12 Top-Rated Things to Do in Windermere, BC
The town of Windermere, scenically located on the east shore of Lake Windermere, is situated between two mountain ranges: the Purcells on the west and the Rockies on the east. In 1902, this place was named Windermere because it is so reminiscent of Windermere in the Lake District of England. People visit this resort town in the Columbia River Valley to enjoy all the things to do on or near the lake in a glorious mountainous setting.
During your visit to Windermere, be sure to check out the public beach for a refreshing dip in the lake and a picnic in the mountain air. The vistas across the water are outstanding and may tempt you to explore the far shore of the lake. It's easily done with a short drive to the provincial park, local marina, or various outfitters, where you can arrange to rent the boat or board of your choice. You can also make like an eagle with a gliding experience over the lake and mountain peaks.
Take a tour of Windermere's heritage buildings to learn more about the history of this community. Go mini-golfing or regular golfing, take the family to a bowling alley, watch glassblowers create fine works of art, and restore yourself with a soak in the hot springs. Find out more about these and other fun places to visit with our list of things to do in Windermere.
1. Visit Windermere Public Beach
Given the size of Lake Windermere, you would be right in assuming it has a few beaches, one of which is located in the town of Windermere. Cool off and enjoy the view at the popular public beach located on the east shore of Lake Windermere. This beach offers grassy shaded spots for picnics, a dock and raft for swimmers, moorage for boats, an ice-cream float boat, and washrooms.
Swimming is popular here because the shallow water is warm, and the swimming zone is roped off to separate it from boat traffic. There are two other beaches on Lake Windermere: Sandy Kinsmen Beach in nearby Invermere is popular. Another beach and children's playground is located at James Chabot Provincial Park, a day use only park in nearby Invermere.
Address: Selkirk Street, Windermere, British Columbia
2. Soak in Hot Springs: Fairmont and Radium
Within half an hour's drive from Windermere, you can soak in your choice of hot springs: There's Fairmont Hot Springs to the south and Radium Hot Springs to the north. Each one is about 20 kilometers away from Windermere, so one option is to do both.
Fairmont Hot Springs has the largest mineral hot spring, plus a swimming pool, dive pool, and spa. The hot pool temperature is maintained at 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit), while the swimming pool is several degrees cooler. Activities at Fairmont can be combined with a short hike on the Hoodoo Trail (and other trails), Mineral Mountain Ziplines, Fantasia Fun Park, golf, mini-golf, horseback riding, and stand up paddleboarding.
Radium, located within Kootenay National Park, has one large hot pool and a two-thirds size Olympic swimming pool. The aquacourt at Radium, constructed in 1951, is listed in Canada's Register of Historic Sites. Radium might have the edge over Fairmont for visitors who want more options for shopping, restaurants, and golf courses.
Fairmont Hot Springs
- Address: 5225 Fairmont Resort Road, Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia
Radium Hot Springs
- Address: 7556 Main Street East, Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia
3. Take the Windermere Historical Tour
Windermere, an East Kootenay community, has been around since well before the turn of the 20th century. You can walk around town on your own, but a tour arranged through the museum will enhance your appreciation of the area's culture and history. The tour includes at least 10 buildings and properties, all of which are located close to the lake.
Washington D.C. has one and so does Windermere, BC - a White House. The first RCMP barracks in the Rockies, established in 1886, is another stop on the tour. Dating back to 1886 and 1899 is the Windermere Hotel, the oldest structure in town. Pitts General Store and Stone Power Plant were both built in 1912.
The most famous old building in Windermere might be the "Stolen Church" (aka St. Peter's Church). The story goes that a woman who lived in Donald, BC missed the church she used to attend. Lo and behold, around the turn of the century, her husband took it upon himself to dismantle her beloved church and ship it by train to Golden. It was then transported by wagon and steamship to a plot in Windermere not far from the cemetery where the first pioneers were buried in 1886.
The cemetery is another stop on the history tour.
4. Rent a Boat at Windermere Lake Provincial Park
From Windermere, you can drive to Windermere Lake Provincial Park within half an hour to explore it by motorboat, kayak, and canoe. Rentals are available if you don't have your own boat, skis, or board. Start at the boat launch and quietly approach the marshlands to avoid disturbing the birdlife. Another option is to head straight for the main lake, which has 36 kilometers of coastline for you to explore.
The 205-hectare park was created to protect grasslands habitat, as well as the riparian zone - the sensitive environment where a body of water meets its shore and banks. Windermere Lake is almost 18 kilometers long, but not deep, averaging 4.5 meters. Because it is so shallow, swimmers will discover that it is one of the warmer lakes in the Kootenay region. Bring your binos and keep your eyes peeled for birds and wildlife.
Official site: bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/windermere_lake
5. Glide over the Rockies from the Invermere Soaring Centre
Everyone has a bucket list, and for the most adventurous among us, gliding might make the cut. Within a 10-minute drive from Windermere, you can be at the Invermere Soaring Centre, signing yourself up for the ride of a lifetime.
Ideally, soaring season is May to September, and this is where you can really get away from it all. Catapult yourself into the picture-perfect scenery of the Canadian Rockies for an experience you'll never forget.
If you choose a standard mountain flight, the most popular option, your ride will probably last up to an hour. It all depends on the afternoon thermal updrafts that generate the heat needed to gain altitude. On a custom flight, the experience could be even longer.
If conditions are right, you might fly as high as 3,600 meters (12,000 feet) or more. Soar over peaks, glaciers, lakes, and wetlands. Revel in the silent beauty that envelops your once-in-a-lifetime glide over the Rockies.
