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A Whistler Winter in Canada: 7 of My Favourite Things

The magic of Whistler Village in the winter (Photo courtesy of Toursim Whistler/Mike Crane).
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I am about to begin my 17th year of skiing in Whistler and I can’t wait! For sure, there is the annual thrill of buckling my ski boots, hopping onto that first ski lift, and heading down my favourite ski runs. But, experiencing a Whistler winter is so much more than just skiing or snowboarding. Whether you are an individual or a family, a Whistler winter has lots to offer everyone.

Here are my seven favourite Whistler winter experiences.

 

Whistler Winter Experiences

 

1. Skiing and Snowboarding

Whistler Ski Resort is made up of two enormous mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb.  They are each approximately 2200 metres or 7300 feet high. Of that, 8,171 acres (3307 hectares) are skiable terrain. Collectively, there are over 200 ski runs, and 36 lifts and gondolas.

 

Whistler winter
Skiing and snowboarding on Blackcomb Mountain with Whistler Mountain in the background (photo courtesy of Tourism Whistler/Justa Jeskova).

 

Whistler winter
Photo courtesy of Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane.

 

All four of my children have grown up skiing at Whistler and it has been a fantastic family bonding experience. There is nothing quite like catching up with your kids while riding a ski lift or gondola together, then hurtling down the side of a mountain as fast as you can.

Whistler Ski Resort has ski and snowboard runs for every level, and for every age group. You can ski and snowboard on some of the best ski runs in the world, with breathtaking views and amazing facilities, and never get bored – even if you ski every single day of the ski season!

 

2. Peak 2 Peak Gondola

For those of you who do not ski or snowboard, all is not lost. You can still take a gondola from Whistler Village or Blackcomb Village to the top and experience jaw- dropping views. From there, you can also take the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola which connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. In fact, in the 2018/2019 ski season, the opening of the new 8 person Blackcomb Gondola will create the first three gondola connection in the world between Whistler and Blackcomb. This will allow all guests, regardless of whether they want to sightsee, ski or snowboard, to upload, connect between the mountains via the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola and download in a gondola.

The Peak 2 Peak Gondola is one of the longest unsupported lift span in the world at 3.024 kilometres or 1.88 miles and the highest with an elevation of 436 metres  or 1,427 feet. It takes around 11 minutes to cross one way and the views are absolutely stunning. For an extra thrill, wait in line for one of two glass bottomed gondolas!

Both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains have world class restaurants or self-serve cafeterias easily accessed by one of the gondolas. On a beautiful sunny day, it is quite easy to lose hours sitting in one of these places, with a glass of wine in hand, gazing out onto the ski slopes and the stunning views below.

 

Whistler winter.
Photo courtesy of Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane.

 

Whistler winter
The wonder of the Peak 2 Peak Gondola (photo courtesy of Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane).

 

Whistler winter
Breathtaking views from the top of Whistler (photo courtesy of Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane).

 

3. Apres-Ski

Whistler has some fantastic apres-ski experiences. Whether you skied or snowboarded or spent the day at the spa, apres-ski is a must-do Whistler winter experience.

Apres-ski is French and simply means “after skiing”. Usually apres-ski means meeting up with friends or family at a bar or restaurant after a day on the slopes. You have a drink, something to eat and share slightly exaggerated stories of epic ski or snowboard moments.

There are lots of Whistler bars and restaurants that offer an apres-ski menu. However, my favourites are “the classics”. The ones where ski boots are expected, beer is served in jugs, and rock music is blaring. There is at least one of these at the base of each gondola. If you are looking for a more refined “Four Seasons Hotel” experience, these places are NOT for you! However, if you want to experience some old school Whistler apres-ski, you can’t go wrong with these.

 

Whistler winter
Map of Whistler and Blackcomb ski bases – Creekside, Whistler and Blackcomb.

 

Dustys at Creekside

Dustys is found at the base of the Creekside gondola. It is a favourite of “locals” (which in this instance includes Vancouverites) as it is the first gondola that you reach from Vancouver and there is lots of free underground parking. In addition to a large indoor restaurant filled with picnic benches and stools, Dustys has an enormous outdoor patio that is an amazing place to relax on a mild sunny day. This is my hangout of choice.

 

Longhorn Saloon & Grill at Whistler Village

The Longhorn is located at the base of Whistler Mountain and is basically in the centre of the action in Whistler Village. There is normally a DJ and if you hang around long enough, live bands play most nights. It has the perfect apres menu of wings and burgers.

