Beat ’em or Join ’em: a Smorgasbord of Winter Getaways

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Kananaskis Nordic Spa

Whether you want to lean into winter or escape the cold, there’s plenty to take in near Edmonton. Here are some ideas for those who want to get right into the spirit of winter.

  1. EMBRACE THE COLD 
  2. In Edmonton 
  3. There’s an Edmonton park (edmonton.ca) for almost any winter activity you’ve got a hankering for, from skating and snowshoeing (pg 40) to snowboarding and cross-country skiing. Favourites include Snow Valley, Rundle Park, Kinsmen Park, and the Victoria Park IceWay. 
  4. In Jasper 
  5. This dreamy mountain town is the ideal weekend retreat and only a four-hour drive (or bus ride) away. You can hit the slopes at Marmot Basin (skimarmot.com), one of Canada’s best ski resorts with 91 runs and 3,000 vertical feet of diverse terrain, or take an ice walk in Maligne Canyon (maligneicewalk.com), the deepest canyon in the park. There are even dog sled tours where you learn how they hook up the dog team and how to drive the sled. No matter the adventure, don’t forget the hot chocolate afterwards! 
  6. Near Sundre 
  7. Operating since 2010, Painted Warriors (paintedwarriors.ca) is one of the only facilities of its kind in Canada, so highly respected that even European groups send their outdoor guides to Alberta for certifications. They use Indigenous ways of knowing, learning, and experiencing the wilderness, and visitor experiences include snowshoeing, wildlife tracking, and archery 
  8. Near Smokey Lake 
  9. Métis Crossing (metiscrossing.com) is the first major Métis cultural interpretive centre in Alberta and is a premier centre for Alberta Métis cultural interpretation, education, and gatherings. Daily experiences include cultural interpreters, nature trails for walking and cross-country skiing, and the traditional Métis river lot and farmyard. 
  10. In Banff 
  11. Located just a 10-minute drive from Cave and Basin near the base of Sulphur Mountain and the Banff Gondola, Banff Upper Hot Springs (hotsprings.ca/banff) sits at the highest elevation of any operating hot spring in Canada. Its thermal waters, created by rainfall and snowmelt that seep into the earth’s crust, are naturally heated and pressurized. Relax and rejuvenate in the springs’ soothing warmth and take in the spectacular views of Mount Rundle. 
  12. ESCAPE THE COLD 
  13. In Edmonton 
  14. Get that beach getaway without hopping on a plane by visiting the World Waterpark in West Edmonton Mall (wem.ca). Swim in the world’s largest indoor wave pool, grab a snack at the concession stand, or venture onto any of their unique waterslides and play features, including the 83-feet-tall Twister. If you’re looking to relax, spend “a day in sanctuary” at Wellness On Whyte (wellnessonwhyte.com) or just drop in for a quick warm oil massage—either way, you are in for a treat this winter with the many spa packages and treatments they offer. 
  15. In Banff 
  16. Located just a 10-minute drive from Cave and Basin near the base of Sulphur Mountain and the Banff Gondola, Banff Upper Hot Springs (hotsprings.ca/banff) sits at the highest elevation of any operating hot spring in Canada. Its thermal waters, created by rainfall and snowmelt that seep into the earth’s crust, are naturally heated and pressurized. Relax and rejuvenate in the springs’ soothing warmth and take in the spectacular views of Mount Rundle. 
  17. In Jasper 
  18. For a royal treatment, why not splurge on a visit to Jasper Park Lodge (fairmont.com/jasper). 
  19. Along with their outdoor hot tub, you can enjoy several spa services, including facial treatments and mobile massage therapy, and take a rejuvenating yoga class. 
  20. In Kananaskis 
  21. Pop on one of the iconic robes at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa (knordicspa.com) before stepping out into the crisp air. There may be a brief moment of chill, but soon the hot and warm hydrotherapeutic pools will help you relax. Take in a gorgeous twilight soak, and even a quick cold plunge if you’re brave, then enjoy the Eucalyptus and Alchemist Steam Cabin.
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