The Best Way to Spend a Winter Weekend in Whitehorse
The northern city’s mix of indoor and outdoor adventures makes for a great getaway
The Yukon’s capital city has a wealth of shops, eateries and winter activities for intrepid visitors. Here’s how to make the most of a weekend visit to Whitehorse.
Day 1: Explore the city centre
Check in to the Coast High Country Inn, tucked between the frozen Yukon River and the compact, walkable heart of downtown Whitehorse. Once, its claim to fame was the multi-storey statue of a Mountie out front; now, it’s best known as the hotel that hosted Will and Kate (a.k.a. the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) during their royal tour in 2016.
The Main Street shopping area is just a few blocks away. Find works by local authors at Mac’s Fireweed Books, then seek out Yukon-made art at North End Gallery. The Collective Good sells a lovingly curated selection of clothing, locally made jewelry and much more.
Come cocktail hour, sit down at Woodcutter’s Blanket, in a renovated heritage log building on Second Avenue, and trust the bartenders—they know their stuff. For dinner, head to cozy Sanchez Cantina, where you’ll find the finest Mexican food north of the 60th parallel.
Day 2: Try dogsledding and aurora hunting
Start your day with Yukon-roasted coffee and tasty treats at the appropriately named Baked Café + Bakery, where everybody in town seems to gather. Then make the 20-minute drive north of town to Muktuk Adventures, a guest ranch that’s also the home of champion dogsled racer Frank Turner. Muktuk offers half- and full-day guided outings with the dogs, including the opportunity to drive your own sled.
For an après-mush warm-up, try Winterlong Brewing Co. Ask the well-informed staff for beer recommendations or get a tasting flight to go with the British-style savoury pies and decadent Scotch eggs.
If the skies are clear and you can stay awake, look up an aurora forecast and venture out to Grey Mountain Road, Chadburn Lake Road or Fish Lake Road, away from downtown’s bright lights, for a DIY northern lights viewing experience.
Day 3: Go for a riverside stroll
Late night of aurora hunting? Sleep in if you must, but don’t miss the best brunch in town at Burnt Toast Café. Cross the street to the recently expanded and renovated MacBride Museum to get your fix of Yukon history.
Weather permitting, pick up a hot beverage at Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters and bundle up for a stroll along the paths beside the Yukon River. This vital, fast-moving and often unforgiving river was the highway to the Klondike gold fields for thousands of prospectors during the gold rush of 1898. Even if you saw their stories in the museum, a winter walk by the banks will give you a new appreciation for what those men and women faced.
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of CAA Magazine.
Looking for more winter activities?
Relax at one of these outdoor spas or kick it up a notch with a new winter sport.
Image credits: istock/Pi-Lens; Tourism Yukon; Courtesy of The Collective Good; Stocktrek Images/Alamy Stock Photo; Jens Von Beckerath/Getty Images