Our guest blogger is Connie Motz, a freelance travel writer, living in British Columbia, Canada.
Many visitors to British Columbia (BC) make it only as far as Vancouver or Victoria with only a few venturing into the beautiful area known as the West Kootenay. In fact, if you ask a Vancouverite where the West Kootenay is, chances are they won’t have a clue.
But Nelson likes it that way. Located in the southern interior just 1.5 hours north of the US international border, the quaint town of Nelson is one of the highlights of the area. While some may call it quirky, Nelson buzzes along happily to the beat of it’s own drum.
Sandwiched between the Selkirk and Purcell Mountains on the edge of Kootenay Lake, Nelson is a trendy little town of just under 10,000 residents. It’s a popular summer destination for boating, year round fishing for species like Kokanee trout, hiking, skiing and snowboarding at Whitewater, and is a frequent stop for the Vancouver live music circuit.
What makes Nelson truly unique is it’s striking display of Victorian era heritage homes spread amongst the hillside and it’s fun loving population of hippies. There’s a free & easy vibe to Nelson that comes complete with dreadlocks, 70’s clothing, organic locally sourced food and distinctive restaurants like the garlic-themed Outer Clove or Max & Irma’s set in a former funeral home. Be sure to try local micro-brews like Nelson After Dark and Faceplant.
Besides people watching on Baker Street, Nelson offers a nice selection of shops (vibrant arts & crafts including handmade jewelry, vintage clothing, galleries); family friendly areas like Rotary Lakeside Park; a restored streetcar from the 1920’s, and fun productions at the Capitol Theatre. Commercial wise, Nelson has vetoed McDonalds and Tim Horton’s (one of the largest doughnut/coffee shop chains in Canada) but they did reluctantly give way to Walmart though many still boycott them today.
And speaking of people, Nelson offers some of the most friendly, sincere people around. With names like Namaste and Moon, it’s easy to realize there’s something to the trend of not being so materialistic in our day-to-day lives. Reuse and recycle is a common theme in Nelson households.
Nature lovers praise Nelson for it’s abundance of outdoor activities – golfing, mountain biking, rock climbing and ATVing (All Terrain Vehicles) are just a few examples of the fun to be had. Nearby 32,035-hectare Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park gives way to glacial fed lakes, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, camping and picnicking. Be sure not to miss the photo ops while taking the world’s longest free ferry ride across Kootenay Lake.
If you want to experience what life is really like in BC, head into the West Kootenay for a down-to-earth experience you’ll be recommending to your friends!
Our Guest Blogger, Connie Motz, is the author of Travel Writer travel blog. She’s been published in U.S. periodicals, Canadian newspapers, as well as online.