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Fernie, British Columbia is one of the most beautiful towns in Canada but it’s often left off the typical Canadian winter bucket list.
In fact, even I always assumed places such as Banff, Whistler, and Revelstoke were the ultimate winter destinations. And although they are, Fernie rivals them with awesome winter activities, gorgeous scenery, and of course, an epic ski resort that can challenge even the best skiers and snowboarders.
On top of that, Fernie is home to one of my favorite restaurants in Canada, cute boutique stores, and even its own brewery and distillery. It’s safe to say I was right at home in Fernie when I visited last winter!
In this blog, I’ll share everything there is to know about the 21 best things to do in Fernie in winter. This way, you can fall in love with this cute mountain town as much as I did!
Things to do in Fernie in Winter
1. Hit the slopes at the Fernie Alpine Resort
Without a doubt, the most popular winter activity in Fernie is downhill ski and snowboarding. Fernie Alpine Resort is Fernie’s local ski hill and one of the best in Canada. The resort is huge and home to over 2,500+ acres of skiable terrain as well as 10 chairlifts, a 1082 meter verticle rise, 140+ runs, and its longest run is over 5 kilometers. But it gets better!
Unlike the ski resorts to the north, Fernie boasts an average winter temperature of -5 °C (23 °F) making it an attractive place to ski in the winter( places like Banff in the winter and Jasper in the winter are much colder). On top of that, Fernie gets up to 9 meters (30 feet) of snowfall per year. So despite the warmer temperatures, there’s still plenty of powder to go around.
Fernie Alpine Ski Resort is perfect for all ski levels too. I myself usually stick to the green and blue runs which make up 30% and 40% of the terrain respectively. That leaves 30% of black and double black plus a huge range of backcountry runs in the alpine bowls and trees. That’s actually what I love the most about Fernie, it’s a resort everyone can enjoy!
My favorite run starts from the White Pass chairlift heading down Currie Powder onto Gilmar Trail and then down Diamond Back. It’s blue the entire way but a really fun run!
Lift tickets at Fernie Alpine Resort start at $124 for adults, $99 for seniors, $93 for youths, and $50 for children. However, prices are more expensive on weekends and peak holiday periods.
Related Read: Another great ski resort nearby is in Kimberley. Read our blog about the best things to do in Kimberley, BC for more info!
2. Hike to Fairy Creek Falls
During winter in Fernie, you simply must enjoy the short hike up to Fairy Creek Falls. This gorgeous waterfall sits frozen in time and is the perfect place to visit on a beautiful winter day.
The trail begins from the Fernie Visitor Center and it takes around 1.5 hours to hike the 4.5-kilometer out and back trail. The pathway is well-trodden so you don’t need snowshoes, however, it can get icy and ice cleats/crampons are helpful especially towards the end. If you don’t have any, you could rent snowshoes as they usually have spikes to help on the ice.
Once you start the trail, it’s marked with green signs. One the way back just be mindful of the way you came. We took a wrong turn and ended up a little lost. Although not a big deal, it took us much longer than we expected.
This was the first winter activity I did in Fernie and I loved it. Afterward, I went on to the next place on this list…
3. Have a beer with a view at Fernie Brewing Co.
If you’ve read a few of my blogs, you’ll notice I tend to always include local breweries in them. I just love craft beer!
Funny enough, one of my favorite breweries has always been Fernie Brewing Co. I always loved drinking their beer and did so for quite some time before I managed to visit the brewery for myself. The beer is that good! So, if you’re a craft beer lover too, then a trip out to Fernie Brewing Co. is a must in winter.
The brewery is located only a short drive from the Fernie Visitor Center on the outskirts of town and inside the tasting room, you can try a huge range of beer all with mountain views! I myself love their Grapefruit IPA as well as their Gose.
The brewery doesn’t serve large meals only snacks such as nuts, sausage, and beef jerky so if you’re hungry it’s best to get some food before you go. The tasting room is open from 11 am to 7 pm Sunday to Thursday and 11 am to 9 pm Friday and Saturday.
