150 Reasons to Visit Nelson & Kootenay Lake

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150 Reasons to Visit Nelson & Kootenay Lake

By John Bowden

What if your birthday lasted an entire year? In Nelson and Kootenay Lake, we’re celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary with 150 suggestions to help you experience our region all year long.

Long before Canada was established in 1867, First Nations people had been residing in the Nelson area for over 5000 years. Living closely with the land, they were the first to discover the healing waters at Ainsworth Hot Springs. A visit to Touchstones Nelson is a great way to learn about this early history and how early peoples shaped the landscape.

After Confederation, early European settlers headed west, lured to Nelson by its scenic location and promises of fertile farming. Locally grown food continues to be a keystone of our identity, reflected in our popular markets and culinary creations at independently owned restaurants. The burgeoning craft beer scene in Nelson is the latest example of local flavours. Taste it for yourself on a tour of our four breweries.

Nelson’s mountain and lake scenery is often a major pull for visitors today, but it was mining on nearby Toad Mountain that brought people here in the late 1800s. As prospectors pored into town, Nelson became a major hub in the region, and was incorporated as a city in 1897.

An early bylaw required new buildings to be of stone or brick so as to avoid fires that had consumed so many other downtowns built of wood. This foresight led to a rich collection of heritage buildings that visitors enjoy today. Pick up a self-guided brochure or check out our online digital map to learn more about the hundreds of architectural gems in Nelson. And don’t miss a ride on our historic Streetcar #23!

Like Nelson, Kaslo also boasts a charming downtown with colourful buildings. The Langham Museum is one such site, and also tells the difficult story of Japanese internment during the Second World War. The two National Historic Sites (the SS Moyie Sternwheeler and Kaslo City Hall) are another legacy of the past, and provide visitors with plenty of reasons to visit the small town affectionately known as “little Switzerland”. 

Meanwhile, as Nelson grew, so too did cultural offerings and sporting interests. That heritage is alive and well today. Check out a festival, meet local artisans, visit a craft fair, or take in a live performance at the Capitol Theatre. For outdoor enthusiasts, consider a hike up Jumbo Pass, go for a trail run, mountain bike one of our trails, do yoga on the beach, raft one of our local rivers, or road cycle on our quiet roads. The options are endless!

Our close proximity to the American border meant that early holiday celebrations stretched from July 1st to 4th. The Nelson and Kootenay Lake area continued to be a magnet for those stateside during the Vietnam War. Draft dodgers famously flocked north, and their entrepreneurial abilities and counter-culture views played a prominent role in shaping the region. That energy is reflected in our live music scene, boutique shops, and wide range of local artisans.

Nelson and Kootenay Lake has diversified from its roots it mining and forestry to become a popular destination to live, work, play and visit.  Stay at the historic Hume Hotel, pitch a tent at Woodbury Resort, or relax at the iconic Kaslo Hotel, and enjoy a meal on a patio or sip a delightful cocktail.

These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg. Our list of 150 trip ideas will give you plenty of reasons to visit all year long and discover our rich heritage that is waiting for you!

150 Trip Ideas



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