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Reviewed on Jun. 26, 2019
Zipping and zagging, Whitecourt, Canada is the self-branded Snowmobile Capital of Alberta. With the motto of “Let’s Go…”, Whitecourt thrives when it comes to winter activities. Hotels in Whitecourt are fairly spread out, which makes it easy to pick which area you’d like to stay in. All of the hotels Whitecourt has to offer are well-prepared for snowy weather and include well-oiled heaters and plenty of blankets. This is the best way to spend a comfortable and affordable vacation in this winter-oriented town.
Expedia.ca makes it easy for you to find cheap hotels in Whitecourt so can fully stay within your travel budget. This means less time and worry over money and more time zooming around town in a fast snowmobile.
Whitecourt-bound travellers often find it easiest to arrive by plane. Expedia.ca offers several cheap flights to Whitecourt, landing at the Edmonton International Airport (YEG), about 177km away. Once you land, you have to option of using Greyhound Canada for a direct bus route to town or you can choose to rent a car. If you decide to drive, take Highway 43 from Edmonton to Whitecourt and enjoy looking out to the rocky terrain on the way there. For those driving from the north or south, take Highway 32 and be pampered by vistas of the calm McLeod and Athabasca Rivers which intersect in Whitecourt.
Nimble and quick, one of the best ways to zoom around the “Snowmobile Capital of Alberta” in your parka and snow boots is on a snowmobile. Whitecourt has several well groomed trails perfect for some quick speed and the familiar motor buzz ringing in your ear. Kayaks are a fun means of transportation during the summer months. The river waters are usually calm enough for intermediate paddlers to do some extensive kayaking around Whitecourt and the neighboring cities like Fort Assiniboine and Jasper. Due to its rural location, Whitecourt doesn’t have an extensive bus line, so if you prefer to drive around during your trip, Expedia.ca offers a Whitecourt car rental guide to help you find the right rugged car for your vacation.
Things To Do
A good place to start your Whitecourt vacation is in Carson Pegasus Provincial Park, where you can rent a boat, kayak, or canoe, and fully unwind on the calm blue lake. There are plenty of affordable hotels near Carson-Pegasus Provincial Park if you’d like to make the scenic landscape your home base during your trip.
Whitecourt offers several other fantastic parks for the whole family. Riverboat Park, which rests along the Athabasca River, is an ideal spot for picnics, fishing, and boating. However, your kids might just like Rotary Park best. Rotary Park is home to the Whitecourt River Slide during the summer months, and features two man-made creeks, with a series of pools and drops for tubing and playing.There are plenty of hotels in Whitecourt located near these public areas, so you don’t have to travel too far with kids in tow.
Winter time wouldn’t be complete without heart-racing snowmobiling in Whitecourt. This must-do sport is a staple of town. Volunteers look after an extensive network of snowmobile trails covering about 420km in the area. Day passes are available to satisfy your need for speed on one of the quick snowmobiles. If you want to stay in a Whitecourt hotel near the action, The Golden Triangle Trail System and the Silver Summit Trail System are among the most popular routes. The terrain varies from rolling hills to flat stretches, and makes for a great way to see all of Whitecourt. There are plenty of warm-up stations located throughout the trails so you can warm yourself up before jumping back on the trails and back into town.
Whitecourt was named by the Cree tribe as “Sagitawah” (the place where the rivers meet). Though the land lay open and largely empty for many years, the Hudson Bay Company established a trading post in the area in 1897. Even with the post, the land remained mostly inhabited. The first permanent resident, John Goodwin, didn’t settle in the area until 1905.
The railroad changed the course of the town’s history in 1910. The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway was expanded near the area, and Premier Arthur Lewis Sifton encouraged immigrants to settle into the vastly inhabited area between Edmonton and the Peace River County. The name Whitecourt wasn’t established until 1910, when it was chosen by the postmaster of the newly established community.
By the 1920, the town has two hotels in Whitecourt, a restaurant, a bank, one school, a pool hall, and a few other stores in town. Whitecourt started hitting its stride after WWII when residents returned from war. The revived ‘can do’ attitude led to more stores and saw mills in the area. Things really began to boom once oil and gas were found in nearby Leduc, as oil companies and their employees moved into town.
Whitecourt became more of tourist stop in the latter half of the century, with several snowmobile trails and winter Whitecourt hotels opening up in town. This is largely due to the Trailblazers club. Established in 1979, the club has since been host to several events throughout the year for snowmobile fans and Whitecourt visitors.
Arts and Entertainment
Known mostly for its parks and recreation, Whitecourt has only recently tried to add a little more arts and entertainment to the roster of things to check out while in town. The number one place to stay in summer is a Whitecourt hotel near Rotary Park. Rotary Park began hosting an arts and culture summer series in the summer of 2012. Called Art in the Park, it features pottery, painting, photography, clothing, and live music. The family-friendly event is free and open to visitors, and locals alike.
Some Whitecourt artists have come together to put on their own artist performances during the rest of the year. For instance, the Pumpjack Players are an amateur theatre group who put on annual spring and fall productions. Other local actors put on the yearly Christmas Show, as a part of the Whitecourt Arts Council.
If you are looking for a little bit more of a historic view of Whitecourt, look no further than the Forest Interpretive Centre. The centre offers a multi-media view of the forest surrounding Whitecourt, and how the greenery has given life and rise to the town.
Of course, if you’re looking for more of a simple night in, head on over to the Whitecourt movie theatre. The Visa Theatre has ten screens and is close to a plethora of affordable eateries and hotels in Whitecourt. A peaceful night with the locals might be all the energy you can spare after a long day of skiing and snowmobiling.
