Oh Canada, many already know about your majestic peaks, mammoth mountain ranges and pristine powder snow but few know of the side trip delights from day tours to multi day adventures for foodies, urbanites, wildlife lovers and snow addicts.
We’ve done the searching (so you don’t have to) and discovered the coolest adventures for winter folk to book before, after or during your ski and snowboard holidays.
The beauty of Canada is there’s an adventure a drive or flight away from your favourite ski towns so you can enhance your ski holiday with what starts as a once in a lifetime experience (only you’ll be back for more.)
Take your camera, a sense of exploration and an open plane ticket as you’ll definitely want to stay longer.
Urban foodie heaven
A short flight to or from Canada’s favourite ski fields sits Montreal in French Quebec – the food capital of Canada with a culinary scene you’ll find hard to leave. This hip town is food and style obsessed, so wherever and whatever you eat, you won’t go wrong.
Inhale smoked meat sambos at Schwartz Deli, lobster poutine at Le Garde-Manger, the city’s famed bagels at St Viateur Bagel and head to the Jean Talon market for local cheeses, bakeries, spices and more. Gourmands book a table at Manitoba for pure local ingredients and Joe Beef (two time restaurant of the year in Canada).
The northern lights
Come for the skiing, go north for the lights. From October to March across northern Canada, the aurora borealis occurs when electrically charged particles, riding on a solar wind, enter the earth’s atmosphere and collide with gases. Voila, you have nature’s light display. Head to Whitehorse in the Yukon or Yellowknife in the North West for prime aurora viewing and sleep in teepees and soak in hot springs under the sky.
Imagine starting your ski trip with some polar bear love or beluga whale goodness in the wild arctics of Canada. How about kayaking with icebergs? Dog sledding over kilometres of arctic ice? Snow moiling into the wild, even kite skiing in lands few inhabit.
Head to the most northerly territory of Canada, Nunavut, and go ice fishing with local Inuit whose families have lived here for generations. Bed down in Kimmirut on Baffin Island to experience the indigenous cultural traditions and collect arctic memories for a lifetime and then some.
There’s a winter gem of a destination nestled off the coast of British Columbia and known as Vancouver Island. Sure, you can ski here at the low key Mt Washington (gets mega loads of snow every year) or the even lower key Mount Cain but you can also explore the cozy pub scene of the prettiest winter town of Victoria. Check out the Christmas Lights of the National Historic Site of Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, surf the winter waves of Tofino or hike the 2.5 kilometre Wild Pacific Trail for wild weather blowhole watching.
The Icefields Parkway
Prepare to have mind blown by Highway 93 North, otherwise known as the Icefields Parkway, a 232 kilometre stretch from Lake Louise to Jasper in Alberta. Conde Nast Traveller calls it one of the top drives in the world, so it must be good.
The views alone are worth the drive with massive Contiental Divide peaks reaching skyward. Expect to spot bighorn sheep, goats, coyote and caribou.
Take a guided tour onto a glacier on the Columbia Icefields where water flows to all three oceans in Canada or discover Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park for canyon overhangs and ice waterfalls.
Winter wine tours
Did someone say Okanagan? It may be home to the likes of Big White and SilverStar Mountain Resort but it’s also home to some of the most coveted new world wines right now. Book into a wine tour or designate a driver and self tour from cellar door to cellar door.
Try Mission Hill for the oculus red blend, Summerhill Pyramid for bubbles, Cedar Creek for riesling, The View for “bling in a can” and cider, Sperling for pinot gris, Sandhill for Viognier. The list truly does go on.
Want more? Of course you do. Check out all the winter activities on offer in Canada here.