If you need a break from the city, there are tons of small towns to visit in BC that are rich in history and culture. And if you’re willing to venture off the beaten path, you’ll find some truly unique spots and hidden gems that teeter between unusual and quirky. From Coombs to Stoner, here are some unique small towns to visit in BC this fall.
This old mining town is home to about 250 people, and is located a kilometre up the road from Sandon. Several old mine sites surround it (some of which are said to be haunted), including the Slocan Sovereign, Noble Five, Noonday, and American Boy mines. Today, their ruins make for a great day trip, as do the numerous hiking and ATV trails.
According to the City of Sandon, there’s even rumour of a hidden cemetery which has yet to be found.
Where: 1 km from Sandon, BC
Situated on the stunning 30 km-long Cowichan Lake, the town of Youbou was named by combining the names of Yount and Bouten, the original mill owners. And while the mill is no longer present, the town still remains, and is home to a 60-year-old church, a volunteer fire department, and a Community Hall, which was built in 1937.
Where: 38 km west of Duncan
Known for its scenic boardwalk in Marine Peace Park and restored buildings located at RJ Haney Heritage Park, Salmon Arm is home to a vibrant arts scene and plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities. Shuswap Lake is one of the most popular recreational destinations in the province, boasting over 20 provincial parks and plenty of mountain biking and hiking trails to explore.
Where: Columbia Shuswap Regional District
With a population of just 15 people, the historic fishing village of Winter Harbour is located within the traditional territory of the Quatsino First Nation. Visitors can stroll down its scenic boardwalk and spot a mix of sea otters, bald eagles, and other intertidal wildlife, or hike the Botel Park Trail for stunning views of Forward Inlet.
Where: 75 km from Port Hardy
If you’re driving north on Highway 97 to Prince George, keep your eye out for the infamous town sign for Stoner, BC. The relatively quiet community is located near Crysdale and Red Rock, and makes for the perfect rest stop if you’re on a longer road trip.
Where: 30 km south of Prince George
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Situated in the historic village of Coombs on Vancouver Island, the Old Country Market was created in the early ’70s by Norwegian immigrants Kristian and Solveig Graaten. In typical Norwegian style, the market was built directly into the hillside with a sod roof, which would later become home to a gaggle of famous rooftop goats, which you can visit from May through late October every year.
Other attractions to check out in Coombs include multiple heritage buildings like the Coombs General Store (in operation since 1910), the Coombs Emporium, and exciting annual events like the Coombs Country Arts & Crafts Fair that happens mid-July, and the Emerald Forest Bird Garden.
Where: Coombs, BC
Haida Gwaii is home to some of the richest Indigenous history in the province, and that includes the long-uninhabited 19th-century Haida village of SG̱ang Gwaay (formerly known as “Ninstints”). Comprised of a larger island and 27 small islets, the village is home to upright and fallen totem poles, house pits, and the ruins of longhouses – all of which are being allowed to decay naturally, as per Haida tradition. So if you’re keen on visiting for yourself, time is of the essence!
Where: Haida Gwaii, BC
And that’s a wrap on some unique small towns to visit in BC this fall. Happy adventuring!