Words and photos by Jim Bamboulis
Sure, any town can offer everything to everyone. A rich history for the buffs, countless outdoor activities for the enthusiasts, and plenty of family friendly attractions for the kiddos. Sure, Kimberley, BC. is definitely one of those places. A super quaint city nestled between majestic Rocky peaks in BC’s Southeast, it’s a winter haven for ski, snowboard and snowmobile lovers.
Come summer, the city heats up, and welcomes those looking for a bit more of a local BC feel, off-the-beaten-path adventures. Even from the outside looking in, Kimberley separates itself from the rest – it’s road signs make you chuckle, curious to see what all the excitement is about. Once inside, it doesn’t take you long to realize that its unique experiences make it a truly one-of-a-kind place, much more than just a dot on a map.
Excuse me, are we in Germany?
By the late 1960s, Kimberley’s mineral resources were being depleted. It was at this time that the powers-that-be began to explore other opportunistic avenues to keep the town thriving. Besides being blessed with incredible natural beauty and recreational resources (both discussed below), a Bavarian theme was adopted by the early 70s to draw new residents and visitors. Downtown was transformed into a pedestrian-only shopping area called the Platzl, a distinctive feature to this day, turning the city into the Bavarian City of the Rockies. Obviously, motorists passing through the region had to see what this was all about. Word got out and Kimberley became this German-inspired hot spot that looked like Bavaria.
Start your day at Our Place Restaurant for breakfast. Here, ordering your coffee comes with a side of meeting new friends and being on a first name basis with them by the end of your meal. Burn off the calories by meandering through the Platzl, with its cafes, shops and even Bavarian Home Hardware before stepping inside the Kimberley City Bakery. Look, I make it a rule that if a bakery has a giant pretzel as its logo, then I must go inside and buy a pretzel for myself. Not saying you have to follow my rule, but when in Kimberley, at the Kimberley City Bakery, I think it’s a good rule to live by. Get the pretzel!
Drop the Dollar + Behold Happy Hans
Browse and shop. Before long you end up at the opposite end of the square only to find the largest freestanding cuckoo clock in Canada. Trust me, find a dollar, drop it in, stand back, get your camera ready and watch as Happy Hans serenades you with his siren song.
Kimberley’s Railroad and Mining Story
Before the tourism industry kicked Kimberley into high gear, the mining industry was the big boy on campus here. In 1896, Kimberley officially got its name from the Kimberley mine in South Africa and up until the early 21st century, it was home to the Sullivan Mine, the world’s largest lead-zinc mine. The mine has long ceased operations but thankfully, its history is totally accessible for all who want to delve deeper.
The Underground Mining Railway features a 750-foot long underground mining interpretive centre. Learn about both the adventures of mining as well as the tragedies associated with it, good times with friends and colleagues and bad times. The Railway offers mining tours, a chance for you to ride the rails, learn about life as a miner and even see real mining equipment in action. Along the way, explore the North Star Schoolhouse which was built in 1902 to serve the kids of mining families, and of course, the Kimberley Caboose. Built in 1922, it’s one of the last wooden cabooses made. Bottom line, if you’re a history buff, this is a can’t miss – The Railway gives you a first-hand look at the entire picture.
Get outside. Stay outside!
A four-season hot spot, Kimberley has an exceptional amount of outdoor options, guaranteed to keep your heart rate up. There are several trails to choose from including NorthStar Rails to Trails, a former railway track that’s been converted into a paved trail for walking, running, biking, and blading. The biggest and baddest however is the Kimberley Nature Park, one of Canada’s largest urban parks. It covers almost 2,000 acres, features over 100 km’s of trails and elevates to as much as 1,600 meters. Along the way, you can admire the mountains, ridges, valley and plateaus. In the winter, it’s ideal for skiing and snowshoeing, while in the summer, it’s perfect for hiking, biking or even just a gentle walk in park.
Free to visit and popular with both locals and visitors, Cominco Gardens is minutes away from the Platzl and features over 45,000 flowers annually! Serene and picturesque, it’s a great place to take a stroll and feel the colours come to life. Down the highway, Marysville has a beautiful, moderately trafficked trail that runs adjacent to Mark Creek and offers refreshing views of Marysville Falls.
After a long drive or a long hike…
Hit up the Trickle Creek Lodge, Kimberley’s best kept secret. Located only a kilometre from the Platzl, steps from slopes with views of the mountains, this is the place to rest and relax. Dip into the year-round heated pool or hot tubs, fire up the BBQ or just stay in.
Each of the 80 suites at the TCL come with fully equipped kitchens, environmentally conscience hotel guest amenities, gas fireplace, and even a private balcony. Rustic chic, this is the best place to enjoy both an invigorating nights’ rest while feeling as if you’re in the centre of the action.
No matter what the season and what you love to do, Kimberley, BC is always #AGoodPlaceToBe, with plenty of charm to boot.
Hey y’all. I’m Jim. That kid went on to spend 16 years in the broadcast media world before starting up Travel Mammal, a site dedicated to working with brands to promote travel, food, and cultural experiences.
I’ve created content and collaborated with everyone from Chevrolet, Lonely Planet, Trivago, Nevada Tourism and The Weather Network to New Brunswick Tourism, Yellow Pages, Tourism Toronto, and Airbnb. Safe travels, y’all.
I’d like to thank the following:
*Chevrolet Canada for supplying the vehicle for our trip to Kimberley. Bright and beautiful, #TheNewBlazer in cherry red gave us the chance to #FindNewRoads, including the one that led us to this gigantically beautiful small city.
*Tourism Kimberley for taking care of us during our stay. You weren’t kidding when you said that Kimberley is #AGoodPlaceToBe.
*Our host hotel – Trickle Creek Lodge – for hosting us for the night. Easily one of the best nights’ sleep we had in forever…with a memorable Rockies-style sunrise. Thank you!