Transforming from resource outpost to hippie enclave and now resort town, Tofino is Vancouver Island's favorite outdoorsy retreat. It's not surprising that surf fans, families and city-escaping Vancouverites keep coming: packed with activities and blessed with spectacular local beaches, it sits on Clayoquot Sound, where forested mounds rise from roiling, ever-dramatic waves.
People are always 'discovering' Prince Rupert, and realising what a find it is. This intriguing city with a gorgeous harbor is not just a transportation hub for ferries heading south to Vancouver Island, west to Haida Gwaii and north to Alaska; it's a destination in its own right.
Golden is well situated for national-park explorations – there are six nearby. White-water rafting excitement lies even closer, where the Kicking Horse River converges with the Columbia. Don't just breeze past the strip of franchised yuck on Hwy 1 or you'll miss the tidy town center down by the tumbling river.
In First Nations times, before outsiders arrived, Prince George was called Lheidli T'Enneh, which means 'people of the confluence,' an appropriate name given that the Nechako and Fraser Rivers converge here. Today the name would be just as fitting, although it's the confluence of highways that matters most.
Fraser & Thompson Valleys
Those looking for an inland escape from Vancouver shoot east on Hwy 1 through the fertile plains of places such as Abbotsford. Mostly people just whiz past this farmland, and you should too, unless you have a hankering to see a turnip in the rough. That said, the Fraser Canyon thrills with stunning river gorge beauty and the Thompson River looks little changed in decades.
Salt Spring Island
The busiest and most developed of the islands, Salt Spring has a reputation for palatial vacation homes, but it's also lined with artist studios and artisan food and drink producers that welcome visitors. Well worth a long weekend visit, the heart of the community is Ganges, home of Salt Spring's awesome summer market.
Yoho National Park
The surging waters of glacier-fed, ice-blue Kicking Horse River that plow through a valley of the same name are an apt image for dramatic Yoho National Park. This spectacular park is home to looming peaks, pounding waterfalls, glacial lakes and patches of pretty meadows.
Once-modest Osoyoos has embraced an upscale future. The town takes its name from the First Nations word 'soyoos,' which means 'sand bar across' and, even if the translation is a bit rough, the definition is not: much of the town is indeed on a narrow spit of land that divides Osoyoos Lake.
Surrounded by mountains on four sides – that's the sheer granite Lizard Range you see looking west – Fernie defines cool. Once devoted solely to lumber and coal, the town has used its sensational setting to branch out. Skiers love the 8m-plus of dry powder that annually blankets the runs seen from town.