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Top 5 Bow Valley Indoor Venues

Photo: Robyn Moore

Photo: Robyn Moore

By Afton Aikens

Some of our favourite places to escape the cold:

Cascade Shops: Indulge your inner fashionista at Banff’s largest indoor shopping centre.

The Banff Centre: See top international talent at a music, dance or theatre performance.

Fairmont Banff Springs: Admire the baronial architecture at the historic hotel while shopping, dining or rejuvenating at the luxurious spa.

Lux Cinema: (shown above) Catch a flick at the Bow Valley’s independent (and only) movie theatre.

Elevation Place: Try Canmore’s impressive climbing wall, exercise room and aquatic playground.

Okay, so we couldn’t name just five…

Stoney Nakoda Resort & Casino: Try your luck at the Alberta Rockies’ only casino.

Hot Entertainment: An Old-Fashined Christmas at Harrison Mills

Snow bunnies hope the new ski season matches the 1998-99 season, when Hemlock Valley Resort received a record snowfall of more than 26 m (85 ft). Photo by Sheri Radford

For seasonal activities that hark back to the days of yore, visit the nearby Harrison Mills area. A guaranteed white Christmas is the star attraction at Hemlock Valley Resort (pictured), with its skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and tubing. The season opens Dec. 7, weather permitting. When off the mountain, the mild weather doesn’t often allow for horse-drawn sleigh rides, but a carriage ride is just as fun. Contact the Veinotte Horse Farm to arrange an excursion. Step back in time at Kilby Historic Site: wander through the 1906 general store, visit the farm animals, stock up on local crafts and homemade jams in the gift shop, and nibble on a turkey and cranberry sandwich in the restaurant. The site is open Dec. 6 to 17, with special visits by Santa Dec. 8 and 9. Throughout the month, bring your appetite to the Rivers Edge Restaurant and feast on a three-course holiday dinner, complete with turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pie. It tastes like the Christmases of yesteryear, only better.—Sheri Radford

Hot Entertainment: Easy Cycling in Whistler

Cycling photo by Chad Chomlack courtesy Tourism Whistler

Spinning your wheels in Whistler? Tired of other tourists? Rent a bike in the village from a supplier such as Salomon, pick up a trail map from the Tourism Whistler Information Centre and pedal to the quiet side of Whistler. The peaceful Valley Trail (pictured) winds under Highway 99 and away from the village, through grassy parks and leafy residential neighbourhoods, and around placid lakes dotted with red and yellow canoes. En route, kids clamber on jungle gyms as parents set out snacks on picnic tables. Rent for an hour—maybe cycle to Alta Lake and back—or go for longer to cover more of the 40-km (25-mi) route. It’s wheely fun!—Louise Phillips

All About Yoga in Vancouver

Looking for some downward dog and savasana? Here’s everything you need to know

By Sheri Radford

Lindsey Lewis relaxes into her yoga practice in Queen Elizabeth Park. Photo by KK Law

Students of yoga are drawn to Vancouver by its laid-back vibe and stunning natural beauty, not to mention the plethora of yoga studios offering every style of yoga imaginable and the chance to study with esteemed teachers such as blissologist Eoin Finn. And the West Coast’s yoga profile keeps growing; for instance, last month Whistler hosted the first-ever Wanderlust Festival to be held outside the United States. (more…)

Urban Water Adventures in Downtown Vancouver

An exercise in balance, paddle boarding is an ideal way to explore False Creek and nearby Granville Island. Photo by KK Law

The sun may be hot, but the water is cool—and you don’t have to leave town to soak up Vancouver’s marine scene. Beat the heat with urban water adventures for both families and thrill seekers

By Kristina Urquhart

+ Fun for kids of all ages
++ You don’t have to be a champion swimmer to try one of these intermediate activities
+++ Have a need for speed? These exciting water sports will get your adrenaline pumping

Paddle Boarding ++
Water babies should try this sport, which is gaining in popularity. You use a long paddle to row a surf-like board—while standing on it. Sound tricky? Once you get a feel for it, this is a relaxing way to navigate the waters. Find rentals at Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre on Granville Island.


The Great Outdoors

Grab a paddle, lace those hiking boots and ready that fishing pole: Where‘s headed to the North Shore

By Jennifer Patterson

Meghan and Mat glide through the water in brightly coloured rentals from Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak. Photo by KK Law

Get Wet

Water babies feel right at home in picturesque Deep Cove, a short drive from downtown Vancouver and a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Rent a kayak at Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak and glide through the water, up picturesque Indian Arm, to Granite Falls. This photogenic park offers camping spots for multi-day trips. A growing trend with both celebs and weekend warriors: paddle boarding. Stand upright on a long, flat, surf-style board and use a long paddle to manoeuvre through the calm waterways.

