Bordered by towering peaks, forests, glacial lakes and rivers, Nelson and its surrounding communities have come of age in the past few years, earning quietly legendary renown as one of North America’s most unique mountain playgrounds. But unlike many of its holiday destination contemporaries throughout the west, Nelson and nearby centres of Balfour, Harrop-Procter and Salmo offer a remarkable mix of small town life and big city commerce.
Come see for yourself.
We’re a world class four-season destination, with accommodations ranging from waterfront resorts and boutique hotels to solitary lakeside camp spots. Stay in the middle of the action. Or the middle of nowhere. Visit our accommodation directory for a list of options.
As for events, there’s something going on almost every night of the year at a local nightspot or theatre, for all ages, and a full calendar of annual happenings.
Like the rest of Canada and British Columbia, the Nelson area is now safely re-opened following the pandemic, having heeded all national and provincial protocols.
The question isn’t what can you do here in and around the Nelson area. It’s what you can’t. There isn’t much you won’t find in the way of adventure.
Nelson sits on the shores of the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, with the nearby Salmo and Slocan Rivers winding beneath the rugged slopes of the Selkirk Mountains.
In winter you can ski and snowboard (by chairlift, snowcat, helicopter or your own oomph) snowmobile, snowshoe or cross country, skate (indoor and out)… when the weather warms, spring, summer and fall there’s world class mountain and road biking, golf, rapids and shorelines to paddle or float, climbing, fishing, dirt biking and ATVing.
Funky, independent, eclectic: that’s how folks from Nelson describe themselves.
Our distinctly Kootenay cross-section of shops and stores is no different.
Stroll from creekside markets, along vibrant Baker Street and its laneways of boutiques and shops, all the way down the stores-to-shore promenade to the Chahko Mika Mall.
Check out our Business Directory for the best in shopping and dining.
Considered for years one of North America’s greatest little arts towns, Nelson has a thriving cultural community that stretches to the villages, forests and fields throughout our rural reaches.
With some 350 heritage buildings — and that’s just in town — the region’s neighbourhoods and business districts teem with the frontier spirit that built the pillars of an economy that still exists today.
Reconciled and stewarded sites of great multi-cultural importance, including those of our First Nations, pay homage to the creation of places we now all call home.
EAT, DRINK, & THEN SOME
A little known, but true fact of fare: Nelson has more restaurants per capita than the city of San Francisco.
Our food and beverage community is big-city superlative. From one corner to the next, there are tastes from around the world.
And everything to fill the gastronomical spaces in between — cafés, bakeries, farm-to-table venues…craft breweries, historic pubs, bustling cocktail and cuisine hot spots and yes, even cannabis shops, offering Canada’s newest legal, non-guilty pleasure.
For down days or a few free hours in between adventures and retail romps, there are dozens
For down days or a few free hours in between adventures and retail romps, there are dozens of great venues and side-trips to take in during your Nelson stay.
Rain, snow or shine, there are destinations for pool time or a deep soak and steam, as well as art exhibits, archives and historical destinations that can be self-guided or toured with hosts.
For a scenic stroll, a bit of exercise (or a lot), there are gorgeous green spaces and hikes through manicured green spaces and gardens, towering old growth forest and hiking trails to famous vistas.
And for those who like to get out on the road, a number of circuit drives that include free ferry rides — one of them the world’s longest free ferry in fact. Take a spin out to Harrop/Procter, Kootenay Lake’s East Shore, Kaslo or the nearby Slocan Valley.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Beyond the allure of its natural beauty and cosmopolitan offerings, visitors to Nelson often say the place is simply good for your soul.
It’s true, thanks in big part to the region’s array of health practitioners and provisioners of wellness. For body and mind, there are spas and salons, yoga, pilates and state-of-the-art training centres throughout the community.
And beyond the bustle, located in supernatural wilderness settings, you can find retreats and ashrams meant for the revival of spirit and soul alike.
nelson visitor centre
For more information, tips, or trip ideas come talk to our friendly staff at the Visitor Information Centre and Station Gallery.
91 Baker Street
Phone: (250) 352-3433
Toll Free: 1-877-663-5706
For even more info on things to do in the area visit the Nelson Kootenay Lake Toursim website.
VISITOR CENTRE & STATION GALLERY
Need more details? Drop by the Nelson and Area Visitor Centre, located in the historic CP Rail Station, or call 250-352-3433. There’s a local tourism expert there to help as well as a beautiful art gallery and gift shop featuring a large variety of local products.
PLACES TO STAY
There is plenty of diversity when it comes to accommodations. From waterfront resorts, full service heritage hotels , boutique hotels, motels, B and B’s or vacation rentals, there is something that fits the needs of every visitor. Check out our business directory or visit nelsonkootenaylake.com/stay for even more ideas.
You won’t have much bored in Nelson and Area. With something going on almost every night of the year at a local nightspot or theatre, it seems there is an event of activity for all ages, including a full calendar of events that take place annually – see the list on our annual events page.
THINGS TO DO
It may sound like a cliché, but Nelson and area is a four-season destination with activities that take full advantage of its unique setting, a vibrant diverse community on the shores of Kootenay Lake, with a mountain backdrop that just calls for you to head outdoors. Check out our Things To Do page for ideas.
Let’s face it, Nelson and Area is not the easiest place to get to, but once you are here it is well worth the effort. Located just north of the US border (about 2.5 Hours North of Spokane Washington) 7 hours from Calgary Alberta, 8 hours from Vancouver on Highway 3 through Southern BC and about 4 hours from the Okanagan Valley. It is a great scenic trip through the mountains that you will always remember. See more info on getting here.
NELSON KOOTENAY LAKE TOURISM
For more in-depth travel information, trip ideas, and upcoming events in the Nelson, BC area, please visit Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism – the official tourism associations website. Here you will find a wealth of local Nelson resources including deals, contests, travel suggestions and more.