Spend three days exploring the culture, history, and lively arts scene that keep Fernie vibrant and engaging, along with some light outdoor activity suitable for most ages and abilities.
In historical terms, Fernie is a mere foundling, but the past 125 years are packed with fascinating tales of perseverance, hard work, adaptability, and innovation. Incorporated in 1904 after just 17 years of development, Fernie's origins lie in the rich coal seams of the Elk Valley. Fires, floods, prosperity, and hardship followed incorporation, giving life to dark legends, folklore, and a cultural legacy that begs to be discovered. Whether you crave art, history, or inspiration, Fernie will satisfy your soul.
Start your day at the Fernie Museum and Visitor Centre, 491 2nd Ave, and learn about early coal miners, prohibition years, internment camps, and the rise (and rise) of the ski industry. Fernie has come a long way!
Pick up a copy of the Elk Valley Cultural Guide - packed with interesting features on local artists and artisans, gallery and attraction listings and much more.
Pick a patio! Historic Downtown Fernie has a wide selection of streetside patios for a great lunch stop. Great food is served up daily from tasty homemade soups and crisp fresh salads to flatbread pizza and mouthwatering fish and chips at the Fernie Hotel, where you can enjoy a little trainspotting from the patio.
Follow the downtown walking tour in the Cultural Guide for a fascinating look into Fernie's architectural history. Discover the secrets and stories behind the facades as you stroll around 2nd Ave. Be sure to stop in at the many art galleries and studios along the way; listings can be found in the guide. Watch out for public art as you walk!
If you are in Fernie on a weekend in July or August, be sure to join one of the Fernie Museum's guided walking tours to local historical sights.
Salsa into Nevados, located in the former Isis Theatre (the original 'Photoplays' mural can still be seen on the outside of the building) for a taste of South America. Start with tasty patacones and follow up with a selection of house tacos or a plate of mouthwatering ribs. A full mezcal and tequila bar includes some speciality titles you may not see anywhere else.
Looking for some light entertainment? Jam nights, quiz nights, guest DJs, and live music fill Fernie's bars almost every night of the week. Check the events calendar and find something to suit your tastes.
Take a drive to Island Lake Lodge located in the spectacular Cedar Valley. Renown as a world-class snowcat skiing operation in winter, summer brings a more relaxed vibe a world away from civilization. Massive custom-built log lodges offer sumptuous accommodations and dining options. It's worth going for the drive through the scenic ancient Red Cedar Forest alone, or get up close and personal with nature and take to the trails.
Many options are available from a 1-hour walk around the tranquil lake to strenuous hikes into the alpine to see glacier lilies and mountain wildflowers. The iconic Heiko's Mountain Lakes Trail finishes at Island Lake. This full-day hike is a challenging wilderness hike taking in mountain passes, waterfalls, caves and spectacular views. Island Lake offers guiding for all hikes.
If you prefer a sitting activity, kayaks are available for rental on the lake. The tranquil spa is the perfect place to complete your relaxation experience.
Relax on the patio at Island Lake and take in the spectacular views of the 3 Bears Peaks. Delicious mountain fare is prepared with care in the Island Lake kitchens under the creative leadership of head chef Keith Farkas. The atmosphere for lunch is laid back and casual; in the evenings, the fine dining restaurant and 3,000-bottle wine cellar are a gastronomic delight. Date Night Mondays and Wine Tasting Wednesdays are especially popular.
It would be easy to spend the whole day at Island Lake, but just a short drive away is Fernie Alpine Resort. Take a Scenic Chairlift Ride on the Timber Chair on weekends and soar to Lost Boys Pass high above Fernie. Take in the breathtaking views and enjoy a ridge walk or just soak up some inspiration on the patio at Lost Boys Café.
During the week, the Elk Chair is a shorter ride into the Lizard Bowl where Nature Bob's Interpretive Yurt offers a glimpse into the flora, fauna, and geology of the region. Book an interpretive hike with Nature Bob and learn all about local fossils, flowers, and furry creatures.
Back at base, Cirque Restaurant at Lizard Creek Lodge is a contemporary and inviting space offering up inventive and sophisticated creations around the massive central river rock hearth. Make sure to check out the incredible Ice Bar, the only one in the Canadian Rockies!
Fernie's eclectic and outdoorsy attitude can be experienced with the minimum of effort if you know where to look. Sample one of the many activities that don't require you to break a sweat but still offer spectacular views and memorable experiences.
Take a scenic helicopter flight through the Elk Valley with Ascent Helicopters, landing on the Three Sisters for one of the best photo ops in the Canadian Rockies.
If you prefer to stay closer to earth, try a Wildlife Viewing Tour with Fernie Wilderness Adventures or a Scenic Float Trip along the gentle stretch of the Elk River through Fernie, watching for Blue Herons, beaver habitat and ungulates as you drift by.
If you'd like to stretch your legs, rent a townie bike from a downtown bike shop or take a stroll along the Fernie Town Trail to Maiden Lake and the adjacent wetlands.
A long-time favourite on Fernie's evening dining roster, Yamagoya opens its patio during the day in summer. A new Japanese fusion menu is in the works and the expanded kitchen will be working full-time to serve up old and new favourites including the Fernie Roll, Ahi Poke, air-light tempura shrimp, nigiri, and sashimi. Enjoy views of the Lizard Range from the raised deck.
Beat the heat with a felting class at Eye of the Needle Studio & Gallery or a private workshop with one of the many local artisans. Depending on the date of your visit, there may be a gallery opening or pottery class at the Arts Station, drop-in session at the Heritage Library, or reception and gallery show at the Fernie Museum. Or set up your easel for a plein air session and see if you can replicate Fernie's colourful, evocative, natural style of painting. The dancing light and magical atmosphere at the Ancient Cottonwoods Trail is the perfect place to perfect your technique, or just take a simple stroll in this special place.
Weekends in Fernie bring the big guns. Guest DJs from Australia & Germany, readings and guest lecturers, and some of Western Canada's best live bands, comedians, and iconic rockers have all graced Fernie's stages; check the events calendar for listings.
Many events are held in local bars where tasty pub fare is served up nightly. On Wednesdays in July and August, the free outdoor concert is a lively and inviting event on the new deck at the Arts Station.
Accommodation: There's so much to choose from in Fernie! Visit our Accommodation pages to find the perfect spot for you and your budget, including everything from hostels, motels, and B&Bs to luxury & family-friendly hotels, spacious condos and spectacular mountain homes located in town, on-mountain, and in-between!
The newly refurbished Visitor Information Centre at the Chamber of Commerce is open 9am-5pm Monday - Friday year-round, and 9am-4pm on Saturdays during the summer. Visit the last standing wooden oil derrick in BC while you are here.
The Fernie Museum and VIC is open 9am-5.30pm, 360 days of the year.
Island Lake Lodge is open June 9 - October 9, 2017.
Fernie Alpine Resort is open June 24 - September 3, 2017.
Fernie's Fall brings the start of many of the cultural series of events; watch for Indie Films, Booked! Fernie Writers' Series and Arts Station Concert Series listings.
The foliage in the Elk Valley changes colour in dramatic fashion, catch it around the last week of September.