Ski resorts aren’t just for skiers and snowboarders. As they continue to expand their indoor and outdoor offerings, Canadian resorts have become the perfect spot for a friends’ vacation or multi-generational getaway – even if not everyone is comfortable on the slopes. Here are five ideas to get your planning started.
1. Ice fishing
With an expert showing you the ropes, no experience is needed to try your hand at catching freshwater fish through holes drilled in the ice – just be sure to don your warmest winter gear. At Sun Peaks in the B.C. interior, guide Campbell will take your group of up to four guests to one of several nearby lakes to enjoy the spectacular scenery while luring local rainbow trout to your hook – and then to your frying pan. Door-to-door transportation is included, and a heated tent is set up (and hot drinks provided) to fight the often frigid temps. At Quebec’s Mont-Tremblant, you’ll have a similar experience – though the catch-and-release policy means dinner reservations are in order.
If you can walk, you can snowshoe, and numerous resorts across the country are setting up both guided and self-guided routes plus gear rentals to entice guests to try this low-impact sport. At Quebec’s Mont-Blanc, for example, eight trails covering more than 11 kilometres wind through the mountains and woods, with options for every level, be it an easy half-kilometre jaunt with the kids or a steeper and longer loop. And at Lake Louise, Alberta, guided snowshoe tours give participants access to breathtaking Rockies viewpoints, with themes like winter wildlife and the starry night sky.
3. Sleigh rides
For those who prefer to sit back and let someone else do the work, a horse-drawn sleigh ride is a romantic option. At Ontario’s Blue Mountain, guides take you along the top of the mountain at Valley Ridge Farm, with blankets and warm drinks on hand to keep you toasty. At Silver Star in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, the horses pull right up to the edge of the village to pick you up for a ride through the woods to the Wild Horseman’s Cabin, where depending on your choice of tour, you can enjoy a hot cocoa or apple cider and treat from the bakery, or a barbecue buffet dinner.
4. Canyon exploration
Leave the ice climbing to the experts – you can get up close and personal with icy mountain canyons with a lot less effort and skill. Quebec’s Mont-Sainte-Anne, for instance, offers a thrilling yet beginner-friendly ice canyoning experience that involves rappelling – that is, lowering yourself on a rope – down a 41-metre stretch of the Jean-Larose Falls. In Jasper, the walk is more horizontal but you’ll still need grippy cleats (provided to all participants) to walk along the icy Maligne Canyon floor and investigate ice caves, fossils, the entrance to a cave system, and 30-metre waterfalls extending high above.
5. The spa
Whether or not your muscles are tired and sore from shredding sweet powder, a mountain spa experience is an essential way to relax and unwind. At Panorama in the Kootenays region of southeastern B.C., you don’t have far to go – the Panorama Springs Pools, accessible to the resort’s guests, are slopeside and even include waterslides for the kids. Or for an adults-only outing, visit Scandinave Spa in Whistler (with sister locations at Mont-Tremblant and Blue Mountain) to sample its hydrotherapy offerings, rotating through hot (saunas, steam rooms and hot tubs), cold (Nordic waterfalls and plunge pools) and relaxation (hammocks and Muskoka chairs) for a calming yet invigorating experience.