Related Read: Another nearby awesome brewery is just down the road in Cranbrook. Read our blog about the best things to do in Cranbrook for more info!
4. Visit the Fernie Visitor Center
In most towns, a trip to the visitor center is the first thing I do but they rarely make it into my blogs. However, in Fernie not only is the visitor center filled with awesome information but there is also a taxidermy animal display that’s really cool to see.
The display features lots of local wildlife including a cougar, wolves, and a bear. Kids will love it, especially if they haven’t seen these animals in their lifesize before. This is only a quick stop, but might just be your children’s highlight of their winter trip to Fernie.
While at the visitor center, be sure to get some updated trail and weather info. In winter, more caution needs to be taken and this is a great opportunity to speak with the experts about trail conditions.
5. Drink amazing cocktails at Fernie Distillers
Distilleries aren’t always high on my bucket list… unless of course, they sell amazing craft cocktails too! Fernie Distillers does just that so I was really excited to visit.
The distillery is located right in town and I decided to go before dinner to begin the night. Well, I must say the cocktails were strong and before arriving for my dinner reservation, I was a little tipsy!
My favorite cocktail was the Bathtub Time Machine followed by the Fort Steele-Aged Saphire. They have tons more and you won’t be able to try them all. However, if you like straight spirits, you can enjoy a tasting for $2 per spirit or $7 for 4. That’s not my thing though so I can’t comment on what they taste like individually!
Fernie Distillers is open from Wednesday to Saturday 4 pm until 10 pm and Sunday from 12 pm to 6 pm.
5. Shop on Mainstreet (2nd Ave)
Fernie may be a small town but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to see. In fact, Fernie has one of the most beautiful main streets with epic mountain views, old architecture, and that typical mountain town atmosphere. On top of that, there are plenty of boutique stores to check out.
My advice is to start at one end of 2nd Ave (1 Street) and walk the entire Avenue until 9th Street before crossing the road and walking back. You’ll get to enjoy the gorgeous views as well as check out some of the local stores. Of course, be sure to do this with a coffee in hand from Freshies Cafe or Rooftop Coffee Roasters.
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Fernie in December, Mainstreet will be all lit up with Christmas lights and festive decorations! This adds to this beautiful street and makes it even more picture-perfect.
6. Warm up at the Montane Hut (hike there, have a fire, winter or summer)
If you love hiking as much as I do then not even winter is going to stop you from hitting the trails. While at the visitor center I was recommended the hike up the Montane Hut and I am so glad I took that advice.
The trail is rather easy and leads from the parking lot on Coal Creek Road up to the Montane Warming Hut. From the hut, the views over the valley are spectacular. The trail takes around 4 hours in total and is around 8 kilometers return. The best part is, we didn’t need crampons or snowshoes!
One thing I will say about this trail is it’s hard to follow without directions from the visitor center. Although there are signs, getting a map from the visitor center is worthwhile. Otherwise, there is an online map here that you can follow. Find the parking lot on the map and then follow either the blue (preferred) or purple trail to the warming hut. There are signs along the way.
7. Cross country skiing at the Nordic Center
Cross country skiing is the perfect winter activity in Fernie for those who want to enjoy the outdoors and get some fun exercise. The Fernie Nordic Society has some really good trails suited to all levels of fitness and ability. In fact, even a novice can come down and enjoy the trails.
There are trails available to use all over Fernie ranging from 4 kilometers up to 25 kilometers. Some of the most popular include the Fernie Alpine Resort, Montane Trails (my favorite), and the Fernie RV Resort and Dyke all of which are free to use.
Those new to the sport should, however, head to the Elk Valley Nordic Center. The Elk Valley Nordic Center is home to over 10 kilometers of trails that range in difficulty making it the perfect spot for every cross-country skier. It costs $15 CAD to use the facilities or $25 for a family.
