I may earn income from affiliate links or partnerships in this post. I spend time to curate tours or products that align with my values. Thanks for supporting my work, at no additional cost to you.

Last updated on May 18th, 2024 at 03:47 pm

Are you curious about what there is to do in Prince Rupert? Prince Rupert might seem like a small town without much to do, but in reality, it is a place full of amazing cultural and nature-based activities. While I typically advocate for slow travel, I recently found myself in Prince Rupert for only 24 hours as part of a longer EV road trip across BC. I was surprised at how many attractions and activities I could pack into those 24 hours. The best part is that Prince Rupert is an amazing place for sustainable and mindful activities. This means you can enjoy a quick stopover in Prince Rupert and still travel responsibly. Look no further if you are looking for the best vegetarian food, Indigenous-owned businesses, outdoor adventures, local eco boutiques, and other fun, meaningful things to do.  

Unique things to do in Prince Rupert BC Canada

Prince Rupert wasn’t at the top of my list of places to visit when I moved to BC two years ago. However, Ganesh and I found ourselves there twice as a stopover on our way to and from Haida Gwaii. This was part of a longer BC road trip using the BC ferry system and our Polestar EV to bring us from Vancouver to Vancouver Island, then through Canada’s Inside Passage to Prince Rupert, and finally onward to Haida Gwaii. We returned from Haida Gwaii to Prince Rupert before our drive back to Vancouver. Our brief time in PR was incredibly enjoyable, and we fell in love with its small-town charm and the region’s culture and nature. We definitely made the most of our 24 hours in Prince Rupert with these eco things to do and a mindful itinerary – and now you can too!

Eagle perched on a lighthouse in Prince Rupert, BC

Slow travel is a mindset, and this itinerary and things to do in Prince Rupert embody the slow travel mentality to ensure you benefit the community in the best way possible. I’ve created this list of things to do in a way that follows our itinerary so you can follow these suggestions to a T for a full day or piece them together for an itinerary that works for you. I’ll include some travel tips for visiting Prince Rupert and suggestions for extending your time in BC and beyond. 

Planning on taking the ferry from Vancouver Island? Don’t miss these complimentary resources to help you plan an incredible road trip!

QUICK LOOK

  • Prince Rupert is a charming coastal town in central BC.
  • Despite being Canada’s rainiest city, there are still plenty of things to do and see.
  • If you like cultural experiences, fun nature-based activities, or supporting small local businesses Prince Rupert is for you
  • This 24-hour itinerary and Things to Do focuses on mindful and sustainable attractions and experiences.

About Prince Rupert, British Columbia

Prince Rupert is located in central coastal BC. It is known as Canada’s rainiest city, but all that rain brings many rainbows, lending to its nickname as the city of rainbows. This makes all that rain a little more enjoyable! Prince Rupert is surrounded by thick rain forest, making it a great destination for ocean and forest lovers.

Rainbow sign saying welcome to Prince Rupert painted by an Indigenous artist.

While connected to the mainland by a bridge, Prince Rupert is technically an island called Kaien Island. It is the traditional (and current) land of the Tsimshian (Ts’msyen) First Nations. The Tsimshian (shim·shee·uhn) People are a broad group of Indigenous People who share similar cultures, traditions, and language. Their name means “Inside the Skeena River,” a large dominating river that defines their territory and culture. 

The Tsimshian People include many unique nations or tribes. Several Tsimshian communities surround Prince Rupert, including the Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams bands. 

The First Nations have been in the area for at least 10,000 years. After surviving a brutal colonization period that remains in modern-day society, they make up about half the population of Prince Rupert. To visit PR is to immerse yourself in Indigenous culture. 

The modern town, as we know it today, was incorporated in 1910. The development of Canada’s railway brought a bustling population to the region. The area experienced another boom during WWII when many North American troops were stationed along the Skeena River as a strategic Pacific position. Prince Rupert is historically an important place for fisheries and canneries, which once dominated the industry. Today, it is a bustling town and port city with ferry lines, cruise ships, a logging industry, an industrial port, fishing, and an emerging ecotourism industry.

Make sure you bring your rain gear!

