10 best Canadian winter travel destinations for non-skiers

Where do you go if you want a winter vacation, but don't love to ski? We've got 10 great winter destinations that are full of adventure for the non-skier.

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10 best Canadian winter travel destinations for non-skiers
©iStockphoto.com/Maridav
1. Whistler, British Columbia: So much more than skiing
Yes, the ski capital of Canada is quickly becoming the go-to-spot for non-skiers as well. Many of the resorts, such as the Four Seasons Whistler, offer non-ski activities that run the gamut. They include everything from dog sledding, ice climbing, ice-skating and snow cat tours, to snowmobiling, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, winter fishing and bald eagle viewing. 


Get your rush: Consider the thrill of zip lining (up to 100  kilometres per hour) 600 feet above the forest floor in the British Columbia's backcountry. Contact Super Fly Ziplines for more information.  

2. La Mauricie National Park, Quebec: Rough it in the bush in an Otentik

An Otentik is a cross between a rustic cabin and a tent, offering outdoorsy adventure with the comforts of home. It's the ideal type of accommodation while visiting La Mauricie National Park. You and your family can enjoy cozy nights, while your daytimes are busy with Nordic walking, winter hiking and snowshoeing adventures along Rivière à la Pêche. 



Festival time:
Consider visiting La Mauricie National Park in time for the Défis due Parc Nordique, a three-day festival where runners, snowshoers and cross-country skiers compete.

3. Cambridge, Ontario: Creature comforts for everyone

Food lovers will love a winter-time stay at Langdon Hall, a Relais & Chateaux property that was voted best hotel in Canada for three consecutive years by Conde Nast Traveller. Not only is it an excellent inn, Langdon Hall also offers popular gourmet getaway weekends. Plus, there are 12 kilometres of woodland trails right on the property. Guests can also arrange archery lessons and spa treatments, as desired.

Great day trip idea: Spend a day touring the nearby Mennonite countryside followed by a trip to must-visit St. Jacob's Market.


4. Peterborough  and the Kawarthas, Ontario: The winter wonderland

The Kawarthas, just east of Toronto, comes alive with the arrival of cold weather. Ice-fishing, snow-shoeing, polar plunges, skating on canals, winter hiking and pond hockey are popular and accessible activities for everyone in the family.


If you're visiting for the weekend – or a week: One of the best, and homiest, resorts in the area is Elmhirst Resort in Keene, Ontario. The resort, on the shores of Rice Lake, operates its own farm on the property. Ask about their Couch Potato Package.


5. Lake Louise, Alberta: Enjoy a cold cocktail and a breathtaking scene

Lake Louise needs no introduction for folks seeking winter sports. For the non-skiers, there's ice-fishing, snowshoeing, skating, dogsledding, horseback riding and so much more.


Take time out to chill in the Deer Lodge:  For something a little different, Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts operates a beautifully sculpted, illuminated ice-lounge on the patio at the Deer Lodge, just minutes outside Lake Louise. Snuggle into a sheepskin fur thrown across an ice bench, by candles lined atop counters made of ice. Top off your experience with a Maple Manhattan, Grizzly Nail or a Thirsty Bear cocktail. 



6. Montreal, Quebec: Fill up on the food, and frolic in the snow

Our favourite French-Canadian city has plenty of outdoorsy daytime pursuits within city limits, such as ice-skating on Parc La Fontaine or on top of Mont Royal, where you can also toboggan, join a snowman-building competition, and cross-country ski. Contact the cool urban tour company, Fitz & Follwell. Co., if you'd like to strap on shoe shoes for a guided tour of the wooded hills on Mont Royal.



When you get peckish: Old Montreal is a standard restaurant area, but consider timing your winter visit to coincide with Montreal en Lumiere, a culinary festival that runs through February and March.


7. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Celebrate the ice

At the heart of downtown Winnipeg, the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, when frozen over, form one long skating rink called the Red River Mutual Trail. In fact, the ice path holds the Guinness World Record for the longest naturally frozen skating trail, stretching for almost six kilometres. One is apt to see ice-skaters, hockey players, broomball games, as well as impromptu curling competitions. 


Winter dining at its best: Topping the list of seasonal eateries is RAW: Almond, a pop-up restaurant at the fork of the Assiniboine and Red. Diners in parkas, caps and snow boots sit down on ice-sculpted furniture to enjoy top-rated food.

8. Gatineau National Park, Quebec:
Hit the hiking trails

This national park, just minutes from downtown Ottawa, offers great winter hiking and snow-shoeing adventures. The SugarBush Trail and Lauriault Trail in Gatineau National Park are relatively easy for beginner to intermediate hikers. Time it right and you can take a guided hike to identify the tracks of a snowshoe hare. Plus, outdoor enthusiasts can warm up in the visitor centre if needed. 

Also make time for skating on the Rideau Canal. Foodies can sign up for a hands-on culinary class at Le Cordon Bleu in downtown Ottawa.

9. Lake Superior, Ontario: Snowshoe on the shorelines of a Great Lake


Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area has long been known to the Nishinabek people as Gitchi Gumme or "The Big Lake." Ardent outdoorsy folks can spend a day ice-fishing, snowshoeing, ice-climbing, dogsledding, winter hiking, snowmobiling, sledding and wildlife viewing.

 Also on your list: consider winter camping in Pukaskwa National Park of Canada.  
 
10. Mactaquac Provincial Park, New Brunswick: Have fun tobogganing

A few days in Mactaquac Provincial Park in New Brunswick is a bonafide return to childhood. The park is also popular for snowmobilers who take advantage of the thousands and thousands of kilometres of scenic trails.



If you need to warm up: When you've had enough of the cold, bundle the kids into the car and head to Kingswood's Family Entertainment Centre in Fredericton. It's a 7,432 square-metre facility offering 30-candle-pin bowling, laser tag, a seven-metre high playclimber and more energy-burning diversions.

If you're a slope lover, check out these 10 Canadian ski destinations


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