Look out for those Whitecourt Wolverines. The Wolverines are a junior “A” hockey team, representing Whitecourt in the battleground of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL). The Wolverines always bring their claws out for the competition, so you’re sure to enjoy a fierce game.
If you prefer your ice a little more on the melted side, check out the annual Whitecourt Jet Boat Races. Around 30-40 boats compete each year in four different classes. The slowest boat still races at 152km/h, and the unlimited class is open to speeds up to 225km/h! The annual event occurs each August. The races take place in the Athabasca River, if you’d like to book your Whitecourt hotel near the water and the applause.
Of course, there are plenty of sports to participate in yourself, like snowmobiling and skiing down the slopes. Golfing is also a popular sport in town. There are a number of Whitecourt Golf and Country Club hotels in the area, if you’d like your golf course a quick walk from your hotel room. Of course, if the weather is not accommodating to outdoor fun, head on over to the Allan and Jean Millar Centre, which features a field house for racquetball, squash, badminton, and dodgeball. Use Expedia.ca to find affordable Whitecourt hotels near Allan and Jean Millar Community Centre for your stay.
Whitecourt is a close-knit town with a real focus on family allowing you to take the calm nightlife as an excellent time for bonding with the kids and kin. Book a Whitecourt hotel away from downtown for less distractions and noise.
Consider bringing your own games from home and make it a game night. Or head outside and do some star gazing with some binoculars or a telescope. Bring along a star map or star app on your phone and enjoy learning the planets and constellations with your kids. Some Whitecourt hotels include a kitchen so you can make some hot coco once you and your family return from the chilly outdoors.
Seeing a family film at the local movie theatre is also a good option, if you have little ones in tow. It’ll probably be an early night, and that’s a good thing. You’ll want everyone to get plenty of sleep before another full day of outdoor activity during your memorable family Whitecourt vacation.
Restaurants and Food
Whitecourt has a humble small town feel with it comes to its food. Their cuisine is mostly family friendly, with lots of reliable food chains to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Most of these places are fast-food places, though there are a few favorite greasy spoons and cozy diners in town.
Popular food items are often no frills types of grub, like hearty burgers, pizza, and sandwiches. You’ll find many of the locals hanging out in these types of food joints and diners. These town favourites are good spots to meet with Whitecourt residents to learn about the town and get advice about off-the-beaten-path things to do during your vacation. There are also a few Chinese restaurants dotting the town, if you are looking for a bit of variety.
If you prefer the pub atmosphere for food, several Whitecourt hotels have their own pubs attached. Here you can order a good steak and some all-time favourite appetizers, like dips and fish and chips. Some of these pub hotels in Whitecourt also offer room service, so you can have your food delivered to your room without the hassle of going out for dinner. When you spend all day on the slopes, sometimes getting up to go out for dinner is a little more than tricky to do. A nice bowl of hot soup or a thick steak is a welcome sight at your hotel door.
Whitecourt is an outdoorsy town, so shopping is usually scaled to outdoor hunting and camping gear. Find everything you need for an action-packed weekend, including camouflage clothing, guns, fishing poles, and cross-bows. You can also find camping bags, cooking tools, and hunting knifes. If you need a break from snowmobiling and skiing but still want to stay active during your vacation, many of these stores also sell sporting goods like footballs and soccer balls.
If you need any the latest hand-held technology to keep the kids occupied during your trip, there are a few electronic shops close to town. The majority of the stores, as well as the many of the downtown Whitecourt hotels, are located near 50th Street. If you are not able to find what you need on 50th, the largest shopping centre in town is along Dahl Drive and 2nd Street, where you can find just about everything you’d need for your vacation. Your Whitecourt hotel should also have a few knickknacks, in case you forgot some toiletries at home.
For more extensive spree, head over to Swan Hills to shop for additional attire and style options. Swan Hills is about 80 km from Whitecourt, along the convenient Highway 32. Once there, you’ll find more women’s and men’s clothing, as well as accessories and shoes. You can also find some fur, stamps, and handmade crafts in Swan Hills to bring back home as collectibles making for great mementos of your trip.
Weather and Climate
“Baby, it’s cold outside…” and will remain so and snow for most of the season. Whitecourt’s winter weather ranges from -11°C to -3°C in winter with lots of snow. Summer temperatures are mild, ranging about 13°C to 15°C. Falls and springs are temperate, with temperatures ranging from about 3°C to 16°C. Bring your coat and extra socks to keep warm outside no matter what time of year brings you to town. Know that a toasty hotel in Whitecourt is awaiting you.
Culture and Personality
Whitecourt residents take a lot of pride in their landscape, so respect the mountains. Many of the snowmobile trails are groomed and marked by Whitecourt volunteers. Do not leave your trash or tamper with any of the hard work of the town’s locals. As you walk out of your Whitecourt hotel, stay on clearly marked pathways, as search and rescue missions are costly and time consuming, and most importantly are a health risk for you. This is definitely a family friendly city, so feel free to bring your kids along for the trip. They’ll love making snowmen and hitting the snowmobiles along with you.
Number One Travel Tip
You can’t go to the Snowmobile capitol of Alberta without renting a snowmobile. You simply have to zigzag through the snowcap mountains and imposing trees. When travelling to Whitecourt, remember you are opting for a getaway in an industrial and outdoorsy town. You’ll be spending the majority of your time out in the snow, if you’re travelling in winter and lots of time on the lakes, if you’re travelling in summer. Rememberto bring clothing primed for action and adventure.