We lucked out and had amazing weather, so all my photos are nice and sunny. But this is NOT the norm. Make sure you are prepared for rain. Prince Rupert is a town that is best experienced outdoors.

I own and recommend the North Face 3-1 Eco Tri-Climate jacket and the men’s version. It is light enough for city wear but has great insulation and waterproofing. I love this jacket! For the cold snaps, I can easily layer this with a technical fleece to stay nice and cozy.

If you are not on a budget and looking to invest in a quality rain jacket that will last you years, I recommend Arc’teryx waterproof products. I have an Arc’teryx jacket for multi-day backpacking and hiking tours, and I trust their waterproofing fully to keep me dry on the trail and when walking around the city. 

Hike the Rushbrook Trail Things to do in Prince Rupert

If you decide to bring a shell for women or a shell for men, pair it with a nano puff for women or men, and maybe keep a technical fleece for women or men on hand. 

Waterproof shoes are also a good idea. I love my Merrell shoes for myself and Merrell’s for men.

How to Get to Prince Rupert, BC

Prince Rupert is well-connected to a remote community. You can choose between several more eco-focused transit options and arrive as part of a road trip, use the local ferry, or take a scenic train. 

Ferry

We loaded our car onto a ferry to take the BC Ferries Inside Passage route from Port Hardy. This is a slow and more eco-friendly route. It takes about 16 hours, depending on the weather. I highly recommend this option if you are on a longer road trip from Vancouver Island. We saw 20+ whales and some incredible scenery. Nothing compares to this ferry route.

The price varies greatly depending on whether you take a car, what kind, and if you book a cabin. Check their website for the latest fares. 

BC Ferry Inside Passage to Prince Rupert

Driving

When we left Prince Rupert, we departed by road. There is a road that connects to the lower mainland, making it accessible as a multi-day road trip from Vancouver. Follow the 99 past Whistler from Vancouver, then hit the 97 through Caribou, and then turn onto the 16. We drove this route on the way home and took over a week to make stops and enjoy the views. 

We drove with an EV, and there are plenty of Fast BC Hyrdo stations for you to charge. This is a great way to reduce emissions while fueling your adventures with Hyrdo!

Driving to Prince Rupert along the Skeena River

Train

While Canada isn’t known for its incredible train infrastructure, we do, in fact, have trains! You can book your trip to Prince Rupert from Vancouver via Jasper before heading to Prince Rupert. This is not Germany; these trains are slower scenic tourist trains, and this trip will take a few days. Essentially, you would book a train from Vancouver to Jasper – overnight, then another train from Jasper to Prince Rupert. It is supposed to be a comfortable and scenic experience! Check the VIA website for the latest fares and routes

Fly

While you can fly, I don’t recommend this option. While short, it is carbon intensive, and you contribute less to local economies than if you take a train, drive, or ferry, which all bring you through small towns. If you have the time, take the slow route through some of Canada’s most scenic mountain passes and waterways.

Things to do in Prince Rupert over 24 hours

Take the Prince Rupert Travel Pledge

The first thing you should do in Prince Rupert is take the travel pledge, which helps your behaviors align with the cultural values of the small community. Like most First Nations, the Tsimshian people are intimately interconnected with nature, and regenerative environmental stewardship is a core value. As you explore Prince Rupert and the surroundings, we should embrace their inherently regenerative cultural values to be better guests. To do so, we should take the travel pledge developed by Visit Prince Rupert and the Ts’msyen Sm’algyax Authority (those who keep and protect the Tsimshian language). Stop by the Visitor Center to take the pledge or learn more about the Prince Rupert Pledge online.

The pledge shares the traditional words for the following principles.

  • Walking Slowly—embody the principles of slow travel, learning, engaging, and treading lightly.
  • Respect All Things—the land, animals, people, and yourself. Open yourself to learning and understanding. 
  • Take Care—you are visiting a small, remote community. Plan, prepare, and obey signage to protect yourself, nature, and others. 

I love these principles, and thank Tsimshian for sharing them! What do you think of these principles? Would you take this pledge before visiting Prince Rupert? Doing this is fundamental to regenerative tourism and aligning your behaviors with the culture and communities of the places we visit. 

