous for its gardens and British culture. Outside Victoria, the island is much less civilized. Drive up the west coast through Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, consisting of forests, temperate beaches and hundreds of islands. The nearby resort town of Tofino allows you to boat between islands and join a whale-watching tour.
British Columbia features two massive mountain ranges: the Coast Mountains and the Kootenay Rocky Mountains. Ski at Whistler Blackcomb, which features over 8,170 acres (3,300 hectares) of trails in the Coast Mountain range. Alternatively, travel to the Kootenay Rockies, where four British Columbia national parks are located. Glacier National Park has a variety of scenic drives through picturesque passes surrounded by snow-covered peaks, while Kootenay National Park on the border with Alberta has large hot springs.
Fly into Vancouver to begin your British Columbia exploration. Rent a car once you arrive so you can get from the Pacific coast to the highest reaches of the Kootenay Rockies.