The best winter destinations for people who don’t ski or snowboard

girl blanket winter spa Photo by Tomas Kulaja/Shutterstock

In the depths of winter, booking a holiday package to a tropical locale can be an obvious go-to—particularly if you don’t ski or snowboard.

But before your book your flights and stock up on sunscreen, why not consider taking advantage of the snowy season? Here are six vacation ideas that will have you embracing winter.

 Tofino, British Columbia

Oh, the weather outside is frightful. And that’s exactly why folks travel to Vancouver Island in the winter. Even though you’re unlikely to see snow, Tofino’s location makes for some massive winter storms, where waves can reach heights up to 20 feet and rain can fall sideways. Storm watchers can bunker down to view the action from the warmth of resorts along the coast or national park visitor centres. Then again, if you’re feeling brave enough, you can even try winter surfing.

Kananaskis, Alberta

Think the Rocky Mountains are only for skiers in the wintertime? Think again. In February 2018, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa will open the doors to its 50,000 square foot facility. Taking a cue from Scandinavian spas that are already popular throughout Ontario and Quebec, the spa will feature five outdoor pools, saunas and steam cabins, and a saltwater float pool. Granted, you’ll still be spending a healthy chunk of your time outside, but at least you can do so in the comfort of a heated outdoor hammock.

Edmonton, Alberta

If you want to get your adrenaline flowing without doing any actual physical activity, then head to Edmonton. In March, the city will once again play host to the Red Bull Crashed Ice event. Billed as the “biggest, baddest street party around,” spectators will gather to watched daredevils reach speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour on a downhill ice track filled with obstacles and jumps.

Toronto, Ontario

If Toronto isn’t already one of the first cities that comes to mind when you think of Canada’s hottest culinary destinations, then Winterlicious will change that—all without breaking the bank. The annual even, running from January 26 to February 8, 2018, is an opportunity to try out the Big Smoke’s best fare. Around 200 restaurants will have three-course prix fixe menus, and unique cooking and dining experiences—from high tea at Casa Loma to a historical culinary tour of the Distillery District—are also on-offer.

Winnipeg, Manitoba

If you’re wondering why anyone would think of going to Manitoba in the middle of winter—much less than suggest it—we have a one-word answer: RAW. The event brings together top chefs from across Canada and from as far away as Iceland for a pop-up dining experience in a custom-designed space.

If you’re not a foodie though, there are still plenty of reasons to brave the cold. At the Forks, visitors can try out one of the world’s longest skating trails. Every year, the city also plays host to Festival du Voyageur, Western Canada’s biggest winter festival.

Ottawa, Ontario

Ottawa is already a known winter destination, with visitors coming in droves during Winterlude to eat hot beaver tails and skate along the Rideau Canal.  However, if you want to get away from the crowds, Gatineau National Park—located just over the border in Quebec—doesn’t disappoint. Strap on your snowshoes and check out one of the park’s winter hiking trails.

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