Exploring winter wonderlands across the country is an annual indulgence for any nature lover to enjoy, and B.C. is full of hot spots for memorable road trips.
If visiting one of them is in your plans for this season, pack up the cocoa, charge your camera, and prepare yourself to face the elements. That means dressing warmly from head to toe, bringing snacks and a thermos for your benefit.
It also means taking a good look at your car before hitting the road. Streets get icy, slippery, and dangerous when the temperature drops, and once it hits 7 °C and below, it’s time to change your tires.
For those looking to save some money but keep their car running optimally, your local Honda Dealer is the best stop for winter tires. With their lowest price guarantee, you’ll find the right set that won’t break the bank. Dealerships are also a one-stop repair shop for your tire pressure, wheel alignment and balancing, oil changes, and tire tread depth.
Once your car’s sitting on the perfect wheels, rejoice! You’re ready to visit one of these killer—and lesser-known—road trip locations:
A family-friendly destination, Silver Star is a world-class ski resort that offers a lot more than stunning slopes to B.C. visitors. The destination becomes a quintessential Christmas town every winter, with snow dusting the usually colourful village rooftops and ponds glistening with freshly frozen ice. There’s something for every member of the family here, as the resort offers snowtubing tracks, skating rinks, sleigh rides, and even a mini snowmobile track.
Getting there: Follow the Trans-Canada Highway east, passing through Kamloops and continuing toward Vernon. The resort is located just half an hour east of Vernon in Silver Star Provincial Park.
Travel time: 5 hours
Less than 20 minutes from West Vancouver is Bowen Island, a sweet little rock in Howe Sound. The first part of the island you’ll see is Snug Cove, which is a cute as it sounds, dotted with restaurants and cultural buildings. Venture further up its winding roads to drive or hike through Bowen’s lush greenery. No matter where you go, it’s guaranteed to be quaint and tranquil. Spend your night at Nectar Yoga B&B, Bowen Island Hideaway or the Lodge at The Old Dorm Bed and Breakfast if you don’t want to catch two ferries in one day. Remember that Bowen’s roads are windy and steep, so when the seasons change, so should your tires.
Getting there: Take the Trans-Canada Highway to Horseshoe Bay, then take the ferry to Bowen Island
Travel time: 1 hour 15 minutes
There’s a famous oddity to Coombs, and it can be found four hours from Vancouver. Atop the roof of the Coombs Old Country market lives a herd of goats that nibble away at grass, weather permitting. Beneath the roof is a quirky, expansive marketplace full of everything from produce to furniture, and surrounding buildings are equally as novel. They also offer fine cuisine, ice cream, antiques, and more. Sometimes, there are even vintage car shows on the lot.
Getting there: Take the ferry to Nanaimo, then follow the B.C. Highway 19 north to exit 51, which will bring you to Alberni Highway. Follow the signs for Coombs.
Travel time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Although it’s a city in Washington, Canadians can easily make it out to Leavenworth for a day or two, and its Bavarian-style Christmas Market is an annual spectacular not to be missed! It’s happening during U.S. Thanksgiving weekend, every day from 11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and features lantern decorating and a lantern parade, live entertainment, food vendors, and local merchants. In December, it often snows in Leavenworth, which adds to the ambience but can make it all the riskier for drivers. Make sure to stay safe on the roads by keeping your car in check.
Getting there: Take the B.C. Highway 99 south and continue to Everett in the United States. Take exit 194 on the I-5 and continue on US-2. Drive to Evans Street in Leavenworth.
Travel time: 4 hours, not including border lineups
This town is a piece of history and a hub for culture. Once a key location for mining gold and jade, there’s plenty of seasonal fun to be had. Unusual winter sports such as snowmobiling, heli-skiing and ice climbing are popular, as are wildlife and cultural tours and heritage sites. Seton Lake offers a park, fishing pier, hiking trail, beach and viewpoints and is surrounded by huge, majestic mountains. Driving through the mountains can be hazardous, and icy, rural landscapes are where winter tires work hardest for you.
Getting there: Take the B.C. Highway 99 north to Seton Lake Road in Lillooet; keep left to continue on Seton Lake Road.
Travel time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Shannon Falls Provincial Park
Right off the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Shannon Falls is over 1,000 feet tall, and its cascading waters make it a nationally acclaimed picnic location. Nearby, shrouded in a veil of mist, are trails, a boardwalk and pretty viewpoints to perch at. Seeing it during the colder months lets you enjoy the fall trees in all their splendor, so skip the crowds and visit before spring rolls around.
Getting there: Follow the B.B. Highway 99 north to Squamish and turn right at signs for Shannon Falls.
Travel time: 50 minutes