Located 280 mi/450 km east of Vancouver, Nelson, British Columbia, has a lucrative past: It was a center for iron and silver mining in the 1800s. In addition to 350 Victorian buildings, local museums have exhibits that recount Nelson's history and mining glory days. Be sure to take the Heritage Walking Tour that goes by some of the finest examples of the local architecture. Today, Nelson is popular with New Age practitioners and artists.

Plan a picnic in Lakeside Park, or take a side trip to Cody Caves, a system of tunnels and galleries filled with stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws and other geologic formations. Several types of tours are available, suitable for everyone from the casually curious to the veteran subterranean explorer. Take along warm, rugged clothing for the cool underground temperatures (42 F/6 C). (Be alert while driving to the caves—access is via an active logging road that's used by a lot of big trucks.) You may also want to witness the dramatic, rugged mountain landscape of Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, where lakes—more than 30 of them—and glaciers are the big draw.

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