Winter can seem like it drags on forever, especially once you’ve run through the list of indoor activities and skated at all the best rinks in your city. There is only one thing left to do: embrace the cold.
Hear. Us. Out. Turns out, there are so many fun things to do that will actually make you appreciate winter. So the next time you’re actually considering spending another day cooped up under your duvet binge watching The Crown for the fourth time, look to this list of the best winter activities across Canada — and get the heck out there.
From heli-skiing in the foothills of British Columbia to dog sledding in the Yukon and zip lining over snow-topped peaks in Newfoundland and Labrador, we can guarantee you’ll be winter enthusiasts in no time.
Best Winter Activities in Yukon
See the glaciers from the sky
Find it: 40 Lodestar Ln., Kluane Glacier Air Tours, Whitehorse, kluaneglacierairtours.com
The low-down: For an aerial experience unlike any other, hop on a little plane and fly over the snow-topped glaciers and jagged peaks of the Haines Junction. Spot wildlife, snap tons of snowy pics and soak in the unbelievable views during this gravity-defying venture.
Tip: To go all out, book the two-hour Logan Super Tour, which flies you over Kluane National Park and Mount Logan, two of the most breathtaking spots in the Yukon.
When: All season
Fees: $250 to $480 per person, depending on the tour
Soak in the Aurora Borealis
Find it: Westmark Whitehorse Hotel (pick-up location), Arctic Range Adventure, Whitehorse, arcticrange.com
The low-down: For once in your life, you won’t regret staying up late for this killer view. Watch gorgeous waves of green light moving across the Yukon’s horizon (a.k.a. the Aurora Borealis) light up the night sky during this four-hour tour. A must for any Canadian’s winter bucket list.
Tip: The best time to view the Aurora Borealis is between September to March, so plan your trip accordingly.
When: January to Mid-April
Fees: $129 per person
Go dog sledding
Find it: 195 Fish Lake Rd., Into The Wild Adventures, Whitehorse, intothewildadventures.ca
The low-down: When we think of the Territories, dog sledding is one of the first activities that come to mind. I mean, how can you resist a winter excursion with a litter of adorable dogs? You’ll learn all the basics before you head out, drive your own team of three to six dogs and spend time with them after. Also, Into The Wild puts the well-being of their dogs first, keeping them in large, free-range pens and giving them a happy retirement when they’re sledding says are over. Count us in!
Tip: You can do either a full or half day trip (or customize your own trip), which takes you over frozen lakes, up mountains and along mining roads.
Fees: $185 per person for a half day tour, $295 per person for a full day tour
Best Winter Activities in Northwest Territories
Travel along the ice roads
Find it: Various locations across the territory, spectacularnwt.com
The low-down: During the depths of winter in the Northwest Territories, the frozen lakes get so thick that they are totally safe for cars and trucks to drive on. So you know what that means: winter road trip on the ice roads. It’s a super-cool sight looking down and seeing a glassy surface beneath your car.
Tip: The best route for seeing the ice roads is driving from Great Slave Lake to Yellowknife and Dettah
When: January to March
Go cross-country skiing
Find it: Various locations across the territory spectacularnwt.com
The low-down: Cross-country skiing is one of the Territories’ go-to sports because there are so many flat groomed trails across the region. If you’re looking to get your ski on but there are no downhill slopes in sight, this alternative is the perfect option, especially because ski clubs are bustling with enthusiasts who can help get you started.
Tip: The Yellowknife Ski Club and the Inuvik Ski Club are two of our fave spots to hit the trails.
When: October to June
Fees: Starting at $20 per person, per day for equipment rental
Try your hand at kite skiing
Find it: Great Slave Lake, spectacularnwt.com
The low-down: Think of it like a snow-proof version of kite surfing. If it works on water, it can totes work on snow avec skiis. Great Slave Lake is a hotspot for kite skiing, as high winds come rushing over the area to help you glide along the surface at lightening speed.
Tip: You can either fly a full-sized foil kite or a 4-line power kite (which is smaller), depending on your comfort level. Plus, lessons are offered for both.
When: All season
Fees: Varies depending on the equipment and lessons, click here for details
Best Winter Activities in Nunavut
Discover Floe Edge
Find it: Coral Harbour, Sanikiluaq and Hall Beach, nunavuttourism.ca
The low-down: Floe Edge is a fascinating, natural process when large chunks of ice float to the edge of the shore and you get this beautiful juxtaposition of frozen and thawed ocean during the springtime.
