Vancouver Sun

Bustling Prince George is where the action is

The great outdoors is never far away in this bustling city with lively food and beer scene

- VISNJA MILIDRAGOV­IC Originally published on Hellobc.com by Destinatio­n BC.

Outdoor adventures abound in the bustling northern hub of Prince George, a welcoming home base for accessing B.C.’S vast northern reaches. With a population of nearly 75,000, Prince George sits at the intersecti­on of Highway 16 and Highway 97, where the Nechako River meets the mighty Fraser. From here, you can access hiking and biking trails that meander through diverse landscapes and explore hundreds of nearby lakes and rivers.

Prince George lives and breathes nature. Seek out trail heads close to town, or spend time in one of the parks right in the city. Take a stroll through Cottonwood Island Nature Park, named for the 300-year-old black cottonwood trees that line the nearby Nechako River (make sure to check out the tree carvings). Spend a leisurely day on the banks of the Fraser River at Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park, where you can enjoy picnic sites, floral gardens, and tennis courts. Explore Forests of the World around Shane Lake (west of the city by the University of Northern B.C. campus) — don’t miss the interpreti­ve trails.

Want to venture farther out? Head north and climb Teapot Mountain for lovely views of Summit Lake, or forest bathe at Goodsir Nature Park. You can also book a guided fishing charter with Reel North Adventures to discover secluded waterways in the Skeena and Omineca regions.

A LITTLE SOMETHING OUTSIDE FOR EVERYONE

If mountain biking is your thing, visit the Pidherny Mountain Bike Trails, or the Otway Nordic Centre, where ski runs turn to bike trails come summer. Prefer horses to bikes? Book a trail ride with El Shaddai Ranch and explore the Fraser River canyon.

Golf enthusiast­s have six nearby courses to choose from. Aberdeen Glen Golf Course and Estates offers 7,114 yards of fairways carved through valleys of dense natural forest. Prince George Golf & Curling Club and Pine Valley Golf Centre are also right in town, while Alder Hills (18-hole), Aspen Grove (18-hole), and Links of Maggie May (9-hole course) are all within 20 minutes of the city proper.

LEARN ABOUT THE AREA’S PAST

Explore the history of Prince George and the surroundin­g area, and follow in the footsteps of those who came before and those who have been here for millennia.

Right in the city, visit the Central BC Railway & Forestry Museum, a fun industrial heritage attraction in a spacious park-like setting on the shores of the Nechako River.

Forty kilometres north is the historic Huble Homestead where you can travel back in time to the 1900s and learn about early prospector­s, as well as the traditiona­l practices of the Lheidli T’enneh people at the First Nations fish camp exhibit. Tackle the 8.5-kilometre Giscome Portage Heritage Trail to experience what was once considered “the shortcut” (Lhdesti), the shortest route between the waterways flowing to the Pacific and those flowing into the Arctic Ocean.

Continue to explore further up Highway 97 at old settlement­s like Chetwynd and Fort St. John, or head east on Route 16 toward New Hazelton.

WHERE TO EAT

In recent years, Prince George has seen an influx of new dining options and watering holes, ranging from breweries and wineries to food trucks and eclectic restaurant­s.

Stop for a wood-fired pizza at Betulla Burning, have pad thai at Mai Thai, a roll from Sushi97, or opt for a classic like Cimo Mediterran­ean Grill. The Oakroom Grill offers a fusion menu with a side of live music. Cool off midday and sample small-batch, local ice cream from the Frozen Paddle.

PG is also home to B.C.’S northernmo­st winery, Northern Lights Estate Winery, which offers tours and tastings with views of the river. Beer lovers will want to check out the aptly named Crossroads Brewing as well as the popular Trench Brewing right in town.

Find some of the best local grab ’n’ go grub in Northern B.C. together in one place. Order takeout from Smokey J’s Food Truck and other local faves lined up in front of city hall every Friday, and peruse local vendors at the farmers market downtown on Saturdays.

WHERE TO STAY IN PRINCE GEORGE

There’s no shortage of places to stay, from no-frills motels and RV parks to higher-end hotels, as well as nearby campground­s for those looking for a night under the stars.

Stay downtown at hotels like the Coast Hotel, Courtyard by Marriott, or the Ramada Plaza. Lower-cost options include North Star Inn and Suites and the Econolodge.

For cabin rentals try Woodhouse Cottages and Ranch, and if you’re travelling in an RV check out Sintich, Hartway, and Northland RV parks. Closer to the city, the full-service Salmon Valley Campground has all the amenities (for RVS as well) — including an espresso machine for fresh coffee in the morning. Other options include Mamayeh, Bluecedars, and West Lake campground­s.

1- TO 3-DAY TRIPS FROM PRINCE GEORGE

Make Prince George your home base for adventure and keep the adrenalin running with one or more short getaways.

Take a few days to visit old settlement­s along the Alaska Highway. Camp lakeside at Crooked River Provincial Park (74 kilometres north), then continue on to Chetwynd (+2 1/2 hours’ drive), Dawson Creek (+1 hour), and Fort St. John (+1 hour).

Also nearby is Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark (4 1/2 hours from Prince George) where you can see dinosaur trackways and fossils in B.C.’S only vertebrate research centre.

Five hours east along Route 16, visit New Hazelton and ’Ksan Historical Village, Campground and Museum and immerse yourself in 8,000-year-old Indigenous history. Honour the generation­s, past and present, who have stewarded this land.

Stay a night in Burns Lake for a nature pit stop and explore the lush surroundin­g area. Fishing is a must here.

Whichever road and destinatio­n you choose, your journey will be set against a backdrop of big, beautiful nature.

Visit Tourism Prince George at tourismpg.com to plan your trip.

 ?? DAVE SILVER / DESTINATIO­N BC ?? Mountain bikers will be drawn to the Pidherny trail network in Prince George or the Otway Nordic Centre, where ski runs turn to bike trails in summer.
DAVE SILVER / DESTINATIO­N BC Mountain bikers will be drawn to the Pidherny trail network in Prince George or the Otway Nordic Centre, where ski runs turn to bike trails in summer.
 ?? SIMON RATCLIFFE / NORTHERN BC TOURISM ?? Stop for a few minutes along Highway 97 to enjoy the view.
SIMON RATCLIFFE / NORTHERN BC TOURISM Stop for a few minutes along Highway 97 to enjoy the view.

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