Ironically, one of the things I love most about living in Revelstoke is how quickly and easily I can leave town to spend a night or a weekend somewhere else. In every direction, a quick road trip will land you somewhere equally as impressive and exciting: head west and you’re houseboating on the Shuswap before your coffee is cold; go south and you’re having lunch at a vineyard in the Okanagan; drive east and you’re a couple of podcasts away from beautiful Golden. A road trip to Golden is always a treat, but it’s particularly spectacular if you can swing it during the winter months.
Winter welcomes you! Photo: Andy Brown
Let me start by saying that I’m a skier, so I will always recommend spending a day exploring Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and/or ski touring through Rogers Pass. There’s more to this area than getting up and getting down in the mountains, however. Golden is a tucked-away little gem and it’s worth getting off the highway for a day or two, regardless of whether or not you shred, huck or drop.
Being a mountain town, there are options a-plenty when it comes to cozy chalets and cabins. Lush Mountain Accommodations is a great place to start, as they offer a wide variety of rooms, condos and vacations home to suit groups of any size and budget. Individually owned and uniquely decorated, the rentals are picture-perfect each in their own way, and I can’t stress enough how much you will appreciate soaking in a private hot tub before bed amidst snow-capped timbers and waking to the sun peaking above the ridge in a quiet alpine setting. It’s the stuff of movies and daydreams.
Cheers to Lush Mountain Accommodations! Photo: Agathe Bernard Photography
Eating in Golden is probably my runner-up for favourite things to do in this underrated piece of paradise. Even when I’m just passing through town, I make sure I’m hungry. Bacchus Books & Café is my go-to spot for lunch: it’s a bookstore (new and used) with a small café upstairs serving fresh smoothies, incredible coffee and a variety of daily soups and sandwich specials, all of which you can sip and eat at small tables between the stacks of trashy paperbacks and buried treasures. The other hotspot for lunch (or brunch) is the Whitetooth Mountain Bistro right downtown. The atmosphere is casual and comfortable, but the food is a step above. Case in point: their butternut squash veggie burger. I’m drooling just writing about it.
At the risk of sounding bossy, please allow me to forbid you from spending a night in Golden without eating dinner at Cedar House. It has awards and recommendations from just about everyone who gives awards and recommendations, and for good reason. The food is primarily local, always fresh and prepared in a beautiful open-concept atmosphere so you can watch Red Seal Chef Corey Fraser work his magic one decadent dish at a time. While I’m telling you what to do, I may as well strongly suggest you order the salmon. On a more casual scale, and perhaps a bit more family friendly, is The Island, a log cabin on the river that serves a massive variety of appies and entrées, from Asian-inspired dishes to pizza and burgers. They have space for large groups and can usually accommodate walk-ins, so if you’re travelling en masse, it’s a safe, tasty bet!
To fill in the gaps between snacking and soaking and sipping and sleeping, Golden is bursting with activities for all levels of enthusiasm. At some point, in some way, getting outside is a must. Dawn Mountain is home to the Golden Nordic Ski Club and a sizeable network of trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. You can rent gear, buy day passes and even take lessons, though only one of the trails is dog friendly, and it’s quite short, so I learned the hard way that it’s best to walk the pup along the river or on one of the mountain bike trails that criss-cross the woods below the ski hill. March is a big month for nordic skiing in Golden, with two really cool events: a yoga and cross country skiing retreat March 3-6th and, at the opposite end of the experience spectrum, the BaconBeiner, an endurance race which sees competitors eat a handful of bacon between laps of a 5-km (3.1-mi) course over 2-6 hours! The other outdoor adventure I can’t recommend highly enough is dog sledding. Golden Dog Sled Adventures offers half- and full-day tours, as well as moonlight rides, weather permitting. Owner Matt’s smaller-than-you’d-expect Alaskan huskies are friendly and all sorts of adorable. It’s a must-do for anyone with even the slightest interest in having fun.
Cruising with Golden Dog Sled Adventures. Photo: Brooke Willson
If the weather is less than ideal for outdoor adventure, there is Dogtooth Climbing Gym. The indoor facility is great for families and, if any of the locals are there getting pumped, it’s an impressive show for the sideline observer. The gym has different hours depending on the day, but it’s generally open evenings (except Friday) and afternoons on weekends only. Golden also has a local hockey team, the Rockets, and their games at the Golden Arena are a real treat to watch. They usually play on a Friday or Saturday night, so a weekend trip to Golden is a great time to catch the team in action.
Whether you hit the slopes or stick close to the valley, a weekend in Golden is sure to make the highlight reel as a winter road trip destination. For more information, visit their website: http://www.tourismgolden.com.