Best Things to do in Cranbrook, BC
Cranbrook, British Columbia is a town located along British Columbia’s southern Trans-Canada highway, nestled in a beautifully scenic valley.
Cranbrook is surrounded by stunning views of the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Purcell Mountains to the west, with plentiful outdoor recreation opportunities and abundant wildlife right at its doorstep.
Nature lovers will undoubtedly find themselves with a never-ending variety of things to do while visiting Cranbrook, but history buffs and seekers of arts and culture will also find themselves with plenty to discover.
I flew down to Cranbrook last week for a quick three days of exploring the area. Read on to learn about the arts & culture offerings in Cranbrook, as well as where to stay and what to eat and drink.
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Cranbrook Arts & Culture
Step back in time at Fort Steele Heritage Towne
A must-stop destination for any history buff (or anyone in love with animals and cute little towns) is Fort Steele Heritage Town, a short 15-minute drive from Cranbrook.
In 1961, the Government declared Fort Steele a historic park with a mandate to “preserve, present, and manage for the public benefit the historic settlement of Fort Steele…”.
Set amidst a seriously stunning backdrop of the towering Rocky and Purcell Mountains, this living history museum will leave you with a taste of what it was like to live the pioneer life in the 1890s.
As you enter this little town frozen in time, you’ll receive a warm welcome from costumed characters. Grab a map and prepare to travel back in time to the Boomtown era!
There are over 60 heritage buildings to explore that have been lovingly restored, leaving you with plenty of hidden treasures to uncover.
You’ll also find friendly animals greeting you at every turn, including rare breeds such as blue slate turkeys, cotswold sheep and barred plymouth rock chickens. Keep an eye out for the friendly resident mouser cats looking for some affection!
Fort Steele Heritage Town is open every day (except Christmas and Boxing Day) and offers various levels of programming depending on the season, including street theater, steam train and wagon rides, and more.
Experience Canadian history at Canadian Museum of Rail Travel
Did you know that Cranbrook is home to one of the largest collections of rail travel cars in North America? I definitely didn’t!
At the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel, visitors can admire a collection of 28 carefully-restored and preserved railway cars. The first car arrived in Cranbrook in 1977 and since that time, the museum’s collection has steadily grown.
13 of the rail cars are now available for guided tours to the public. This includes the 1927 executive night car “Strathcona”, which has served many VIP guests including Queen Elizabeth II and Sir Winston Churchill.
The Museum’s collection of rail cars captures and displays an important piece of Canadian history, telling the story of how people traveled across the second-largest country in the world during an era that was without highways and cross-country flights as transportation options.
The cars are under an ongoing process of continued restoration. Due to construction, there is no set tour schedule offered. Please call the Museum to arrange your tour at 1-250-489-3918 or fill out this form.
Learn more about available tours, see admission prices and ready about museum history on the Cranbrook History Centre website.
Discover First Nations Culture at St Eugene’s Mission Resort
Continue your history tour of this area of British Columbia with a visit to St Eugene’s Mission Resort, owned by the Ktunaxa Nation. Surrounded by seriously stunning mountain views, the main building was originally a Mission converted into a residential school for First Nations children (which was in operation from 1912 -1970).
Despite some wishes for the building to be demolished, St Eugene’s was eventually transformed in 2000 into an upscale resort with a casino and a par 72 championship golf course.
The resort also includes a Ktunaxa Nation Interpretive Centre, which showcases and honors Ktunaxa Nation indigenous art, history, and culture.
Guests interested in immersing themselves deeper into Ktunaxa culture can experience the Speaking Earth program, where the Nation’s traditional knowledge and culture is interpreted by nation members in a hands-on environment. Hear stories, scrape hides, learn traditional beading, eat traditional foods, play Ktunaxa games, and sleep in tipis after listening to stories around the campfire told by a Ktunaxa elder. Learn more about the Speaking Earth program here.
St Eugene’s is a true story of “from tragedy to triumph” as the Ktunaxa people took a building full of so much pain and negative memories and transformed it into a place of cultural education, immersive experience and leisure enjoyment.
Spoken by the by late Band Elder Mary Paul:
“Since it was within the St. Eugene Mission School that the culture of the Kootenay Indian was taken away, it should be within the building that it is returned.”
Cranbrook’s Best Eats and Drinks
Fire Hall Kitchen & Tap
Grab a bite to eat and a pint at Fire Hall Kitchen & Tap, located inside Cranbrook’s 90-year-old Fire Hall since restored into a gourmet taphouse. Offering a generous variety of poutine and burger options and delicious craft beers, this light-filled, industrial-vibe watering hole is a Cranbrook hotspot.
The Heidout Restaurant and Brewhouse
The Heidout Restaurant and Brewhouse is a brewhouse and restaurant led by four Red Seal chefs. The restaurant features unique takes on traditional food, using ingredients fresh from the Kootenays.
The Heidout features six artisan ales and limited-release seasonal offerings, brewed on-site by sister company Fisher Peak Brewing Company (named after the most prominent peak in the area, Mount Fisher).
This is a true Cranbrook hotspot and the place to be on weekends – pay them a visit on your next trip to the area! The beers are so good you’ll want to pick up a six-pack or two to take home with you.
Where to stay in Cranbrook
Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort
The Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort is conveniently located just off the main highway in Cranbrook and offers guests a comfortable stay with many amenities on-site such as West Coast Grill, Don Cherry’s Sports Grill, a hair salon, indoor swimming pool, and an athletic center.
The hotel offers 112 rooms with a mix of standard rooms, executive business suites, and themed Designer Suites; you can learn about room types here. You can even spend the night in a train car hotel room!
Book your stay at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort in Cranbrook here.
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There is so much to do, see and explore in Cranbrook, and I had a blast immersing myself in Cranbrook’s art and culture. And, after getting a taste of its mountain views (like this sunrise, below) I can’t wait to return during the summer months to explore the nearby hiking trails!
Disclaimer: This trip was supported by Cranbrook Tourism and various local partners. As always, the opinions expressed are completely my own, honest and unbiased, based on my own experience. I will continue to only recommend and endorse establishments with my readers that I truly enjoyed and believe others should experience as well.
PIN FOR LATER
Have questions for me about Cranbrook, BC or other locations in British Columbia? Have feedback on this blog post? Please feel free to shoot me a comment below; I would love to hear from you!
FYI, if you are a tour guide or travel club organizer, consider designing a custom pin for your group to commemorate their excursion to Cranbrook. Not only are they a fun collectible, but they make a unique travel souvenir they’ll want to keep for years to come!