Eagle on boat Prince Rupert

These principles are important to adopt and embody when visiting small rural towns. Things operate at a slow pace here. Don’t expect on-demand services, fast food, and people who cater to your needs. Be patient and kind when you visit PR small businesses. 

Book a Night at an Indigenous-Owned Hotel

If you spend 24 hours or more in Prince Rupert, you have a few options for where to spend the night. The Crest Hotel is easily one of Prince Rupert’s best hotels. Not only are they in a prime location downtown near main attractions, with an on-site restaurant and harbor room views, but they are also Indigenous-owned. The Gitxaala Nation recently purchased the Crest Hotel as an investment in their Indigenous community and as their role caretaker and cultural tourism leader. The hotel was previously owned and operated by a local family for 62 years with dedication to warm hospitality – they were happy to sell to a First Nation group as they know the values and sentiments of the Crest family will continue for generations to come. 

In short, the Crest Hotel is THE place to stay in Prince Rupert. Make sure you plan and book in advance, and it is likely to book, especially since some cruise lines come through PR in the summer. 

Prince Rupert Waterfront

If the Crest Hotel is booked, or you want something at a lower price point if you are checking in late or leaving early, then I also recommend Inn on the Harbor. It is certainly basic, but the service is suitable for an overnight stay at a lower price.

If you arrive on the midnight ferry from Port Hardy after nearly 16+ hours of transit, your hotel will likely be your first point of contact in Prince Rupert. Most hotels are used to guests arriving at weird hours as part of the BC ferry departures, but we called ahead to ensure they knew we would be checking in at 1 a.m. 

You might have a slower start to your morning if you checked into your hotel at 1 a.m., but there are lots of things to do in PR, so it doesn’t hurt to get up and moving. Ensure you check out and have everything ready for a day of adventure, including a flat but long nature walk. I recommend a camelback with water, extra layers, good walking shoes, a camera, and everything you need to be out for the day. There is parking downtown, and we moved out near Cow Bay for breakfast.

Breakfast at Cowpuccinos 

Cowpuccinos is the best place for a cozy breakfast and excellent coffee to fuel your day. Cowpuccinos is a locally-owned cafe with a rustic interior, ample seating, and wifi in case you need to bust out some emails, but you shouldn’t be working on your vacation anyway

As vegetarians, we ordered their gourmet porridge filled with tasty cranberries, nuts, and coconut. You can also make this vegan if you need to. 

Vegetarian breakfast in Prince Rupert

They don’t have many vegetarian options, but you probably know this about rural Canada by now if you are a vegetarian who made it to PR. However, they sometimes have vegetarian breakfast sandwiches and burritos, depending on availability. 

Visit the Museum of Northern BC

After coffee and breakfast, head to the Museum of Northern British Columbia. This opens at 9 a.m., making it a great early morning activity, but it is sadly closed on Sundays and Mondays. The museum is in a lovely Indigenous wooden long-house complex. It does an amazing job covering the natural and cultural history of Northern BC, with a strong focus on Indigenous culture, while covering colonial and more modern history. This is one of BC’s best museums, and you could spend a decent amount of time exploring the permanent and temporary exhibitions; however, it is small enough that you should be able to check out every room. 

The N. BC Museum group manages several other exhibits and small museums, including the Kwinitsa Station Rail Museum, the NW Coast Nations Art Studio, and the Tsimshian Performance Longhouse (pictured, which is currently closed).

Prince Rupert Things to do in 24 hours

*Note you can also visit the museum in the afternoon after lunch. My current itinerary has you eating lunch a bit later in the afternoon. If you like early lunches, skip this and return to the museum during their afternoon hours once you finish The Rushbrook Trail. 

See the Kazu Maru Memorial

When you leave the museum, you will be near the Kazu Maru Memorial and Pacific Mariner’s Memorial Park. This is a small park dedicated to sea-farers. The memorial is for a Japanese fishing boat whose owner, Kazukio Sakamoto, set sail one day from Owase to go fishing and never returned. His boat washed up years later in Haida Gwaii and was sent to Prince Rupert. The residents of Prince Rupert realized that it was from their sister village, Owase, and restored it and created the memorial. 

