Popular Canadian winter travel destinations are seeing impressive demand
As many Canadians approach the February long weekend, named Family Day in many provinces, demand data from Expedia Group’s Vrbo and Expedia sites shows that Canadians definitely want to take advantage of domestic travel opportunities.
These are the most popular destinations for the long weekend based on demand on the vacation rental site Vrbo:
Sun Peaks, B.C.
The Blue Mountains, Ont.
Many of these destinations are seeing a significant increase in interest over the last two years. Demand for Canmore, Alta., has increased by 45 per cent over the last two year, demand for Sun Peaks, B.C., has increased by 60 per cent over the last two year and demand for Tofino, B.C., has increased by an impressive 75 per cent.
A major theme is that many of these destinations are specifically close to ski slopes.
“There is so much pent up demand for travel as the year starts with our first long weekend for many,” the information from Expedia Group reads.
Data from Expedia also shows that domestic travel is leading the way for Canadians travelling this long weekend.
The most popular destinations for the long weekend, based on Expedia lodging demand, are:
Niagara Falls, Ont.
Banff, Alta., specifically has seen demand increase by 50 per cent over the last two years and demand for Golden, B.C., is up by about 70 per cent over the last two years.
While some of those known ski and snowboarding destinations are in high demand on Expedia as well, some major city destinations are starting to gain interest as well.
“Interestingly, we see interest emerging in urban markets,...a shift indicating travellers returning to city centres once again,” information from Expedia Group reads.
Things to do in some of Canada’s top travel destinations
For a lot of people, Whistler, B.C., is completely synonymous with winter sports and activities, including skiing and snowboarding, making it a bucket list destination for many people around the world.
If you want to take your big mountain experience up a notch, you can even experience heli-skiing and snowboarding, for those more skilled on the slopes, or improve your technique with a skiing or snowboarding lesson with an Olympian at Whistler Blackcomb.
If going East is what you’re looking for, Mont-Tremblant, Que., is going to be the spot for you.
Not only is there top-notch skiing and snowboarding, ice climbing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and skating opportunities, but you can also have the quintessentially Quebec sugar shack experience. Taste some delicious maps treats, including maple taffy made on snow. La Cabane À Tuque also offers a totally vegetarian maple-inspired menu.
If you’re looking for a charming mountain experience, Canmore, Alta, is where you want to be, particularly if you’re still trying to avoid crowds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you really want to disconnect, Mount Engadine Lodge is a backcountry lodge that has no cell service, and no TVs or phones in rooms (with WiFi access available upon request), in addition to “glamping” tents and yurts.
Vancouver is well-known for some great cuisine but if you’re there in February, take advantage of the Ocean Wise Seafood Festival, which involves restaurants, retailers, and seafood suppliers crafting tasty dishes, with portions of the proceeds benefiting the sustainable seafood program. The festival is across Canada but the program originated in the city.
If rest is what you’re looking for, the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in downtown Vancouver recently launched its Alchemy of Sleep retreats, featuring sleep-inducing treatments, movement-driven activities and amenities, including water yoga in a heated salt-water pool, a night recovery and release facial, and exclusive aromatherapy oil blends.
Another iconic accommodation option is the Fairmont Pacific Rim and for the month of February, check out the “Kiss from a Rose” offer at Willow Stream Spa, a full-body massage experience with aromas of rose and Neroli-infused oil.
Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies,” Fairmont Banff Springs, is a must-see when travelling to the area, and definitely worth an overnight stay at the hotel. If you’re travelling during the winter season, don’t forget to take advantage of the ski offer until April 30.
Banff is a great place to try winter activities like snowshoeing, dog sledding, cross-country skiing, or even an ice walk, a guided tour to explore frozen waterfalls through suspended catwalks. But truly, the breathtaking views alone are something to experience.
Visiting Canada’s biggest city means there are a ton of different things to do, see, eat and experience. The best way to see Toronto is to get to as many of the neighbourhoods as you can, including Roncesvalles and The Junction in the western part of the city, or Leslieville on the east.
But Toronto even has some great outdoor trails to explore, including the surrounding area around the Evergreen Brick Works and Rouge National Urban Park, North America’s largest urban park.
Sun Peaks, B.C.
There is no better time for Canadians to really experience what we have in our own backyard and Sun Peaks, B.C., is another great option for a winter adventure.
From backcountry touring, to winter biking and ice fishing, there are a ton of options, with 4,270 acres of terrain (the second largest in Canada) and an average of 2,000 hours of sunshine each year. You can even ski with Olympian and Sun Peaks' director of skiing, Nancy Greene.
Located on the coast of Vancouver Island, anyone who wants to have an impressive nature experience should head to Tofino, B.C.
Tofino Resort + Marina also recently released a new six-hour remote floating sauna experience in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, where you can see the landscape of the territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. There’s also a “Cook Your Own Catch” option where you retrieve crab or prawns on your way back, and they’re cooked at the 1909 Kitchen restaurant.
Surrounded by the Canadian Rockies, Purcell and Selkirk mountains, as you can imagine, the terrain in Golden, B.C., makes for some spectacular experiences.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is known for its skiing and snowboarding, but also has an amazing Eagle's Eye Suite that’s 7,700 feet up and overlooks the Columbia Valley, Purcell and Selkirk Mountains. There are also beauty lodges to rent in the area for a more private, secluded experience.
The Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre is the only place in Canada where you can walk with wolves in their natural habitat, or watch them from a viewing station if you don’t want to get that close.