What if I told you this winter my family decided to go on a family ski trip, sans ski? Would you look at me like I’d lost my balaclava? Better yet, what if I told you, we had an absolute blast doing anything and everything except skiing. Nothing against skiing or snowboarding, but with a toddler shy of his third birthday, it doesn’t seem like the easiest or most enjoyable winter activity. Cue the terrible-two meltdown on the bunny hill! So while we hang up our ski boots until next year, here are all the other ways you can have a perfect winter weekend in Fernie, British Columbia.
Located in the East Kootenays, Fernie is known for its small-town charm and big mountain adventures. And my friend, let me tell you, it delivers. We wanted a cosy, lodge experience, so we opted to stay on the hill, which allowed us to watch the ski fun and imbibe in the apres ski activities without the full commitment. Fernie Alpine Resort has lodges for days all strategically scattered along the base of the mountain, so nearly every unit welcomes a mountain view.
For a family-friendly option, I loved Lizard Creek Resort. With a variety of guest rooms including ones with kitchenettes, you can travel with a small or large crew and bring your own food to cut down on costs. Spend your days splashing around in the outdoor heated pool or drinking hot chocolate fireside in their beautiful chalet-meets-restaurant, Cirque. On Saturdays, the resort hosts a supervised kids pool party (for ages 6+)complete with a BBQ dinner and a movie.
MOM TIP: There is a local ski shuttle that operates between the resort and town, so it’s easy to get around.
For accommodations closer to town, check out The Stanford with an indoor waterslide and mountain views, your kids will only come up for air to tell you how much fun they’re having.
For more aquatic adventures, Fernie has an impressive indoor pool facility with a toddler area, inflatable toys, an eight-lane, 25m competitive pool, a large hot tub, steam shower and a waterslide (I’m sensing a trend here).
But the snow is falling, and adventure is calling, so outside is where we must go. On and off the hill there are plenty of outdoor activities to tempt you away from the fireplace.
The only question you need to ask yourself is why walk when you can snowshoe?
Fernie is a winter wonderland waiting to be discovered, from riverside trails with towering cottonwood trees to forested mountain trails with views of the valley and the Rocky Mountains. With an extensive trail system begging to be explored at your own pace or in a group. For the solo adventurer pick up a Fernie trail map from the visitor centre or check out some of the recommended routes like Fairy Creek Falls and Lazy Lizard on their website. For a guided experience, check out Wild Nature Tours. This nature-based tourism company takes you off the beaten path into scenic areas to connect with the Rocky Mountain environment.
MOM TIP: Bring a structured child carrier for kids under six to join in on the fun.
Is there anything more iconic than skating under the stars on a crisp winter night? Bring your skates, stick and a puck for a friendly game of shinny or lace up and practice your figure eights. First-time skaters are welcome too for a gentle skate by starlight. Fernie’s original outdoor rink, located behind the Courthouse, offers impressive mountain views that beautifully contrast with the historic red brick building. New to Fernie this winter is an NHL sized outdoor skating rink, donated to the community by the Calgary Flames.
MOM TIP: Pick up some fresh cookies and fill your thermos with hot chocolate at one of the local coffee shops for the most delicious way to warm up.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ride in the massive trail grooming vehicles you see on the ski hill? Island Lake Lodge, a boutique hotel with an amazing culinary program, spa and catskiing operation provides this unique opportunity. Hop aboard a snowcat and wind up through the stunning old growth forest to arrive at the lodge. With incredible views of the Lizard Range of the Rocky Mountains as your backdrop, enjoy a two-course lunch included in the experience. After lunch, stay and play in this winter paradise enjoy activities from snowshoeing to cross-country skiing.
MOM TIP: Ditch the kids with your partner and sneak in a treatment at Island Lake Lodge’s amazing spa.
Explore Fernie’s Historic Downtown
From cosy coffee shops to boutique retail shops, chocolate stops and bar hops, Fernie’s main street (2nd Avenue) is as cute as it is charismatic. Some of my favourite spots include The Green Petal, Clawhammer Letterpress, The Loaf, Beanpod Chocolate and Big Bang Bagels. With sweeping views of the mountain range set against historic buildings walking this street feels like a dream you won’t want to wake from.
MOM TIP: Start your stroll with a hot drink from The Valley Social and finish your stroll with a handcrafted cocktail at Nevados.
Only a three-hour drive from Calgary when it comes to visiting Fernie the question you should be asking yourself isn’t why, but when. Happy Travels.
Written by Kristyn Snell
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