It’s (Sometimes) a Winter Wonderland! Where to find the best Skating, Skiing and Sledding on Vancouver Island

There are a lot of things to love about Vancouver Island, top of the list is the incredibly temperate climate that we’re lucky enough to have. While the rest of Canada is blanketed in snow and plunged into a deep freeze at this time of year, we’re still looking up at the sky and wondering if we’ll get some of the white stuff…at some point. This year, if you’re visiting our warm little island on the West Coast and you’re looking for some real winter activities, no problem! From skating to skiing, Vancouver Island has lots of fun winter activities to look forward to! 

Skating

Outdoor Rinks

Greater Victoria 

City Centre Park:

Looking for an alpine-style experience right near Victoria? Then you need to check out City Center Park’s outdoor skating rink in Langford. With on-site skate rentals, heated cabins, firepits and a licensed patio, you can skate into the new year in style! Guests at Camden Green Mews, Station Villa Executive Condo, Bear Mountain Executive Stay are only a few minutes away but this incredible, seasonal rink is worth the drive, even if you’re right in Victoria at Barkely Manor Executive or Arbutus Hill in Metchosin!

Butchart Gardens 

With a touch of romance and nostalgia, the outdoor rink at Butchart Gardens is an always popular winter activity of South Islanders. Skating on the 5,000 square foot rink underneath beautiful twinkling lights is hands down, one of the best ways to spend a wintery night in Greater Victoria. While guests at any of the beautiful EMR Sidney properties are only a fifteen minute drive away from this beloved pastime, anyone staying on the South Island should put this at the top of their list! From the Landmark Sub-Penthouse in Victoria to Pacific Bay Beach House in Sooke it’s worth the trip to walk through the light display at Butchart Gardens and then join in the fun on the rink! When you’re all done, you can grab a cup of cocoa or cider and warm up by the fire in the coffee shop.

Local Indoor Rinks

If you’re on Vancouver Island and want to get a little time on the ice without a massive drive, there are lots of amazing local rinks that are a great option. Local arenas on the Island are a real slice of Canadiana, hubs of the community and usually have lots of drop-in options, skate rentals and super friendly staff. 

Sooke

Seaparc 

Staying at Pacific Bay Beach House or Arbutus Hill? Check out the great, classic rink at Seaparc!

Cowichan Valley

Kerry Park 

Guests at Beachfront at Cherry Point, Cowichan Valley Wine Country Retreat, Marble Bay Lakefront House, Lake Cowichan Escape and Malahat Mountain House will love this fun local rink! 

Nanaimo

Frank Crane Arena

While you’re enjoying the beautiful house at Hammond Bay, make a day of it to enjoy the updated facilities at the nearby Frank Crane Area to get in some ice time.

Parksville/Qualicum Beach

Oceanside Place Arena

With two NHL sized arenas, this new facility is a must for anyone staying at Nanoose Bay Country Home, Ravenwood Cottage, White Heron Oceanfront Estate or Columbia Beach House.

Courtney

Glacier Gardens Arena

This beloved rink has seen countless hockey games over the years and is a staple in the community. If you’re at Kye Bay Beach House and want to go skating, this is the place to be! On your way out, check out the aviation displays! 

Skiing & Snowboarding

When you think about Vancouver Island, ‘ski destination’ may not be top of mind but there are a few locations for downhill skiing and snowboarding on the Island that are as great as you can find on the mainland! 

Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Mt Washington has everything you could want from an alpine resort, great skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and sledding. If you’re coming from an EMR Victoria property, you’re looking at a 3.5 hour drive to get there but if you’re staying at Kye Bay Winter Beach House, you’re only a 40 minute drive from a proper alpine winter wonderland! 

Mount Cain

Unlike Mt Washington, Mt Cain is not for the faint of heart! If you’re a die hard skier or boarder and want some incredible powder and pristine backcountry downhill without any of the frills, this is where you need to be! It’s a trek that takes over 2 hours to Mt Cain from Kye Bay Beach House but well worth it for one of the last places on earth where you can find this kind of incredible downhill without any of the crowds.

Sledding 

When we finally get some snow, Vancouver Islanders rush to their favourite local hills to make the most of the fun while it lasts! We’ve rounded up a list of the best local spots to get in some sledding whether you’re taking kiddos with you or not! 

Greater Victoria 

Beacon Hill Park 

With lots of hills and almost no traffic this beloved city park becomes the go-to place for sledding in Victoria once the snow hits the ground. This is the ideal place to get in some sledding or just go for a snowy walk and watch the kids as they shriek their way down the hill. Guests at James Bay Studio Stays, Seaglass Suite, Beacon Hill View Condo and Landmark Executive Sub-Penthouse are all a stone’s throw away from the fun! 

Westshore Rec 

With a big sloping hill down the back of the rec centre and no traffic to worry about, this is, by far, the best hill in the Western Communities. If you’re staying at Camden Green Mews, Bear Mountain Executive Stay , Nature’s Gate Executive or Station Villa Condo, grab a sled at one of the many box stores in the area and head on over! 

Cowichan Valley

Cobble Hill

One of the most popular mountains in the Cowichan Valley is Cobble Hill Mountain and when it snows, all the sloping fields become ideal snow hills! So if you’re a guest at Beachfront Living at Cherry Point, Cowichan Valley Wine Country Retreat or Malahat Mountain House this is a great spot to get in on the fun! 

Nanaimo 

Mt. Benson School 

This is a nice steep hill that slopes into the soccer field so it’s perfect for older kids while still being safe and easy to get to from Hammond Bay Executive Stay and Nanoose Country Cottage.

Ecole Quarterway Elementary

This is another nice big hill with lots of space so everyone has room to make the most of the snow! Just a quick ten minute drive from Hammond Bay Executive Stay!

Parksville/Qualicum

Parksville Community Park 

This massive hill is the one that you can see from the main highway directly across from the Dairy Queen. One main selling point of this popular hill is that on snowy days, the city of Parksville shuts down the right hand lane of the highway to keep the hill safe for everyone! Perfect for anyone staying at White Heron, Resthaven Cottage or Columbia Beach House.

Courtney

Forbidden Plateau

If you’re in Courtney at Kye Bay Beach House and you’re looking for some great snowy adventures of any kind, you won’t find better snow than Forbidden Plateau!