5 winter activities to get you out of Vancouver - and off the slopes

Oct 28 2016, 3:55 pm

It’s almost winter and you’re ready to embrace it.

The rain in the valley turns into snow up on the rolling mountains, and you find yourself away during the weekends, soaking up all the gorgeous scenery. You taste rich hot chocolate by the bunny hills, whisk down steep runs on skis, and carve the mountainside on your snowboard.

The scenery on the slopes is certainly beautiful, and the rush down is exhilarating. So much so that it’s easy to forget about the other adventures on our doorstep.

BC is full of winter surprises you haven’t considered and you need to make sure you don’t miss out. From scaling an icy cliff, to bathing in steaming hot springs, to storm watching on the coast, there are so many activities you can explore – and they’re all driving distance away from the city. Just make sure you’re prepared and you have the best wheels to get there.

We’ve collected five activities that will make you want to hop out of your skis and join in on all the adventure our province has to offer.

Ice climbing



Where: Whistler, Squamish, Lilooet

When: December to March

This isn’t your ordinary winter activity. Ice climbing lets you experience the power of nature first-hand as you swing axes and kick crampons into the ice. Mountain Skills Academy and Adventures in Whistler offers ice climbing tours for people of all skill levels. If it’s your first time, an experienced guide will introduce you to the basics and take you on an easy and fun climb. If you already know what you’re doing, a guide will be there to take you to the best ice that matches your ability. The tour group visits a number of different ice-filled canyons all over the Coast Mountains.

Storm watching



Where: Tofino

When: November to February

If the best part of Mainland winters is the snow, then the best part on the Island is the storms. Tofino’s storm season brings in crashing waves and fierce winds to the rugged coast. And one of the best places to see them is at Wickannish Inn. This historic hotel has direct access to Chesterman Beach and panoramic ocean or beach views from every room. Rooms come equipped with rain gear, so you can go outside to enjoy the magnificent storm regardless of what you packed. Or, you can stay inside and enjoy listening to the wind and waves by a cozy fire.

Ice fishing

Ice fishing

Ice fishing/Shutterstock

Where: Sun Peaks

When: December to March

Ice fishing is the quintessential Canadian experience, but most of us would never think to try it. Sun Peaks resort offers guided ice fishing through Elevated Fishing Adventures. The local guide will take you to one of the frozen mountain lakes to give you a shot at catching some wild Rainbow Trout. The guided tour provides everything – a heated ice fishing tent, fishing gear, and a hot drink. Just make sure you take the necessary precautions to make it to Sun Peaks safely. The Coquihalla is a dangerous highway in the winter, and you’ll want to make sure your car is equipped with winter tires to get you there without a problem.

Visiting hot springs

hot springs

Cave/Ainsworth Hot Springs

Where: Ainsworth Hot Springs

When: Year-round

We tend to think of winter activities as cold, but that’s not always the case. Hot springs, like the ones at Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort, are a natural source of warm water year round. Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort has both a natural hot spring cave and a pool that you can visit. The water in the cave is about 42°C and the water in the pool is around 35°C, so you can float in warm tranquility even while the temperature outside drops below 7°C.

Dog sledding



Where: Whistler

When: Late November or early December to March

Blackcomb Dogsled’s tagline is “reunite yourself with man’s best friend,” which is also a great motto for winter. Dog sled tours are a unique way to experience the mountainside, and this Whistler company gives you the opportunity to try it out. During your tour, you will get a chance to learn commands, discover how to manage a sled, and watch your musher harness and stage the dogs. The sled will take you through the beautiful Callaghan Valley, and afterwards you’ll warm up with some apple cider and puppies.

These activities are a great way to experience more of what the province has to offer this winter. But you want to make sure you can get there.

Travelling out of Vancouver often means dealing with difficult winter conditions on icy highways, and it’s important you’re prepared. Always check over your vehicle before going on a long trip: make sure your fluids are topped up, your brakes are in good shape, and you have the right tires for the season.

Once it drops below 7°C, you need to change over to winter tires to ensure your vehicle has the proper traction for the road conditions. Honda makes this possible by offering a lowest price guarantee on all tires. If you find a lower price at another company after you buy tires with Honda, they’ll match the competitor’s price.

There’s no reason why your car shouldn’t be ready for winter – and ready to take in all the wonderful adventures BC has to offer.