There is a lot to see in beautiful BC, and a road trip is the best way to make sure you take in as much as you can.
One of my favourite drives across British Columbia is the meandering Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3), which extends from Hope all the way through to Alberta.
While the scenery alone should captivate you along this southern BC road trip, there is also something unique to see in each town or city along the way.
You can obviously start your journey at any spot, but to keep things organized for this particular post I will be moving west to east across BC. This has us starting on Highway 1 in Vancouver, connecting to Highway 3 in Hope, and carrying on to the Alberta border.
A Southern BC Road Trip
Vancouver offers a plethora of family fun, but here are a few of our favourites:
- Capilano Suspension Bridge Park – One of the more popular tourist attractions in Vancouver. If you go, you will see why!
- Stanley Park – There is so much to see and do in Stanley Park it is hard to choose a favourite. You can walk the seawall, visit the animals at the farmyard, get up close and personal with sea creatures at the Aquarium, view totem poles, and/or swim in the heated freshwater pool at Second Beach.
- Science World – Vancouver’s best museum for children.
- PNE/Playland – The annual Fair at the PNE, with world-class shows and family fun, is on exhibit for 17 days starting mid-August. Playland, one of the most popular attractions of the PNE, is a 15-acre amusement park open from April through October.
Source – kidsvancouver.com
Langley / Aldergrove (Fraser Valley area)
About a 40-minute drive east of Vancouver (traffic dependent) you will come to the Fraser Valley. Here you will find heritage sites and exotic wildlife.
- Fort Langley National Historic Site – Inside the walls of this former fur trade post, timber buildings recreate the rugged 1800’s.
- Greater Vancouver Zoo – If you are looking to view some wild and exotic animals, head to BC’s largest zoo located in Aldergrove.
Source – cultuslake.bc.ca
Chilliwack / Cultus Lake
Chilliwack is a community that bills itself as the “Great Outside”. The towering mountains provide many opportunities for fantastic hikes, while the lakes and rivers provide locals and tourists alike with cool places to swim on a hot summer day.
- Cultus Lake Waterpark – BC’s biggest water park, and where you will find some of the most extreme waterslides you will ever ride.
- Cultus Lake Adventure Park – Located just across the street from the waterpark, this adventure park is where you will find one-of-a-kind rides and attractions.
- Chilliwack River Rafting – Try river rafting for a wet and wild adventure down the Tamahi.
Hope / Manning Park
As a meeting point of highways travelling in all directions, Hope is a gateway destination to BC’s most diverse scenery.
- Hike to the Othello Tunnels in the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park.
- Visit the marmots in Manning Park – The kids will be thrilled at how friendly these fuzzy little creatures are, but please remember they are still wild animals!
- The Hope Slide Memorial – View the largest landslide ever recorded in Canada. It’s well worth pulling off the main highway to take in this massive natural disaster site.
Source – hellobc.ca
Princeton is a small town with a beautiful setting, and rich in historical and heritage sites.
- Princeton & District Museum & Archives – This informative museum, with a wide range of historic collections reflecting Princeton’s history, has kid-friendly displays that they can actually touch.
Source – Grist Mill and Gardens
Keremeos is a vibrant agricultural community located in the beautiful Similkameen Valley.
- Grist Mill and Gardens – is where you will find the last remaining pioneer flour mill in the West. This heritage site also offers gardens to explore, an exhibit building, apple orchard, gift shop, campground and restaurant.
Osoyoos is Canada’s only desert.
- Osoyoos Lake – You can’t go to Osoyoos without swimming in the warmest waters in Canada.
- Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad – A world-class miniature fantasy world showcasing the biggest little European railroad in Canada.
- Rattlesnake Canyon – A western mining town themed amusement park only a block away from the lake.
- Stop at a fresh fruit stand and/or winery – Along with being known for great wine, Osoyoos attracts foodies from around the world because of its delectable local fruits and veggies.
Grand Forks is a small town with a rich and diverse past.
- The City Park – Stretch your legs and walk along the Kettle River while on the ‘Spirit Trail’ (previously known as the TransCanada Trail), or let the kids burn off some steam at the beautiful play park canopied by gorgeous deciduous trees. The City Park is located in the downtown core, beside the Grand Forks Municipal Campground.
Castlegar is a small town steeped in the heritage and culture of the Doukhobors.
- Zuckerberg Island – Visit this Heritage Park with a swinging bridge, artifacts and buildings to explore.
- Doukhobor Discovery Centre – The Doukhobors played an important role in shaping the social and economic structure of the Kootenay region from 1908 – 1938, and the Discovery Centre acts as an excellent representation of the times.
A perfect place for anyone in need of a wholesome home-away-from-home experience.
- Buy local food and drink – Drive throughout the scenic Creston Valley and stop in at farms offering gate sales. Or wet your whistle at one or all three wineries, and then hop over to the Columbia Brewery for a tour, and get your picture taken with the Sasquatch.
- Wildlife Management Area – Glide through the ponds and channels on a guided canoe tour, or walk along the kilometres of flat-top dyke trails with opportunities to view a large diversity of wildlife.
Source: Kootenay Rockies
Home to seven championship golf courses within 20 minutes of town, Cranbrook is known as a world-class golf destination.
- Go Golfing at Mission Hills – Try the three-hole mini-Mission geared towards families.
- Walk a historic neighbourhood – Take a self-guided walking tour of the historic Baker Hill district in Cranbrook, viewing elegant heritage homes of the 20th century.
- Fort Steele (16km Northeast of Cranbrook) – Step back in time in one of the most important heritage attractions in BC. While at Fort Steele enjoy old-time farming demonstrations, ice-cream making, train rides, horse-drawn wagon tours and gold panning. As well, watch live theatre performances and observe the museum displays.
Source: Tourism Fernie
The scenery here is breathtaking. The towering mountains offer a sharp contrast to the quaint ski town nestled below.
- Zipline & Aerial Park – Head to Fernie’s Alpine Resort for a treetop adventure. There is even a mini obstacle course for younger kids.
- Bull River Horseback Adventures – Ride through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world. Half-day, full-day, and over-night trips available.
Sparwood is the last town you will come to in BC before you enter Alberta through the Crowsnest Pass.
- View the Titan – See the world’s largest truck located in the heart of Sparwood.
- Explore a Mine – Learn about the efficiency of 21st-century coal mining with a tour of one of Canada’s largest open-pit mines.
So, are you ready to take a road trip across Southern British Columbia yet?
If you feel like I have missed any important places or fun things to do along this Southern BC road trip route, please let me know in the comments.
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