Craft Breweries, quaint mountain towns, stunning rocky mountain views – those are the new experiences many people seek when planning at road trip. Road trips really are the best of all travelling worlds – without the major cost/headache of flying somewhere, staying semi close to your homebase while getting out and seeing the world at the same time. If you’re still looking to plan a fun, easy to manage getaway this summer or fall – here’s an itinerary all laid out for you. Less planning – more fun! It doesn’t get much better than that!
If you’re coming from Calgary in the south of the city or surrounding area, start at Fernie Alpine Resort – it’s an easy 2.5 hour drive when there’s no snow on the ground and it is home to perhaps the best known craft brewery scene of all our suggested locations. If you’re heading out from Calgary in the north or surrounding area, Kicking Horse might be the place for you to start your trip and do this whole circuit in reverse.
Fernie, B.C. – where the beer is local, but your server might be an import
Fernie is one of Canada’s great ski towns, not only has it been named ‘the coolest little town in North America’ by Rolling Stone Magazine, it’s also been named ‘the greatest Canadian outdoor town’ by Get Out There Magazine, in part because it truly is a year round outdoor destination with so much to do in the summer as well as the winter.
What to try – for a non boozy activity, try the Aerial Park at Fernie Alpine Resort. It’s a super fun afternoon where even adults find a challenge in the tree top obstacle course (perhaps do this one before the brewery tour, you might not want to have a hang over when 30 feet up in the trees)!
Where to drink – The Fernie Brewing Company is not just well known in Fernie, it’s well known in Calgary and branching out into many other major cities as well. But Fernie, of course, is the breweries home. The Fernie Brewing Co. building is located just as you drive into town (from the Sparwood/Calgary direction), they have a tasting room where you can try a flight of 4 beers for just $5 – which they donate to charity! Want to give back and drink at the same time? Fernie Brewing Co. is for you! Another fun initiative from the Fernie Brewing Co. is the Trail to Ale challenge, which is pretty much exactly what the name suggests, get more information on the Trail to Ale challenge on their website.
Kimberley, B.C – a place to get away from traffic, full calendars and all things marked ‘urgent’
Kimberley is a town where you feel relaxed, like really relaxed. If you’re from the city when was the last time you can say you felt completely relaxed? Maybe it was on a nature walk, or in your backyard or maybe it’s only when you actually get out of the city. If you’re asking the questions where can I relax and forget about all my worries while on vacation – Kimberley is your answer.
What to try – swimming in gorgeous St. Mary’s lake, it’s super fun & super free! There’s not only swimming at St. Mary’s Lake you can also canoe, kayak, stand up paddle board, fish or just float! If you’re looking to rent some water sports equipment check out local company Kootenay Rafting for options. St Mary’s is home to some of the most gorgeous views in the region, Instagram worthy pictures for sure (and everyone needs to document their best vacations on Instagram). For even more options of what to try in Kimberley, check out my blog from last summer – ‘12 (plus) reasons to visit Kimberley this August’.
Where to drink – Overtime Beerworks in Kimberley may be the youngest of all the breweries on our list, starting in 2016 – don’t let that deter you though, their beers are brewed with the sophistication of a much older brewery and they’re quickly making a name for themselves further than just in Kimberley and are available in a variety of cities and towns in British Columbia and Alberta. All their beers are brewed in small batches, making each of them slightly different with the unique flare of each individual batch – try local favourites like the ‘Mountain Standard’ Golden Ale or the ‘Right About Now’ IPA.
Golden, B.C – the friendly mountain town
Golden is another one of those ultimate outdoor adventure towns on our list, with a TON to choose from in regards to outdoor activities. Golden and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort are frequently named in magazines with annotations such as ‘extreme’, ‘challenging’ and ‘adventurous’ and while it is all of those things, it’s also a place to chill out and enjoy adventures everyone can try. For example…
What to try – the Via Ferrata at Kicking horse Mountain Resort is an amazing experience not to be missed while in Golden. While it admittingly does look pretty hardcore, it’s actually a mountain climbing trek even novices can accomplish and feel comfortable while doing so. Via Ferrata courses are a series of iron rungs and handles mounted across the mountain face that novices and expert climbers can do, all the while strapped into to a safety harness – an added bonus of the Kicking Horse course is the suspension bridge you need to cross to get to the Via Ferrata course, it’s an experience in itself! In fact, if the Via Ferrata is still a little too hardcore for you – the Suspension Bridge can be done on its own without having to continue onto the full course. The sense of wonder and accomplishment you’ll feel after achieving the Via Ferrata course or just crossing the Suspension Bridge is enough to make anyone want a beer!
