Dubbed the best art town in Canada, Nelson, B.C., sits on the west arm of Kootenay Lake in the Selkirk Mountains. Born in a silver rush in the late 1800s, the town of about 10,000 is now known for its row of restored Victorian buildings on Baker Street, home of the art galleries and street musicians that give Nelson its distinctive flair.
The town is near several must-see parks, including Valhalla Provincial Park and Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, where visitors climb, hike, bicycle, and paddle the area’s natural beauty after taking in Nelson’s cultural activities, markets, and craft stores.
Nelson is about 400 miles from Bellingham. Cross the border into Canada at Sumas and take the Trans Canada Highway/BC-1 E ramp to Hope. Follow Trans-Canada Highway/BC-1 E and Crowsnest Highway/BC-3 E to Ymir Road/BC-3A to Nelson.
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WHERE TO STAY
Hume Hotel and Spa: The historic hotel has been renovated preserve the building’s history while providing modern amenities.
422 Vernon St.
In The Selkirk Mountains B&B: The bed-and-breakfast offers spectacular views of Kootenay Lake in a forest setting, and serves deluxe breakfasts in your room.
928 10th St.
Kutenai Gardens Cottage: The vacation home features a quiet location, with a private beach and campfire, as well as acres of gardens, ponds, and a creek.
4168 Highway 3A
WHERE TO EAT
BiBO: The restaurant serves global bistro food using local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. They also offer an eclectic wine list, local brews, and artisan cocktails.
518 Hall St., in Herridge Lane
Jackson’s Hole & Grill: The turn-of-the century grill features homemade comfort meals, including burgers, fish and chips, pasta, and wraps.
524 Vernon St.
Louie’s Steakhouse and Lounge: Located downtown in the Adventure Hotel, the restaurant touts signature steaks, thin-crust pizzas, and specialty pastas.
616 Vernon St.
Finley’s Irish Bar and Grill: Enjoy a few drinks and fresh pub food in a trendy, upscale atmosphere. Move onto the patio for a cold beer and a 180-degree view of Kootenay Lake.
705 Vernon St.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Nelson Visitor Center: Besides providing details about what to do in Nelson, the center itself is a restored rail station at the end of Baker Street.
91 Baker St.
Nelson ArtWalk 2016: July through September, art and business pair up to transform local businesses into galleries, with music and refreshments to accompany the artwork of 65 to 70 artists. Pick up an art walk guide at the Chamber of Commerce.
Capitol Theatre: The restored theater presents several productions throughout the year, showcasing the talents of local actors, musicians, and dancers.
421 Victoria St.
Kokanee Creek Provincial Park: The park has a sandy beach and delta that slowly rises to the forested Selkirk Mountains. Several hiking trails depart from the park’s information center. A more difficult hike is in Kokanee Glacier Park, open to hikers July to October.
Valhalla Provincial Park: On the west shore of Slocan Lake, the park’s diverse landscapes are the big draw, with fantastic peaks and distinctive vegetation. Opportunities abound for backcountry hikers, canoers, and climbers.