Fernie, BC

I would use this to get around: My thumb. There’s a hitching post in town, just west of the bridge on the highway that runs through Fernie, from which you can catch a ride to the ski hill any time of day (or night, probably). It’s the way to go if you want to live like a local and save your cash for après at the Griz. Otherwise, the town itself is small and totally accessible on foot. In fact, walking along 2nd Ave amid the boutiques and cafés is one of the best ways to spend a down day in Fernie if your quads need a break from all that gnarly shredding (dude).

I would stay here: Well, if I were you and you were rich, I’d rent a big house with a hot tub right on the hill. You can see them from one of the chair lifts and they always cause me to sigh wistfully and drool pathetically and mutter something about living the dream. So, yeah. That’s where I’d stay. Fernie Alpine Resort has tons of other options that range from budget motel-style rooms to luxury suites and townhouses. Lizard Creek is a great option because it’s got a massive outdoor hot tub that sits at the base of the hill and a gorgeous mountain lodge dining room complete with roaring stone fireplace and a Sunday brunch that will knock your wool socks right off.

I would eat here: I already mentioned the bunch at Lizard Creek, so there’s that. But Fernie has some really great restaurants for such a small town, thanks to the influx of dollars and cents from the throngs of weekend warriors that descend from nearby Calgary on a regular basis. For a pre-adventure breakfast, I’d hit up Big Bang Bagels right on 2nd Ave or The Organic Market across the highway on 7th. For a lazy morning extended breakfast event, head to the Blue Toque, located inside the Arts Station 1st Ave. It’s a cool little spot with great coffee and even better food, as well as an impressive display of local artwork and a decent collection of games to play while you wait. For lunch, The Loaf is a real treat. It’s a relatively new bakery in town but it’s sure to be a local fixture for a long, long time. If I were you I’d get the pizza. For supper, there are two hot spots not to be missed. One is Yamagoya Sushi. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend going for sushi in a landlocked coal mining town of 5000 people. It’s just sort of a rule that I have. But this place is a go. Despite the fact that it’s a bit pricey, it’s super popular even among the poor ski bum locals, so expect to wait. Good things will come, I promise. My other go-to spot in Fernie is a place called the Curry Bowl. It’s name is clever and punny given the alpine bowl of the same name up at the hill and the fact that it’s a Thai restaurant, so I’d probably recommend going there based solely on the fact that I like stuff like that. But, as it turns out, the food is great and they have a cool little waiting room up in the attic where you can have a drink and snuggle up beside a few strangers if there’s a line at the door.

I would drink here: First, let’s talk après-ski. Located right at the base of the mountain, The Griz is where it’s at for post-powder libations. At around 2:30 you need to start asking yourself what’s more important – having one more run or getting a seat at the bar. It’s a given that the place will be packed within the hour, full of exaggerated tales and inflated egos, so you definitely want to get in there and be part of it all. I mean, I’m sure you dropped a sick 25-footer on Polar Peak and found fresh lines in the trees off Cedar Bowl, so get your nachos and pitcher of beer and start bragging already! Late night, it’s all about sourcing the live music and finding out what’s on tap. Fernie Fix is the local (FANTASTIC) magazine and it has an online calendar of events to help you plan your personal pub crawl. Basically, though, the hot spots in town lie along 2nd Ave for the most part and they all serve alcohol, so take a short walk and poke your head around until you find something that speaks to your inner party animal. The Brickhouse has maybe the best atmosphere, in my opinion, and the Northern tends to get the best live music. Otherwise, a bar’s a bar when you’re thirsty.

I would do this: Gimme a sec and let me think about it… I’m sure there’s gotta be something to do in Fernie… Oh, wait. I know. SKI. If I were you I would ski. All the time. Until I could no longer move and they had to forklift me and my beer into the hot tub and then roll me into bed. It’s one of the best hills in all of the Milky Way, so if you’re not there to rip, maybe change your mind. If you REALLY aren’t into strapping things to your feet and zooming down snow-covered mountains, other possibilities include dogsledding with Adventure Source, watching a Ghostriders hockey game or going for a snowshoe on one of the many wooded trails around town. In summer, the area is renowned for its fly fishing, mountain biking and white water rafting, so don’t even think for a second that this is a one-season town.

I wouldn’t do this: Drive to Fernie in winter without snow tires. No matter from whence you come, the roads into town and up to the hill can range from pretty dicey to straight-up treacherous. Be careful. Coming from Calgary, you have no choice but to go through a sketchy mountain pass and, coming from the west, you’re sharing slick, windy roads with transport trucks galore. Welcome to Canadian winter driving.


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