7 Outdoorsy Activities to Add to Your Vancouver Winter Bucket List

Vancouver's skyline and mountains covered in snow

Tourism Vancouver / Clayton Perry

Vancouver is pretty spectacular in the winter when the mountains are blanketed with snow. It may be a bit chilly out, but that’s no reason to hide indoors. There are so many fun outdoor activities to enjoy in Vancouver each winter. Here are our picks the best outdoorsy things you’ll want to add to your winter Vancouver bucket list. 

Skiing or Snowboarding

Vancouver is a great place to go skiing or snowboarding. Grouse Mountain, Cypress Mountain, and Mount Seymour are all just minutes from downtown in Vancouver’s North Shore mountains. And Whistler’s world-class terrain is a short drive away on Highway 99. All four resorts have a variety of terrain to explore from beginner-friendly bunny slopes to expert-only double black diamond runs. They also all have terrain parks if you want to perfect your rail slides or get some big air. 

Skiing at Grouse Mountain near Vancouver

Skiing at Grouse Mountain. Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Dave Delnea Images

 

Walk to Holiday Lights

Bundle up and head out on an evening walk to admire some Christmas lights. Finding colourful holiday light in Vancouver is as easy as strolling through any neighbourhood. But there are also a few spectacular displays that you’ll want to add to your winter bucket list. Don’t miss the Light Walk at Grouse Mountain. It starts with a glowing light tunnel and is extra special thanks to all the snow. Capilano Suspension Bridge gets all decked out in lights too. Take a stroll around Van Dusen Gardens to admire the colours at their Festival of Lights. Or hop on the Skytrain to Coquitlam to visit Lights at Lafarge Winter Lights. You’ll walk all the way around Lafarge Lake with light displays along the entire route. 

Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver

Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Rishad Daroowala

 

Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is one of the most accessible winter sports since it’s easy to learn. If you can walk, you can snowshoe! Rent snowshoes at local shops or the ski hills then hit the trails in the North Shore mountains. If you’re looking for something special, sign up for a guided tour or clinic at Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain, or Mount Seymour. There are all kinds of trips to choose from including full moon tours, beginner clinics, ladies-only excursions, and even chocolate fondue or s’mores tours!

Snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain near Vancouver

Snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain. Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Rishad Daroowala

 

Polar Bear Swim

Start the new year off with bravery: do a polar bear plunge by jumping into the chilly waters of the Pacific Ocean! Many Canadian cities host polar bear swims every year on New Year’s Day. Lots of people even wear costumes. Vancouver’s polar bear plunge tradition dates back to 1920! The most popular polar bear swim takes place at English Bay Beach in downtown Vancouver but there are other swims in the surrounding communities too. 

Polar Bear Swim in Vancouver's English Bay

Polar Bear Swim at English Bay. Photo: Ted McGrath on the Inside Vancouver Flickr group.

 

Sledding and Snow Tubing 

Most winters, Vancouver gets at least a few days with snow in the city. But you don’t have to wait until then to go sledding. Head to the tube parks and sliding zones at the North Shore ski resorts. Grouse Mountain has a sliding zone next to the skating pond and rents sleds. Gnarly’s Tube Park at Cypress Mountain lets you zoom downhill on a giant tube, then get towed back uphill to do it all over again. They also have a kids sliding area for children under 6 but you need to bring your own sled. Mount Seymour has both a Tube Park with a tube tow and a toboggan hill where you can rent a sled or bring your own.

Sledding at Grouse Mountain near Vancouver

Sledding at Grouse Mountain. Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Grouse Mountain

 

Ice  Skating

Is there anything more Canadian than ice skating? Add ice skating to your winter bucket list. You can hit the ice at a drop-in skate session at one of Vancouver’s eight indoor ice rinks. Or enjoy the crisp winter air while you skate at an outdoor rink. Find seasonal outdoor rinks at Robson Square in downtown Vancouver, Grouse Mountain, and Whistler Olympic Plaza.

Skating at Robson Square in Vancouver

Skating outdoors at Robson Square. Photo: David Ward in the Inside Vancouver Flickr pool

 

Cross Country Skiing

Why just ski downhill? Strap on a pair of cross country skis for a fun workout of skiing uphill, downhill and flats. Cypress Mountain’s Nordic Ski Area has 19km of trails to explore, 7.5km of which are lit up at night. Be sure to stop in at the Hollyburn Lodge for a hot chocolate, burger or beer. 

Cross country skiing at Cypress Mountain near Vancouver

Cross country skiing at Cypress Mountain’s Nordic Area. Photo: Cypress Mountain (Facebook)

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