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top 5 winter getaways for metro vancouver families

One of our family goals for the new year is to spend more time together making lasting memories. And what better way to make a memory than a fantastic winter getaway with the entire family? We’ve gathered 5 winter-themed getaways that are just a hop, skip, and jump away from Metro Vancouver, so you spend less time in the car fielding “are we there yet” questions and more time having fun!

Whistler

winter family getaway whistler
image courtesy of whistlerblackcomb.com

It would hardly be a winter getaway round up without listing our favourite local-ish mountain, Whistler Blackcomb – the ideal family trip. With dedicated family zones and children’s on-mountain play, everyone has a chance to have a great time. Beyond the fun on the mountain, which there is an abundance of, you will find weekly entertainment, an outdoor skating rink and tube park, fantastic food, and world-class accommodations. Enroll the whole family in Snow School or just the kids in an adventure camp so they can have fun while the parents take on the black diamonds.

We love this video of the top 10 tips for a family winter getaway in Whistler. It’s got us itching for a trip up the Sea-to-Sky for some family fun!

Tofino

family winter getaways
image courtesy of tourismtofino.com

For an a-typical winter getaway, visit Tofino on Vancouver Island for storm watching. The winter months are prime storm watching time and you get the bonus of visiting the surf-town in a shoulder season, which can mean some fantastic deals on accommodations. After a fun ferry ride over to the island (kids seriously love the ferry), a cross-island journey (make sure you stop in Coombs!) brings you to the western edge of British Columbia. Be prepared for some pretty spectacular sites, Tofino gets about a dozen winter storms each year, add that to the 5 metres of annual rain fall makes for some serious winter weather. Find beach side accommodations for the best chance at viewing a winter storm from the comfort and safety of your room. Remember, winter storms are beautiful but unpredictable, so take care and be on alert if you venture down to the beach, especially with the kiddos. Storm season in Tofino typically runs from November until the end of February.

For more family getaway research, here is a great round up of family-friendly resorts, experiences, and restaurants written by a local Tofino dad of two.

Mount Washington

family winter getaway
image courtesy of skicanada.org

Mount Washington is one of the most stunning mountain settings in North America. It’s a site to behold, the beautiful Pacific Ocean on one side, the picturesque Strathcona Park on the other, and an amazing 11+ meters of annual snowfall. Mount Washington boasts Canada’s deepest pile, no small feat in the Great White North! The whole family can enjoy swishing down the mountain together or heading out to the snow tube park. Plan a family snow school lesson to brush up on your skills and make sure the littlest ones in the pack know the rules of the mountain. Head to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island via the Horseshoe Bay ferry and then head up island, for a lovely coastal drive. Get out and stretch your legs at Qualicum Beach, a quaint little community packed with small-town charm. Try the French Press Café for a warm cup of coffee; we hear their house-made baked goods are particularly delicious!

Manning Park

family winter getaways
image courtesy of manningpark.com

For a great family winter getaway and a fantastic place to rest and recharge, visit Manning Park. With fun family activities like snow tubing, snowshoeing, tobogganing, and ice-skating on an outdoor rink, there is no shortage of things to do in this winter wonderland. But once you arrive at Manning Park, you’ll notice a few things – with limited cell service and wifi access, you will truly have the opportunity to unplug. Embrace the opportunity to get away from the habit of checking emails and Facebook every few minutes. Instead, you may find yourself engaging in a rousing game of cards or take along some colouring books for the entire family (colouring isn’t just for kids any longer). Hop in the car and head east via Highway 1 and the Crowsnest. Make sure you check driving conditions and have your car properly outfitted with snow tires and an emergency kit.

Sun Peaks

family winter getaways
image courtesy of sunpeaksresort.com

Sun Peaks has a pretty great philosophy; the key to holiday happiness is keeping the entire family amused. So they have packed their resort and mountain with tons of awesome family-friendly activities! So when a day on the slopes isn’t enough to tucker out your kids, try the skating rink, bungee trampoline, or tube park. Or if the kiddos need a break from the mountain but the parents still want to hit the slopes, send the kids off to the Sundance Kids Centre a great child-minding program that will have kids exploring and having fun indoors and outdoors with unique and fun-filled adventures. And since Sun Peaks knows kids can be a bit… particular when it comes to food, they have listed all their best, kid-friendly restaurants so you can plan everything, down to the last hot dog, before you leave. Head east on Highway 1 and north on the Coquihalla. You’ll find this fantastic family-friendly getaway 45 minutes north of Kamloops.

Stay Safe

A few winter driving tips before you head out:

  • always check road conditions before leaving home
  • make sure you have snow tires: it’s the law, depending on where your travels take you
  • leave a detailed itinerary with a friend or family member and remember to check in with them once you arrive at your destination
  • make sure your car is equipped with a spare tire, first aid kit, food, water, blankets, warm boots and clothes, Drive BC has a great list of must-haves to build a car emergency kit.

Heading out on a family winter getaway is a sure-fire way to start 2016 off right – together with family, making wonderful, lasting memories.

By: Michelle Hughes

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