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Browse picturesque Baker Street

Here are a few ideas for things to do in Nelson.

Leave your car behind to explore our photogenic main street. Whilst the buildings reflect a time around the arrival of the first pioneers, today Baker Street buzzes with a contemporary, funky vibe that is found nowhere else in BC.

Baker Street is one of western Canada’s most relaxed and cosmopolitan shopping streets and you can easily spend several hours browsing the colorful mix of craft stores, coffee shops, galleries and fashionable boutiques. It has often been described as being “like that one trendy neighborhood everyone wants to visit in a much bigger city”.

old buildings on Baker Street, Nelson BC
1923 streetcar passing along the waterfron of the Kootenay River, Nelson BC

Take Streetcar 23 to the largest natural lake in British Columbia

In summertime, board our restored tramcar which operated from 1924 to 1949 to ride along the spectacular waterfront from the central wharf to the shady, child-friendly Lakeside Park. You’ll view just a few kilometres of the 104 which make up Kootenay Lake, and will see snow on the distant peaks of the Kokanee Glacier massif for much of the year.

With Nelson located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, many visitors are surprised that summertime can be so hot. Lots of sandy beaches are easily accessed along the lakeshore, the first one being right here in Lakeside Park. For the more actively inclined, paddle-boards, kayaks and canoes can be rented at the park to get out onto the Kootenay River.

Stroll through grand old neighborhoods

Nelson has the best-preserved collection of heritage architecture in British Columbia. Over 350 buildings with an eclectic mix of styles from Victorian onwards have been restored to their former glory. Two informative self-guided tours take you through the old Downtown and peaceful Uphill districts.

View of Uphill Nelson showing trees and old buildings
Woman having face massage

Take some time to self-indulge...

Nelson folk know how to look after themselves. There are a disproportionate number of practitioners of the the physical arts modern and ancient, aesthetic and medical. From yoga and pilates to crystal therapy and reiki, Nelson is a centre for so called alternative natural well-being. In the town you’ll find a Himalayan salt cave, the School of Traditional Chinese Medicine and a number of slightly more orthodox spa centers. Just a few miles up the lake is an Ashram, the Mountain Waters wellness retreat, and Mountain Trek, a ‘fitness boot camp’.

For those who seek stimulation in a different way, there are three micro craft breweries and about 70 (it’s hard to keep track) restaurants, bars and and cafes. Most are in the downtown core of just a few blocks which means that the city has the highest density of places serving food and drink in the whole of North America (according to the Washington Post). Coffee is a serious issue for Nelsonites, and lines will be found from 7am to 7pm at the renowned Oso Negro, where locally-roasted coffee is served over 2500 times a day in a beautifully-designed store with landscaped terraces.

Check out the cultural scene

Ranked #1 in Canada by the influential book “Best 100 Small Arts Towns in North America” (and #4 on the continent), Nelson enjoys a thriving creative reputation. Attracting artists and art-lovers in equal measure are the many galleries, craft stores, and cultural venues, from great pubs to the renovated Capitol Theatre. Everything is anchored by the 2007-opened Touchstones, Nelson’s Museum, Archive and Art Gallery. Farmers’ markets run on Wednesdays (Baker Street) & Saturdays Cottonwood Falls Park) in summer.

Band playing on Baker Street in Nelson BC

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