Winter is flying by and the spring semester is right around the corner. Before you find your way back into the classroom, why not take a little winter getaway? If you can’t get away with friends, or family, or your partner, or alone (!) before the semester starts, these ideas also make great weekend trips you can do anytime when you’re out of classes. Here’s the top 4 wintery destinations you can do right here in Canada:
1. See the northern lights
What’s more wintery than seeing those green lights dance across the sky? Wintertime makes for good northern light viewing because the sun sets earlier, making the night sky darker and dark for longer, giving you a bigger chance at seeing the lights. Take a trip to Yellowknife to see what some say are the best of the best northern lights. Peak viewing there is between August and April. Plan your trip between March 1-26 and you can also check out the SnowKing Winter Festival and see some giant snow castles be built. Other highlights on a Yellowknife winter getaway? Learn about the history and culture of the local First Nation of the area or visit the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center.
2. Skate along a trail
When you think wintertime activities, one of the first things that comes to mind is ice skating, right? You may have ice skated in a rink or on a pond, but have you ever skated along a trail? Trails give the sense of getting somewhere, let you see some scenery, and don’t just feel like you’re going in a little circle for hours. While there are multiple skating trails around the Toronto area (check local parks), the Bentway Trail is a popular one. It’s a 220 metre, figure 8 style trail that is open until February 20 from 5-9pm on weekdays and 12-9pm on weekends and holidays. What’s better? From now to the end of the season, there is free hot chocolate on Mondays and free skate rentals on Fridays!
3. Visit an ice hotel
Be surrounded by ice in North America’s only ice castle, Quebec’s Hotel de Glace. The hotel opened for the season on January 4 and continues opening more suites through about January 16, when they will be fully built…or frozen. Not interested in sleeping a night surrounded in ice? They offer tours from 10am to midnight for $24.99 for adults. Be sure to check out the chapel, the ice bar, the ice workshop, and the grand ice slide. If you are spending the night, read their preparation guide before you go so you’re prepared for the cold!
4. Attend Whistler Pride and Ski Festival
Wanting a trip more party-ish, less ice-ish? How about a festival! Whistler’s Pride and Ski Festival runs from January 22-29 and offers all kinds of events from indoor pool parties, comedy nights, dance parties, Après skis and more. Individual events start at $15, making for some totally affordable fun. If you need more reason to head west for a winter getaway, there’s tons to do in Vancouver. Head out for some shopping on Robson Street. Or if you want a more naturesque adventure, visit the VanDusen Botanical Gardens (open 10am – 3pm in the winter) or the Bloedel Conservatory (open 10am – 4pm in the winter). If both sound fun, you can totally see both in a day. They are about a 10 minute walk from each other.