Canada’s 18 Coolest Winter Travel Destinations
Canadians don’t shy away from winter—we embrace it! Check out these cool Canadian travel destinations that put the “win” back in winter.
Canada’s Best Winter Destinations
While other, less hearty folk may retreat to warm comforts indoors, Canadians enthusiastically rush outdoors to experience all the wonderful joys of this special season. Want to follow in our footsteps and discover the best of Canada this winter? Grab your cozy scarf, gloves and parka, and explore the greatest winter destinations in the Great White North.
1. Skate on the Rideau Canal
Skating on Ottawa’s Rideau Canal is a Canadian rite of passage. Each season over one million skaters take the picturesque journey down the Rideau Canal’s famous 7.8 km long Skateway—that’s the equivalent to 90 Olympic-sized ice rinks, and the world’s largest! From January through to the end of February or early March, you can slide, twirl and whisk along the ice under the watchful gaze of Canada’s impressive Parliament Buildings and Chateau Laurier hotel. From Feb. 1 to Feb. 18, 2019, the capital ushers in Winterlude, an annual seasonal celebration, while toasty chalets and stands selling delicious BeaverTails, hot chocolate and maple taffy welcome you along the route.
2. Explore the Majesty of Whistler
It’s not just Canadians who associate the pretty British Columbia village of Whistler with supreme downhill skiing. The spectacular mountain community has been named one of North America’s best resorts by readers of Ski Magazine. Beloved by tourists and locals alike, Whistler increased its profile after the success of the 2010 Winter Olympics. With its close proximity to Vancouver—it’s only two hours north of the city—Whistler offers the ideal winter playground for all ages. Challenge yourself on its snow-covered mountains, enjoy some retail therapy in its 200 shops, or sample the finest cuisine in 90+ restaurants and bars.
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3. Lace Up in Plaster Rock
No other country celebrates its love of hockey and winter like Canada. In the tiny town of Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, that love is taken one-step further with the World Pond Hockey Championships. From Feb. 14-17, 2019, you’ll find 20 (or more) pond rinks lovingly crafted atop the icy surface of Roulston Lake. Competitors from Canada, the United States and Great Britain skate and stickhandle amidst this magical setting of untouched forest and gently falling snowflakes. Hockey purists flock to this annual event to rediscover the simple joys of Canada’s cherished sport.
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4. Go Ice Walking in Banff
Want to try a Canadian Signature Experience? The Canadian Tourism Commission selected Discover Banff Tours’ Johnston Canyon IceWalk as a quintessential Canuck activity—and who are we to argue? Don your warmest parka, and sturdy ice-cleats to begin your guided journey inside the ice-coated canyon. As you marvel at the ice formations around you, your hosts will share exciting tales of long-gone fortune hunters and fearless adventurers. And if you’re lucky, you might spot a furry companion or two—the area is home to wolves, coyotes and moose.
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5. Mush in Saskatchewan
For a true frontier experience, enjoy a breathtaking journey through the Canadian wild by dog sled. Saskatchewan’s Sundogs Sled Excursions lets you ride along on a trip of a lifetime. Each winter from late November to mid-March, Sundogs takes visitors deep into the beautiful and pristine environs of Anglin Lake—Canada’s boreal forest—by dog sled. Learn how to team up with your canine companions to mush and navigate Saskatchewan’s snowy trails. Sundogs offers a host of amazing activities including puppy camps, half or full day excursions, and overnight camping.
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6. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth in Nova Scotia
You can’t get more Canadian than maple syrup, and Sugar Moon Farm in Nova Scotia has tasty fun in store for you! Learn all about the art of maple syrup—and sample the yummy results. Only 90 minutes from Halifax, Sugar Moon Farm offers warm hospitality along with their sugar camp tours, all-day brunch, maple-tasting experiences and hiking trails. Foodies will be thrilled to partake in Sugar Moon’s Chef Nights when the Maritime’s finest chefs create exquisite dinners for a hungry and appreciative audience.
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7. Strap on a Pair of Snowshoes in Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island’s Brookvale Winter Activity Park is your one-stop shop for traditional Canadian fun. Conveniently located just 19 km west of Charlottetown, Brookvale embraces the joy associated with quality time outdoors during the snowy season. Unleash your inner sports enthusiast with snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country and alpine skiing. You can even give biathlon a shot. Half or full day tickets, season passes and equipment rentals are available at the park.
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8. Go Skiing in Charlevoix
Welcome to one of Québec’s best-kept secrets. If you’re looking for jaw-dropping scenery and the highest vertical east of the Canadian Rockies, Le Massif de Charlevoix is your dream winter destination. Only 75 kilometres from Québec City, Le Massif de Charlevoix offers its visitors an innovative experience rich in culture, adventure and beauty. Skiers—both alpine and cross-country—share the mountain with energetic snowboarders, but if your style is more après-ski, treat yourself to the best in Charlevoix gastronomical delights in your choice of casual or formal settings.
