Things To Do
BC’s Coolest Ski Towns
The case for skiing north of the border, written by an American
It’s easy to stoke the fire (a.k.a. work up an appetite) while carving tracks on British Columbia terrain. And when skiers and boarders wrap a day’s play, they reward themselves with everything from family festivities to toast-worthy treats. Here are some of the best ways to soak up BC’s après atmosphere.
Activity suited for all ages is a tall order, and British Columbia delivers.
In Whistler, après activity is an outdoor affair. Set in the Whistler Olympic Plaza, select evenings in the winter months feature Family Après, with everything from live entertainment and snowman-building competitions, to storytelling and tobogganing. Tip: check with a Village Host, as offerings change week to week.
At Sun Peaks Resort, Moonlight Snowshoe & S’mores tours explore the winter landscape overlooking the village, a sight illuminated by shimmering lights. The one-kilometre (0.6-mile) trek through the forest ends next to a campfire with freshly made, ooey-gooey treats and hot apple cider.
Big White Ski Resort’s Happy Valley Adventure Park is home to a 18-metre (60-foot) Ice Climbing Tower, geared for everyone from beginners to advanced ice pickers. To take it up a notch, book a twilight snowmobiling tour, and finish the evening with hot chocolate and marshmallows toasted over a bonfire.
A hop, skip, and a schuss further north, SilverStar Mountain Resort offers the ultimate all-in-one experience with My1Pass. A flash of the pass guarantees all-inclusive lift tickets, plus sliding fun at the tube park, spins on the outdoor mountain pond, and snowshoe and cross-country treks through forests of fir. If you still have steam, look beyond pass inclusions, and opt for mini snowmobile rides, sleigh rides, dinner tours, and friendly competition at the only ski-in/ski-out bowling alley on the planet.
At Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, near Golden, families hit the newly redesigned Tube Zone. Head to the top, via the Jelly Bean surface lift, and hold on for a shriek-worthy downhill glide. Further south in Fernie, cool kids cruise on the snow in an entirely different way, thanks to mammoth-wheeled fat bikes. What’s in store? A low-gear ride easily mastered by first-timers and seasoned cyclists alike.
Die-hard skiers and snowboarders drawn to deep powder at Whitewater Ski Resort find nearby Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort alluring. First discovered by the Ktunaxa First Nation, Ainsworth’s healing, mineral-rich water—both in the pool and in the resort’s unique cave—is ideal for working out the kinks.
Some don’t-miss winter activities are as Canadian as beavers and maple syrup.
Gear up at Sun Peaks Resort, where après-ski activities include twirls on the resort’s NHL-sized outdoor skating rink. Public skating is standard fare, but so too are the drop-in hockey sessions that fine-tune skills.
Head to Apex, where you can lace up the skates on another NHL-sized hockey rink, a snowball’s throw from the village. For a change of scenery, bundle up for a glide along the resort’s skating loop, a one-kilometre (0.6-mile) stretch ablaze with white Christmas lights. The Zamboni-maintained pathway assures a smooth ride.
Curling? Check. Hockey? For sure. Revelstoke has you covered, thanks to Drop-in Curling every Friday night for just $5, courtesy of the Revelstoke Curling Club. If you want to cheer with beer, watch small-town Junior B hockey at its best at a Revelstoke Grizzlies home game.
In Kimberley, it’s tough to beat the serenity of the slopes during a snowshoe crunch. The Mountain Descent will get you there; a ride on the North Star Express to the front side of the mountain follows a winding, interpretive route back to the village base. Your reward: a homemade snack served with hot chocolate.
Dining at BC’s ski resorts doesn’t have to be just the standard fare.
On Whistler Mountain, post-ski indulgences are elevated. Steeps Grill & Wine Bar sets the scene for its Winemaker Après Series, featuring stellar reds and whites paired with local menus.
At Sun Peaks, the Fondue Dinner and Evening Descent combines outdoor adventure with culinary indulgence. A trip up the Sunburst Express chairlift to the Sunburst Mid Mountain Restaurant finishes with fondue backed by live music. Post-meal, take a headlamp cruise down 5 Mile, a ski run set aglow by lanterns.
Bacon and eggs? Big White’s Brunch Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride will satisfy early-morning cravings. Should you prefer an evening sleigh ride, Dinner & Sleigh Bells will transport you to a cabin in the woods for a chicken-and-ribs feast, courtesy of the Kettle Valley Steakhouse chefs.
