Places to Visit
Columbia Valley BC visitors have a nearly unlimited choice of places to visit. Adults and kids alike can always find someplace new and exciting to explore. Take the family to one of the three beaches in the Invermere and Windermere parks for a swim and a picnic. Relax in the hot pools at Radium Hot Springs and Fairmont Hot Springs. Or browse the shops, galleries, restaurants and theatres in our communities.
Historical places to visit
The valley’s rich history, what we can know of it, spans many hundreds, even thousands, of years. First Nations favored it as a seasonal hunting and fishing ground. Famed explorer and cartographer, David Thompson, explored and mapped the area in the early 1800s. Pioneers, mostly from Europe, settled the area next. All left a rich cultural legacy for us. There are dozens of historical places to visit throughout the valley. You can explore the remains of many of the earliest buildings, forts such as Kootenae House at Wilmer, etc. and there are museums and archives in many of the communities.
Family fun is guaranteed at Fort Steele, a heritage town complete with buildings, horses and buggies, an old steam train and period costumes. Explore the Windermere Valley Museum in Invermere, with historic valley buildings that have been moved on site, the Fairmont Indian Baths at Fairmont Hot Springs and Windermere’s Stolen Church.
Educational places to visit
Take the family on a field trip to the Kootenay Fish Hatchery for a guided tour to learn how, since 1965 the hatchery has been annually stocking nearly 150 lakes in the East and West Kootenay regions with 2.5 million trout fingerlings and other fish species.
Take a self-guided tour in the Kimberley Nature Park to learn of the hundreds of varieties of plant life and the eco-systems there that nourish them. Learn about the historical significance of the cottonwood trees as you take a walk in the giant cottonwood forest in the south-eastern part of the province. See the award-winning Community Greenhouse in Invermere.
Explore the Columbia Wetlands by canoe or kayak to learn about this protected area that is home to hundreds of wildlife species and is a stopping point for over 250 species of migratory birds.
Cultural places to visit
Pynelogs Cultural Centre in Invermere is a building with an amazing history in itself and home to an ever-changing display of the works of nearly 150 local artists and artisans. If you are an art lover, you will enjoy visiting art galleries in the larger centres of Golden, Invermere, Kimberley, Cranbrook and Fernie and there are also a couple of self-guided art tours each year where you can talk with artists and purchase their creations.
Plan to attend a cultural festival or two, especially in the summer months and make sure to attend one of the dozens of weekly farmers markets where you can see displays of the works of local artisans and purchase fresh, local produce and home baking, tap your feet to the music of local musicians and enjoy a cup of locally-brewed coffee.
Be sure to bring your camera!