Tip: The closer to the spring you can go, the better. You’ll hit the floe edge jackpot if you plan your trip from late March to early May.
When: Early March to June (the ones listed above are all open in March, just at the tail end of the winter season)
Fees: Varies depending on the tour and the company (ie. Inns North offers a tour off of Hall Beach for $125 by dog sled or $100 by snow machine)
ATV across the ice
Find it: Various locations across the territory, destinationnunavut.ca
The low-down: If you’re looking to trade your snowshoes, skiis or dog sled in for something a bit quicker, hop on an ATV or a power toboggan, as they say in Nunavut. Zoom across the ice for an exhilarating and efficient way to get around the vast territory.
Tip: Lots of touring companies offer excursions via ATV. A guide can help give you better knowledge of the area’s wildlife, landscape and ecosystem, so click here to plan your perfect outing.
When: All season
Fees: Varies depending on the tour and the company
Best Winter Activities in British Columbia
Go winter surfing
Find it: Chesterman Beach North, Tofino, gotofino.com
The low-down: With the winter weather comes incredible surf, bringing in gigantic waves and less crowds than you would normally get during the warmer months. This popular beach is just as breathtaking from January to March, with large white caps dotting the surface of the water as the waves roll in. The only downside to the gorg views and killer surf? Wind, rain and cold water. Advanced surfers only.
Tip: If you’re down to tackle the winter waves, a 5 to 6 mm thick wetsuit, neoprene hood and waterproof gloves and booties are a must.
When: All season
Hit the slopes heli-skiing
Find it: 4280 Mountain Square #104, Whistler, whistlerheliskiing.com
The low-down: For an OTT skiing experience (in the best way possible), treat yourself to this luxurious Nordic-inspired experience: heli-skiing. Instead of waiting in those looong chair lift lines, take the glam way up via helicopter. Slalom down untouched terrain and soak in the breathtaking views of the jagged Whistler Mountain as you fly above the peaks to your next skiing destination.
Tip: Each helicopter seats about five to 10 people, so it is the perf activity to bring your whole crew along if you’re looking to upgrade your skiing game.
When: December 5, 2017 to April 15, 2018
Fees: $1,020 to $1,540 per person
Find it: Cedar Seeps, Golden, tourismgolden.com
The low-down: To take your winter adventures to new heights (pun v. intended), test your upper body strength with ice climbing. Golden, B.C. is a hotspot for this sport because tons of ice formations grow on the side of the Rockies each year, making for a challenging, yet exhilarating way to spend the day.
Tip: If it’s your first time, we recommend the one-day intro to ice climbing lesson from a mountain guide to help set you up with gear and proper technique, plus they’ll show you the best spots to ice climb.
When: All season
Fees: Free for admission, $550 for ice climbing lessons and equipment
Race down a bobsleigh track
Find it: 4910 Glacier Ln, Whistler Sliding Centre, Whistler, whistlersportlegacies.com
The low-down: Calling all adrenaline junkies! If you’ve always wanted to try bobsledding, now’s your chance. The Whistler Sliding Centre (which hosted the skeleton, bobsleigh and luge events at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver) offers a thrilling ride where you race down the ice track at over 125 km/hr in a four-person bobsleigh.
Tip: Make sure to bring something to tie your hair back and wear slim-fitting winter gear, so you’ll be safe and secure as you slide.
When: December 15, 2017 to April 1, 2018
Fees: $179 per person
Take the sea to sky gondola
Find it: 36800 BC-99, Squamish, seatoskygondola.com
The low-down: Taking the scenic 10-minute sea to sky gondola ride is arguably one of the most iconic winter activities in the country. And for a good reason. Offering panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the rolling hills of Howe Sound, you’ll be stunned by the sights as you climb to the top.
Tip: Once you get to the summit, spend the afternoon walking over the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge and stop for a bevvie at the Summit Restaurant and Edge Bar boasting gorgeous ocean and mountain views.
