Canada’s definitely been having a moment these days—maybe it’s got something to do with the exquisite mountain ranges, the world-class cities, or their title as Lonely Planet’s best country to travel to in 2017. And since travel across the border is easier than ever (hello passport card!), now is the perfect time to escape to the land that does winter best. Check out our top seven picks for unique cool-weather happenings you’ll only find up in the true North.
Take a Voyageur Quest in Algonquin Provincial Park.
For the adventurous and intrepid, trek on out to Ontario’s beautiful wilderness and enjoy backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing in Algonquin Provincial Park. We recommend bringing a few pairs of wool socks! And when you’re done, you’re invited to warm up by a roaring fire at the Algonquin Log Cabin. Go ahead and kick back—you earned it.
Enjoy dinner on ice in Winnipeg.
You’ve heard of walking on water—now get ready to dine on water. RAW:almond in Winnipeg is a pop-up seasonal spot, with plates curated from chefs across Canada. Guests sit at a long communal table—meant to inspire good conversation and a cozy, casual atmosphere—and are served a series of five mouth-watering courses. And yes, the restaurant sits on the frozen Red River, right in the heart of the city at The Forks National Historic Site. No ice skates required.
Chill out at North America’s largest outdoor spa.
Take some time for self-care in Ottawa and dip into one of Nordik Spa-Nature’s seven outdoor baths, eight unique saunas, or the panoramic pool. The spa uses an ancient relaxation technique that alternates between hot and cold, helping guests feel recharged and renewed. Located just 10 minutes from downtown, enjoy the healing powers of the baths as you watch your breath curl into the chilly air.
Dip into fondue at the top of a mountain.
For those of you who prefer your cheese at high altitudes, or for those who just need a new perspective on the whole fondue experience, enjoy some melty goodness at 6000 feet in Whistler. Journey to the charming Crystal Hut perched atop Blackcomb Mountain at the award-winning ski resort, and wine and dine with panoramic views of the Coast Mountains.
Surf the winter waves on the West Coast.
Canadians looking to escape during the holidays don’t always fly to Mexico; they often head to Tofino, located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. While it might seem crazy to go surfing in the Pacific in the middle of the winter, there are fewer tourists than in the summer and you can easily rent a wetsuit to keep you warm. At night, retire to your waterfront accommodation and storm watch into the early evening.
Sip icewine at the edge of a waterfall.
Well, almost. Every January, wine aficionados and amateurs alike are invited to the Niagara region of Ontario to celebrate one of Canada’s most cherished products: Icewine. This unique beverage is made locally using grapes that have naturally frozen on the vine. Sip on a glass as you stroll through the festival’s outdoor winter wonderland and or grab a spot beside one of the fire pits and enjoy the event’s vibrant atmosphere. If you have time during the weekend, escape to Horseshoe Falls to view the most powerful waterfall in North America, a 30-minute drive from the festival.
Skate along the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink.
Practice those Lutzes and hockey stops on nearly five miles of unadulterated frozen bliss at The Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa. The rink runs through the heart of the city, the nation’s capital, and is also home to seasonal events such as Winterlude and the 37th annual Accora Village Bed Race, where costumed teams race huge decorated beds across the frozen ice—no napping please!
For more information, happenings, accommodations, and uniquely Canadian experiences, check out Destination Canada’s website here.
This post is brought to you by Destination Canada.