Prince George, northern BC's urban hub and outdoor mecca
Mr. PG towers 8.13 metres (27 feet), symbolizing the forest industry's importance to the city
Consider a snowflake's wet soft kiss an affectionate greeting from Prince George locals
Sure, long, five-month winters hug this region with sharp, biting temperatures, but you'll warm up with ease and enthusiasm for this welcoming multicultural city, dubbed the capital of northern BC. Plus, there's a whole lot to love in all seasons.
Prince George, the largest city in northern BC is home to about 83,000, including communities of First Nations Lheidli T'enneh people.
Situated just east of the province's geological centre at Highway 16 and Highway 97, downtown Prince George has grown up in the deep bowl formed between the Nechako River, gliding down from the west, and the larger Fraser River, flowing from the Rockies. Distinctive, steep cut banks (bare slopes) and sandy cliffs topped with evergreens contribute to the city's nature-rich character.
It's a well-known fact that you can drive from one end of the city to the other in less than 30 minutes. Good news if you're in a car rally or just passing through; however, eclectic highlights between your entrance and exit make for a lengthy don't-miss list. Here are some great options.
Best Bets for Arts and Culture
City lights of Prince George. Image by JF Bergeron/Enviro Foto.
Celebrate the pioneer heritage and cultural presence Prince George and the surrounding area offer through various museums, galleries and historically significant places:
- The Exploration Place: You'll come face to face with First Nations heritage, palaeontology and natural artifacts at this museum and science centre with a hands-on experience for all ages.
- Prince George Astronomical Observatory: Wish upon a star as you view more than the Big Dipper. You'll see the moon, planets, comets, and more through its massive Celestron Telescope.
- Railway & Forestry Museum: All aboard! Walk among the largest vintage rail collections in BC. Exhibits, heritage buildings and restored machinery from the railway, mining, forest and firefighting industries are featured in displays and artifacts.
- Huble Homestead: Built on the banks of the Fraser River, this 100-year-old living historic site has replicas of the original General Store, Trapper's Cabin, Barns, Blacksmith Shop and the First Nations Fish Camp. Tour the sites of yesteryear and, during the summer, take part in the pancake breakfast held every weekend.
- Prince George Playhouse: For a slice of the performing arts, the Playhouse offers a wide variety of entertainment. From acclaimed musicians and plays to international headlining comedians and musical revues, this community theatre has something in its repertoire for everyone.
- Two Rivers Art Gallery: A vital centre for visual arts, this gallery hosts up to 12 exhibitions annually in two exhibition spaces. The gift shop houses artists' hand-crafted work.
Where to Eat and Drink
Ohh...Chocolat Café. Image by Tourism Prince George.
Whether you want to splurge on calories, gifts or a satisfying meal, your every whim will be met in one of many local eateries, watering holes, specialty boutiques, and one-of-a-kind shops. Here are a few of our faves.
- Start with Dessert: The sinfully decadent hand-made chocolate by Caroline Longhurst, chocolatiere/owner of Ohh...Chocolat Café will have you weak in the knees. Her famous Giant Turtle with caramel, roasted pecans and Belgian chocolate will satisfy any sweet tooth. Plus, you'll be hooked on the fresh made sandwiches and soups, perfect with her signature drink, a Mayan Hot Chocolate (complete with melted dark chocolate and cayenne spice mix for a sweet kick).
- Eat Italian: Experience in-season fresh locally grown, hand-picked ingredients at Cimo Mediterranean Grill, a longstanding PG favourite for authentic Italian fare, specializing in homemade pasta and seafood. Recognized by TripAdvisorwith a 2012 Certificate of Excellence. Now that's amore!
- Enjoy a Musical Act while You Eat: Nancy O's Restaurant was named Best Musical Venue by bcliving's People Choice Awards 2012 with good reason. First-rate musical acts, stand-ups, and open mic night set the vibe for this popular social space; a gourmet sandwich shop by day — live music venue by night. Weekly specials like Meatless Monday and Pasta Thursday draw crowds as does the local tap and bottle brew from PG's Pacific Western Brewery.