Families work up an appetite at SilverStar Mountain Resort, thanks to a host of winter dinner tours. On offer: cross-country ski, or a snowcat or snowmobile journey to Paradise Camp. Or you can snuggle under a blanket on a horse-drawn sleigh ride enroute to the Wild Horseman’s Cabin. Both destinations await mid-mountain, where you’ll raise your glass to local delicacies.
Kimberley Alpine Resort’s Kootenay Fondue promises a sweet reward. Here, the North Star Express will drop you at the top of the mountain; a gentle 30-minute snowshoe tour makes tracks to Kootenay House, where a decadent chocolate fondue awaits.
Panorama’s Rollercoaster run, the cabin serves up a Swiss raclette-style meal, where you’ll melt a cornucopia of cheese, and cook vegetables and meat on your own personal grill. It’s a tasty (albeit messy) indulgence that is amplified when served with local BC wines and craft beer.
Atop Panorama Mountain, the Summit Hut satisfies hungry crews with heli-fondue experiences. Helicopter to Panorama’s peak for a traditional cheese-and-chocolate menu, paired with BC vintages. At meal’s end, diners clip in for a scenic ski down to the village or return to the base by helicopter, bellies full.
Sometimes you need more than the heat of a bonfire to warm your fingers and toes. Where to start? Dance in your boots at the Garibaldi Lift Co. at Whistler Mountain’s base, line up a ski shot at Merlin’s Bar at neighbouring Blackcomb Mountain, or sip a Caesar, the ultimate Canadian après beverage, at Dusty’s Bar & BBQ in Creekside.
At Big White’s Moose Lounge, in BC’s Thompson Okanagan, live music, local menus, and libations come with free crafts and popcorn for the little ones. Nearby, bigger kids and coffee aficionados take it up a notch at the Gunbarrel Grill, where the resort’s famed Gunbarrel Coffee is on spirited display. Flaming Grand Marnier is poured down the double barrel of an unloaded shotgun straight into a waiting mug for cowboy coffee with a kick, y’all.
For a change of scenery, head south to Apex Mountain Resort. In the heart of the village, the resort’s famed Gunbarrel Saloon serves up nibbles alongside local craft beers and seasonal favourites, including its own version of a Grand Marnier Gunbarrel coffee—sure to thaw even hardcore skiers and boarders.
Further northeast, at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, locally brewed Begbie beer draws fans to the Mackenzie Common Tavern at the village base. Don’t like beer? Order an Ugly Sweater, the tavern’s signature cocktail. If the night’s still young, keep the party going at the Village Idiot Bar & Grill, a convivial ski-town watering hole known for its tasty menus and boisterous atmosphere.
Panorama Mountain Resort’s family-owned and -operated Earl Grey Lodgepromises a new addition this season: the Smokehouse Cabin. An extension of Grey Restaurant, the cabin welcomes skiers and boarders for après treats, including smoked Canadian meats, along with vegetarian and gluten-free favourites.
Further southeast, the mood is chill at Fernie’s Lizard Creek Lodge. Here, the Ice Bar showcases Stoli vodka alongside vodkas from across the globe in a sub-zero tasting room, where enthusiasts, clad in Helly Hansen goose-down parkas, join the hotel’s resident vodka expert to sample the goods.
Listen to live music and order a pint of Rossland Beer Company’s finest at Rafter’s Lounge at RED Mountain Resort, in Rossland, further east. Nearby, in downtown Rossland, the Flying Steamshovel pairs local brews with friendly rivalry, be it a game of pool or a spirited round of Neglin, a traditional German game where participants furiously pound nails into a solid stump of wood.
Skip the competitive vibe and head to the cultural city of Nelson, where post-Whitewater après activity includes live jazz at the historic Library Lounge in the Hume Hotel. Established in 1898, the Hume is an excellent meeting place to shake off the winter chill, and enjoy a hearty meal at day’s end.
On Vancouver Island, locals meet and greet at Mount Washington Alpine Resort’s Ted’s Bar + Grill. A family favourite by day, the grill transforms when the sun sets, with brews, signature cocktails, and local pub fare backed by live entertainment.
Featured image: Panorama Mountain Photo: Zoya Lynch
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