Where to drink – The Whitetooth Brewing Company is the place to go in Golden, not only do they offer their own unique and delicious beers (that goes without saying), their outdoor patio is one of the best in Golden with an epic view of the surrounding mountains. There are quite a few beers to choose from that fall into three categories – ‘West Coast Inspired’, Belgian Inspired’ and ‘High Gravity’ – no matter what type of beer you enjoy you’re sure to find one that suits your taste buds here. The Brewery doesn’t have a huge capacity and is usually busy – they open at 2pm so make sure you go early and you might just get to sit here, I can’t think of very many better seats than that!
Fernie is our first favourite…
Like many skiers/boarders in Fernie during the winter, you’re driving here from Calgary. Just 3 hours away makes it easy enough to travel to after the Friday work day, so arriving late may be an unavoidable situation. If you’re coming for the sole purpose of catching some pow at the resort, you may choose to drive straight to the resort to settle into your ski in/ski out accommodations and while there are some places to dine on mountain, choosing to stop in town can provide you with a fun experience and the opportunity to spend time in one of the most authentic ski towns in North America.
401 2nd Ave.
Simply put, the Brickhouse has delicious food and good beer. With a kitchen open until around 10/10:30pm you can grab your later at night meal here and not have to give any sacrifice to taste. With healthy and hearty options to choose from, it also focuses on local, organic ingredients and even has some pleasant surprises like the Nut Free Grilled Chicken Pesto Sammy, conveniently listed as nut free on the menu, a huge bonus for people with food allergies (like me).
641, 2nd Ave.
Just down the street from The Brickhouse (literally), is one of the town’s favourite bakeries which doubles as a delicious restaurant, you can pop in to buy baked goods/bread for a snack – or there a few tables to sit down and order off their menu, providing a great spot for breakfast, lunch, dinner or Après (they’re a licensed facilities with $5 happy hour)!
Blue Toque Café
601 1st Ave, in Arts Station
Slightly off the beaten path you might not notice it because it isn’t located on 2nd ave or 7th Ave. Blue Touque is located in the Arts Station (1st ave). Their corporate and mission statement, as written on the blackboard above their coffee bar reads “good eats & a cup of joe”, a simply and meaningful statement. Preparing everything from the freshest of states, you will feel full and happy after tasting something off their hearty and very vegan/vegetarian gluten free friendly menu. This quaint café is on the smaller side, but if you’ve found yourself waiting for a table just put your name down on the list and occupy yourself by taking in the art that decorates the hall walls.
Eating On Mountain
NEW Cirque Restaurant & Ice Bar
Located in Lizard Creek Lodge
This is one to add to your Fernie food bucket list for sure! Cirque is the new restaurant and bar in Lizard Creek Lodge, home to the iconic fireplace it recently underwent a gorgeous renovation, making the new great room a comfortable and trendy place to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner or après drinks. Plus, Cirque is home to the new Ice Bar presented by Stoli, whether you are a vodka connoisseur our not this is one experience not to miss! Get donned in provided Helly Hansen parkas and enter the Ice room (literally a room made out of ice) to taste the world’s finest vodkas the way they were meant to be enjoyed, in sub zero temperatures and learn about them too!
Located in the Fernie Alpine Resort plaza
The Griz Bar has been an icon of Fernie Alpine Resort since it opened under its original name, Fernie Ski Valley, in fact it’s been ‘keepin rippers ripped since 1962”. Being one of the hottest spots for Apres, it has indoor and outdoor seating, an infamous table and a wonderfully simple menu (nachos and beer) and is often featuring local bands for live après entertainment. Darcy has been running the Griz Bar for years and is the brain child behind the NEW ‘peak to pint’ challenge, read more about Darcy on Fernie Alpine Resort’s Facebook page and find out more about the Griz Bar on the website.
