When it comes to winter getaways, it is fair to say we, here in Western Canada, have hit the jackpot. With the Rockies by our side, we can ski to our heart’s content, enjoy any of the many other winter sports available, or just drive through a winter wonderland right in our very own backyard. All of this and we don’t even have to board a plane.
Some of the best places in the world to ski are right here in Alberta and British Columbia, and it would be insane if we didn’t take full advantage of this luxury. Among them, Whistler Blackcomb is rated one of the best and biggest areas for skiing, standing its ground next to some of the greatest resorts in places like Switzerland and France.
Whistler, which is north of Vancouver, is about a 12-hour drive from Edmonton. This might seem like a far drive, but keep in mind that most of the driving is done through scenic mountain highways. With a view like that the time is sure to pass quickly, so don’t let the drive deter you. Check road conditions ahead of time and keep a safety kit in the car in case of breakdowns or storms.
November and December before Christmas are great times to hit up Whistler because it is early in the season and therefore quieter (and less expensive). Costs can be cut further if you split the travel costs by driving with a few friends. Ski season at Whistler begins Nov. 28 and lift tickets can be purchased starting at $112 per day in the first week and accommodations start as low as $125 a night for a standard hotel room. Pangea Pod Hotel is also a unique option for the area. At Pangea, instead of getting a full room, you rent a bed pod — a bed-sized capsule in a large space with many others— starting at $52 per night. Here you will have to share some common areas and bathrooms, but they do have an area to store your ski equipment. Of course, we can’t forget the short-term home rental option.
Whether you go through whistler.com or airbnb.ca, you will have far more flexibility and lower prices if you can share it with a few friends. Going this route also gives you the option of cooking your own food and saving a bundle on dining out.
If skiing isn’t your thing but you still want to tag along with your ski enthusiast friends, fret not. Whistler has excitement for everyone. It has spas and amazing dining experiences, and you can go on a shopping spree or check out the local art scene. If you’re looking for more excitement, you can go to the tube park, go for a sleigh ride, go winter zip-lining, and plenty more. Play in this beautiful snowy playground or sit around drinking hot cocoa, either way, you’re bound to have a blast and the mountain landscapes are sure to bring out your inner zen.
If you feel that Whistler might be too far a trek, then check out all the amazing ski resorts closer to home. According to an article on theculturetrip.com places like Big White Ski Resort in the Okanagan and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden are in their top 10 for Western Canada and are far closer to Edmonton. If you love tubing, then Big White might be the place for you, as it has one of the biggest tube parks in North America. Of course, let’s not forget another favourite, Fernie, B.C., which was named the coolest town in North America by Rolling Stone magazine.
No matter your choice, there is plenty of winter fun to be had and with the right group of friends, it can be done on a budget. The cold crisp air of a Canadian winter might be just what the doctor ordered, after all, who doesn’t need to let off some steam after exam season?
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