When you visit Vancouver in winter, you’ll be stunned by its amazing natural beauty and multi-cultural flavor. From the beautiful mountain vistas to the pristine sand beaches in the centre of the city, Vancouver is the home of Instagram worthy photos.
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Some say the winter is the rainy season in Vancouver but they’re only partly right. Sure, you may need an umbrella some days but there are plenty of beautiful clear, crisp and sunny days to enjoy too. Not only is there a lot to do in Vancouver during Christmas, but the winter season has so much to offer too!
Vancouverites enjoy the outdoors and everything this beautiful city has to offer. The winter is the perfect time to visit Vancouver and experience what the insiders know!
1. Ice Skating at Robson Square
Robson Square in downtown Vancouver opens up for skating in December every year. This is a classic Vancouver tradition to celebrate the winter season in style. Imagine skating hand-in-hand with your sweetheart to the sound of beautiful seasonal music! Best of all, skating is free if you bring your own skates, but if you need skates, its just $5.
Hours are generally 9am to 9pm with extended hours on weekends. Ice skating outdoors in the heart of a beautiful city is a great reason to visit Vancouver in winter!
2. Visit Vancouver in Winter to Enjoy Snowshoeing
With the three local mountains so close to downtown, snowshoeing is a natural for a great winter outdoor activity and a top reason to visit Vancouver in winter! Snoeshowing can be fun for the whole family and is easy to learn – no experience required!
The most popular places to snowshoe in Vancouver are the local mountains – Cypress, Grouse and Seymour. Snowshoe rental is always available for a nominal fee and snowshoe trails abound. Cypress offers guided snowshoe tours and has 11 kilometres of self-guided snowshoe trails that run through sub-alpine meadows and snowy mountain forests. Talk about a winter wonderland!
I recommend the chocolate fondue tour at Cypress. If you love winter and you love chocolate, this tour is definitely for you! I did this tour with my friends, and I have to say that chocolate fondue and great drinks at the end of a snowshoeing adventure is the best!
3. Take a Bobsleigh Ride (or Skeleton)
One of the great legacies from the Vancouver Whistler 2010 Olympic Winter Games is the sliding track in Whistler. Now anyone can try it when you visit Vancouver in winter! Take advance of the great sea-to-sky roadtrip to make your way to Whistler.
After completing a safety orientation, you hop into a 4-person bobsleigh , steered by a trained pilot and take an adrenaline-fueled ride on the world’s fastest track. You and your team will coast through 10 twists and turns at speeds of 125+ kilometres per hour and feel the acceleration of up to 4G forces as you reach the track’s final and famous Thunderbird Corner!
If launching yourself head-first down the fastest sliding track in the world is more your thing, the Whistler Sliding Centre is the only place in Canada where the public can experience the rush of skeleton. Participants take off from the Maple Leaf starting point, passing through six corners and clocking speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour! You’ll need to go through an orientation session before you take off (I would hope so!).
No prior experience is required to try either bobsleigh or skeleton, although participants must be over 16 years of age, and be prepared for a fairly strenuous ride.
4. Visit the UBC Museum of Anthropology when you visit Vancouver in Winter
The Museum of Anthropology is an often-overlooked Vancouver treasure! A visit to Vancouver in winter is not complete without a visit to this beautiful museum. Take a walk through the history of Canada and you’ll find a stunning display of Northwest Coast First Nations art and artifacts – one of the finest collections in the world. Temporary featured exhibits and guided tours are also available.
The museum building itself is worth seeing, designed by renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson. Inspired by post-and-beam architecture of the Northwest Coast First Nations people, it is made primarily of concrete and takes advantage of second world war gun emplacements.
My favourite object in the museum is the famous yellow cedar sculpture, The Raven and the First Men by Bill Reid. The sculpture is situated in its own gallery within the museum and can be viewed in 360 degrees. It’s simply stunning.
Tip: always open the drawers beneath the display cases to see more hidden treasures.
5. The Bloedel Conservatory
Located in beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park in central Vancouver, the Bloedel Conservatory transports you to a tropical paradise! If you luck into a rainy Vancouver winter day during your visit to Vancouver in winter, there’s no better place to visit. The conservatory features 200 free-flying exotic birds and 500 exotic plants and flowers in a temperature controlled environment.
The Bloedel Conservatory is a domed lush paradise in the heart of Vancouver. It is designated as a heritage building due to its unique structure and inherent value to the city.
On our last visit, we were lucky enough to see rare corpse flower in bloom! The aptly named corpse flower is known for its rare and unpredictable flower that smells of rotting meat! The bloom only lasted for 48 hours but the stench was putrid! Apparently, the scent is meant to attract carrion beetles, flesh flies and other insects drawn to rotting meat.
Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch the corpse flower in bloom too!
6. Dine Out Vancouver
This popular event runs from January 15-31, 2019, offering delicious and varied dining experiences at some of Vancouver’s best and most popular restaurants!
Restaurants feature set menus at varying price points between $15 and $45 and provide unique culinary experiences to please your palate. If you visit Vancouver in winter, scheduling your trip around Dine Out Vancouver is a great idea!
I’ve enjoyed Dine-Out for years and used it as an opportunity to try new restaurants and re-visit my old favourites. I’ve always found my experiences to provide exceptional value, and the restaurants go all-out to ensure patrons have a great time!
If there’s a great Vancouver restaurant on your radar that you’ve been dying to try, Dine Out Vancouver is a great time to check them out!
The big reveal of participating restaurants is on January 10, 2019, and reservations open then. Don’t waste any time making your reservations as the best restaurants go fast!
What’s your favourite Vancouver winter activity?