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Travel

Valcartier – The Largest Winter Playground in North America

Setting – the largest winter playground in North America.

We are flying down Everest, a human chain of inner tubes, each of us squealing deliciously, eyes squeezed shut, hearts drumming loudly in our ears.

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The vertical plummet straight down, as soon as the gate lifts, has me clutching even harder to handles on either side of my tube while simultaneously also wrapping my triceps around my younger daughter’s boots and grounding us both. All that planking at the gym literally paying off right now in this moment as we scream all the way down.

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At the bottom, when the ground levels out and the tubes finally slow to a halt, we are laughing so hard tears roll down our cheeks threatening to freeze before we all stand up and race back to the tubing conveyer belt in the largest winter playground we’ve ever seen.

Back up we go, repeating the adventure time and time again, beaming ear to ear. I have not seen smiles this big in too long. No worry, no work, no school, no tests or projects, just pure play. Over and over we continue racing, spinning, screaming and laughing until we are hardly able to stand up any more.

Bienvenue a Hôtel Valcartier!

Bienvenue a Hôtel Valcartier! The largest winter playground you will find in North America sits about 20 minutes outside of Quebec City. You’d never know what is hidden here if you were simply driving by. Behind the Hôtel Valcartier is Hôtel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel, open for guests and daily tours from December to late March. And just beyond that is an incredible tubing zone. Follow the path until you find the family sized rafts and hold onto your hats.

The Slippery Outdoor Fun Zone

Valcartier’s winter playground features more than 35 slides, including Everest and Avalanche. Seventeen mechanical lifts pull you uphill, carrying your family closer to the action and, with over 5,000 inner tubes, there’s very little waiting involved. The mechanical lifts are some of the coolest we have seen anywhere dragging you uphill while you sit in an inner tube. Talk about the life!

How Scary are the Slides at Valcartier?

Each of the tubing runs is marked with level of difficulty ranging from easy to double black diamond daring fun, not unlike a ski hill. The Avalanche rafting group slides, Tornado round boat and Everest are extremely popular, so find your group and get in line. Whether you are a young family looking for a tamer version of wintery slides, or full tilt adrenaline junkies you will find a hill that’s just your speed.

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The Coolest Lifts Too

This is not our first time tubing as a family, but it is without a doubt the most enjoyable tubing experience we have ever had together. We have done tubing where you walk up and down the hill entirely on your own steam and we’ve also visited some facilities where they use a magic carpet system, but this mechanical lift at Village Vacances Valcartier has all previous systems beat. The largest winter playground has the best lift system too.

This is everything. Laughter, fun, playing together as a family levels out the days when there’s nothing remotely laughable about life. With Bora Park indoor waterpark, an ice hotel, tubing, indoor arcade, spa, sugar shack, skating rink and Everest too, there’s so much to do here that you will have to prioritize.

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The Last Part of Our March Road Trip

Hôtel de Glace and Hôtel Valcartier are the final stops on our March break road trip. We started at home 12 days ago and drove to Vermont where we visited Okemo in Ludlow and skied for 2 gorgeous days.

Then on to Sugarbush, our Vermont home away from home, to find out about their 60th anniversary celebrations. After skiing through epic Vermont we headed to Maine for three nights at Sunday River. Finally, after all that skiing we drove up to Quebec City where the snow was as high as the rooftops.

The five hour drive was a bit hairy, especially when we saw someone spin right off the road. But eventually, Valcartier rose up just as the road levelled out at the base of a hill. We are here to stay at, visit, and write about Hôtel de Glace.

Read more about our NIGHT in the ICE HOTEL, at Hôtel de Glace. Quebec’s winter work of art, the Hôtel de Glace is something everyone should do at least once.

The Day After Our Ice Hotel Stay

On our first night, we stay in the ice hotel. After the ice sculpting party and tour, we dress properly, dry off and leave valuables inside the hotel room. Sleep comes fast. In the morning, hearts swelling with pride, we race to breakfast, then the tubing hills and the indoor waterpark too.

After a hearty breakfast at Resto Safari we are ready for the tubing hills! Resto Safari has a buffet and a menu too. We each order from the menu, which was a great choice for us. The crêpes and breakfast casserole are hearty, savoury, and sweet! That’s just right for a day of outdoor fun at the largest winter playground in North America.

The rooms inside Hôtel Valcartier are clean and modern. Our room features a pull out wall bed that converts to give us more space during the day. The lobby and entry to the hotel is elegant, spacious and light. Down the hall on the main level, there are shops and indoor restaurants which give the feeling of a neighbourhood.

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In fact, my youngest daughter told me it reminded her of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship we were on once. The design has a relaxed, warm, feeling.

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Skating and Maple Taffy

After an entire day full of adrenaline inducing outdoor tubing and snow raft runs, we skate around the forest track for a bit. Rental skates are available or you can bring your own. Then the girls ask for maple taffy on snow. YUM! There are two sugar shacks outside open during the day.

Bora Park Indoor Waterpark

Swimsuits on, we are ready for more play together at the indoor waterpark. A couple of fast tubing rides together and we break for quick dinner at the waterpark restaurant. Basic fast food fare, but good enough for a night inside the humid Bora Park.

An indoor Flo-Rider surfing ride is extremely popular. Be ready to wait if you are interested in learning how to ride the waves. The lazy river is also a light show, so that’s unique. Of course there’s a wave pool and there are several areas perfect for young families.

Before leaving for our drive home we all agree this is the most fun possible outdoors in the winter anywhere. Start with the Hôtel de Glace then take at least one or two more nights in Hôtel Valcartier, so you can fill a day or two with play. There’s so much value in that experience!

But What About Summer?

In summer months Valcartier features camp grounds, which also have access to all of the seasonal activities. Camp sites feature different prices and accommodation types, with cabins, tents or RV stays. Late May outdoor camping launches and summer kicks into high gear in mid June. This year the outdoor waterslides start June 12th!

Plan Your Stay Now! ->

Tips for Your Stay

  • Bring snow pants, hats, gloves, thermal base layer, good boots and maybe even ski goggles. When you whip down the tubing hills that fast, snow flies everywhere!
  • Pack a protein bar or two if you want to get the most from your time.
  • Don’t forget your swimsuit.
  • Bring a camera too.

On our long drive home to London, we all decided collectively that Valcartier trumps Atlantis in the Bahamas. That’s no small thing at all, but Valcartier has so much more for families. It’s truly the most fun you can have outside in the winter months in Canada.

We were guests of Valcartier and Hôtel de Glace Quebec in 2019. This experience was so incredible we cannot say enough. It is a must do. Post also contains affiliate links as a service to readers.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.

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