You can rent skis from Gear Hub Sport for $25 a day and head to the nordic center or the other trails I’ve mentioned. Just be sure to check out the Fernie Nordic Society for updated trail info nation and maps.
8. Visit The Fernie Ice bar
Although you can technically drink in an ice bar by simply drinking outside in winter, those who have not experienced a real ice bar before should check out The Fernie Ice Bar. Imagine drinking out of a cup made of ice and sitting in chairs made of ice. Seriously, the whole place is ice!
The bar is located at the Lizard Creek Lodge’s restaurant Cirque and costs around $40 for a taste test of 3 (ounces) vodkas. The ice bar is kept at a chilly -8 C to -12 C, so a jacket is supplied if you don’t have your own.
I have been to ice bars all over the world, including New Zealand, Europe, and South America. Because of this, I did not visit the Fernie Ice bar. However, I would highly recommend it for first-timers. This might just be the “coolest” thing to do in Fernie in the winter (no pun intended!)
UPDATE: Unfortunately the Fernie Ice Bar is currently closed and will be for the duration of 2022. We will let you know if they decide to open in 2023.
9. Step back in time at the Fernie Museum
The Fernie Museum is the perfect indoor winter activity for the history buffs. The museum holds an extensive collection of permanent exhibits and temporary exhibits about Fernie’s history.
Although the museum is small, it’s the best place to learn about the history of Fernie and the disasters that have tested this tiny community in the last 100+ years. On top of that, the museum costs only $5 CAD for adults, $4 for seniors and is free for youths and children.
10. Go on a snowmobiling tour
The most exciting winter adventure activity you can enjoy in Fernie is without a doubt snowmobiling. This adrenaline-pumping sport is very popular in the area and even visitors can give it a go on a tour or rental.
There are two companies in Fernie that offer tours/ clinics and education. The first is Elk Valley Snow Shepards and they offer full-day guides for $300 for the first rider and $100 for every rider after that. This price does not include your snowmobile rental but they can help organize that for you. You are basically paying for the guide to show you trails in the area. This means it’s a great activity for all ski levels.
The second company is Elk View Lodge and they also offer training for people who want to learn how to snowmobile for themselves.
If you have experience on a snowmobile you can also rent one for the day and head off on your own trails in Fernie. Rentals for an entire day are around $400!
11. Eat all the tacos and tequila at Nevados
Do you love Mexican food as much as I do? If so then you absolutely need to visit Nevados for a delicious dinner in Fernie.
I myself found them by simply walking by and after a quick search online found that they are one of the crowd favorites in town. They serve a huge range of Mexican cuisine tapas-style. That means you can order lots of dishes and try a ton of great food.
Daniel and I got the fish tacos, pulled pork tacos, and the drunken beef tacos in their “Familia Taco” deal for $40. That’s 9 tacos! On top of that, I also got their ceviche (a must) and mussels, although the mussels no longer appear to be on their current menu (such a shame!)
Overall all the food was delicious and as someone who has lived in Mexico, I can say they stick to traditional Mexican food instead of Tex Mex.
12. Enjoy coffee with a view from Rooftop Coffee Roasters
If, like me, you love a great brew of coffee to start your day then while in Fernie do yourself a favor and head to Rooftop Coffee Roasters.
My order is almost always a classic cappuccino, especially in the morning or after skiing and Rooftop does them well! Of course, they sell all of your classics as well as an amazing iced latte. On top of that, treat yourself to some delicious foods such as croissants and open-face sandwiches.
Rooftop Coffee Roasters is located right on 2nd in the heart of Fernie so it’s a super convenient place to visit!
13. Do the self-guided Fernie Historic Walking Tour
One of the best free winter activities in Fernie is the self-guided Fernie Historic Walking Tour. Head to the Fernie visitors center or go online and grab yourself a copy of the Fernie and Elk Valley Cultural Guide and follow the map (currently on pages 26, 27, 28, and 29) in the brochure around town.
