This picturesque town in the foothills of the Selkirk Mountains has superb ski resorts, watersports, heritage architecture and a thriving arts scene.
Nelson is a pretty and laid-back town that combines stunning natural scenery and outdoor adventures with Victorian-era heritage and a vibrant arts culture. From skiing and watersports, to galleries, museums and boutique shopping, the town has a wealth of varied attractions. Nelson sits on the west arm of Kootenay Lake and at the base of British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountains.
The pedestrian-friendly streets of downtown Nelson are enjoyable to explore on foot. Discover more than 350 well-preserved Victorian buildings on the self-guided Heritage Walking Tour. Spot 19th-century shop fronts and historical landmarks such as the early 1900s Court House. Go to Baker Street to find a range of independent boutiques, galleries, cafés and pubs.
Learn about the town’s history, First Nations people and early settlers at the Touchstones Nelson: Museum and Art Gallery. Attend concerts, musical and plays at the Capitol Theatre or take a tour of the Nelson Brewing Company.
Walk to the waterfront, where the town meets the glorious Kootenay Lake. During the summer months the lake hosts many watersports, including boating, kayaking, fishing and scuba diving. Enjoy a scenic waterfront ride on the historic Streetcar No. 23. Stroll along the waterfront trail to Lakeside Park, a popular recreational area with sport’s courts, a maze, a beach and safe swimming.
When the snow falls Nelson becomes a paradise for wintersports. Just a short drive from downtown Nelson is Whitewater Ski Resort, which has 81 ski runs and 9 miles (15 kilometers) of Nordic trails spread over the Selkirk Mountains. On the opposite side of Kootenay Lake is Baldface Lodge, home to 32,000 acres (12,950 hectares) of backcountry skiing terrain.
Nelson is almost halfway between Calgary and Vancouver. It’s well-connected by intercity buses, although getting here is most convenient via rented car. Nelson is a gateway to British Columbia’s striking Kootenay region. Bike or hike along the Great Northern Rail Trail, a 30-mile (48-kilometer) long trail that passes rugged landscapes and small villages. Go hiking in Kokanee Glacial Provincial Park and relax on the unspoiled beaches of Kokanee Creek Provincial Park.