If you are looking for some great things to do in Nelson BC, this post will help give you a quick guide to Nelson activities to do with or without kids.
Nelson is located in the Kootenay area in British Columbia, Canada. The city is situated alongside the Kootenay Lake which offers views of mountains and lakes in one spot. Nelson is surrounded by the Selkirk and Purcell mountains and within close proximity to many small communities.
You’ll find a unique city that is so proud of its roots and culture. Everyone supports local here, whether it’s the food, arts or lifestyle experiences. It’s all homegrown here, which makes it truly authentic. It’s a small mountain
town with modern amenities.
What You'll Find in This Post
- 10 Things to do in Nelson BC
- Best Places to Stay in Nelson BC
- Nelson BC Restaurants
- Nelson Area Map
- Things to do in Nelson BC in Winter
- Nelson BC Travel Tips
10 Things to do in Nelson BC
1. Paddle Boarding on Kootenay Lake
Whether you are paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing, fishing and just having some fun you need to spend some time by the water at Kootenay Lake. The amazing backdrop of the mountains with a clear blue lake is remarkable. Spend hours on the lake paddling alongside the shoreline to get another angle of the city. Float or do some paddleboarding yoga while you breathe in the fresh mountain air.
2. Visit Rotary Lakeside Park
The Lakeside Park in Nelson BC is a must visit with the kids. They have a great big playground and play structure for the kids to burn off some energy.
They have a fun old tram, Streetcar 23, that you can hop on and take a little tour along the Kootenay Lake. Kids love this fun activity and with a small fare, it makes for a fun experience for the children to ride in an old streetcar. I would say this is one of Nelson’s coolest attractions for kids.
3. Walk down Baker Street
Baker Street is Nelson’s main street and the heart of the city. On this street, you’ll find all kinds of shopping, restaurants, art studios, coffee shops, and so much more. This street is lined with heritage buildings and a nostalgic atmosphere to the main hub of the city.
Look into the back alleys and search for all the hidden treasure little boutique shops. The best thing to entice the kids for this stroll down Baker Street is to find a local ice cream shop and candy store to be found along the way.
4. Find the Local Artist
Nelson is full of artisans with a wealth of creativity to be discovered. Long time artisan and new ones are always popping up on the scene. This place is a melting pot for those who love the arts and want to be inspired by other artisans too!
5. Hike to Pulpit Rock
There are many different hiking paths and walking trails located in and around Nelson, but the most famous one is to hike up to Pulpit Rock and the Flagpole. The path is relatively easy to Pulpit Rock but more moderate to the flagpole. This will give you the reward of an amazing view of the Nelson.
6. Take the Kootenay Lake Ferry from Balfour to Kootenay Bay
Kootenay Bay area includes spots like Crawford Bay which has a legendary status for the quality of their artisan products in this small community and worth the trip. Find all kinds of artists with their own little shops of pottery, glass-blowing, broom making, and blacksmiths. We found out about this place through this British Columbia travel guide.
There is also a cool way to get there by taking the longest free ferry in the world to get there! During this ferry ride, you’ll go across Kootenay Lake with some spectacular views. Also, don’t forget to grab some delicious baked goods from the bakery on the Balfour side!
7. Find the Street Art
Tucked under bridges, in back alleys, on the side of heritage buildings or pretty much anywhere you look you’ll find these amazing pieces of street art. Bright and colourful with a story behind all of them, we made this a scavenger hunt for who could spot the most and which one was their favourite.
8. Visit Kokanee Glacier Park
Kokanee Glacier Park has so much wilderness to offer and places to explore. It is located in the Selkirk Mountains between Slocan and Kootenay Lakes. Going here will take a full day for a visit from Nelson or plan an overnight stay to be able to get the most out of your visit.
9. Visit the local Farmers Market
There is something about visiting a local small farmers market in the summer or autumn in Nelson. Fresh vegetables, fruit, baked good and crafts from the people of the area. This is all about supporting and eating local. Farm-to-table with some delicious ideas for a mid-morning snack or picnic. Plus, where better to have a farmers market then beside a small waterfall and river!
10. Mountain Bike
One of the best things to do in the Kootenays is to go mountain biking. There are all kinds of amazing trails in the area from beginner to expert. You’ll find all kinds of spots to mountain bike but some good options are from Nelson to Cottonwood Lake and back on the Great Nothern Rail Trail or Slocan Valley Rail Trail. And if that doesn’t fill up your days there is always Kokanee Mountain Zipline!
Best Places to Stay in Nelson BC
There are a few different options that work great for your stay in Nelson, BC. Either Airbnbs, hotels, or camping located very close by.
Hotels in Nelson
Here are some of our suggestions from where we stayed to where we might consider next time we visit.
- Hume Hotel
- Prestige Lakeside Resort – Where we stayed on our visit! Loved our morning walks along the lake and the view of the lake.
- The Adventure Hotel
- Kokanee Springs Resort
- Alpine Inn & Suites
Airbnb in Nelson
The best part about the Airbnb in Nelson is that you can find some really unique and quirky artisan places to stay if you want to live like a local. Many of them are infused with the artistic vibe which is a destination all on its own.
Camping by Nelson
One of the best things to do around Nelson BC is to go camping! A great way to spend your evenings in Nelson is under the stars and sleeping at one of these campgrounds in the area.
Don’t forget to print off your Camping Checklist here before you plan your trip!
- Kokanee Creek Provincial Park
- Cool Waters RV Park
- RV Park at Granite Point Golf Club
- Karibu Park Cottages & Campground
- Kline’s Creekside RV Park
- Lost Ledge Campground (North Kootenay Lake)
- Nelson City Campground
- Kokanee Chalets
Nelson BC Restaurants
These are some of what we think at the best restaurants in Nelson – Pitchfork, Cantina del Centro, West Coast Grill, Oso Negro Cafe, and of course the farmers market!
Don’t forget to check out some of the local breweries for a pint (or two) including Nelson Brewing Company (NBC), Angry Hen, Torchlight and backroads brewing.
Nelson Area Map
Nelson can be a great hub for you to explore the Kootenay region including places like Ainsworth Hot Springs, Kalso, Balfour, Lardeay, Meadow Creek and Trail.
Things to do in Nelson BC in Winter
If you happen to be visiting Nelson during the winter months there is still so much for you to do.
Whitewater Ski Resort is only 20 minutes from downtown Nelson. This world-class ski resort gets some of the best-untouched snow in British Columbia. They offer also plenty of options for skiing including cat skiing and heli-skiing which is popular in the area.
There are so many other outdoor things to do in the winter including skating, fishing, snowshoeing, tobogganing and nordic skiing.
Nelson BC Travel Tips
- Check out any of the local upcoming activities on the Kootenay lake tourism website.
- Castlegar is the nearest airport if you need to fly in and rent a car to drive from there.
- Driving you can take the #6 (South/North), #3 (East/West), #3A (scenic highway from Creston), #31 (North of Balfour). Be sure to check out DriveBC.ca for updated traffic conditions and closures.
- Kootenay Lake Ferry has summer and winter hours so please check the latest schedules for timing.
- Don’t forget to ensure you have travel insurance for your trip to Nelson. We always use World Nomads for our insurance and you can read more about our review of World Nomads Insurance here.
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