5 Reasons to Visit Prince George, British Columbia

Last week I was invited to visit the city of Prince George, in British Columbia’s northern interior. Like anyone who looks Prince George up on a map, I was nervous about what to expect — it looked so far and … well, it looked so far! Little did I realize that all it took was a short plane ride from Vancouver to get to this northern gem. I’ll be blogging more about my experiences, over the next little while, but here are five reasons why I think everyone should have Prince George on their travel list.

1. It will make you fall in love with winter If there’s any city that embraces long, snowy winters, it’s Prince George. I didn’t think it could happen, but the citizens of this beautiful city made me fall in love with winter. From accessible winter activities to a terrain that’s unique to this region, Prince George has a way of making you enjoy the white, fluffy stuff. The magnificent trails that wind around centuries-old cedar trees are picturesque and serene — perfect for a snow-shoeing or hiking adventure, regardless of your age or skill-set. If you’re more of an adrenaline junkie, you’ll love hitting the slopes or taking in some of the local runs for cross-country skiing.

2. It’s the host city for the 2015 Canada Winter Games I’ll expand on this in a later post, but Prince George won the bid to host the 2015 games, which will take place less than a year from now. Also, did you know that the We Are Winter hashtag (#WeAreWinter) that we’re currently using for the Canadian Winter Olympic team originally appeared on Prince George’s bid box for the Canada Winter Games? It’s a true story. Just check out their bid box, below. There’s a definite buzz in the city, as it prepares for the big event, happening in February, 2015.

3. You can hike through an Ancient Forest One of the highlights of my trip (and of my life, quite frankly), was my hike through Prince George’s Ancient Forest. It’s something I believe everyone should experience for themselves, at least once. Unique to the region, especially because it’s so far north and inland, the Ancient Forest is home to cedar trees that are hundreds (and in some cases, thousands) of years old. Because I went in winter, the trails were buried under almost eight feet of snow — however, that fact only added to the magical feeling that has stayed with me, even as I write this post. Also, the awesome people who take care of this forest have also built a universal boardwalk, so that it’s accessible to everyone, regardless of mobility and physical health. How awesome is that?

4. It’s home to the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2015, UNBC is also known as Canada’s Green University. And with good reason — environmental and sustainability education is at the core of this university’s mission, and it resonates through all facets of the campus. There are two bio-energy plants that offset close to 90% of fossil fuel consumption — located on campus! The campus also has a couple of greenhouses so that students and faculty can grow their own produce. If sustainability was a picture, it would be the UNBC campus.

5. Some pretty awesome Canadians live there! I kept joking around with some local PG’ers about how everyone who lives there wears multiple hats. city councillors sit on various community boards, but they also volunteer for local activities. The UNBC professor who accompanied me on my hike, is also an avid speed-skater. My awesome tour guide around Prince George is also a big volunteer during the annual music festival. Almost every person I met radiated such warmth, it was easy to feel quite at home. And they’re proud of their city, too. Any PG’er will tell you that winter is part of who they are, and they love embracing all aspects of it. This is why they’re so excited to host the 2015 Winter Games, and to showcase their awesome city to a national audience.

This post originally appeared on canadianliving.com in February 2014.