For many, the approach of winter can be daunting with its colder weather and darker days. A season of snow and rain can also prompt a desire to hibernate and get cozy at home. However, for the right activity, and with the right attire, there are plenty of reasons to head outside. From serene city parks to stunning mountain ranges, Vancouver has endless ways to embrace any cold front. These are our favourite winter activities to experience, in one of the world’s most livable cities.
Free Ice Skating in Downtown Vancouver
For many Vancouverites, winter means escaping to the mountains. But for those who want to make the most of winter in the city centre, Vancouver’s Robson Square ice rink offers a classic way to celebrate the change of seasons. Lace up your skates (or rent a pair), pull on an oversized sweater, and enjoy the dip in temperature.
Take a Ride on the Sea to Sky Gondola
It takes 10 minutes for the Sea to Sky Gondola to take you 885 metres above sea level, but this is one of those cases where the journey is just as rewarding as the destination itself. As soon as the gondola leaves the valley floor, you are treated to stunning views of the Howe Sound, dotted with islands and protected by the dramatic stature of the coastal mountains.
Once you reach the top, breathe deep: the air is noticeably crisper here. A leisurely walk in the powdery trails is enough to shake off the winter blues, but for those who love winter for its snow-covered slopes, there are more thrilling ways to experience the terrain. Snowshoeing, ski touring, and tubing are all options, so pick your favourite way to dash downhill. Once your day is done, warm up with a beverage from the Summit Eatery and Edge Bar, or treat yourself to the fondue dining experience at the Summit Lodge.
Explore VanDusen Botanical Garden
This 55-acre oasis, in the heart of the historical neighbourhood of Shaughnessy, is stunning year-round, but offers a special attraction over the holidays. Not only does the garden have an award-winning Visitor Centre that is shaped like an orchid (when viewed from above), but through December it’s transformed into a with over one million lights.
During the holiday season, take the kids for a ride on the Air France carousel, catch the dancing light shows on Livingstone Lake, or sip specialty holiday beverages at the Fireside Lounge.
Indulge in a Spa Treatment
The winter season reminds of all the important things: connecting with family and friends, indulging in fine wine and food, and giving to others. One priority that shouldn’t be overlooked is the importance of self-care; the new year marks a time to rejuvenate and recenter yourself.
In the charming Whistler Village, just a few hours from Vancouver via the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway, is the perfect location to do just that: the Scandinave Spa. Situated on the edge of Lost Lake and engulfed in spruce and cedar trees, the resort features a number of Scandinavian baths designed to relax and energize. Their facilities are structured so that you can visit their pools regardless of the weather, but there is something especially serene about sitting in their hydrotherapy baths while snowflakes fall around you.
Snowshoe on the North Shore Mountains
Come winter, Vancouver’s hiking trails become white paradises with stunning views of the city. The North Shore mountains are only a short drive from the downtown core and offer a number of marked routes for all levels. If the holiday rush leaves you craving some respite, you can find solitude among the snow-capped trees and frozen lakes. In Seymour Provincial Park, the Dog Mountain trail has unparalleled vantage points.
These are just a few of Vancouver’s nature-inspired winter must-do’s—after all, Vancouver is a city known for its adventurous spirit.
Photo Credits: Marina Poushkina / Shutterstock, Eng Png / Shutterstock, Geoff Brinkhaus / Tourism Vancouver, sebastien panouille / Flickr, Roderick Eime / Flickr, Lijuan Guo / Shutterstock