Fees: $39.95 to $41.95 per person
Best Winter Activities in Alberta
Go on an ice walk
Find it: Bow Valley Pkwy, Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park, Banff banfftours.com
The low-down: Travel by foot through Johnston Canyon and gaze at the frozen waterfalls nestled in between the rocks. There are plenty of steel catwalks built through the canyon, so it’s easy to trek along for the guided tour.
Tip: This might seem obvious, but be sure to dress warmly, wear proper winter boots and bring a backpack with all of your winter essentials (lip balm, water, snacks, etc.) as you’ll be walking for over 5 km in sub-zero temps.
When: November to April
Fees: $74 per person
Take a dip in the hot springs
Find it: 1 Mountain Ave., Banff Upper Hot Springs, Banff, hotsprings.ca
The low-down: If your ideal winter activity involves soaking in luxe hot springs while you enjoy the views of Banff’s snow-topped peaks (same), we can guarantee you’ll be here all season long. The hot springs are located 5,200 ft above ground and they are made entirely from natural mineral water (bonus: it’s so good for your skin). There is a reason this cold temp activity is on our winter bucket list.
Tip: Pack your own bathing suit, towel and lock for your dip in the springs. Don’t fret if you forget — they have rentals on site that are on the cheap.
When: January 7, 2018 to May 17, 2018
Fees: $7.30 per person, per day, $140 per person for an annual pass
Go hut-to-hut skiing
Find it: 200 – 50 Lincoln Park, Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, Canmore, yamnuska.com
The low-down: For the ultimate backcountry experience, go on a multi-day ski venture travelling hut to hut (quaint alpine huts stationed along the route), stopping at some of Western Canada’s most gorgeous natural sights along the way. It is a physically challenging course, so it’s recommended for seasoned cross-country skiers.
Tip: We recommend the Wapta Traverse, a four-day trek through the Canadian Rockies which takes you over the Wapta Icefields, around gravity-defying glaciers and through snowy canyons.
When: February 17, 2018 to April 22, 2018
Fees: Starting at $1,145 per person, plus extra for food and gear
View the Abraham Lake ice bubbles
Find it: Abraham Lake, pursuitadventures.com
The low-down: The Abraham Lake ice bubbles are legit proof of Mother Nature’s natural beauty. Under a sheet of glassy ice, methane bubbles form in the frozen reservoir which makes for a once-in-a-lifetime view. Be sure to snap a picture (you’ll thank us later).
Tip: The best time to see the ice bubbles is around mid-January to early February so be sure to plan your trip then (the lake gets cloudy later in the winter). Also, the ice conditions can be unpredictable, so it’s recommended not to walk on it in for your own safety.
When: Mid-December to March
Fees: Free for admission
Best Winter Activities in Saskatchewan
Go ice fishing
Find it: Various locations across the province, like Anglin Lake, Lake Diefenbaker, Last Mountain Lake, Tobin Lake and more, tourismsaskatchewan.com
The low-down: Just because the lakes are frozen doesn’t mean you have to put your fishing trips on hold. One of the province’s most iconic winter activities is ice fishing, where you set up shop (bring a chair, snacks, drinks and lots of warm clothes—you could be there a while) and take the plunge by dropping a line through an opening in the ice.
Tip: Before you dip your line in the frozen lake, you will need an angler’s license if you plan on taking the fish home, but there is a free fishing weekend on February 17 to 19, 2018 for those without a license.
When: December to late March/early April
View local wildlife
Find it: Various trails across the province, tourismsaskatchewan.com
The low-down: There are so many critters crawling around Saskatchewan, but you have to know where to go to spot the little cuties or else you’ll be standing in the snow for what seems like forever. From burrowing owls, elk, moose, beavers and white-tailed deer, you’ll have so many photo-ops that will look dreamy against a snowy background.
Tip: With so many wildlife viewing spots to choose from, it can be v. overwhelming. Elk Ridge Resort (Hwy 264, Waskesiu Lake) is a great option if you’re looking for a weekend getaway that involves viewing wildlife right in the resorts’s hiking paths.
When: All season
Hop on a snowmobile
Find it: Various trails across the province, sasksnow.com
The low-down: For a thrilling winter adventure that will get you around twice as fast as trekking through the snow on foot, hop on a snowmobile. There are plenty of rustic, tree-topped trails around the province, so you can check each one of your list to make winter a bit more bearable.