Kazu Maru Memorial Boat thigns to do in Prince Rupert

It is an uncanny story of the connection between PR and its sister city in Japan. 

Enjoy the Sunken Gardens

Across from the memorial is the Sunken Gardens. As soon as you enter through the tunnel, you enter the lower part of the gardens, and the temperature instantly drops, and greenery fills your vision. Breathe in the fresh air and take in the gardens before heading out again and down to Cow Bay Road. 

The sunken gardens in Prince Rupert

Visit the Visitor Center Container Park

Below the memorial park, you’ll find the Welcome to Prince Rupert sign colorfully painted on a shipping container by a local First Nations artist. You’ll see their representation of a Rainbow for Prince Rupert. Take your photos and then walk through the pop-up container park. Stop by the Visit Prince Rupert container and say hello. I’m getting custom suggestions for your visit if mine don’t suit your interests. You can also learn about the pledge. On busier summer days (like cruise and ferry landings), this container park will be full of life with snippets of local businesses. Sadly, most weren’t open when we visited as they seemed more catering to cruise ship sailings than the local ferry. But at least we got to chat with the Visit PR people and get some suggestions. 

Visit Prince Rupert Container Park

North Coast Ecology Center

One of the last containers should be a pop-up Coast Ecology Center. The center has plans for a permanent building, but until then, you can stop in and learn all about the incredible biodiversity and conservation work in and around Prince Rupert. The goal of the ecology center is to connect you to the nature of the region while working with the community to engage in conservation. Here, you can learn everything from the unique reefs around Prince Rupert to the tops of the trees in the mountains. The ecology center is only open during the summer and is great for the curious mind.

Visit Cow Bay and Atlin Terminal for Local Shopping

When you leave the container park, you will be in Cow Bay. Cow Bay is a lovely historic downtown with old industrial buildings repurposed for local businesses and painted bright colors. 

Why Cow Bay? This seemingly silly name for the area was adopted in the early days of colonial Prince Rupert. An enterprising immigrant brought a small herd of cows to start a new life. His cows had to swim through the Bay to the shore since it was before a dock had been built, and the image of cows swimming through the Bay was stuck along with the name Cow Bay. 

Cow Bay shopping area Prince Rupert

The Atlin Terminal and Cow Bay are the perfect places for shopping and supporting local small businesses. 

Don’t miss the following stores.

  • Lazy Cat – a women-owned, sustainable boutique. 
  • Ice House Makers Gallery – a co-op full of unique hand-crafted and hand-made items, including clothing, art homewares, decor, and more!
  • Seahorse Trading Co. – an eclectic mix of souvenirs and gifts. This is a mixed bag; you’ll find local handmade items alongside cheaply mass-produced tacky gifts. Support local artisans when visiting here. 

Saltwater Bakery—Lunch isn’t for a bit, so I recommend you stop by the local Saltwater Bakery. Grab a croissant—they are delicious—and other nibbles for a taste of BC before getting ready for your nature walk.

Check out the Street Art

Prince Rupert’s best street art is just around the Saltwater Bakery area. So, make sure to check out the amazing murals along Cow Bay. One of my favorites was the orca mural outside of Rona. 

Street Art Prince Rupert

Ice Cream at Bob on the Rocks

As you make your way to the Rushbrook Trail’s start, ensure you have water, snacks if needed, and good walking shoes. A good navigational point is the famous Bob on the Rocks, a cute little fish and chips spot on the water and at the start of our walk. Getting here takes walking through a more industrial part of town. But, once you make it, sit down and rest your feet with an icy treat. Bob’s serves ice cream, which we enjoyed since we don’t eat fish. Trust me there is a better spot for lunch that I have scoped out for you, just be patient!

Bob's on the Rocks prince Rupert

Walk the Rushbrook Trail

After finishing your ice cream, you are right at the start of the Ruskbrook Trail. This is a lovely and easy nature trail. The trail is mostly flat gravel, but there are some small rolling hills, and it should be accessible to most abilities. The total distance is less than 3km. As you walk, take in the lovely forested trail and scenic viewpoints and watch for bald eagles. We spotted a handful while on the walk. 

