The Great White North, as our Canadian neighbor is known, is home to world-class ski destinations. Take advantage of their long winter season, overflowing with fresh champagne powder, rugged mountain peaks, affordable pricing and cozy ski villages. The perfect place to embrace the snow is in British Columbia, which boasts plenty of powder, yet moderate temperatures.
Big White and Sun Peaks ski resorts, both located in south-central British Columbia, are two of the best options for convenient, family-friendly ski getaways. While both resorts go beyond the ski hill, offering the complete après-ski experience, filled with shopping, dining and winter adventures, they each offer their own distinctly unique experiences for vacationers with their families in tow.
Big White Ski Resort
Big White’s motto is “It’s The Snow.” Close to 25 feet of light, dry, fluffy powder falls annually at the resort, the second most popular in British Columbia. The trails, set in the rolling Monashee Mountains, offer 118 runs, five alpine bowls and a terrain park, with over 2,765 acres of vast and varied terrain in total.
Big White also boasts Canada’s largest completely ski-in, ski-out resort village, meaning you can literally step out your door, strap on your boots and hit the mountain immediately. At the end of your run, ski up to the best accommodations, restaurants, bars and shops for a little après (or a pit stop before zipping back up the slopes).
Image Credit: Big White
With 20 on-mountain restaurants, cafes and delis, there is no shortage of dining choices. Try Clocktower Coffee Co. for breakfast or lunch and enjoy hearty breakfast sandwiches and soul-warming soups. For dinner, try tasty tapas and wine at Globe Café or go for a more relaxed vibe with authentic Irish food, beer and whiskey at Sessions Taphouse & Grill. Sessions is launching its own craft beer brewing operation this year, called Elevation 57 Brewing Company, so you can pick up a pint of Canada’s highest elevation craft beer while you’re at it. Head back to your room at the heart of the village and soak in the heated outdoor pools and hot tubs while you enjoy mountain views from the Sundance Resort or the Stonegate Resort.
Image Credit: Big White
Although it’s all about the snow, Big White goes beyond the ski hill, offering more than a dozen winter adventures for families. Take a spin on your ice skates at Canada’s highest outdoor rink (skate rentals available), surrounded by snow-capped trees and mountains. Or, take a high-speed ride down specially groomed lanes and feel the wind in your face at the Big White Tube Park. No skill or equipment needed, and open to all ages.
If you’re at Big White in early December, don’t miss the annual Light Up Big White event where visitors and locals come together to kick off the Christmas season. The entire village is lit up in Christmas lights with Christmas carolers, a light laser show, fire dancers and a grand fireworks finale.
You’ll feel an instant sense of belonging when you arrive at Sun Peaks, which claims the title as Canada’s second largest ski area. It is home to 4,270 acres of diverse ski terrain on three mountains, which surround a European-style village. This destination has gained a reputation as a disarmingly-friendly mountain community of families and independent business owners.
Image Credit: Reuben Krabbe, Sun Peaks
The Sun Peaks terrain includes 135 alpine runs, 16 gladed areas, a 10-acre top-to-bottom terrain park and 37 kilometres of Nordic trails. One thing that makes their terrain layout special is that each lift has a beginner (novice) run, so everyone in your group has the opportunity to explore each of the mountain areas, including taking in the breathtaking views from the Top of the World.
Image Credit: Reuben Krabbe, Sun Peaks
Come winter, snow transforms Sun Peaks village walkway into a ski-through opportunity, so there is no need to unclip on your way to the lifts. Start your day with a specialty latte and renowned berry scone from Bolacco Café, where Konrad and Elzbieta will treat you like an extension of their family. There is no need to rush to the lifts because Sun Peaks is rarely overcrowded. Your family will often feel like they have the trails all to themselves. The village has numerous ski-in ski-out hotel experiences, such as the Sun Peaks Grand. After a long day on the slopes, relax in the Grand’s heated slope side pool or hot tub, or spend the evening browsing the local shops in the village. Locally made chocolates from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory are a hit for any age!
Image Credit: Sun Peaks
After a few days of skiing, snowboarding or cross-country skiing, switch it up and try a new winter activity. The Moonlight Snowshoe & S’mores tour is a great experience for the whole family. Join this guided tour (just over a half a mile long) and take in views of the lit-up houses lining the upper village before stopping for a sweet treat by the campfire. Clip-clopping through the village on a Horse Drawn Sleigh is another great way to enjoy the scenery. If you are hoping to arrive during a bustling weekend, we recommend checking out Sun Peaks’ event calendar for family-friendly celebrations like their Holiday Kick-Off Weekend in mid-December when the village will come alive with festive activities.
Big White and Sun Peaks are easily accessible from Seattle by car or plane. If you’re taking a winter road trip, both destinations can be reached from Seattle in roughly 6 hours. Alternatively, take a direct flight to Kelowna’s International Airport, which is located 35 miles northwest of Big White; a shuttle can whisk you to the resort in under an hour. To get to Sun Peaks, fly to Kamloops in south-central BC and take a 35-mile shuttle ride to the resort.
Many of the hotels, including Sundance Resort in Big White, offer a common games room with free nightly events to keep kids entertained in the evenings. Parents can also arrange babysitters through the front desk.
The Sundance Kids Centre at Sun Peaks Resort offers Weekly Kids Activities for children ages 3-12, six days per week. If you want to enjoy an evening without the kids, this program coincides nicely for parents to enjoy the Alpine Fondue & Starlight Descent.
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