Tip: Don’t have a snowmobile? Don’t fret, you can rent one for the day.
When: All season
Fees: $200 per person, per day for snowmobile rentals
Best Winter Activities in Manitoba
Get an adrenaline rush from snow tubing
Find it: 600 Caron Rd., Adrenaline Adventures, Headingley, adrenalinemb.com
The low-down: Get a rush from flying down some specialty snow tubing lanes at Adrenaline Adventures. Perfect for all ages (it’ll please the adults, the kids and the kids at heart), this exhilarating activity doubles as a memorable outing with your whole family.
Tip: They have a special towrope built so you can legit sit on the inner tube and not have to walk up the hill (#score).
When: All season
Fees: $11.99 per person for an hour, $18.99 per person for the whole day
Play a game of crokicurl
Find it: 125 Fort Gibraltar Trail, The Forks, Winnipeg, theforks.com
The low-down: This brand new winter game, which is unique to Winnipeg, is back for the second year in a row. This group game combines the board game crokinole with curling for a one-of-a-kind, interactive activity. There are a few rules, so make sure you review them here before you hit the arena.
Tip: Plan a trip to The Forks from February 9 to 11, 2018 for the crokicurl debut weekend and tournament.
When: All season
Sightsee polar bears during a Winter Northern Safari
Find it: Great White Bear Tours, Churchill, greatwhitebeartours.com
The low-down: If you’re looking for an early winter escape (we’re talking in the late fall), fly to Churchill to get up close and personal with polar bears. This all-day excursion takes you on a Polar Rover to the tundra where you can witness the furry creatures in their natural habitat.
Tip: For photography enthusiasts, book the Tundra Lodge Photography Expedition, which is a nine-day trip that offers tons of photo-ops of the polar bears.
When: October and November
Fees: $472.50 per person, per day
Visit the ice castles
Find it: Winnipeg, icecastles.com
The low-down: These breathtaking ice castles are made entirely out of 12,500 tonnes of ice (nbd). Walk through the different ice formations and watch the castles light up when the sun goes down. It’s a truly magical site and we’re pretty sure Elsa from Frozen would approve.
Tip: Stay into the evening on Friday and Saturday to see a Fire Show that will be sure to bring the heat (see what we did there?)
When: January 5, 2018 to until the weather permits (around March), closed on Tuesdays
Fees: $12.95 to $20 per person, depending on the day of the week
Best Winter Activities in Ontario
Watch an ice race
Find it: 1979 Speedway Rd., Capital City Speedway, Ottawa, mco.org
The low-down: This Ontario sport, which is over 40 years old, is a quintessential activity in the motorcar industry. Speciality cars race around the snow-topped tracks, which makes for a thrilling winter sport to watch that isn’t hockey.
Tip: There are plenty of races happening all winter long, so see the full schedule here
When: January to March
Tour a winery on snowshoes
Find it: 496350 Grey County Rd. 2, Georgian Hills Vineyards, Clarksburg, georgianhillsvineyards.com
The low-down: The only thing that makes winter bearable? When wine is involved! Tour the Georgian Hills Vineyards by snowshoe as you learn how the wine is made, walk through the vineyard and, of course, sample some.
Tip: Grab your wine-obsessed friends and go on the Winter Wonderland Tour, which includes three different stops at a winery, cider house and brewery, a delicious lunch and snowshoes.
When: All season from Sunday to Thursday
Fees: $75 to $135 per person, depending on the tour
Ride the Ridge Runner Coaster
Find it: 108 Jozo Weider Blvd., The Blue Mountains, bluemountain.ca
The low-down: If you don’t want to go down the mountain on skiis or a snowboard, hop on the Ridge Runner Coaster, which is a heartracing rollercoaster that lets you ride by yourself or with another person in individual carts.
Tip: You can control your own speed with a handle bar on the side of the cart, so you can go up to 42 km/hr.
When: December 22, 2017 to March 19, 2018
Fees: $16 per person, per ride
Snowshoe over the suspension bridge
Find it: 260 Scenic Caves Rd., The Blue Mountains, sceniccaves.com
The low-down: This suspension bridge in Collingwood is Southern Ontario’s longest at 130 m. Make a day of it and snowshoe over the bridge to enjoy views of the Blue Mountains’ rolling hills.