There are 12 stops on the self-guided tour and a write-up about each attraction. These include the old CPR Station, the Imperial Bank of 1909, and the old courthouse. Although most of the buildings now have other purposes, the old architecture and history still remain.
I would allow around 1 hour to complete the self-guided walk and I highly recommend grabbing a coffee before you start. It’s an interesting tour that’s completely free!
You’ll also find other cool free self-guided walking tours in the Fernie and Elk Valley Cultural guide so be sure to pick it up when you first arrive.
14. Visit the Beanpod Chocolate, Gelato and Coffee
Fernie may be a small town but it’s actually home to its own local chocolatier. Beanpod Chocolate, Gelato and Coffee is one of the oldest bean-to-bar chocolate companies in Canada and one of the very few that specialize in making chocolate the old-fashioned way.
The small company sources organic beans directly from farmers and they produce chocolate using authentic stone grinding machines. The best part is, their chocolate contains no preservatives or additives.
I popped in and got to meet one of the owners and grab myself a few chocolate bars for our hike up to Montane Hut. A medium-sized chocolate bar costs around $8 CAD which is a tad expensive, but for the quality and unique flavors, it’s worth it.
So what was my favorite? I loved the “Salted Dark” and the “Rasberry” the most but I only tried four bars. There must be over 20 to try! Some of the flavors are really unique and you won’t find them anywhere else. They also sell gelato, however, I never tried any during my visit.
15. Wander the many art galleries and local street art
Walking around Fernies isn’t just about historic buildings and history. In fact, for art lovers, there is plenty to see.
The Fernie Art Walk is another self-guided tour around Fernie that’s completely free and another tour you’ll find in the Fernie and Elk Valley Cultural Guide.
As mentioned above, pick up the guide online or at the visitor center and explore downtown Fernie’s art trail completely free. There are a ton of places to explore such as famous murals, art galleries, and even painted dumpsters.
This tour can last for some time if you try to visit every location, however, my advice is to concentrate on the downtown locations and be sure to visit the “All Kinds of Beauty” Mural.
16. Relax at Fernie Aquatic Center
Not every winter’s day in Fernie will be beautiful. In fact, it’s likely that during your visit you may need to head indoors to escape the elements.
Luckily, Fernie has its own aquatic center equipped with a 25 person hot tub, 25-meter lap pool, steam room, and leisure pool perfect for kids. The best part is the Fernie Aquatic Center costs only $6 CAD for adults and rates for children are even cheaper.
This is the perfect indoor activity in Fernie that won’t break the budget!
17. Go snowshoeing
With the amount of snow Fernie gets, snowshoeing is not only a popular winter activity, but a practical one. Around Fernie there are lots of places to go snowshoeing with Montane Hut being one of the more popular routes. With that said, I find the snow compact enough that snowshoes are not required.
Instead, take the challenging hike up Swine Flu. This 7.5-kilometer trail begins from the visitor center and takes you high above the valley for epic views of the surrounding area. The trail takes around 3 hours and climbs 340 meters in elevation so it’s only suited to the more experienced.
Those who want an intro to snowshoeing should hike to Fairy Creek Falls which also begins from the visitor center.
18. Spoil yourself at Spa 901
All that cold weather will have you wanting to head indoors to relax. So, why not spend the day pampering yourself?!
Fernie is home to three day-spas right downtown as well as a massage therapy clinic. Talk about being spoiled for choice! Spa 901 is the topped reviewed and they offer a ton of body treatments, manicures and pedicures, facial treatments, and massage.
If you truly want to pamper yourself, they also offer pamper packages such as the Head To Toe Indulgence which includes head-to-toe exfoliation as well as a 60-minute massage.
19. Go fat biking
Fat biking is one of the fastest-growing winter adventure sports, and in Fernie, you can enjoy some spectacular trails.
For those who don’t know, fat bikes are just bikes with fat tires that make riding over snow much easier. These tires are sometimes up to 4 inches wide!
