Snow travel isn’t just for the enjoyment of skiers and snowboarders. Heading to the slopes is the perfect opportunity to indulge in some snow-fuelled winter adventures and cozy up in cute alpine towns. Grab your cross country skis, pack your ice cleats, put on your thickest pair of mittens and meet us in the mountains.
Whistler Cross Country Skiing
Whistler, B.C., a scenic 90-minute drive from downtown Vancouver, has long been considered one of the world’s best ski resorts for alpine and backcountry skiing. Yet, what you might not know is Whistler cross country skiing is also epic with 80 miles of diverse terrain, and trails for beginners and experts in and around Whistler Olympic Park home of the 2010 winter games. Note: the best weather for cross country skiing is below freezing so the snow stays dry and powdery, so you’ll want to rug up. These ski jackets are warm enough for the trails and super stylish for exploring chalet-style downtown Whistler. That said, we love the Lost Lake Park trails that begin and end in town for apres ski action.
Where to Stay in Whistler: A short shuttle ride from town will transport you to Four Seasons Resort Whistler and the untamed Canadian Rockies. The contemporary luxury hotel is sophisticated in a way that celebrates its surrounding natural beauty, guest rooms feature a gas fireplace, large balcony, and warm neutral tones. Don’t miss the onsite fine dining steakhouse, Sidecut where you can dine in an igloo under the stars. We’re kind of obsessed with romantic outdoor dining right now and being in the mountains makes this one feel extra special. We also recommend Nita Lake Lodge and Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Dog Sledding in Vermont
One of the oldest and most exhilarating ways to travel through snowy terrain is on the back of a dog sled. People in Scandinavia, Canada, and northern parts of the United States have been using dog sleds as a way of transportation for decades. As travelers continue to seek out interactive experiences dog sledding in Vermont has seen a burst in popularity. In Stowe, Vermont you can choose from lots of different tour options ranging from multi-day trips where you’ll learn to command your own sled to short guided rides led by an experienced musher. Whatever adventure you choose you’ll love zipping through the forest, across frozen lakes, and over mountain ranges behind a beautiful pack. As with any animal-related tourism make sure you choose ethical operators.
Where to Stay in Stowe: Floor-to-ceiling windows, stone fireplaces, and sweeping mountain views are the first thing you’ll notice at The Lodge at Spruce Peak. The rooms are luxurious with thick cozy robes, soaking tubs, and gorgeous mountain views. Solstice the on-site restaurant serves farm-to-table New England favorites like bone-in pork chop with swiss chard and locally produced cheese boards. In Stowe, we also recommend Field Guide Lodge and Topnotch Resort
Winter Hiking in Banff National Park
Banff is one of the few mountainous snow travel destinations where skiing takes a back seat to the glory of hiking amid snow-capped mountains. Within a few miles of town, there are incredible winter hiking trails for all skill levels. For beginners looking to experience a summit check out Tunnel Mountain, for stunning views of the town and Bow River. A short drive outside of town brings you to one of the best hiking trails in Banff, Johnston Canyon, an easy 3-mile trail with two sets of falls and metal catwalks fixed along canyon walls. In the winter the falls are frozen solid and on many days you’ll see ice climbers making their way up (if you’re feeling adventurous book an ice climbing tour of your own). The trails get icy so we recommend adding a pair of mico spikes to your packing list. While you’re in Banff you can also visit Lake Lousie, or take the 4-hour drive to Jasper National Park along Icefields Parkway one of the most scenic drives in Canada. While the iconic blue lakes along the way lose much of their color when frozen they become gorgeous outdoor skating rinks, magical in their own right.
Where to Stay in Banff: Within walking distance of the Banff Gondola and the Upper Hot Springs is Rimrock Resort Hotel a 9 story property on the side of Sulphur Mountain. The elegant mountain lodge has spacious rooms highlighted by panoramic views over the Bow Valley. There are two on-site dining options, our favorite being Eden a high-end French eatery offering five uniquely indulgent tasting menus. We also recommend the Fairmont Banff Springs and Glacier View Lodge
Marvel at the Lapland Northern Lights
Any must-do winter adventure list must include chasing the Northern Lights. Watching the sky light up in a vibrant combination of greens, yellows, purples, and reds is a can’t miss once-in-a-lifetime experience. There are great places to see the Northern Lights in North America however the extreme remoteness and beauty of Lapland, Finland adds another layer to this winter adventure (plus you can also visit Santa’s Village). You can of course take tours to see the lights but many of the hotels have created rooms and immersive experiences that allow you to witness the Northern Lights from the comfort of your cozy bed.
Where to Stay in Finland: Deep into the wilderness, Arctic Fox is located along the beautiful Lake Ranuanjärvi. The remote property features glass igloos with unobstructed views of the night sky and even an in-room private sauna. The main igloo serves as the hotel’s onsite restaurant.
Where to Stay in Sweden: In Swedish Lapland, stay at Arctic Bath, a floating hotel and spa on the Lule River. Each of the 12 guest rooms is designed using natural sustainable materials including wood, leather, and stone. Head to the onsite spa for a Swedish Massage, open-air bath, or the region’s most popular treatment the sauna cold bath combination. The on-site restaurant is an extension of the spa’s holistic approach to wellness serving northern cuisine with a modern twist focused on local ingredients.