- Go for Tapas: Inspired by the original tapas bars in Spain where one "goes slow, shares and experieces many flavours," Hummus Brothers Tapas Bar offers a casual yet sophisticated dining experience. Nosh and nibble your way through exclusive menu items not found elsewhere in the city.
- Eat Where the Locals Do: Locals give cred to two ethnic eateries: Shogun Japanese Steak House, where guests get a front seat to knife-wielding chefs preparing dishes on the Teppan grill, and Dana Mandi, traditional Indian cuisine with South Asian staples like butter chicken, naan, and aloo gobi. A small grocery store is attached with Indian spices, cheeses, and meats.
Where to Shop
- Home Decor: For hand-picked pieces from around the world with an emphasis on eco-friendly and sustainable processes, shop Theory Hardware for inspired home furnishings and décor. Think apothecary jars, vintage lamps, luxurious Fairfax & King bar soap, and Chilewich innovative textiles to name a few.
- Footwear and Fashions: It's true, PG residents love Homework! Your assignment — check out this trendy downtown one-stop shop for unique footwear, fashion and accessories (Matt & Nat bags), stylish home décor, and quirky gifts.
- Books: Betty Lapeyre, counsellor/teacher at Prince George Secondary gives a thumbs up for Books & Company (coined Prince George's 'Living Room'), for its great titles, baked goods, activities like poetry readings and open mic, and events held upstairs at ArtSpace.
- Groceries: A sensory feast awaits at the Prince George Farmers' Market, which includes a make, bake or grow policy, and a wide variety of BC artisan products including jewellery. Vendor-produced goods with an emphasis on locally grown farm produce. Saturdays, year-round.
Where to Play Outdoors
Crooked River Provincial Park. Image by Tourism BC/JF Bergeron.
Prince George is set to host the 2015 Winter Games, a multi-sport and cultural event that will draw world-class athletes — a nod to the outstanding outdoor winter sports and recreation pursuits that grace the region. With an endless scope of seasonal activities, too numerous to include, here's a few that made the cut.
- Powder King: Just north of the city, this ski hill has some of the deepest snow to carve (12 metres annual average snowfall). Extreme aficionados can name their own run with Bearpaw Heli-skiing on big open natural gladed tree lines, high alpine bowls and glaciated runs.
- ColdSnap Music Festival and SnowDaze: These family-fun winter festivals allow you to get in touch with your inner Apolo Ohno at the Prince George Outdoor Ice Oval, a 400-metre long track speed skating facility made with natural ice. Mush your own team of highly social and zealous Siberian Huskies on a two-hour trek across the snow belt of the Hart Highlands with Dog Power Adventures.
- Parks: There are more than 1,600 lakes, rivers and streams within a 160-kilometre radius of Prince George. Three lakes are contained within Crooked River Provincial Park's 970 hectares. The centre of activity is beach-fringed Bear Lake with fine, sandy beaches, some of the best in the region. Among 15 kilometres of hiking trails, learn about the various forest eco systems and the flora and fauna that thrive in the Fraser/Nechako Plateau region in Forests for the World, a 106-hectare demonstration forest in the heart of Prince George.
Time to Turn In
- Camp: There's plenty of camping facilities to pitch your tent and Purden Lake Provincial Park campsites is a favourite among locals with 78 sites, tables, firewood, tap water and pit toilets available; excellent swimming and angling for rainbow trout.
- Ramada Prince George: Newly renovated premiere guest rooms and suites offer upscale digs with cool new décor conveniently located in the heart of PG. Get your double-shot, half and half, grande fix in the lobby's Starbucks.
Norton North Ranch
: Just outside the city with three individual first-class private cottages on a 300-acre ranch. Cottages are Canada Select 4.5 star rated with a European high-end design, and pet friendly, too. You can even bring your horse!