Yaga Cafe and Carden Co – lunch

When you exit the Rushbrook Trail, you’ll be in a new part of town, and thankfully, there is a nice cafe here for a simple lunch. Head to Yaga Cafe and Garden Co. for lunch. Yaga Cafe is an Indigenous-owned cafe that operates a quadruple bottom line. This means that along with people, planet, and profit, they add a First Nations language and cultural revitalization principle for the Nisga’a Nation that owns that cafe. 

Yaga Cafe and Garden Center Prince Rupert

So, you get a fresh and healthy lunch and contribute to the cultural restoration and preservation of BC’s First Nations. In addition to our lunch, we stocked up on homemade granola bars for the ferry to Haida Gwaii to have nutrient-dense and filling snacks. Spoiler alert: the food on the ferry isn’t great for vegetarians, nor is it healthy—so stock up here if you can!

Walk Around Seal Cove

After lunch, take a walk around Seal Cove. Seal Cove is a restored salt marsh habitat. The environment deteriorated after the area was developed for a harbor and construction. Prince Rupert finally restored the area to a natural habitat, and seals and birds returned to the area. We saw several seals in the cove, a great place for viewing wildlife.

A seal head in Seal Cove

Kwinitsa Railway Museum

Returning to downtown via the Rushbrook Trail, you may visit the museum during their afternoon hours instead of the morning hours. Otherwise, Cow Bay Road eventually turns into Millennium Walkway. Following this trail, you will eventually visit the Wheelhouse Brewing and a nice scenic park. 

Rainway Museum Prince Rupert

If you have time and the desire, swing by the Railway Museum and check out the little park in this area. It is open until 5 p.m. and is a small local museum. It covers pioneer and colonial life along the railroad. 

Wheelhouse Brewing

You’ve probably done a lot of steps at this point, so sit down, take a load off, and order a beer flight at Wheelhouse. Wheelhouse is a charming local brewery that is engaged in healthy community development and, of course, brewing incredible beer. I immensely enjoyed every beer I had here—so much so that we bought several four-packs to take on the road. 

Wheelhouse Brewing Flight in Prince Rupert

My favorites were the Kazu Maru (hey, that name sounds familiar), The Blacksmith Brown Ale, The Scurvey Dog Summer Ale made with fresh Sitka spruce tips, and The Latismissa Gose made with sustainably sourced summer kelp. If you are lucky, the sun is out, and you can sit outdoors and enjoy scenic views of the water with your flight.

Dinner at Arabisk

When it is time for dinner, jump in your car or taxi and head back to the Seal Cove area for dinner at Arabisk. Our friends at Visit Prince Rupert recommended this when I asked for vegetarian options, and it did not disappoint! This cozy Middle Eastern restaurant has a warm wood interior, many plant-based options, and a nice deck for sunny weather. Enjoy a big dinner here, especially if you get on the ferry after dinner. 

Arabisk Mediterranean Food in Prince Rupert

Alternative Dinner

If you don’t want to head back toward Seal Cove, make sure you have booked a reservation at the Crest Restaurant. This might be a better option for those who want to stay downtown, stay at the hotel restaurant, or want fresh, local, sustainable seafood. 

Stay in Prince Rupert or get ready for the ferry…

If you are staying another night in Prince Rupert, or perhaps you arrived by car or ferry in the morning and this is your first night, enjoy a relaxing evening with more time at Arabisk. See a theatrical event at the Tom Rooney Playhouse, or enjoy a quiet night at your hotel or a walk along the waterfront. 

Charge – If Needed Or Stock Up

Since we were doing this road trip with our Polestar EV, we decided to charge up before boarding the ferry to Haida Gwaii. We parked at BC Hydro before doing some more exploring and stocking up. If you don’t need to charge, perhaps you’ll still want to hit a supermarket and stock up on snacks and supplies for another ferry ride or snacks for the road. 

Charging EV in Prince Rupert

See the Monumental Poles and Courthouse 

If the sun is starting to set, then while you are charging, take time to see the incredible Indigenous monuments around the courthouse. There are some very old monumental (totem) poles on Marketplace Road. Enjoy looking at them and the view from the Longhouse in the area. Be respectful when visiting. 