Eat too much? Don’t worry , there’s a run (or two) for that!
Words & Photos by Cali Sammel
Wondering what else there is to do in Fernie? Check out “The Top 7 Things to Do this Winter While Visiting Fernie“
Fernie is full of passion. Arguably, first and foremost, many are die hard skiers or snowboarders and enjoy all the perks that come with having Fernie Alpine Resort in their backyard. However, outside of the resort there are plenty of other fun things to do and see in Fernie, B.C. If you’re looking to venture further into the Fernie culture, here are some suggestions to help you plan the perfect Fernie itinerary:
Ghostriders Hockey Game
Named after the Legend of the Ghostrider, the locals in Fernie are super into their hockey and extremely (borderline obsessively so) supportive of their team – similar to the rest of Canada. If you’re in town during a Ghostriders game it would be an outrage to not see it!
Check out the Ghostriders schedule on their website. Photo courtesy of Ghostriders flickr.
Read about the Legend of the Ghostrider.
Take a Hot Tub Time Machine Tour
That’s right, Hot Tub Time Machine. The popular 2010 John Cusack movie was filmed largely in Fernie, some of the filming locations include Main Street (2nd Ave), The Brickhouse on 2nd Ave, The Plaza at Fernie Alpine Resort. Stop by and see if you can recognize Fernie disguised as the fictional Kodiak Valley from the movie.
Visit the Miners Tour & City Hall
Fernie, like many B.C towns, owes a lot of their history to mining. Outside the architecturally pleasing City Hall is a shrine to the miners that made its history, paved with 300 bricks with the names of miners and mining families. Walk through the set up and read educational plaques and learn about history through interactive features.
Also nearby for a visit are the Fernie Courthouse, Museum, Arts Station and Heritage Library. More info.
Go for a Winter Bike
New this season, dedicated trails and rental bikes for Winter Fat Biking! Monster tires and low gearing means biking in the snow is easy and fun for both first timers and seasoned cyclists. Take a tour – the resort will offer rental bikes and tours/lessons with guides this winter. More info.
Eat Delicious Food
Like most cool little towns, Fernie has a thriving food industry. With many places to dine including some gems like The Loaf or The Brickhouse on ‘main street’ or Yamagoya Sushi. Stay tuned for another article featuring the best places to eat in Fernie!
Visit the Spa
With a few spas to choose from in Fernie, you can stay on mountain and enjoy the Lizard Creek Lodge spa or venture into town. What better way to feel great after a long day of riding the pow than to have a relaxing massage? For a full list of available spas visit the Tourism Fernie website.
Snowshoeing/Cross Country Skiing
Fernie Alpine Resort and the surrounding area has an extensive network of cross country ski trails and snowshoeing trails. The trails at the resort are regularly maintained (groomed & trackset) and are multi-use trails, free of charge. Snowshoe and Nordic ski rentals as well as guided tours are available at the resort, or roam around on your own and enjoy nature’s tranquility (maps and signage on the trails will let you know where to go). In addition, the Fernie Nordic Society maintains a great network of trails at the provincial park and golf course (membership or day use fee required).
Words by Cali Sammel
Photos by Fernie Ghostriders, Fernie Alpine Resort and Cali Sammel
If you’re spending time in Fernie this Winter Season, you should be planning ahead for at least one memorable night out on Downtown Fernie’s vibrant 2nd Avenue. The ingredients for the Perfect Aprés Ski Party? How about: delicious food, fantastic ambience, great friends and fun.
Fernie favourite, the Loaf, can deliver all the goods! Loaf has an excellent local reputation for casual fine-dining with great service. Their range of Italian-inspired menu items and freshly prepared dinner specials are available nightly alongside their award-winning, stone-baked, Italian-style pizzas. Loaf is a great choice for families and groups – they can accommodate large parties, private functions and even arrange live music and entertainment to make your party a memorable one. Just call the Loaf on (250) 423-7702 to discuss your requirements.
See www.loafbakery.ca for details on brunch, $5 Happy Hour, dinner times and menus, including Loaf’s super-easy-to-use online take-out service.