Tip: Interested in having your suspension bridge trek once the sun sets? Contact them for details about a guided night snowshoe hike with headlamps.
When: December to March
Fees: $15 to $20 per person for a full day, $15 per person for a half day, $16 per person for snowshoe rentals, $36 per person for tour and rentals on the weekends, $255 per person for a season pass
Best Winter Activities in Quebec
Find it: 455 QC-138, Le Massif de Charlevoix, Petite-Rivière-Saint-François, lemassif.com
The low-down: Rodeling is basically a fancy word for sledding down a ski hill. It originates in Europe and is unique to Le Massif. For those who don’t ski or snowboard but still want to feel the rush of flying down a run, hop on a sled and luge down their specialized 8 km course.
Tip: You’ll need to bring your own helmet and goggles/sunglasses to be able to participate.
When: December 22, 2017 to April 15, 2018
Fees: $39.95 per person
Ride a centuries-old toboggan slide
Find it: 42 Delorme, Terrasse Dufferin Slides, Quebec City, au1884.ca
The low-down: Boasting killer views of Quebec City, this historic slide, built in 1884, is a heart racing ride that is a must while you’re in the area. The slide can go up to 70 km/hr, which gives you an adrenaline rush like no other.
Tip: Plan your trip between January 26, 2018 and February 11, 2018 to catch the Carnival at the Dufferin Terrace. From ice skating to maple taffy stations and igloos, you’ll want to stick around the area long after you slide down the toboggan run.
When: Mid-December to Mid-March
Fees: $3 per person, per slide
Stay overnight at an ice hotel
Find it: 1860 Boulevard Valcartier, Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, hoteldeglace-canada.com
The low-down: This famous piece of architecture is made entirely out of snow and ice and the turquoise glass doors, arched white rooftops and charming lamp posts make this spot a gem in the Quebec countryside.
Tip: For a unique Valentine’s Day getaway or anniversary trip, book the Romantic Getaway, which includes a night in one of their ice suites (complete with a fireplace) and a snow-proof sleeping bag, plus rosé and access to hot tubs and saunas for a relaxing winter vacay.
When: January 4, 2018 until March 25, 2018
Fees: $219 to $499.50 per night, depending on the type of room
Sample Old Montreal’s winter comfort food
Find it: Old Montreal, localmontrealtours.com
The low-down: When there’s food involved, we will happily trek through winter weather, no matter how harsh the conditions. Take a culinary walking tour through Old Montreal to sample some of the area’s most delectable eats. From Montreal-style bagels topped with smoked salmon at Crew Café (which just so happens to be one of the most Instagram-worthy coffee shops in Canada) to Portuguese-style poutine at Taberna and a classic Quebecois dessert, “pouding chômeur”, at Soupe Soup, it’s safe to say we’re already drooling.
Tip: For those with dietary restrictions, there are plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options available, so you won’t miss out on all of the delish food.
When: Year-round from Monday to Saturday
Fees: $64 per person
Unwind at Scandinave Spa
Find it: 4280 Montée Ryan, Mont-Tremblant, scandinave.com
The low-down: This rustic, Nordic-inspired outdoor spa uses the snow-topped hills of Tremblant as a luxurious backdrop for primping and pampering. The winter is the most beautiful time to visit because you can take a dip in the hot and cold baths in a literal winter wonderland.
Tip: If you want to hit the slopes at Mont Tremblant during the day and then spend the evening massaging away all of your sore muscles, they have a ski and spa package for $109 per person. That’s an après ski activity we can get behind.
Fees: $60 per person for the baths, $150 to $260 for baths and massages
Best Winter Activities in New Brunswick
Test your winter survival skills
Find it: 7612 Route 385, Nepisiguit Adventures, Mount Carleton Provincial Park, Saint-Quentin, tourismnewbrunswick.ca
The low-down: For extremists looking to test their strength, sign up for a winter survival night where you learn the basics of thriving in the colder temps if you so happen to get stranded. From proper cooking techniques, to starting a fire and building your own shelter, this course could potentially save your life if you’re an adventure seeker.
Tip: This survival training excursion is not for the faint of heart, so you can decide between sleeping in a self-made snow cave or heated log cabin. The choice is yours, survivor.
When: January 2, 2018 to March 31, 2018
Fees: $190 per person