Get to know Prince George from a local point of view.


A new perspective of BC’s north

My life began in the Lower Mainland and I migrated to Kelowna while I was still young. From then on, my life consisted of experiences between those two BC locations. BC was, in its entirety, either the soggy but beautiful ocean or the hot and arid Okanagan, until we became the #bcbucketlistfamily and began to explore places like the ranchlands of Clinton, the hidden hot springs of the Kootenays, and the tiny ocean towns of the Sunshine Coast.

Couple sitting in front of cabin in winter.

It wasn’t until my sister announced her impending move to Prince George that we considered visiting the north. When my sister started talking about Prince George, I had a very uneducated reaction and inexperienced opinion of what it was like to live in our northern BC communities. I couldn’t fathom how anyone would want to live so far from Starbucks or their family. So we bought a 1989 24 foot trailer, named her “Taylor”, and headed out to explore this territory that was so unknown to us.

Camping trailer.

The road north

The first thing I was shocked to discover, besides the fact that they do in fact have Starbucks (and a Costco), was that on a map, Prince George isn’t even technically ‘the north’; it’s more like ‘the middle’. Still, with a 9 hour drive separating me from my sister, I held a grudge against this unknown territory. I had many questions about the Cariboo region now that I had an invested reason to go there. What brings people there, what do they do for work, what is there to do for fun when it’s too cold to go outside? And most importantly for my readers, if not for a family reason, would there be enough cause to visit this town and these communities?

Couple posing on lookout.

If you follow us @loewenlifestyle on Instagram, you might have journeyed with us as we hit the road on this adventure. We decided we would break up the nine hour drive from Kelowna to PG by stopping to stay a night every 2-3 hours. This would give us more time to absorb the nature of the areas a little bit more. As soon as we passed Clinton, BC we were all as far north in BC as we had ever been.

Boy standing on rock.

Our journey ‘north’ was astoundingly invigorating! From our first stop in the Shuswap to the wildflowers of Green Lake, we watched the vegetation change dramatically from the dry pines of the Okanagan to the brilliant forests of birch lining the highway.

Father and son on dock.

On our way to our next stop, Quesnel, we happened upon a beautiful fishing lake off the highway in Williams Lake. A beautiful dock for casting a line, having a sandwich or grabbing a pretty photo. It was here we realized our biggest mistake on this trip: we hadn’t allotted enough time to stay and revel in the quiet nature and serene landscapes of the Caribou.

Family Pinnacles Park

Pinnacles Provincial Park is a must stop on the route to Prince George. The ‘hoodoo’ formations had us in awe but it was difficult to decide where exactly to feast your eyes. The mountains and valleys at this park are spectacular. Natural sights like these answered my questions about the draw to this region and I was starting to realize that this was just the beginning of the undiscovered beauty for us.

First impressions

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Finally, we arrived in Prince George and I was amazed by the intimacy between the thick sub-boreal forest and the city itself. The population is around 75,000 inhabitants so you can imagine that the city is quite established. Prince George has a stunning university, parks and neighbourhoods, as well as a Winners, Home Sense, and, yes, they have multiple Starbucks locations as I previously mentioned. Yet anytime your eyes leave the infrastructure of the town, you’ll see the forest. It’s as if you’re being completely surrounded by a bear hug of evergreen.

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Prince George is a rapidly growing town. In 2019, Western Investor stated that the second best city after Kelowna to invest in real estate was Prince George. This has made it an interesting region to follow. Since then, the housing market and lot prices have increased substantially as the population of students and young families continues to grow. The reasons for this migration likely have a lot to do with opportunity and also with the beauty of this area.

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How to start exploring

Begin your exploration of Prince George at the visitor centre. Here you can borrow bikes and helmets for the day or fishing gear for a couple of days, all for free! The visitor centre reflects the very nature of the people here; generous, helpful, and community focused. The 30 km Centennial Trail is a perfect place to walk, bike, or jog past the University of Northern British Columbia, through neighbourhoods, and past luscious forests.

Stocked with rainbow trout, West Lake is the place to head with your borrowed fishing gear. The provincial park here has opportunities to hike, have a fire, enjoy a picnic, swim, or have a game of horseshoes. You’ll also find this to be an idyllic spot for snowshoeing and tobogganing in the winter. What you’ll also find here is community. This is where people come to enjoy the decision they’ve made to have more time for what really matters in life, away from the tiresome hustle, and into the laughter over a good dad joke around the fire.

Boys sitting on bed.

If you’re looking to support local, handmade goods, check out the Saturday Farmers’ Market. Here you’ll find one of our favourite kids brands, Tait’s Attire. Emily, owner of the brand named for her daughter, Taitum, is a Kelowna original who moved to PG and set out to fill the gap she found in stylish and eco-conscious kid’s clothing. Her designs are all handmade to be durable, soft, and trendy. You can also shop them online.

Other fun retail adventures can be found downtown but what we really came here for was the natural experiences. Approx 115 km east of PG is the world’s only temperate inland rainforest where cedars over 1,000 years old have given it its name, The Ancient Forest.

Person walking on boardwalk in forest.

Behemoth western red cedars are so big here, they have names. A stunning, all-access boardwalk provides half a kilometer of blissful foliage. Several trails are available that range from 20-90 minutes and bring you to places like Tree Beard Falls.

There’s so much more I could say about the beauty of Prince George but I think you should see it for yourself! And, although I miss my sister to no end, I see now why she loves her community and her city. With endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, surrounded by nature, and enveloped in a tight knit community, this is an area of BC I’m glad we get to experience time and time again as we come to visit.

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What’s next for The BC Bucket List Family? Follow us @loewenlifestyle to journey with us to Shop Robson Street for the holidays, reveal Vancouver’s newest restaurants, and head to Sun Peaks Resort so this beach-loving family can learn to ski!

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