FEATURE: PHOTO BY SILVER STAR RESORT
Vancouver is perfectly situated for weekend getaways and as Family Day is fast approaching, we thought we’d give you a few ideas for winter escapes that you may not have considered before. We’ve left out the glorious local mountains and Whistler not because they aren’t worth a visit, but because plenty of ink has already been spilled on their magnificence!
…from nearest to farthest.
For us, driving or walking aboard a BC Ferry immediately signals an escape. As the city fades behind the ship’s stern, you can feel the stress of city life fade away. Bowen Island offers Vancouverites the perfect little excursion. Only 20 minutes from West Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay terminal), this is easily done as a day trip. As the boat docks and you disembark, you enter the cute little community of Snug Cove dotted by restaurants, cafés, grocery and liquor stores alongside a number of historic buildings and even a library. If you plan to stretch out your stay, This is where you could spend a night or two. Try the Lodge at the Old Dorm B&B or any number of Airbnb options on the island.
Travel time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours or so, depending on how early you arrive at the ferry. Check schedules here.
Harrison Hot Springs
What better way to enjoy winter and family than soaking in therapeutic, mineral hot springs with your brood, right? The Harrison Hot Springs Resort, 90 minutes due east of Vancouver, is the key attraction featuring five beautiful mineral hot pools and a variety of lodging including suites, cottages and poolside guest rooms making for the perfect weekend get-a-way. The outdoor pools wind through landscaped resort grounds making for a magical experience as the steam rises up through the crisp winter air. For the more adventurous, there are also wild hot springs nearby – further up the Lillooet River Valley. Maintained by BC Parks, these two springs are 40 degrees C and 62 degrees C respectively. For details on the hot springs themselves, check out the Tourism Harrison website.
And once you’ve towelled off, there are some lovely nearby hikes to further energize the troops. Family bonding will never feel so good!
Travel time: 1 1/2 hours or so
No need to travel to Munich for a taste of Bavaria! Nestled in the Cascade Mountains of Central Washington, Leavenworth is a cute, non-kitschy replica of a Bavarian village. The streets are lined with Alpine-styled buildings with restaurants serving German beer and food.
If you are an active family, there are 2 first class ski areas only 50 km away in either direction – Mission Ridge and Stevens Pass, with a daily shuttle running up to Stevens from Leavenworth. There are also abundant Nordic skiing and snow shoe options nearby as well.
If you don’t make it out for Family Day, consider visiting during the US Thanksgiving weekend when their German Christmas Market comes alive featuring beautiful lights, live entertainment, food vendors, and local merchants selling their wares. It is also worth noting that the journey is as spectacular as the destination winding through some of the best scenery Washington state has to offer.
Travel time: 4 hours, not including border lineups. Check road conditions and make sure you have the right tires.
No self-respecting Canadian getaway list would be complete without at least one mention of a ski destination. For us, Silver Star Ski Resort is the perfect family-friendly destination. The colourful village is delightful and includes a skating rink and nearby tubing area. Most accommodation options are walking distance to the town centre and the lifts which is ideal. You brave the roads to reach the resort but, once there, your vehicle can stay parked. The mountain offers a wide range of options for beginners and experts alike and some of the best snow in BC. Located just a half an hour east of Vernon, it will take you 5 hours to get here.
Travel time: 5 hours or so. road conditions. Check road conditions and make sure you have the right tires.