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9. Chill Out in Quebec City
For more than 60 years, Québec’s world famous Winter Carnival has been one of Canada’s must-visit winter destinations. With evening parades, snow tubing, skating, snow rafting, outdoor BBQs, ice sliding, snow sculpture competitions and dance parties, there’s something for every taste and age. And be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the fete’s main man—Bonhomme Carnaval—Québec’s beloved snowman and Carnival ambassador.
10. Try Snow Tubing in Edmonton
If traditional tobogganing leaves you cold, dive into the latest hillside craze—snow tubing! Located on Edmonton’s eastern edge within the Strathcona Science Park, the Sunridge Ski Area is home to the province’s only tube park. From December onwards, Sunridge becomes snow tubing central with its invigorating hill chutes and dedicated tubing lift that gets you back up the hill so you’re ready for your next sliding adventure. Safety helmets and specialized snow tubes can be rented at the park. Sunridge is family friendly, but children must be at least seven years of age to participate.
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11. Toast the Winter with Ice Wine in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario is not only famous for its gorgeous scenery, but also for its award-winning ice wines. Locals and tourists can honour the region’s celebrated libations at the annual Niagara Icewine Festival. Wine lovers can indulge in vineyard tastings with the Discovery Pass—your ticket to a medley of food and wine pairings over three consecutive January weekends.
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12. Prowl for Owls in Windsor
Point Pelee National Park, the most southerly point of mainland Canada, is popular with birdwatchers, butterfly chasers, and outdoor enthusiasts, but winter brings its own starlit magic. Designated a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, stargazing programs run each month with the park open until midnight. Winter programs including the popular Owl Prowl and you can drive to the tip of the park to see ice formations and migrating birds.
Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express Windsor Waterfront
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13. Pull an All-Nighter Exploring Montreal’s Nuit Blanche
Montréal en Lumière is one of the world’s largest winter festivals and attracts over one million visitors each year. The highlight of the fest is Nuit Blanche, the most popular single-day event in Montréal (which speaks volumes in a city that hosts world famous jazz and comedy festivals each summer). Hundreds of thousands pull an all-nighter exploring free cultural, musical, culinary, and sports-oriented activities that run from 6 p.m. through 6 a.m.
Where to stay: InterContinental Montreal
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14. Lay Beneath the “Santiago El Grande” in Fredericton
When the weather is too chilly to explore the outdoors, look no further than the Beaverbrook Galley for a warm escape that won’t disappoint. Here, the visitors are encouraged to lie on the floor beneath one of the world’s most incredible paintings, Salvador Dali’s “Santiago El Grande,” which was intended to surround and overwhelm the senses.
Where to stay: Crowne Plaza Fredericton-Lord Beaverbrook
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15. Get Underground in Canmore
Here’s the thing about caves: it doesn’t matter how cold it gets outside, the temperature is always constant. Canmore’s Rat’s Nest Cave stays at five degrees Celsius, a cool but manageable temperature for a winter subterranean adventure. Sign up for a tour and you’ll discover stunning cave formations, rocky passages and even ancient bones.
Where to stay: Holiday Inn Canmore
16. Enjoy the Eagles in Victoria
In an estuary that flows through Goldstream Provincial Park, a record number of spawned-out salmon waste away in the stream while hundreds of magnificent Bald Eagles arrive from all over the continent to feast. From early December to late January, the eagles help themselves at low tide, creating the perfect opportunity to see these magnificent birds of prey in action. Catch one of the free interpretive programs, a slide show or talk at the Nature House, and bring along a pair of binoculars.
Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Victoria – Colwood
17. Go Biking in Mont Tremblant
Cycle over fresh powder on a “fat bike,” a mountain bike with comically large tires designed to be ridden over snowy terrain. It’s a perfectly exhilarating and unusual way to experience the slopes and nature of Mont Tremblant in Quebec. Plus, it’s a fun way to stay active this winter.
Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tremblant
18. Snowshoe the Myra Canyon Trestles in Kelowna
Built by hand at the turn of the 20th century, the 18 trestle bridges and two tunnels that snake along Myra Canyon are a bucket list winter adventure. Hike or snowshoe along the flat former railway that overlooks Kelowna and the Okanagan Lake 3,000 feet below. It’s a 12-kilometre stretch from Myra Station to Ruth Station, or you can take it easy, breathe in the fresh forest air, and turn back for a glass of fine local wine whenever you wish.
Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kelowna – East
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