Say “Bonjour” to Village Vacances Valcartier, a snow-capped winter tubing theme park that in summer melts into a major waterpark. Valcartier features snow tubing on steroids just a half-hour’s drive from Quebec City, Canada. They have toddler-friendly snow playgrounds and teen-thrilling rides down almost vertical icy chutes. The huge tubing complex will make you fall in love with winter, guaranteed.
We spent hours sampling a few of the 35 runs, had a good meal at their restaurant, then went back outdoors for more, laughing all the way.
At Valcartier, You Can Start Low & Slow
Start with two large rides, the eight-seat wildly spinning Tornado and the 12-person inflatable boat-style Snow Rafts. These are group raft affairs. We began with those to build up our courage for other rides. They’re perfect fun if you’ve got grandparents, toddlers age 3 or older, or tubing newbies in your group.
Fortunately, you can’t see all the other steep runs from this side of the village. You have to walk around and discover them on your own. Most of the other courses are designed for single tubes joined together in threes and fours. I hold your rope, you hold the one next to you, and on around until you’ve got some serious mass hurtling down the slopes. The tubes fly faster with more collective weight, hence the linking of tubes with others.
And with 5,000 tubes available (choose a firmly inflated one, they go faster), there’s never more than a few minutes’ wait. Getting back up the hill is no problem with the “elevators,” which are tubes attached to a rope tow that allow you to plop into a tethered tube and ride back to the top. This video will give you a peek at the fun.
Skating, Snow Forts and More at Valcartier
There is a beautifully landscaped, gladed, half-mile-long skating path with music. At night, when 135 torches are lit along the perimeter, it’s especially fun for kids. Rental skates are available for a modest fee too.
Parents and grandparents with little ones will appreciate the themed snow fort and play area in Paradis des Tout-Petits, with gentler slides and equal fun. Scoop up plenty of snow for snowballs. Stroll by the ice sculptures for picture-taking. There’s the really unusual sport of Ice go-karting. It is mellower than it sounds because it’s tough to bump anyone on the slick road surface.
Sleepovers and Lodging Options at Village Valcartier
Village Valcartier has a value day package at CDN$99 per person that includes time at the Winter Playground for all of the above activities. Plus, you can tour the elegantly carved, all-ice-blocks Hôtel de Glace or Ice Hotel. Think big igloo. When everyone becomes numb, go for a swim at the included warm-up at Bora Parc, a 102,000-sq.ft. indoor water park kept at 86F degrees water year-round.
Stay overnight at the Hotel Valcartier where families can choose doubles or bunkbed dorms. Bright, spacious rooms are set up with two queen beds and a private bath, coffeemaker and minifridge. Dorms sleep 12 in bunk beds and have shared baths. All guests have free WiFi, gym access, parking and a 10% discount on spa services.
Or, choose the Hôtel de Glace as an overnight option. You can be one of the more than 100,000 day visitors, or knock an item off your bucket list. Each bedroom is an artisan inspired themed suite. Begin by dining in a (heated) hall. Grab your outerwear and bedding package, then retire with a hot toddy at the Ice Bar. Wait for daylight to tour the breathtaking chapel made entirely of ice.
Tips & Tools to Plan Your Visit to Village Vacances Valcartier
Throughout the winter, there are many festivals and school holiday events at Valcartier Vacation Village. Check their website to see what’s going on during your visit. Admission tickets can be packaged with fondue dinners -– a fun cultural treat for the kids — as Valcartier is open till 9pm or later each night in winter.
- Tip: Point your teens to the Ice Karting so they can practice their winter driving skills.
- Winter Driving Tip: If you start to slide while driving on ice, correct by steering in the direction of the slide, then straightening out.
- Tubing Tip: Bring ski goggles or sunglasses to keep the snow spray and wind out of your eyes.
After 50 years of growth, Valcartier is considered the largest winter playground in North America.
Get Down to Serious Fun in Quebec City
All year round, it’s an easy daytrip from Quebec City, which itself is a great family destination with many cultural activities.
In summer it becomes a waterpark, the second largest in Canada after the company’s Calypso Waterpark in Ontario. Families will find heated waterslides and fun themes such as the Amazon River and a Pirates Hideout with 66 different water features. During the summer season, stay at their high-end, 700-site campground for a few days, and your family can go on waterslides galore, plus try river rafting on the real Jacques-Carter River nearby.
For more information, current pricing and schedules, visit Village Vacances Valcartier.
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