If you are a lover of all things outdoor and the atmosphere of a small ski town, than look no further! Whistler is located in the center of the Canadian province of British Columbia, but directions that might make more sense are….drive 4 hours from Seattle, Washington north through Vancouver B.C. and you will reach Whistler.
If you are a first timer to Whistler, I would recommend staying in Lower Whistler Village so you are close to everything. The map above shows where our hotel Whistler Village Inn and Suites is located compared to the gondola. About 2 minutes! We ended up getting a Superior Loft which held our group of 6 perfectly. It has a loft area with a queen bed and a lot of room for another air mattress if your group is larger. Downstairs features a small kitchenette, a dining table that converts to a bed (murphy bed) and a sofa bed that pulls out two separate twin beds.
Most people go to Whistler in the winter time (especially after the winter Olympics took place there) for the skiing and snowboarding but it is also just as much fun in the summer.
Ski/Snowboard: Duh, that’s probably the main thing to do their in the winter. I ski (I know…one of maybe two in the world) and have skied in several places in Washington but this takes the cake. The lift ticket is about $100/day (but can be cheaper if you plan to go to Whistler multiple times in the winter). I advise getting there right when the lifts open to take advantage of the time you have. The mountain is open approximately 8:00am-3:00pm. You first take a gondola ride up with about 8 other people. The gondola ride takes about 15 minutes and takes you to the base of the mountain where you then have about 6 other ski lifts even further up the mountain. Oh yeah, and did I mention you can ski Blackcomb Mountain as well? When you finally reach the very top (about 30 minutes later), the views are breathtaking. Our group just stopped and couldn’t get enough of the views. We started taking a ton of pictures, including some with the famous Whistler statues. Then the fun starts, getting down. There easy runs and more difficult runs. Of course we don’t know which is which so we bomb it down. You think 8-3 wouldn’t be enough time but believe me, your legs have already been burning for hours so you are ready to go back to the village. You have two options: ski down (about 20 minutes of high speeds, or take the gondola down) I opted for the gondola while my boyfriend and his friends went down on their boards. We tied.
Walk the village: This town is so small and quaint and when it is covered in snow and Christmas lights it’s even prettier. They have the Olympic Rings in one end of the town called “Olympic Park” which is a fun photo op. There are many shops to visit including local Canadian souvenir shops as well as any snowboard and cold wear company you can think of including: Helly Hanson, Quiksilver, Billabong, Northface, Columbia, etc.
Hike: There are many places to hike, but probably the most convenient is to take the gondola up Whistler Mountain to the base, and continue up by ski lift to the very top and hike down. This hike is intense and LONG. It is weird to hike somewhere in the summer after you have skied it in the winter. Follow the bold black line of the hike that we took. The view, like in the winter, is amazing at the top. You can see the lake that is usually snow covered which is a bright blue color. Even in the middle of summer, the top of the mountain is a pleasant 70 degrees with a slight breeze. Our hike took us toward the middle of Blackcomb and Whistler. We ended up hiking piccolo and flute then we headed down.
Bike: I did this when I was about 11 years old. We took a random family bike trip (I have no idea where we went) but we ended up getting lost and it took us 8 miles to get back. I don’t know how I biked that long being that young, but I did. The next time I go, I would like to do some mountain biking
Watch dirt biking: There are some weekends when Whistler will host dirt biking competitions on the hillside of the Whistler gondolas. There are several bars with outdoor seating that you can watch from and drink a cold beer including: Dusty’s Bar and BBQ, Merlin’s Bar and Grill, and Black’s Pub.
Festivals: Plan your time around a music festival in Whistler. This past July they hosted the Pemberton Music Festival. When I was there they had Shakespeare in the park and we ended up watching A Midnight’s Summer Dream. It was a great atmosphere, the audience formed a circle around the stage so we were viewing the play from all sides.
Winter or Summer
* Eat some food: If you can, I would recommend trying to find a hotel that has a small kitchenette. We stayed at Whistler Village Inn and Suites and it had a kitchen. We went to a grocery store on the way up and split the cost of groceries and cooked a lot of our meals (that helped a lot and was fun cooking with everyone). Canadian vs. the U.S. dollar is now pretty equal so don’t expect a huge savings there..actually expect to spend more on the cost of their food. We stayed right in the village where all the action is so we were able to wander the town and pick out our eats for the few days. We ate at Sushi Village one evening where they had pretty reasonable priced sushi. We also found a restaurant that had 25 cent wings. I can’t remember the name of it, but just look for featured deals like that as you walk through town. The guys all wanted Mongolian grill, so we ended up eating at Mongolie Grill. The waiter warned us to be careful on how much we fill the bowls. The guys didn’t listen and ended up spending a pretty penny on their food.
* Drink some drinks: While the guys were on the mountain the second day, my friend and I decided to brave the 25 degree weather and get a drink…or two. It was around 12pm so why not! We ended up at the Whistler Brewhouse. I am not normally too adventurous these days with drinks and normally stick to beer, but I was in a “what the heck” kinda mood and asked what the bartender recommended. Introduce the Caesar. I LOVED it. Think of it like a Bloody Mary..but not. It has: 1 1/2 oz vodka, fill with clamato juice, 3 dashes Tabasco sauce, 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce. The best part about the drink is that the glass is lined with celery salt. I ended up drinking mine plus my friends since she didn’t like it. We came back later to the Whistler Brewhouse and I got an IPA that was amazing. Another place to get a good beer is at Black’s Pub. We each ended up getting a beer sampler that included 5 beers.
Peak to Peak Gondola: This wasn’t around when I was in Whistler in the summer back in 2006 I believe. This has not become one of those must do things. We ended up taking the gondola when we were there in January of this year. We waited in line for the glass bottom gondola..and I highly recommend this. It takes about 12 minutes to get across and if you are afraid of heights..than don’t look down. The views are amazing. If you are there in the winter for boarding, than the peak to peak access is included in your lift ticket price, if you aren’t boarding or its the summer, than you can purchase a gondola ticket for around $50 that will give you unlimited access for the day.
The next time I go to Whistler I would love to go in the summer and mountain bike, walk to Lost lake, maybe canoe and bring our dog!
Let me know your favorites if you have been to Whistler!