Winter Wonderland Escapes

Josh Wicks

Here are my top 5 picks for fulfilling winter experiences. Not to escape winter, but to bundle up and embrace it. Some are for relaxation, some are for sport. All of them are certified winter fun. #seekerchallenge

Lake Simcoe, Whistler, Puerto Varas, Mount Washington, Darjeeling

  • Lake Simcoe, Canada

    Image of Lake Simcoe on Seeker
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      It might not sound like it, but ice fishing is something you've gotta try. Picture this; you take a snowmobile out into the middle of the frozen-over Lake Simcoe where you arrive at a cozy little fishing shack built for 4. Once inside you sit around a hole in the ice and drop a little fishing line down into the freezy blue water and wait for a bite. Fishing is fun but this is another level. Lake Simcoe is home to many varieties of edible fish including yellow perch, lake trout, herring, and whitefish. You'll be surprised at the size of a meal you can bring home to eat. And you'll have no problem finding an outfitter who will rent you a hut and supply with you everything you need for a memorable day on the lake. For a more enriching experience be sure to bring hot drinks and friends.

  • Whistler, Canada

    Image of Whistler on Seeker
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      As a Canadian, when I think of winter escapes, I think of Whistler. While its Blackcomb ski resort is one of the biggest in North America, the village in the heart of Whistler is a little pedestrian wonderland with all the luxuries. If you've got the money or know the right people you can have some fun nights here. If you're vagabonding on a budget head for the staff housing buildings. It won't take long to make friends with a multitude of fellow travelers from around the world who come to work at Whistler for the free lift pass. You'll have just as much fun with them and learn more tips about this special place.

  • Puerto Varas, Chile

    Image of Puerto Varas on Seeker
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Puerto Varas is nestled nicely at the southern tip of Lago Llanquihue, the third biggest lake in Chile. What's cool about that? It's a perfect hub of activity for nature lovers looking to explore nearby lakes, mountains, and natural parks. It's also a really family-friendly place to get away for a while. There are lots of cool hostels with their own unique style to accommodate you. I recommend Casa Azul for its comfort and cleanliness. If you're set on staying in town and enjoying the winter happenings, check out the museum of Pablo Fiero and have your mind blown. It's not your average museum. In a place like Puerto Varas, the best thing to do is walk around and follow your nose to whatever smells the most delicious. You'll probably wander into a festival on the street.

  • Mount Washington, Canada

    Image of Mount Washington on Seeker
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      You don't need to be a ski-bum to get maximum satisfaction from this place. There is plenty to do without buying a lift ticket. Mount Washington is an ideal spot to rent a cabin for the family or split on a spacious lodge with a group of friends. It's a great feeling to step out your front door, strap on your snowboard, and already be on the mountain. Beyond skiing and snowboarding, there's snowshoeing, fat-biking, and hiking on nearly as many trails as there is downhill ski runs. At night, hit the Alpine Lodge for karaoke with a live band backing you up.

  • Darjeeling, India

    Image of Darjeeling on Seeker
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      One of the coolest, coziest mountain towns I've ever been to. Explore this humble place on foot and you'll never want to leave. One of the best and cheapest lodgings I found was the Tower View, which had a bohemian style cafe with a breathtaking balcony view. Maybe it's the elevation but something about Darjeeling makes everyone mellow out. This is the perfect place to just stay put for a week or two. Bring that book you've been wanting to read in peace. Chillax and sip on the tea that put Darjeeling on the map. It's the real deal.