Vancouver is a West Coast, laidback, enviro-minded city set between ocean and mountains, ideal for kayaking, sailing, hiking, and biking. But did you know it has three top-notch ski areas as well? There aren’t many major cities in the world with great skiing and snowboarding within 30 minutes of downtown.
Here’s what you need to know to about where to ski in Vancouver and how to plan next skiing or snowboarding vacation.
The big one
If you’re an advanced skier or boarder, you’ll want to hit the slopes of Cypress in West Vancouver, especially on a clear day. Dual-mountain Cypress has the most terrain, vertical drop, and lifts of the three local options: 600 acres, 2,000 feet of vertical, and 53 runs. In addition to killer views of the Lower Mainland and Howe Sound islands, the mountain has extensive snow shoeing trails, plus super-fun guided snowshoe tours (that include chocolate fondue!), and tubing. In addition, Cypress offers the area’s best (fairly hilly) cross-country skiing — plus dinner and live music on weekends at the cozy, historic Hollyburn Lodge.
Night skiing, which starts at 2 pm, is especially magical here with the snow sparkling like sugar, frosted hemlocks illuminated under a big moon, and the city lights twinkling far below. If you’re looking for a true West Coast moment, try shredding down at sunset. Epic!
Tip: Consider getting a Gold Medal Card, which gets you your first trail ticket free, then 20% off on other activities. Cypress also offers daily deal coupons. In general, buy lift tickets online in advance or from a site such as Liftopia to save as much as 30 percent.
1-day itinerary: Arrive early (by 8:30 am) to get a parking spot close to the lodge, then grab a casual breakfast to-go at the downstairs Gold Medal Café. Ski or board, catching a tasty lunch at Cypress Creek, which offers a surprising array of dishes and cuisine (gourmet salads, hand-crafted pizza, chicken burgers, fresh fruit). Pause for a selfie on Black Mountain, with ocean and islands in the backdrop. Aprés ski, relax in the Crazy Raven Bar & Grill by the fireplace over a glass of BC wine or craft beer.
Head down the mountain for dinner at one of downtown’s trendy spots in Gastown, followed by live music or old-style bowling. Or, reverse the itinerary: enjoy the city in the AM, stopping for an Asian noodle bowl lunch at stand-out Marutama Ramen. Then ski for a half-day, savoring the sunset from the slopes and a hearty late dinner at Crazy Raven Bar & Grill afterwards. Wrap with a soak in your Jacuzzi-with-a-view at the Pan Pacific Hotel.
Easy access and year-round fun
A peak-top mini village on the North Shore accessible via the Skyride tram, Grouse is a year-round playground with gorgeous city views. In winter, you can ski, snowboard, snowshoe, ice skate on an outdoor pond, and join the postcard-perfect Christmas festivities over the holidays. Other seasonal activities include ziplining, hiking, paragliding, live daily entertainment and shows, real grizzly bears on display, mountain disc golf, and a bird’s eye tour of the giant wind turbine. There are restaurants and a high-def cinema. You could, and should spend an entire day here. Grouse has 26 runs and four chair lifts, plus the best terrain parks of the three hills. It’s the most accessible Vancouver ski resort because you park and ride the tram, so no snow tires needed. Taking the bus to the bottom is also an option and there's even a shuttle.
1-day itinerary: Arrive early and plan to spend the entire day on Grouse, starting with a quick breakfast at the top at the Grouse Grind Coffee Bar. Grab lunch at Lupins Café, then keep skiing til you drop. Enjoy dinner overlooking the glittering city lights at Attitudes Bistro, followed by a movie at the The Theatre in the Sky. Get a hot chocolate and watch the ice skaters gliding around the rink. Relax over drinks back at Attitudes, and finally, glide down the tram. Look out for shooting stars!
Ideal for beginners and young families
In North Vancouver, Seymour is pretty and intimate, easy to get a handle on for beginners, and home to lots of fun green and blue runs. It boasts lovely views, generally gets the most snow of the three local hills, and has Metro Vancouver’s best snow tubing and toboggan parks. Seymour has 40 runs and three chairs over 200 acres, with 1,803 feet of vertical. Terrific snowshoeing is also a pro; free on the adjacent park trails, which are great for biking and hiking in the summer. Arrive via car or shuttle bus.
Tip: Make sure your rental car has good winter tires if you’re skiing at Seymour. If not, detour to Grouse or take the shuttle bus.
1-day itinerary: Pick up an early breakfast, plus snack for your pocket, at Bean Around the World Coffees en route to the base for a solid half-day of skiing. When your legs are ready for a break, head down to the alpine-style Enquist Lodge for a leisurely lunch. Regulars recommend the hickory-smoked burger on toasted bread with a spring mix-Balsamic salad or fish ‘n chips. Return to Vancouver, perhaps to catch a game at Rogers Arena or play at The Roundhouse. Enjoy dinner at one of the hip restaurants on Main Street, like Burdock & Co. or Nomad, or Maenam on West 4th Avenue, Vancouver Magazine’s Restaurant of the Year. Book ahead!
When you visit, don’t stop with just skiing. After your day(s) of downhill, get to know Vancouver’s distinctive neighborhoods and sample the West Coast-inspired, multicultural dining scene that Condé Nast Traveler calls one of the best in the world.