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Cozy B.C. Getaways Not So Far From Home

This season, the province offers a number of unique ways to appreciate stunning natural beauty... close to home

This season, the province offers a number of unique ways to appreciate stunning natural beauty… close to home

Each year when the air feels crisp and the leaves change colour, B.C. offers up a whole new way to appreciate its spectacular, natural beauty. Head into the mountains for bracing hikes through the wilderness, and then spend cool evenings in front of a roaring fire. Or meander along Vancouver Island’s coastal highway to seek out the newest in craft distilleries, tucked into charming small towns.

Chillier temperatures are the perfect excuse to snuggle up together. Winter wonderlandsdotted around the provinceset the scene for romantic and relaxing retreats throughout the season.

Be it for a weekend escape or a full week away, here are cozy, convenient destination options right across the province…

1. Manning Park

    Just over a two-hour drive from Vancouver, you’ll find the majestic and expansive Manning Park, which encompasses an alpine and nordic ski resort. In autumn, visitors can hike in the wilderness to revel in the fall colours but, come winter, there are numerous activities that will please even the non-skier, from snowshoeing to snow-tubing to skating. For sheer relaxation, the resort boasts a heated pool, two hot tubs, sauna and steam room. Stay at the inviting, rustic-style lodge or hunker down in a private cabin with wood-burning fireplaces and fully-equipped kitchens.The resort features a restaurant and a pub that showcase local ingredients on the menus. There’s no need to leave the park during your stay as there’s an on-site grocery and liquor store.

    2. Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland

      Motor up island, for about an hour or so north from the Nanaimo ferry terminal, and you’ll discover a trio of charming towns that, at first glance, look like they’re right out of central casting for small town movie sets. First up is Cumberland, the hip and younger (demographically) of the three. The main street resides in the town centre and craft brewery, Cumberland Brewing Company, is a great option for a beer and hearty food.

      Courtney is the larger of the three towns and the luxurious, resort-style Old House Hotel and Spa, perched on the edge of the Courtenay River, reflects that. Old House is walking distance to everything in town and a short drive to Comox and Cumberland. The heart of Courtenay is chock full of restaurants, craft breweries—Gladstone Brewing being the first to open—and unique shops. Courtenay residents like their food, and that’s clearly obvious with a wide array of bakeries concentrated in such a small area. A must-try is Hot Chocolates, that, yes, makes chocolates… but the baked goods more than hold their own.

      Laid-back Comox overlooks the ocean and the recent addition of craft brewery Land and Sea injected a jolt of hipness into this sleepy village with its creative menu and stylish interior.

      3. Cabins in the Cariboo

        Put down the tech gadgets and embrace the slow vacation. Think board games in front of a warmth-restoring woodstove fire in your own log cabin at Spring Lake Ranch. The ranch’s cabins, on the shores of Spring Lake near 100 Mile House, offer sparking lake views surrounded by acres of pristine forests. Whether it’s for a romantic getaway or a big extended-family retreat, the cabins at Spring Ranch can comfortably accommodate everyone. Winter at the ranch means sleigh rides, snow shoeing and ice fishing—then taking the chill off in the dining room with a steaming hot drink and house-made treats. For the more adventurous, there’s off-site skiing and snowmobiling. The cabins have kitchens or kitchenettes, but guests have the option to dine in the restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

        4. Arrow Lake, Kootenays

          For more than 100 years, the Halcyon Hot Springs Resort at Arrow Lake has appealed to those seeking to be revived and restored in therapeutic natural mineral pools. Surrounded by wilderness, this retreat is an oasis of calm. The resort spa offers a menu of treatments to complement the health benefits of the pools. Guests stay in rustic cabins and cottages in picturesque spots around the property. Those opting for a more spirited getaway can experience a variety of Kootenay-area snow activities. The hot springs are near Revelstoke and just a short drive from Nakusp.

          5. Vernon

            For a true winter wonderland adventure, SilverStar Mountain Resort is a one-stop destination for everything fun in the snowy season. The village is a true ski-in/ski-out experience, be it alpine- or nordic-style. Non-skiers can join in the winter fun, with fat-tire snow cycling, horse-drawn carriage rides, snow tubing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. There’s really no need to leave the mountain as a number of lodges and hotels surround the bustling village brimming with restaurants, shops, pubs and a grocery store. At night, the whole village is aglow with fairy lights enhancing its wonderland ambiance. For a less snowy activity, some winery tasting rooms remain open in the winter—this is wine country after all!—and tour companies like Cheers organize wine-tasting tours that leave from the resort.

            6. Northern B.C.

              For the ultra-adventurous traveller, Bear Mountaineering and the Burnie Glacier Chalet offers the ultimate back-country skiing experience, or even ice climbing courses, if you’re game. Guides will take guests through pristine mountain scenery on week-long escorted tours. Even novices are welcome as an introductory back-country skiing course is also offered. The adventure includes the helicopter flight from the staging area near Smithers, accommodation, meals and gear.

              Skiers must arrange travel to Smithers. For a relaxing arrival, Via Rail offers service two times a week in the winter.