British Columbia, the westernmost province of Canada, stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the towering heights of the Rocky Mountains — almost twice the size of California, yet with a population half the size of Los Angeles. Sandwiched in between is some of this planet’s most magnificent scenery.
A major attraction for many is the province’s climate, one that is a lot less extreme than the rest of Canada. Yes, it does rain a lot along the coast, but the upside is that the surrounding mountains and warm ocean currents ensure mild winters and pleasantly warm summers. And while it rarely snows at sea level, winter enthusiasts are spoiled for choice, with alpine resorts scattered through all regions. For those who like to mix up their recreation, the region offers a special treat: Many golf courses are open through winter, and you can try glacier skiing midsummer in Whistler .
Settled by Europeans just 200 years ago, British Columbia has been home to civilization for thousands of years. While world-class facilities such as the Museum of Anthropology  and the Royal BC Museum  do an admirable job of preserving native culture, there are opportunities to experience these ancient lifestyles by visiting abandoned villages, tasting indigenous dishes, and learning about the meaning-filled art.
Totem poles are the most recognized form of Pacific Northwest culture, and these can be seen everywhere from local parks to remote islands. Native artwork is held in high regard around the world, with wide-ranging collections available for viewing and purchase in downtown galleries and in locations as far removed from the city as local co-ops within native villages.
The province’s largest city is Vancouver , a splendid conglomeration of old and new architectural marvels, parks and gardens, and sheltered beaches on the coast in the southwestern corner of the province. The provincial capital is old-world Victoria , perched at the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island, just across the Strait of Georgia from Vancouver. Victoria boasts an intriguing mixture of old English architecture, customs, and traditions, along with modern attractions, cosmopolitan restaurants, and an infectious joie de vivre.
But most of British Columbia lies away from the cities, in the surrounding vastness. The protected coastal waterways, the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island , the famous Canadian Rockies  and many other mountain ranges, the remote northern wilderness, and the intriguing Queen Charlotte Islands  provide experiences you’ll never forget, along with enough ooh-and-aah scenery to keep even the most jaded jet-setter in awe. In these wild areas, you’ll find endless opportunities for hiking or climbing, viewing the abundant wildlife, fishing in the hundreds of lakes and rivers, and skiing and boarding any of the dozens of resorts.
And while wilderness beckons to many, you don’t need to be that adventurous to enjoy the province. In the last couple of decades, Okanagan wineries  have gained a high profile, and there’s a wealth of native culture in which to immerse yourself — or you can step back in time at historic towns and parks scattered from north to south. There are magnificent gardens, world-class art galleries, and hundreds of museums.