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December, Vancouver to Whistler or Calgary to Banff

Charlotte, NC
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15 posts
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December, Vancouver to Whistler or Calgary to Banff

My wife and I are planning a trip in early December (6th-13th). We want to go somewhere that will have snow with it being so close to Christmas and our home never getting snow. We would like to hit a metropolitan area that has all the usual trappings of a decent sized city (large variety of restaurants, bars, shopping, sights, etc...) and a mountain town where we can do some fun outdoors stuff (winter sports, enjoy the scenery and relax). I think we're leading towards Vancouver to Whistler but, I'm a little unsure.

I'm thinking we'll probably do 3 nights in the city and 4 nights in the mountains. We are budgeting around $250-$300 a night for hotels. So finding nice accommodations shouldn't be an issue. We also enjoy nice restaurants but, really only go "all out" for dinner once or twice during a trip and I'm sure any of these locations has at least two really good places to eat. What I am worried about is running out of things to do and see.

On previous vacations the things we enjoyed the most were generally the things that you can't see in other places (Golden Gate Bridge, Big Sur, 17 mile drive, Salzbergwerk, Neuschwanstein, scenery of Berchtesgaden, etc...). We're not really museum people but, since it will be quite cold compared to what we are used to we might be more inclined to visit one or two during the city portion of our trip.

Our original plan was to fly to Vancouver and drive to Banff. I think I was gravitating toward Vancouver and Banff because I've been to both albeit almost 20 years ago when I was just 15 and it was summer not winter. However the distance, the aforementioned snow and going across a few mountain passes means I'm not exactly keen on making that trip in a rental car that probably won't have snow tires.

At this point I think our options are:

1.Fly into Calgary and drive the 80+/- miles to Banff easily enough but, I just kind of get the feeling there isn't much in Calgary that would interest us.

2. Fly into Vancouver drive to Whistler. I did a fair amount of research on Whistler and I don't think we'd be disappointed but, Banff/ Lake Louise kind of have a special place in my heart and wanted to make sure.

What's your vote? Thanks in advance for the input.

Edmonton, Canada
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1. Re: December, Vancouver to Whistler or Calgary to Banff

tough call...I think for the city, Vancouver sounds better for you but I find the village of Whistler is rather dull and it's very expensive.

Calgary is not as great as city a Vancouver but I think the Banff/Lake Louise areas are much more enjoyable and beautiful then Whistler. The town of Banff has some nice restaurants and lots of little shops.

Charlotte, NC
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2. Re: December, Vancouver to Whistler or Calgary to Banff

That's pretty much what I thought. Now I guess it's a question of which is the better compromise.

I know one of the things that struck me about Banff and LL was seeing the contrast of the glacial lakes and rivers with the landscape and of course the glaciers. I was wondering if maybe it's a little less visually impressive once everything is covered in snow and you can't tell where a glacier begins and ends and the lakes are iced over, etc... If that's the case I might lean more towards Vancouver and Whistler.

Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: December, Vancouver to Whistler or Calgary to Banff

We have been to Banff/LL in both winter and summer. Being from a 'moderate' climate (Australia) we loved seeing snow everywhere in the winter - it's a novelty for us and so beautiful. Winter offered some spectacular sights and great skiing, snow play, dog sledding, etc. That said, I have to agree that < it's a little less visually impressive once everything is covered in snow and you can't tell where a glacier begins and ends and the lakes are iced over>, and travelling along the Icefield Parkway Jasper to LL/Banff, a number of site-seeing stops were inaccessible in the winter. I'm glad we've been able to see this area in both summer and winter, as each time of year offers its own beauty and spectacular scenery/sights.

Edmonton, Canada
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4. Re: December, Vancouver to Whistler or Calgary to Banff

well, I have to admit that I don't travel to see cities...so i'm a little biased....but consider, you can see cities all over the world....there is only one banff / lake louise / ice field parkway / jasper.area.

Edited: 16 July 2013, 04:10
Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: December, Vancouver to Whistler or Calgary to Banff

Well, you could do both, but you'd have to fly. Spend a few days in Vancouver, get a morning flight to Calgary and drive directly to Banff....

I don't know Calgary at all, but I know the weather here on the coast tends to mild and warm by comparison. This also can translate to damp and grey.

Draw a name from a hat and go from there. As you've already determined, there's pros and cons either way.

Charlotte, NC
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6. Re: December, Vancouver to Whistler or Calgary to Banff

I think we've pretty much decided to go with Vancouver to Whistler. If for whatever reason we decide don't like one area or another we could probably bail and go to the Wickaninnish or something.

7. Re: December, Vancouver to Whistler or Calgary to Banff

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