Kimberley (population 7,000), 31 kilometers (19 miles) north of Cranbrook  on Highway 95A, is a charming little town, with no commercial strip or fast-food outlets; just streets of old stucco mining cottages with a downtown that’s been “Bavarianized.” Although named for a famous South African diamond mine, Kimberley boomed as a result of the silver and lead deposits unearthed on nearby North Star Mountain.
For more information on Kimberley and the surrounding area, drop by Kimberley Visitor Info Centre (270 Kimberley Ave., 250/427-3666, www.kimberleychamber.com , daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m. in summer, Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. the rest of year).
Strolling the Bavarian Platzl, you’ll feel as though you’ve just driven into a village high in the Swiss Alps, with only bell-wearing cows and brightly dressed milkmaids missing. This is the focus of downtown—a cheerful, red-brick, pedestrian plaza complete with babbling brook, ornamental bridges, and the “World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock” (“Happy Hans” pops out and yodels on the hour). Shops, many German restaurants, and delis line the plaza, selling European specialties.
At the far end of the Platzl, Kimberley Heritage Museum (250/427-7510, Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. in summer, Mon.–Sat. 1–4 p.m. the rest of the year, donation) houses mining-history exhibits, a stuffed grizzly bear, a hodgepodge of artifacts, and displays relating to all the locally popular outdoor sports.
Cominco Gardens, also known as Kimberley Gardens, enjoys a hilltop location (4th Ave., 250/427-5160, $3). Originally planted in 1927 to promote a fertilizer developed by Cominco, the one-hectare (2.5-acre) gardens now hold close to 20,000 flowers.
The Underground Mining Railway (115 Gerry Sorensen Way, 250/427-0022, adult $15, senior $12, child $7) was constructed from materials salvaged from mining towns around the province. The seven-kilometer (4.3-mile) track climbs a steep-sided valley, crosses a trestle bridge, and stops at particularly impressive mountain viewpoints and the original townsite, before arriving at the Sullivan Mine Interpretive Centre, which stands on the site of a massive reclamation project. It runs six times daily through summer.
From early December to early April, Kimberley Alpine Resort (250/427-4881 or 800/258-7669, www.skikimberley.com ) provides great skiing and snowboarding on a wide variety of slopes four kilometers (2.5 miles) west of downtown. Currently there are 67 named runs covering 738 hectares (1,800 acres), with a maximum vertical rise of 750 meters (2,460 feet). Most beginners and intermediates will be content on the well-groomed main slopes, while more experienced skiers and boarders will want to head to the expert terrain served by the Easter Chair. Lift tickets are adult $60, senior $48, child $42. Summer activities include chairlift rides, hiking, mountain biking, and luge rides.
If you plan on golfing or a winter vacation in Kimberley, contact Kimberley Vacations (250/427-4877 or 800/667-0871, www.kimberleyreservations.com ) for the best package deals. Otherwise contact one of the following choices: If you don’t mind being a couple of kilometers out of town, Travellaire Motel (toward Marysville at 2660 Warren Ave., 250/427-2252 or 800/477-4499, $58 s, $68 d) provides excellent value. It’s only a small place, but is regularly revamped and decked out with new beds and furniture. There’s also a barbecue area for guest use.
At the base of Kimberley Alpine Resort, Trickle Creek Lodge (250/427-5175 or 800/258-7669, www.skikimberley.com , from $149 s or d) is a stunning log and stone structure of 80 spacious guest rooms, each with a kitchen, balcony, and fireplace. Guest facilities include a fitness center and a year-round outdoor heated pool.
Kimberley Riverside Campground (250/427-2929, www.kimberleycampground.com , May–mid-Oct., tenting $21–26, hookups $27–33) is seven kilometers (4.3 miles) south of downtown on Highway 95A, and then three kilometers (1.9 miles) west along St. Mary’s River Road. Spread between the road and the river, it’s a sprawling complex with an outdoor pool and grocery store.
European gourmet specialties, predominantly German, are available all around town. The Gasthaus (in the Platzl, 250/427-4851, daily except Tues. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., $8–19>) features German lunches, such as goulash, and German dinner specialties, such as bratwurst, rheinischer sauerbraten, Wiener schnitzel, and kassler rippchen.
Away from the Platzl, Old Bauernhaus (280 Norton Ave., 250/427-5133, dinner only, closed Tues., $14–24) features Bavarian specialties and plenty of atmosphere. It’s in a post-and-beam farm building originally constructed about 350 years ago in southern Bavaria. The building was taken apart, shipped to Canada, and painstakingly rebuilt.