Take a walk past Nelson's Victorian homes and impeccable 19th-century storefronts, and you'll feel like you've stepped into a movie set. But this artsy former mining and lumber hamlet on the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, about 30 miles north of the U.S. border, is 100-percent real. Shaded by Toad Mountain, Nelson is a haven for hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers and paddlers. You'll find the best vantage point for getting a look at the town and your outdoor opportunities the top of a short (about a mile and a quarter) but vigorous climb through the trees to Pulpit Rock. The trailhead is only a few minutes outside of Nelson proper.
STAY: Like many of Nelson’s buildings, the Hume Hotel looks plucked from the Gold Rush days of the 1800s (rates start at $110).