Address: Airport Road, Invermere, British Columbia
Official site: canadianrockiessoaring.com/fly-now
6. Watch a Glassblowing Demo
Arrange to see a demonstration of glassblowing at Bavin Glassworks, a family-owned hot glass studio and gallery that has been in business since 1988. You'll be dazzled by the skill that's required to transform molten glass into beautiful works of art. From multi-colored bowls and vases to iridescent fish, marvel at the color and creativity that goes into every piece. It took the family a decade to perfect the techniques that go into the making of a fish.
Glass isn't the only medium on display. Other regional artisans work with metal and clay. The gallery sells ceramic and glass-beaded jewelry and show-stopping works of art. If you're looking for an exquisite gift or a gorgeous enhancement to your home, you'll find it here. If you don't see it, Bavin Glassworks will do custom work and commissions.
The studio and gallery are closed on Sunday and Monday. From Windermere public beach, drive about eight minutes north in the direction of the airport.
Address: 4884 Athalmer Road, Invermere, British Columbia
Official site: bavin-glassworks.business.site
7. Float the Columbia River
The Columbia River flows north from Invermere to Radium Hot Springs, a trip that takes about three hours if you paddle by canoe or kayak. Allow local outfitters Far Out Adventure Hub (7514 Main Street East, Radium) or Columbia River Paddle (25 Laurier Street, Athalmer) to help you sort out equipment and shuttle arrangements. A number of packages are available, including self-guided floats or a trip with a guide.
Instead of a river float, you can also rent a paddleboard, canoe, or kayak for varying periods of time (two hours to a full day) to explore Windermere Lake and its wetlands. Guided paddles and lessons are available. Check out your options and make reservations for a half-day of adventure on the water. Pack yourself some snacks or takeout from a café in Radium.
8. Take the Family Bowling at Valley Alley Bowling Centre
The "boomer" generation grew up during the heyday of bowling in the 1950s and 1960s. Since then, bowling alleys (along with drive-in movie theaters) are making a comeback, although they're still not the standard fixture of every community that they once were. A game of skill and an opportunity to socialize, a date at the bowling alley practically guarantees a good time.
Take a trip down memory lane at the Valley Alley Bowling Centre - look for a replica of BC's largest cougar on the roof. This place is the real deal, complete with disco balls and neon lights. On Saturdays, groove on a glow bowl with black light bowling.
Bowling is the perfect activity, especially if the weather isn't the best, or you just want some indoor fun. It doesn't matter whether you are an experienced bowler. Bring the whole family for an hour or two of five-pin bowling.
Valley Alley is not open every day, so call ahead to reserve one of the six lanes. After you've tallied your score cards, trundle over to the ice-cream counter and replace all the calories you just burned up.
Address: 1113 Swansea Road, Invermere, British Columbia
9. Try Go-Karting at Ozzie's Amusements
If you and the kids are looking for a fun way to spend a couple of hours, make tracks for Ozzie's Amusements. Children are always up for mini-golf, and here they'll find an 18-hole course where they can practice their driving and putting skills. If they crave an activity that's a bit more exciting, take it up a notch and go go-karting. Double carts are available for a child and an adult, with a ride lasting eight minutes. All drivers seem to emerge from the experience with a happy face at this popular family-friendly tourist attraction.
After a rousing game of mini-golf and whizzing around the go-kart track, get ready to make a big decision at Stolen Church Gelato next door. Choose from more than two dozen flavors, including unicorn - a purplish combination of bubblegum and cotton candy with sprinkles (a popular lick among kids). Enjoy your gelato on the deck or one of the picnic tables in the backyard with shade umbrellas. Suddenly your sunny day got even better!
Address: 4818 North Street, Windermere, British Columbia
Official site: ozziesamusements.com
10. Check Out Fairways at Windermere Valley and Copper Point
Windermere Valley Golf Course is located in a quiet setting just outside the town of Windermere. You can tee off here from fairways that have views of the surrounding mountains that you see on postcards. Stay alert on this 18-hole course because the scenery could distract you from making your best shot. All skill levels are welcome to check out this intriguing course and enjoy a memorable golfing experience in the East Kootenays.
If you're in the area for more than a day and want to try another course, drive a few kilometers north of Windermere on Hwy 93/95. Here, you'll find Copper Point Golf Club, also on the east side of Lake Windermere. Its devotees praise the long fairways and multi-putt challenges of golfing on the scenic point.
Windermere Valley Golf Course
- Address: 1881 Windermere Loop Road, Windermere, British Columbia
Copper Point Golf Club
- #651, Hwy 93/95, Invermere, British Columbia
11. Charter a Boat at Shadybrook Marina
You want to get out on Lake Windermere, but don't have a boat; nor do you wish to rent one. There's another option that lets you enjoy all the fun stuff without the hassle of arranging insurance. You can charter a boat from Shadybrook Marina. Certified instructors at this water sports school can also give you lessons if you're a beginner, or tips if you're looking to polish your style on skis and boards.
Lake Windermere is actually a widening of the Columbia River. For that reason, it was (and still might be) known as Lake Columbia by old-timers who have been around as long as Shadybrook Marina. These guys have been in business since 1967, so they know their way around how to ski on water.
Address: 1735 Cardiff Avenue, Windermere, British Columbia
Official site: shadybrookresort.com/marina
12. Pick Berries at Taylor Strawberry Farm
Time your Windermere visit to coincide with strawberry season, and you can pick your own berries at Taylor Strawberry Farm. If you missed the seasonal timeframe to fill a basket of these succulent sweeties, it's still worth your while to visit this working farm.
Pick up other produce in season. Dairy products, meat, bakery items, fruit pies, and jams are also available for sale. Whether you're on the go in a car or camping in your RV, you'll appreciate the convenience of picking up a meat or fruit pie from this farm market.
Address: 1490 Deebank Road, Windermere, British Columbia
Official site: taylorfarms.ca