Prince Rupert Indigenous Art

Once it is time to load up on the ferry to Haida Gwaii, make your way to the queue. Alternatively, head to bed and get ready to hit the road to Terrace in the morning!

Alternative Day Trips and Excursions

Prince Rupert is also an incredible place to go whale watching or grizzly bear sightseeing in the famous Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary. Dozens of tourism operators will take you kayaking, boating, sightseeing, or you can go hiking. We had already done plenty of activities similar to these on our road trip. We decided to experience the heart of Prince Rupert, but if you prefer to pack your day with an epic eco-tourism adventure, take advantage of that.

Prince Rupert Scenic Water View

I recommend Prince Rupert Adventure Tours, as they are strongly committed to an ethical wildlife-watching experience.

Bear Watching Near Prince Rupert

Book a 7-hour bear-watching tour with a boat ride to the Khutzeymateen Grizzle Bear Sanctuary. The sanctuary is a protected natural space in Canada and is notoriously one of the best places to watch brown bears in their natural habitat. These brown bears thrive in the forest near these coastal waters with plenty of fish and berries. If you haven’t seen bears in the wild, I highly recommend this experience. Growing up in Alaska, seeing bears in their natural habitat is even more special for me. 

Whale Watching in Prince Rupert

Alternatively, you can book their 4-hour whale-watching tour with chances to see lots of wildlife. Prince Rupert is a great place for whale watching. We get everything from gray whales, humpbacks, orcas, porpoises, and more in our waters. If you follow my suggestion to book with Prince Rupert Adventure Tours, rest easy as they follow the science-based Whale Wise Guidelines issued by the Canadian government for ethical whale watching. 

With this shorter whale-watching tour, you could still have this experience and a few other things on my list in Prince Rupert. 

Old sign in Prince Rupert

Hiking in Prince Rupert

There are also plenty of hikes around Prince Rupert. If you are a keen hiker who prefers to climb up the elevation to enjoy incredible views of Prince Rupert, choose a half-day hike. Check out the three hikes on AllTrails; they will take you anywhere from 2 to 5 hours and offer great hikes in various abilities and elevations. One thing they all share in common is that they take you through the incredible forest in Canada’s rainiest city. 

  • Mt. Hayes – the most challenging hike, with the longest distance and highest elevation. Views of Alaska and Haida Gwaii on a clear day!
  • Tall Trees Trail – medium with a fair amount of elevation through the forest
  • Butze Rapids – shortest and easiest, with some hills and views of the intertidal area

Kayaking in Prince Rupert

Rent a kayak for a half or full day and enjoy kayaking in Cow Bay or a quieter inlet. If you want a full guided tour of some of Prince Rupert’s more secluded bays and inlets, then Skeena Kayaking Company in Cow Bay can take you on several tours ranging from 1 to 6 hours with opportunities for wildlife viewing and scenic paddling.

What can you do in Prince Rupert if it rains?

If it’s pouring buckets, I encourage you to bring your rain gear and enjoy this itinerary to the fullest. But, if it is just one of those days, take advantage of staying indoors, extending your time at the museum, visiting the Fire Museum Railway museum, seeing a play at the Tom Rooney Playhouse, or spending more time at the cafe and shops.

24 hours in prince rupert bc canada, a mindful itinerary and things to do

After a satisfying day… You can load up on the ferry departing for Haida Gwaii, take the Inside Passage Ferry down to Port Hardy, or continue your road trip to Terrace and beyond.

Discuss and Share

No matter how you spend time in Prince Rupert, this fun list of things to do will ensure you engage in meaningful activities. Whether you come in on the ferry with another departure scheduled for Haida Gwaii or drive up from the mainland, you might find yourself in Prince Rupert with only a day or two. Make the most of your 24 hours in this charming town by supporting local businesses, including Indigenous ones, eating plant-based food, exploring nature, and immersing yourself in the local culture.

Would you visit Prince Rupert? Is it on your list as part of a longer BC road trip itinerary or on your way to Haida Gwaii?

24 hours in prince rupert bc canada, a mindful itinerary and things to do
Prince Rupert BC Discover the best sustainable things to do