A Kootenays Road Trip

Happy New Year! To kick-off a year of new adventures, I thought it was time I shared one from last year…

Flashback to last September long weekend when I had the best weekend adventure touring the Kootenays. It was an amazing way to say good-bye to summer, but to re-discover this beautiful province we live in!

Outside Nelson, BC

From Kelowna to Hwy 33 south to Rock Creek, then Hwy 3 east towards Christina Lake, to Castlegar then on to Nelson where the Kootenay River meets Kootenay Lake. Just 4.5 hours by car. It’s quite a beautiful drive.

In Nelson, you can find local beaches, hiking trails, great restaurants and some quaint hotels. Like the Adventure Hotel – a modern little hotel that’s close to everything. Spacious, and European decor in a heritage building with 2 restaurants and not far from the main street. Well priced too. After checking in, we walked 2 blocks to the main street to start our culinary tour (in order to check out as much as we could). We started at the popular Cantina Del Centro on Main street. Delicious tacos and margaritas (admittedly we ate here a few times)!

Two margarita lovers

Another great find was the Pitchfork Eatery. Located in an old house, charming decor with a thoughtful locally sourced menu and drinks. From cool cocktails to a great wine list, try the ‘Old Growth Forest‘ cocktail, it didn’t disappoint along with Buttermilk Fried Calamari (in my top 5 list for sure).

Dinner at Pitchfork Eatery

Also, Red Light Ramen was probably the best Ramen I’ve ever had. Modern, delicious flavours and a cocktail and wine menu to support it. In the tiny town of Nelson! What?!


Amazing cocktails at Red Light Ramen

For coffee or tea and baked goods, get prepared to stand in a line up at Oso Negro, but the Kootenay Chai is well worth the wait. Blended on site, it was just as popular as the coffee which they roast in-house. Sit inside or outside in the garden, it’s delightful. There is live music everywhere, and of course some local breweries. We visited the Torchlight Brewing Co. for a flight of their beers.

Ramen at Red Light Ramen
House made dumplings at Red Light Ramen

And do take the time to visit the local Kootenay Coop Grocery store, for picnic items or smoothies and food to go. This. Store. Has. Everything!

Nature Walk along Kaslo River Trail

Next up – Ainsworth Hot Springs. We followed the water just 45 min. east of Nelson (gorgeous views along the way) and stopped at Ainsworth Hot Springs. It’s been in existence since the 1930’s! The natural hot springs enters the resort at the horseshoe cave, where you can walk the 150 feet through humid 42 degree waters, or enjoy the mineral waters in the regular pool at 35 degrees. A great stop, very therapeutic!

Ainsworth Hot Springs

Just 20 min. north along the lake is a small town called Kaslo. In just 2 blocks you have 2 great stops! The Angry Hen Brewing Co. (opened by a Vancouver couple) has flights of beer to try, and small yummy snacks, indoor and outdoor seating. And just across the street you can enjoy Taqueria el Corazon for a great selection of Mexican dishes and of course… margaritas! This little town was such a great stop on our road trip, relaxing, chill and quaint, right at the lake.

The Angry Hen Brewery in Kaslo, BC
Tacos in Kaslo

From Kaslo we travelled NW to Nakusp along Upper Arrow Lake, approx. 75 minutes. The highway is a lovely winding drive to the New Denver at Slocan Lake and then north. Such gorgeous country.

Leland Hotel in Nakusp, BC
Leland Hotel

When booking our accommodations in Nakusp, we were somewhat limited as to where to stay based on availability over the long weekend. So we booked a room at the Leland Hotel, open since 1892 and the oldest hotel in BC! Located right at the lake with a restaurant and bar, it’s boutique and old and it shows with dated carpet, creeky floors and probably original windows (ha ha). But the charm of staying somewhere so old and historic just made it more of an adventure for our one nights stay.

Fletcher Falls
Kootenay Lake

Enroute home, we stopped at Fletcher Falls (outside Kaslo) for a little nature walk and then enjoyed some Fletchers handmade fries across the road! Mmmm.

Fletchers Fries Roadside Stop

We stopped in Castlegar where the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers meet in the Selkirk Mountains. We enjoyed a beach day at the river, as it was unexpectedly hot for September long weekend!

Castlegar, BC

Then we drove south for 30 min. to Rossland for dinner at Idgie’s Restaurant. A nice menu and wine list in a quaint and picturesque mountain town. A great last stop on our road trip before heading west to the Okanagan and getting back to work.

I highly recommend doing this road trip, I imagine we will do it again soon, as there was beautiful scenery with fall colours, lake views and quaint towns, and well… fantastic food and drinks – key to a successful adventure!

I hope you enjoyed my little adventure – I’m wishing you a year full of happy travels! Cheers 🙂

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