7 Small B.C. Towns with Big Appeal

British Columbia is blessed with a variety of climates, landscapes, and incredible small towns. Whether you are looking for lush green mountains, the crashing ocean, awesome lakes or powdery snow; you will find it in this province. Small towns give residents and visitors the best of both worlds, access to the unparalleled beauty and a strong sense of feeling like you belong. Whether you want to surf among the mighty waves in the Pacific, meander down streets lined with independent boutiques or challenges the rapids in the mighty rivers; it is all at your fingertips. From the mountains to the coast to the valleys; here are 7 small B.C. towns with big appeal.

7. Nelson, BC

With a population of just over 10,000, this town is surrounded by an abundance of natural resources and breathtaking scenery. This scenic mountain community is an eight-hour drive from either Vancouver or Calgary and boasts a laid-back lifestyle that has caused artists of all kinds to flock here. The community has worked hard to maintain the Victorian-era homes and downtown heritage buildings, as well as building a vibrant lifestyle for its citizens. Expect to find organic food, farmers, markets and a few hippies in this town.

What Nelson offers is a healthy, outdoor lifestyle, where residents spend their days enjoying Kootney Lake through various water sports. The community here is known to be accepting, supportive and welcoming; and boasts a fantastic music scene and coffee shop culture. With incredible people, an awesome landscape and plenty of opportunity for active living, Nelson offers just about everything anyone could ask for.

6. Prince Rupert, BC

This port city has a population of about 15,000 residents and offers one-of-a-kind wilderness exploration to both residents and visitors alike. This town boasts spectacular ocean fishing, whale watching, bear watching, incredible people and an awesome sense of community. Because this town is a popular stopping spot for Alaskan cruises, you can guarantee there are excellent choices for dining and accommodations.

Tame deer wander up and down the streets, totem poles stand tall representing the First Nations that have lived in this area for thousands of years and there is no shortage of activities. Throw in some incredible harbor sunsets, a town that is easy to get around, tons of lakes and trails to explore, and you have a small town worth visiting. Just ensure if you are planning on moving here that you have a job lined up before you come, as lining up a high paying job in this town isn’t easy.

5. Golden, BC

Golden is home to a population of just over 4,000 residents and this unassuming town has much to offer to both visitors and residents. The town is located at the confluence of two rivers; the slow-moving Columbia River and the powerful, glacier-fed Kicking Horse River. People from all over the planet travel to Golden for its world-class outdoor recreation. With five national parks found in the area, this town is the perfect starting point for white-water rafting, wildlife-viewing, paragliding, heli-skiing, and snowboarding.

The sense of community is strong in this town, embracing tourists who come to explore the ruggedness of the area and coming together to hold community events and festivals. The town is also home to excellent restaurants and accommodations, making it easy to find places to eat and sleep. Living here means interacting with locals and tourists alike, embracing the outdoors and being surrounded by some awe-inspiring scenery.

4. Fernie, BC

It is has established itself as being an outdoor lovers paradise and the town of Fernie is home to just over 4,000 full-time residents. Nestled in the middle of the rugged mountains and pierced by the icy Elk River, there may not be a more picturesque setting to live. The town is characterized by Old West/Victorian architecture and leafy trees that line the streets.

In the winter the population rises as skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers flock to this quiet town. Community wise the town sticks together to offer residents and visitors a strong arts community, family-orientated events and well-maintained trails to explore. Visitors and locals here will find awesome microbreweries, sushi restaurants, yoga studios, half-price wine nights and an abundance of fresh, homemade food.

3. Ucluelet, BC

Commonly referred to as “Ukee” by the locals, this town of about 2,000 people is located on the western edge of Vancouver Island. It is a more laid-back alternative to the popular surfing destination of Tofino and whether you choose to visit or live here, you will never want to leave. Surrounded by lush green mountains, home to the Wild Pacific Trail, and friendly people, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Watch as 20,000 grey whales migrate through here every year, hang out at the local coffee shops and artisan stores or hop into a kayak and explore the nearby Broken Islands. An elementary school and secondary school sit at the center of town along with a handful of B&B’s, cottages and guest houses. The welcoming locals are the best people to talk to when looking for recommendations on wildlife spotting, secret surf spots and places to eat.

2. Rossland, BC

Set in a volcanic valley nestled among the Southern Monashee Mountains, Rossland is one of Canada’s top mountain biking destinations and with a population of just 4,000; this small town offers plenty of appeal. This town gives off an old-world feel as there are no traffic lights here, nor any shopping centers. Instead, the streets are dotted with independent stores and boutiques, with pedestrians slowly meandering by.

It is also one of the highest cities in Canada and has a renowned reputation for powder skiing, and although this town receives a lot of snow, the temperature rarely reaches below -10. In the summertime expect to see the old trails and abandoned rail lines left by the town’s long history of mining serve as cycling paths, horseback riding, and hiking. One of the best places to live, work and play; this small town welcomes everyone with open arms.

1. Cowichan Bay, BC

This community located near the town of Duncan is home to 2,000 some odd resident, with those numbers climbing during the summer months. The town is defined by its colorful pier, lined with floating homes and buildings on stilts. This town has adopted the Cittaslow initiative, a movement that is aimed at slowing down the pace of life in towns and promoting their cultures and traditions. It is truly a foodie’s delight in this town as the local cuisine includes fresh seafood, organic bakeries, and artisan cheese shops.

Extensive hiking and biking trails along with plenty of water sports appeal to anyone who is looking for outdoor recreation. The summers here come alive with festivals, the streets are lined with artist’s galleries and the strong sense of community can be felt throughout. Make sure to visit the Cowichan Bay Estuary, home to more than 200 species of migrant shorebirds and waterfowl.