Grab a fishing pole and head into the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve for some peaceful trout fishing around Rice Lake. The main dock is usually busy but the three-km- (1.8-mi-) long path around the lake is filled with hidden benches and quiet corners.

Learn about the culture and history of the Coast Salish First Nations on a guided canoe trip through Indian Arm with Takaya Tours. The traditional wood canoes are 7.6 m (25 ft) in length and tours can be customized to include drumming, songs and stories. End your day on the water with a grilled salmon feast, available by request.

Stay Dry

Landlubbers seeking an outdoor escape head north of downtown to kick up dirt on the tree-covered mountains. The 48-km- (30-mi-) long Baden-Powell Trail, a winding stretch through the North Shore Mountains, starts in Horseshoe Bay and ends in Deep Cove. Don’t feel pressured to complete the entire route in one go—an ambitious venture, indeed—as the trail has multiple entry points and smaller trails branching off along the way. A couple of route highlights: the famous Grouse Grind, also known as Mother Nature’s StairMaster; the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge; and Quarry Rock lookout in Deep Cove.

Those with a need for speed grab a mountain bike and burn rubber on backwoods trails. Mt. Seymour, Mt. Fromme and

Meghan and Mat make their way back from Quarry Rock viewpoint on a well-established trail. Photo by KK Law

Cypress Mountain offer paved, gravel and plank-covered paths ranging from relaxed cross-country to extreme downhill. If you’re a first timer looking for a little guidance, companies such as Endless Biking (page 64) can set you up with an instructor and guide.

If a city bike is more your style, 10 km (6 mi) of paved trails await on the car-free Seymour Valley Trailway. Do you have some energy to spare? Peddle the paved roads all the way to the top of both Cypress and Seymour.

Head a little further north, to the Stawamus Chief Park, for hard-core rock-climbing on the second largest granite monolith in the world (think sheer rock face with nowhere to go but up). If you prefer pounding the dirt to dangling from ropes, make your way up and through the mountains via trails, ladders and stairs to either the first, second or third peak. The climb is a bit challenging but the 360-degree views from the top make it well worth the sweat. Before heading back into Vancouver, visit neighbouring Shannon Falls, the third-highest waterfall in British Columbia.

Up in the Air

Challenge your fear of heights on the 137-m- (450-ft-) long Capilano Suspension Bridge, hanging 70 m (230 ft) above the rushing river. This popular attraction with both visitors and locals added a jaw-dropping new feature this year: the Cliffwalk, a cantilevered and suspended walkway that juts out of a granite cliff face. The faint of heart may balk at the glass-bottomed sections, which offer crystal-clear views of the canyon far below.

Feel the wind beneath your wings as you set flight from the top of Grouse Mountain on a tandem paragliding ride with an elevation drop of 1,000 m (3,300 ft). No experience is required but a sense of adventure is a must.

Gear for Here
Stock up on clothing and equipment, for outdoor adventures both big and small, at Mountain Equipment Co-op and the Arc’teryx Factory Store.

The Great Outdoors

Wondering what to do on your Whistler vacation? Where has you covered on the hunt for sunny summer fun

By Jennifer Patterson

Ziplining through the trees with WildPlay Element Parks. Photo courtesy WildPlay Element Parks

Channel your inner daredevil with a ride on mountain bike jumps and runs in Skiers’ Plaza. If you’re looking for something a little more easygoing, rent a bike to explore smoother, less vertical terrain, as mountain biking is the summer sport here.
Harness your adventurous spirit and hop on the back of a 4×4 vehicle to join expert Michael Allen on a bear watching tour, including stops at favourite feeding sites and daybeds—don’t forget your camera! Channel John Wayne on your own trusty steed with a horseback ride through the wild countryside. Prefer horsepower to horses? Kick up some dust in the backcountry on a quad or dirt bike.
Feed your adrenaline rush with a free-falling plunge off a bungee jump. Slightly more sane individuals go ziplining through the trees. For the even saner, glass-bottomed cabins on two of the Peak 2 Peak Gondolas offer enough of a thrill—and don’t require harnesses.
Find your inner Zen master with a day of peace and tranquillity on the stunning golf courses and fish-filled rivers. For a quiet getaway, rent a canoe or kayak, don some life jackets and explore the pristine lakes. Nature enthusiasts breathe the crisp mountain air while hiking the meadows and trails surrounding Whistler.
Have your camera at the ready, as aerial sightseeing tours and helicopter rides provide snap-happy shutterbugs and sightseers the perfect opportunity to capture the sweeping panorama.
If you haven’t tired of the snow, strap on your skis and snowboards and head to the Horstman Glacier, open through July for sun-filled summer skiing.
For activities listings, click here.