Are you planning a road trip to our northern neighbor? British Columbia is known as being one of the most beautiful places in Canada, and is a hot spot for a number of film settings. However, before hitting the road, you want to make sure your epic road trip will be comfortable and safe. Many road trippers buy or rent an SUV because it provides more space, easy handling (especially during Canadian winters), and extra legroom.
No matter how far BC is from you, traveling in the right vehicle can make a world of difference. Keep in mind that those with Global Entry don’t need to bring their passports to cross to and from Canada. If you’d like to travel with pets, consider renting a pet-friendly B&B so the whole family can enjoy a getaway up north. Traveling by car means having more freedom, more control, and a lot less stress. It also helps keep costs low because the whole gang is in one vehicle instead of having to purchase several tickets—plus, your furry pals can come along, too!
For many along the West Coast in the US, BC is the most accessible of Canadian provinces. It’s a great introduction to Canada and you can easily spend a week or two here. However, be careful. It will certainly leave you wanting to explore more of the country.
Ready to start planning your itinerary? Here are eight top places you can’t miss in British Columbia:
- Ashcroft. Film buffs flock to Ashcroft, located just west of Kamloops. It’s where a number of films have been set including The A-Team, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The arid landscape makes it a perfect fit for many screenplays, and you just might spot a movie being filmed while exploring the beautiful area.
- Capilano Suspension. There are a few famous bridges in BC, but this one is a real thrill. The suspension bridge is one of the top tourist destinations in BC, so you’ll want to arrive early to avoid crowds and get some fantastic shots. Free shuttles are available, and tickets are available online (if you wait to purchase in person, they may be sold out!).
- Butchart Gardens. These beautiful botanical gardens are located in Brentwood Bay close to Vancouver Island. Over one million people visit them every year, especially since this area became a world heritage site in 2004. Although open year-round, weather permitting, the best time to visit is spring and summer. Arrive before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. for the best lighting and to avoid crowds.
- Yoho National Park. Located in the Rocky Mountains in East British Columbia, you can spend the day hiking, picnicking, or looking for fossils. Explore waterfalls like Wapta Falls or cool off in Kicking Horse River. Follow the trail that winds around the turquoise Emerald Lake and snap a selfie at the stone bridge. Head to Lake O’Hara for cliffs, more trails, and some great viewpoints.
- Canada Place. You’ll find this unique landmark at the Burrard Inlet waterfront in Vancouver. It’s where the Convention Center is located, but it’s a major attraction because it’s shaped like a ship. Here, you’ll find a number of hot destinations as well as plenty of shopping and dining picks nearby.
- Vancouver Aquarium. If you’re traveling with little ones, the aquarium should skyrocket to the top of your to-do list. Conveniently located in the heart of Vancouver, the public aquarium in Stanley Park features one of the most impressive varieties of sea life in all of Canada. You can easily spend a day or two meeting the permanent residents, and it’s also a popular spot for shopping and dining.
- Peak 2 Peak Gondola. Whether you’re looking for excitement or romance, you’ll have a blast at this winter wonderland. Located in famous Whistler, these gondola lifts connect the Blackcomb Mountain’s Rendezvous Lodge to the Whistler Mountain Roundhouse Lodge. It’s the very first lift to connect two nearby mountains, and the views are phenomenal.
- Richmond Night Market. This market is approved by foodie Andrew Zimmern, and it’s where you can sample the best of BC’s food in one fell swoop. It opens at 7 p.m., but lines start earlier (however, they do move fast). Entry fees are always under $5 and the portion sizes are moderate, which allows you to taste a few dishes.
Mapping out what to see, do, and eat before you arrive in BC can help ensure you make the most of your trip. British Columbia is a big place, and not just geographically. There’s plenty of history and culture packed into this province. From discovering the roots of the First Nations tribes to prioritizing shopping extravaganzas or outdoor adventures, BC has everything you could ask for in a road trip adventure.