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Kaslo's Sleepy Secret and Hidden Gems
By John Bowden
Psst! I have a little insider’s secret to reveal. The ridiculously scenic town of Kaslo may be bustling with visitors in the summer, but in the off-season, it feels like you have it all to yourself.
It’s the perfect time to enjoy Kaslo’s thriving food scene on top of its natural and cultural attractions.
The cozy little Landmark Bakery serves up homemade soup and sandwiches, with a side of friendly conversation from the engaging owner and baker. Bonus points for the quirky selection of vintage cross country skiing and snowshoeing books too. It’s evident that the locals enjoy winter around here.
We walked off lunch with a loop along the 3km River Trail, an easy yet stunning hike on the edge of town. Following along the raging Kaslo River, the well-maintained trail is connected via two charming red-roofed pedestrian bridges. The multitude of bronze plaques on each speaks to the support of locals and visitors who have contributed to making these bridges a reality. It’s heart warming.
Dinner at Kaslo’s newest restaurant, Taqueria el Corazon, is a modern spin on Mexican cuisine. Fusing small town charm with big city energy, the trendy eatery has a curated selection of tacos, appetizers and beverages that transport you to a warmer part of the world. The cheesy appy was like a Mexican fondue come true. Gooey, spicy, and delicious, it hit the spot on a chilly fall evening.
An evening stay at the charismatic Kaslo Hotel on the heart of Main Street offers equal parts heritage feel and modern amenities. The hotel also features a great pub on the main floor. Craft beer plus killer lake views and a roaring fireplace equals happiness.
Waking up to lakeside views never gets old, and neither does a big breakfast. A stay in Kaslo provides both in spades.
The Bluebelle Bistro & Beanery might just serve up the best eggs benny in Western Canada. Hollandaise sauce dripped from perfectly poached eggs, and a combination of pesto potatoes with fresh greens was magical. Amazing.
Bellies full, we stopped in Kaslo's quirky used bookstore, finding a much sought-after book and friendly conversation with the long-time owner. Across the street is the popular SS Moyie sternwheeler. Although tours are unavailable in the winter, it’s still a sight to see perched on the waterfront of Kootenay Lake.
The Langham Cultural Centre, on the other hand, is open year-round. Left for ruin in the 1970s, the heritage building has been lovingly restored and is a hub of arts, creativity and wellness.
It also serves as a memorial for a sad chapter of Canadian history. The hallways document the internment of local residents of Japanese ancestry during the Second World War. Photos, stories, and audio recordings of the people that were affected by nativist policies at the time are showcased. It is a moving story, and well worth the visit.
Kaslo's stately City Hall is another local gem. The National Historic Site includes a library on the lower level, complete with a century old jail cell. Talk about making research feel like a prison sentence!
Having explored some of Kaslo’s lesser-known treasures, we drove ten minutes south to explore Fletcher Falls. Keep your eyes peeled, as the sign is easy to miss. It’s a short 5-minute walk from the parking lot to the cascading waterfall and fancy viewing platform below, recently rebuilt by Recreation Sites and Trails BC, and the crew at Kootenay Lake Fire Zone. Well done!
The trail winds its way through rainforest-like cedars to the sound of roaring water. I immediately thought of “forest bathing”, a natural healing prescription in Japan. And if the weather had been a little warmer, I might just have soaked myself in the glacial runoff. But hotter waters beckoned!
Ainsworth Hot Springs is located just ten minutes south of Fletcher Falls. A popular stop for visitors, I was a little skeptical at how touristy it would be. My mistake. The modern facility is welcoming and friendly - Kootenay style.
I found myself reveling in the healing waters and slightly spooky natural underground cave before I knew it. Plus, the views are extraordinary. No wonder this is a bucket list stop for those visiting the Kootenay Lake area – the hot springs are rejuvenating, especially in the cooler weather.
If you enjoy getting a little off the beaten path, Kaslo and its nearby neighbours are a worthy destination in the off-season. Be it food, nature, culture or pure relaxation, it’s got everything you could want, and without the crowds.