Three Must-Visit Canadian Spots for Skiing, Snowboarding, and Savings

DECEMBER 20, 2016
Candyce H. Stapen @familyitrips
Columns, Lifestyle, Travel, Canada, Quebec, Montreal, Skiing, Snowboarding, Vacation, Trip, Winter, Snow
Image Credit: Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort

It’s time to head north for the winter! Skiing and snowboarding vacations are invigorating, challenging, and lots of fun—but can come with a downside: hefty prices. That’s why heading to Canada this winter makes mountains of sense. Not only is there likely to be lots of snow, but the prices are a bargain compared to US rates, thanks to the favorable exchange rate of $1 US dollar yielding $1.34 Canadian at posting. Consider carving tracks and catching air at Whistler Blackcomb, Sunshine, and Mont Tremblant and get about one-third more for your money.

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1.  Whistler Blackcomb, Whistler
Whistler Blackcomb, two mountains joined by a gondola, is situated 75 miles north of Vancouver. It rates as North America’s largest ski resort with 8,171 acres. The mega-resort offers varied terrain, kid-friendliness, good instruction, and a lively pedestrian village.

Classes and Mountain Fun Parks
Children as young as 2.5 years can learn to ski and snowboard in private lessons with their parents. At the Snow School, kids 3 to 4, 5 to 6, and 7 to 12 years learn skiing and ages 4 to 6 and 7 to 12 can tackle snowboarding. Slow-skiing family zones make practice fun and the not-too-difficult features at the Nintendo Big Easy Terrain Park plus family certified snowboarding routes aid grommets. With Park Freeride, advanced boarders ages 10 to 12 tear up the mountain, tackling terrain parks, half-pipes, and runs in a group with a one-to-three ratio. Advanced skiers, including teens and adults, can perfect techniques with a private ski or snowboard lesson taught by a former Olympian.

Après Ski
Stroll the pedestrian village, go tubing, ride snowmobiles, glide on a zip line, and watch the free Sunday evening Fire and Ice show, a spectacle of Snow School pros jumping through a ring of fire.

2.  Sunshine Ski Resort, Banff National Park
One of three ski resorts within Banff National Park, Sunshine Ski Resort, has one of the longest ski seasons in Canada—stretching from November to late May. Sunshine combines easy access to the town of Banff, a 20-minute drive away, with snow sports on three mountains that have a combined 3,358 acres of skiable terrain. Last year, Sunshine debuted the TeePee Town XL chairlift, the first in Canada with heated seats. Delirium Drive tests the skill of even seasoned experts, so beware. Along with Ski Banff and Lake Louise, Sunshine is part of SkiBig3; that means you can purchase a lift ticket that gets access to slopes at all three resorts.

Classes and Mountain Fun Parks
At Kids Kampus, children 6 to 12 years learn and perfect their skiing and snowboarding. Young mountain enthusiasts ages 3 to 6 years combine skiing and playing at the tiny Tigers Ski and Play Program. The morning and afternoon programs each feature two hours of instruction. Ages 13 and older can opt for private skiing or snowboarding lessons. At select times, Sunshine offers three consecutive days of Kids Kampus and a teen program. Rogers and Grizzly terrain parks tempt snowboarders.

Après Ski
In the Banff area, try ice climbing, mountain biking in the snow, and even dogsledding.

3.  Mont Tremblant, Mont-Tremblant
Mont Tremblant comes with a family-friendly pedestrian village, good instruction, varied terrain on four mountains, plus many après ski possibilities. Located about 80 miles north of Montreal in predominantly French-speaking Québec Province, Mont Tremblant has bilingual instructors.

Classes and Mountain Fun Parks
Kids as young as 3 years receive an introduction to skiing as well as snowboarding at Tremblant Snow School. Grommets ages 3 to 6 enrolled in classes get exclusive access to Burton Riglet Park, a snowboarding park for young beginners. The school also has ski and boarding classes for kids 5 to 12 years. Students 12 and under receive a Flaik GPS armband that tracks their location and tallies up their distance, speed, and vertical feet covered. Group lessons are available for ages 13 and older. Geared to kids, the easy to navigate Tam-Tam Trail uses cutouts of deer, bear, and other animals to deliver safe skiing tips and entices youngsters with a tree house, footbridges, and a slide. Three terrain parks offer 30 acres of banked turns, ramps, and jumps.

Après Ski
Go winter mountain biking, snowmobiling, dog-sledding, ice climbing, and ice-fishing. Adults can try their luck at Mont-Tremblant Casino.


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