There are several designated fat biking trails in Fernie, with some being easier than others. For beginners, head to the Montane area where you’ll find some great trails up to Montane Hut. Just be sure to stay off the groomed cross-country ski tracks.
The more advanced riders can head into Mt Fernie Provincial Park. The two most popular trails for intermediate riders are Phat Bastard and Red Sonja. These loop tracks are frequented by fat bikers. Fernie Alpine Resort also has 8 kilometers of groomed trails
You can rent your fat bike from Gearhub or The Guides Hut in Fernie.
Where to Stay in Fernie in Winter
Fernie may be a small mountain town, but Fernie’s packed with some great places to stay! The best part is, staying at a nice hotel does not have to break the bank in Fernie – especially when compared with winter in Banff or Whistler.
For budget travelers, you should really consider the Fernie Fox Hotel. This small motel-style hotel is located on the outskirts of town but that means it’s closer to Fernie Alpine Resort and Mt Fernie Provincial Park. The hotel rooms are basic but clean and there is also a shared kitchen and hot tub (a great bonus in winter!)
If you don’t mind spending a little more you can get yourself a really nice hotel in town. The Park Place Lodge stands out as a great hotel only a few blocks from the historic area of Fernie. The rooms are certainly more luxurious although you’re mainly paying for the location and the included breakfast. The hotel also has a gym and pool as well as a bar downstairs (The Pub Bar & Grill.)
For luxury travelers there really isn’t anything that stands out in town. In fact, your only real option is Tiny Homes by Snow Valley Lodging which are just tiny homes so you get a kitchen washer dryer, etc. The reviews are good but it’s not my idea of luxury.
For more info, read our blog about where to stay in Fernie, BC!
Canada Winter Travel Essentials
If you’re planning to visit Canada in winter then there are a few things you should pack – things we never travel without. Some you may already have, but others you may want to pick up before you leave. This is especially true if you want to enjoy some of the best outdoor activities!
Here are some of our must-have winter essentials:
Crampons/ Ice Cleats: This is the one item I have that I use so much. If you love the outdoors and enjoy short walks and hikes, crampons are a must! The best part is, the pair that I own is only $29 CAD. They aren’t the best pair out there but they’re perfect for the everyday explorer/traveler.
Insulated water bottle: In the summer you want to keep your water cold but in winter, you want to keep it from freezing. That’s why I always carry an insulated water bottle. This Iron Flask Water Bottle is perfect because it doubles as a thermos so it’s great for carrying hot water for those winter hot chocolates! I have the 32-ounce bottle in pink but I wish I had one of the multi-colored bottles!
Merino wool socks: Cold feet can ruin your time exploring the great outdoors during winter. Please do yourself a favor and get a good quality pair of socks. Even just one pair with come in handy but I myself carry three of these COZIA Wool Socks. They’re 80% Merino wool and really warm. The best part is they are only $15 each! When I’m skiing I can even double them up if it’s -30 °C.
Thermal layers: Staying warm begins from your first layer. Life outside during the Candian winter is much more comfortable with thermal layers. There are a lot of great products in this space but look out for Merino wool products – they’re the best in my opinion!
Ski Gloves: Did you know ski resorts in Canada don’t rent gloves? That means you’re going to need to bring your own. I get really cold hands so I love these new heated rechargeable gloves. They keep your hands warm in the coldest temperatures. Although expensive, you’ll never wear another pair of gloves again.
Polarized sunglasses/ ski goggles: People often forget that on a sunny day in the mountains, the sun can really hurt your eyes when it reflects off the snow. For around town, check out these polarized sunglasses and for in the mountains these ski goggles.
Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. During the winter though, it’s perfect for keeping my nose and cheeks covered from the cold especially when skiing or hiking. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.
Before you go!
Fernie is such an amazing winter destination. I myself cannot wait to return and enjoy this beautiful place once again!
Thanks so much for reading! Both Daniel and I hope this guide has helped plan your upcoming trip to Fernie. If it has then don’t run away just yet, check out more of our blogs such as: