Places to See in Canada Just Over the Washington Border

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The Vancouver Aquarium sits 30 miles over the Washington border.
The Vancouver Aquarium sits 30 miles over the Washington border. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Cross over the Washington state border into British Columbia, Canada, for an international experience without having to suffer jet lag. Options within an hour’s drive include the major city of Vancouver, as well as hidden gems. You’ll get to learn about a little-known religious sect, hike in nature and see animals from around the world.

Historic Sites

Canada’s famed 19th-century fur trade comes alive at the Fort Langley National Historic Site. The First Nations of the West Coast people traded with the Hudson Bay Company -- based at Fort Langley -- exchanging furs, salmon and produce. You can tour the fort, watch gun demonstrations and talk with costumed interpreters. Fort Langley sits 20 miles from Lynden, Washington, in the northwestern part of the state.

The Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site celebrates the country’s fishing business. Tour the cannery to learn about the process and see artifacts such as vintage machinery. The site is in Richmond, 25 miles from Blaine, Washington, in the northwest corner of the state.

Museums

The Doukhobor Discovery Centre explains about the Russian religious sect that found freedom in western Canada after persecution in Russia and Saskatchewan. The center sits in Castlegar, 30 miles from the Colville National Forest in northeastern Washington. Roughly 5,000 Doukhobors settled in the region between 1908 and 1913 and remained until 1938, according to the museum’s website. The center includes a reconstructed communal village.

The Burnaby Village Museum shows you what a town looked like in the early 1900s. You can ride on a 1912 carousel and watch costumed interpreters give demonstrations in a blacksmith shop and other structures. The site includes a restored tram car that operated from 1913 to 1958. Burnaby is 27 miles from Blaine, Washington.

Provincial Parks

The 83,000-acre Cathedral Provincial Park and Protected Area takes you into the natural beauty of the western Canada wilderness. You won’t even find stores or stations that have maps, gloves or portable water. Activities in the park’s main area include hiking on more than a dozen trails, fishing for cutthroat trout, climbing at Macabre Tower and camping at designated sites. Be aware, though, that the park’s Pyramid Campground was closed indefinitely as of August 2013. The park extends to the Washington border near the Okanogan National Forest in the north-central part of the state.

For water fun, head to the 6,740-acre Cultus Lake Provincial Park. You can canoe, kayak, swim, wind surf, water ski and lounge on a sandy beach. The park extends to Maple Falls, Washington, in the northwestern part of the state.

Zoo and Aquarium

The Greater Vancouver Zoo features an array of wildlife. You’ll see tigers and lions eating lunch, plains bison roaming in open land and birds of prey in flying shows. Additionally, take a mini-train ride around the zoo. The zoo is in Aldergrove, 11 miles from Lynden, Washington, in the northwestern part of the state.

The Vancouver Aquarium, 30 miles from Blaine, Washington, showcases a range of marine life. Exhibits include crabs and other creatures living in the Strait of Georgia near Vancouver, an Amazon rain forest area and a penguin section modeled after Boulders Beach in South Africa.

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