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Credit: Evan Gatehouse

Maia got up this morning, ran to the window then woke us up—letting us know it had snowed during the night. This early morning alarm was fine a week or two ago, when we celebrated our first snow of the season—except that time she woke us at 2 a.m. to share the good news—but since that first snow, the fluffy white stuff has fallen pretty regularly, and none of it has melted yet.

I know that snow tends to bring out the humbug in people—it’s hard to get to work, difficult to go out in the evenings for holiday parties and even tougher to head to the mall for those last-minute gifts. But these are precisely the reasons that kids love the snow so much: mother nature has forced their grown-ups to slow down, stop trying to accomplish things and simply play outside for a while.

The payoff is a few hours of pure fun, a good bit of exercise and a really great excuse to bake cookies (or make maple syrup candy) and drink hot chocolate when you’re done. If you don’t have the ingredients, use the excuse to shop in your neighbourhood and support your local shopkeepers.

Here are some of our favourite, inexpensive ways to enjoy winter in Vancouver:

Snow shoeing in a winter wonderland

 

Sledding


Kids can make just about any hill work. We like the little slope at Douglas Park, but if you’re older than seven you might prefer the more exciting one at Queen Elizabeth Park.
 

Snow Shoeing


You can rent snowshoes from Mountain Equipment Co-op and head off along the trails of any of our local parks. If you don’t have any experience, another option is to join a guided tour on one of the local mountains.
 

Help a Neighbour


Grab your shovel and set off. By either digging out a car or helping to shovel a sidewalk you’ll meet your neighbours and make someone’s day.
 

Walking in a Winter Wonderland


Even the dullest streetscape is transformed into something beautiful in the snow. Add a few twinkling lights and it’s hard not to feel festive. We love wandering the streets of Shaughnessy (the O’Toole house at 1412 Laurier Street is our favourite), but almost every neighbourhood has something special.

Hollyburn Lodge


 

Cross-Country Skiing


If you have your own skis, we have enough snow in the city right now to have a unique Nordic experience. Typically, though, the best place to ski is up on Cypress Mountain. Afterward, we love warming up with a thermos of tea at the classic Hollyburn Lodge.


 

Build a Snowman


Or a snow sculpture. Vancouver gets the perfect type of snow for building stuff. A few years ago, our neighbours built a snow living room—chilly, but very cool.

Build a snowman or snow sculpture