With all the amenities of a big city but pristine forest wilderness just minutes away, Prince George is an ideal holiday destination. Known as the 'Northern Capital' of British Columbia, the city boasts great shopping, a wealth of culture and an excellent range of restaurants. The surrounding areas are rich with forest, lakes and mountains, providing beautiful hiking and biking trails in summer and plenty of winter sports when the snow falls.
Perhaps the city’s biggest draw is its fantastic forests. Hikes such as the Ancient Forest just out of town will take you on boardwalks and trails surrounded by truly awesome old cedar trees, while the Forests for the World walks feature an amazing range of trees with reforested, managed and wild areas. The wildlife is also plentiful with woodland creatures such as beavers, deer, moose and bears roaming and visiting the many lakes, as well as plenty of bird species to spot. Prince George’s hiking is not confined to forest however, as there are some fabulous mountain hikes which reward you with amazing panoramic views over the beautiful landscapes, riverside strolls and lovely hillside flower gardens. For those who enjoy biking, many trails are accessible for bikes too, including some thrilling downhill courses.
Prince George’s downtown centre has a range of local stores from craft shops to bookstores, and a good choice of restaurants, bistros, grills and pubs. There are several large malls on the outskirts of town with excellent shopping opportunities, offering both high street shops and department stores. For entertainment you’ll find cinemas, theatres and galleries, the popular Prince George Symphony Orchestra and regular sports events and festivals throughout the year, from dance and music events to rodeos and traditional pow wows.
It is a city with a rich history so don’t waste the opportunity to explore one of its many museums. Step back in time at the Central BC Railway Museum with its great collection of vintage locomotives, trains, buildings and miniature ride-on railway. The Mackenzie Museum celebrates the creation of the planned community of Mackenzie and its manmade lake – the largest in Canada – and the pioneer village at the Huble Homestead. Alongside this, art galleries, the interactive science museum and the observatory will please those looking for a more contemporary experience.
During the cold and snowy winter months Prince George thrives, with pretty light displays, ice rinks and craft fairs as well as plenty of winter activities. Two ski hills and a great many cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails, as well as the opportunity to head out on great Canadian adventures such as snowmobiling or dogsledding, provide plenty to keep you busy.
Summers are warm and sunny and you’ll find a choice of lakeside beaches to cool off at just a short drive from town. West Lake, half an hour from downtown, has a nice sandy beach and roped off swimming area, while Purden or Bear lakes are both under an hour away and offer great swimming and sandcastle building!
A visit to Prince George combines the beauty of the wilderness with all the convenience of a city. And with its interesting museums and history, the town offers a real spread of entertainment and activities to occupy every taste.
Things to do
Top tips for visiting Prince George
Top Tip 1
• Downtown Prince George has everything you might need and a good selection of restaurants. For something different, head to Shiraz in Park Wood Mall for delicious Persian food or Hummus Brothers for fresh Mediterranean tapas.
Top Tip 2
• The hiking is fantastic in and around Prince George – for some of the best views around, take the Teapot Mountain trail just a short drive north of the city. The trail is short but steep and rocky, and the rewarding panoramic views over lakes, creeks and rivers as you circle the summit are breath-taking.
Top Tip 3
• Prince George has its very own drive-in cinema – something of a novelty to us Europeans – which makes for a fun night out. There is also go-karting and mini-golf onsite to complete your retro evening.
Top Tip 4
• The cheerful eight-metre tall log-man that stands at the gateway to the city is known as Mr PG. The original carving was a made for a carnival float but was replaced in the 80s with the more durable fibreglass version. He represents the importance of forestry to the city.
Top Tip 5
• The city has a good collection of museums and galleries downtown, as well as several heritage sites within easy reach. The Two Rivers Gallery, housed in a stylish building, has an excellent art collection as well as many visiting exhibitions, special events and workshops.
Top Tip 6
• For a lovely day trip visit the Nechako Bird Sanctuary in Vanderhoof, just over an hour from downtown. The two-storey wooden viewing platform in Riverside Park provides a fantastic view of the sanctuary, which is on the ‘Pacific Flyway’ migratory path and counts bald eagles, woodpeckers, great blue herons and thousands of Canada geese among its regular visitors.
Top Tip 7
• If you are travelling with children, Prince George has plenty to keep them entertained. Ride the miniature railway at the Railway Museum, dig for fossils and get wet in the spray park at Exploration Place science centre, or head out of town to Noah’s Ark petting zoo and farm.
Top Tip 8
• The Prince George Observatory has one of the largest telescopes in the country, and welcomes the public every clear Friday night during the autumn and spring months to spot planets, galaxies, comets and of course the moon in stunning detail. A fantastic and humbling way to spend an evening.