1. Whistler-Blackcomb, B.C.
Why it’s special: To put it simply, Whistler’s big, and you’ll find endless places to eat and things to do both off the hill and on. For something special, plan ahead and book a special tour, like the Fresh Tracks Mountain-Top Breakfast, which gives a limited number of people early access (think 7:15 am) to the Whistler Village Gondola, a buffet breakfast at the top and the chance to ski fresh runs before many other patrons are out of bed.
Single-day lift ticket: $102 for adults, $51 for kids, with a small discount if you buy ahead.
Ease of access: Fly into Vancouver and drive two hours up to Whistler, or go car-free and take the shuttle from the airport or downtown Vancouver.
Runs run-down: Whistler and Blackcomb – two side-by-side mountains accessed from the same village and linked with a peak-to-peak gondola (line up for the intermittent cars with glass floor for the best views) – offer more than 8,000 acres of terrain, including more than 200 marked runs accessed by 37 lifts (plus a new one slated to arrive for the 2013 season). On Whistler, the split is 20% beginner, 55% intermediate, 25% advanced; on Blackcomb, 15% beginner, 55% intermediate, 30% advanced.
Besides the downhill: Five terrain parks, a super pipe and a snow cross track to start with, plus snowmobiling, sleigh rides, tubing, heli-skiing, dogsledding, ziplining, cross-country, cat skiing, ice skating, backcountry tours… need we go on?