If you haven’t taken a drive through the Kootenay mountain ranges down to Nelson, we’re here to tell you you’re missing out. Surrounded by lush greenery, Nelson sits perched on a rugged hillside. It’s the cutest little town rising up out of the crystal-clear Kootenay river. Known for its hippy vibe, its amazing local restaurants and shops, and the dark green and mystical BC forests and mountains that surround it. Nelson is the perfect road-trip for any relationship – budding to established.
Nelson is a 4.5-hour drive from Kelowna, an almost 8-hour drive from Vancouver and about 7 hours from Calgary for our Alberta friends – so this is definitely an overnighter. If you need places to stay, Nelson has the full-spectrum of accommodation styles for the budget-minded to the high-end. Check out the Dancing Bear Inn if you want the social life of a hostel and a chance to mix up your own meals in the communal kitchen. The Hume Hotel is perfect if you want to stay in the heart of the city in one of its most historic buildings. For relaxation, drive 20 minutes out of town to the Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort and dip into the hot spring waters.
Planning your first day in Nelson? Here’s our perfect first day for any couple!
Good Morning, Nelson!
Start your morning with sunrise (trust us, it’s worth it), and then head on over to Oso Negro Coffee for a yummy latte and an even yummier breakfast sandwich. Lace up those boots for an early hike to Pulpit Rock – a pretty tough 4km hike whose views will leave you breathless. Not a hiker? Hop in the car for a 20-minute drive to Ainsworth hot springs and spend an hour or two in the hot pool or cruising through the stalagmite caves.
Chug some water and head back into town for lunch. If it’s a Saturday in the summer, drop by the Nelson Farmer’s Market before lunch and look around for some yummy local goodies. Market closes at 2pm so it’s best to visit before the margaritas start flowing.
Speaking of margaritas, you’ll be pretty famished at this point so make sure to get your taco on at Cantina del Centro. Amazing tacos, burritos, and margs to satiate even the biggest appetites with bright flavours and an even brighter atmosphere.
We know you’re not going to like this but skip the nap and spend some time walking along the railroad tracks down to sunny Rotary Lakeside Park, with a large sandy area, volleyball net, docks, canoe, SUP and boat rentals, washrooms and popular Rose Garden. Take a cold and refreshing dip by the shadow of the big orange Bridge. Iconic. Or, rent an SUP and drift along admiring the view.
An evening you won’t forget!
Head back to your accommodations and change into some comfy evening wear. Spend some time walking around downtown before dinner. Local toy stores, bookstores, and clothing stores have super cool options for all tastes and styles, including some amazing local makers.
Finally, rest your full heart and tired feet at Broken Hill – an amazing barbecue and gastro pub joint with rave reviews. Enjoy the locally sourced food and craft cocktails while you breathlessly recount your adventures and plan for more the next day. A quick stop at the Hume Hotel for a night cap and you’ve wrapped up day one in one of the funkiest little towns BC has to offer.
After this action-packed, fun-filled day, you won’t disagree that a trip to Nelson is the perfect road-trip!
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