THE CITY OF NELSON, BC
While it might sound contradictory, perhaps seemingly impossible, Nelson, British Columbia is among just a handful of small cities in North America that can lay claim to a unique mix….. an unusual abundance of big city cosmopolitan amenities , coupled with a an authentic small town charm. You will feel the funky vibe and authenticity and entrepreneurial spirit following a quick stroll down historic Baker Street, a vibrant main street that is a true adventure in itself.
For those with a zest for fine dining and international fare, retail fashion and new wares, nights on the town or relaxing days and stimulating conversations in a local coffee shop – Nelson brings it all.
On the shores of Kootenay Lake’s West Arm, centrally located between Vancouver, B.C., Calgary, AB and Spokane, WA, just 30 minutes from the West Kootenay Regional Airport, Nelson has a growing population of 10,600; with Greater Nelson encompassing 18,000 and a trading area near 70,000 the duly-named Heritage City features a heritage downtown and 300-plus restored heritage homes, businesses and churches. To learn about the time of these heritage buildings visit our History of Nelson BC page.
Nelson residents boast of the 50 restaurants and cafes, in fact more per capita than San Francisco, many with outdoor seasonal patios adding to that cosmopolitan feel.
Welcome to Nelson.
Downtown Nelson is alive with locals and visitors alike with blocks of funky specialty shops, boutiques and great shopping. You’ll find galleries, museum browsing, alluring back lanes, over a dozen pubs, live music venues and dance clubs. If you thought people watching can be alluring on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive or Manhattan’s east side, you’ll enjoy downtown Nelson minus the traffic and about one million fewer people of course.
People make a point of supporting the local economy which helps drive an entrepreneurial spirit and unique businesses.
For skiers, golfers, shoppers or travelers, Nelson’s diverse accommodation and restorative health sectors are attractions too. From waterfront hotels to beautifully restored heritage, full service, even boutique hotels, or a vast array of fully licensed and approved B&Bs plus a selection of motels that will fit all visitor or business needs. The city and surrounding rural communities offer numerous spas, hot spring resorts, a zipline, whitewater rafting, plus Nelson features a new community recreation complex with pools, sauna, steam room and fitness centre and numerous practitioners in massage therapy, yoga, acupuncture and alternative health sciences.
Thanks to a temperate climate, you can enjoy world class skiing and awesome powder just minutes away without freezing or in spring and summer, golf, hike or mountain bike without burning up.
Whether you’re exploring Nelson for relaxation or adventure you’ll find a kind of spirit or authenticity that that has slipped away from so many cities.
Thanks for taking some time to Discover Nelson through our Chamber of Commerce website and partner sites…we hope you come back again and again.
We are sure you’ll find that Nelson is a great place to visit…but an even better place to live…to work…to own a business…to raise a family…to live your dreams.
Overlooking Kootenay Lake’s vast stretches to the north and south, with the Selkirk Mountains at your back and the Purcells straight ahead, the communities of Balfour and Ainsworth define life on the lake.
For centuries both communities were the traditional hunting, fishing and gathering grounds of the Ktunaxa First Nations. Today, they are centres for golf, hiking, beachfront getaways and lingering stays at the famous Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort, just 18 kilometres north of Balfour, now stewarded by the Lower Kootenay Band.
Located 25 minutes from Nelson, Balfour is the marine gateway to Kootenay Lake’s waters year round, and the western terminal for the world’s longest free ferry ride, which in 35 scenic and smooth minutes delivers motorists to the artisans, hikes and beaches of the beautiful East Shore.
Both forward thinking and laid back, the twin communities of Harrop and Procter are tucked against the forested slopes of West Arm Park and Kootenay Lake’s west arm, reached with a five-minute trip across the Harrop Cable Ferry.
Once home to sprawling fruit orchards, sawmills, hotels, and dispatches for both sternwheelers and rail travel between Nelson and Creston, these quaint outposts are now home to industry leaders in sustainable forestry and remanufacturing.
There are two regional lakeside parks, hiking, mountain biking, a great bakery and village store, and a telling mix of beautiful heritage farms and modern designer homes along quiet lanes and roadways.
Quickly gaining renown as Nelson’s first-ever bedroom community, nearby Salmo is beginning to bustle.
The streets of this Kootenay hub, just down the highway from the site of the world famous Shambhala Music Festival, now boast genuine mountain town fare, with a craft brewery, busy cafe and bistro, plus a golf course and a great little ski hill, replete with summertime mountain bike trails.
The burg of Ymir, located just off the highway on the way to Nelson is a wee Kootenay gem on the Salmo River, with a skatepark and basketball court, historic hotel and funky local store.
Just Beyond Nelson and District
Within an hour’s drive of Nelson to the west, north and east, there are a number of neighbouring regions and communities well worth a day trip.
The Slocan Valley includes the communities of Winlaw, Silverton and New Denver, along the shores of Slocan Lake and the Slocan River. To the north, funky Kaslo is the gateway to Kootenay Lake’s majestic north end. And across the Kootenay Lake ferry, you’ll find the artisan-rich holiday home communities of Crawford Bay, Riondel and Wyndell.