 

Merlins Bar & Grill at Blackcomb Village 

Merlins is located at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. It has an old-school vibe with a laid-back mountain cabin décor. But, don’t let that fool you. There is a live-music stage and suspended gondola-car DJ station. Apres often turns into some pretty crazy stuff. Dancing on the bar is encouraged.

 

Whistler winter.
A whole lot of fun at Merlins at apres-ski (photo courtesy of Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane).

 

For those looking for other dining options in Whistler, please refer to the blogs below:

 

4. Fire and Ice Show

Every Sunday (and other special nights) from December to April, Whistler offers a free Fire and Ice Show at the base of Whistler Mountain (in front of the Longhorn Saloon). Here you can watch world-class ski and snowboarders flip and twist through burning rings of fire with heart pumping music filling the air. The show ends with a fantastic fire-works display. This is a special Whistler winter attraction that every visitor to Whistler should experience at least once.

 

Whistler winter
Spectacular stunts at the Fire and Ice Show at the base of Whistler Mountain (photo courtesy of Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane).

 

5. Tubing

Tubing at the Coca-Cola Tube Park is one of the exciting Whistler winter activities that allows you to feel the thrill of hurtling down a mountain, without skiing or snowboarding. There’s no skill or equipment required. However, they do recommend appropriate winter clothing for the temperature. This may include ski pants, mittens, goggles, and hat or helmet (for a child).

What I love about this Whistler attraction is that it is great for families. Children as young as 3 years of age with a minimum height of 91cm (36″) tall are welcome. There is a “Mini-Kids” lane which starts halfway down the normal tubing hill for those between 91 cm (36″) to 103 cm (41″) tall.

 

 

6. Whistler Village 

Sometimes the answer to “What are things to do in Whistler in the winter” is incredibly simple – go to Whistler Village for a walk. There are few things that I have seen in my travels to 60 countries that surpasses the unbelievable magic of Whistler Village in the winter. Seemingly every tree, lamp post, or other tall stationary object is wrapped in thousands and thousands of lights. Add in the blankets of snow covering the ground, and darkness which falls early in Whistler in the winter months, and you feel like you have entered another world.

 

Whistler winter
Photo courtesy of Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane.

 

 

7. Outdoor Ice Skating

In the shadows of the 2010 Olympic Rings and in Whistler Village, is Whistler Olympic Plaza. This venue hosts an outdoor ice skating rink that is free and open to all. Ice skates are available to rent for a couple of dollars.

Surrounding the ice rink is a massive all year round playground for children and several cafes. On every Monday and Wednesday evening from December until the end of March, Whistler Olympic Plaza offers free Canadian-themed activities and entertainment for kids of all ages.

 

Whistler winter
Outdoor ice skating behind the Olympic Rings in Whistler Village (photo courtesy of Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane).

 

Conclusion

I have only scratched the surface of Whistler winter activities that are available to every visitor to Whistler. These are just my favourites. You don’t have to be ski or snowboard obsessed to spend time in Whistler and have a fantastic experience. If you love snow, Christmas lights, being surrounded by majestic mountains with breathtaking views, and outdoor winter activities such as skating, then a Whistler winter has something special to offer you.

 

Thinking of going to Whistler in the summer? Here are some amazing Whistler summer activities that you may wish try:

 

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Whistler Ski Resort is a world class ski and snowboard resort. However, there are lots of other things that you can do. Here are my 7 favourite Whistler winter activities. #travel #familytravel #Canada #Winter #outdoor |British Columbia, Canada, Christmas lights, Creekside, Dustys, Fire and Ice Show, ice skating, Longhorn, Merlins, Peak 2 Peak Gondola, ski, snowboard, tubing, Whistler Village

9 Comments

  • I have yet to make it to BC, but we did snowboard in Banff and it was incredible. I am hoping to make it to Whistler sometime soon so this will definitely come in handy.

    • If you snowboarded in Banff, then you already know how beautiful this part of the world is. Snowboarding in Whistler is a pretty incredible experience. I hope you make it here soon.

  • I’m not skiing, but these snow-covered mountains seem to be a real winter wonderland. I guess just hanging out there, hiking in the snow and enjoying the majestic views is great even without skiing.

    • It really is! There is something so soothing, beautiful and magical simply being in the middle of these snowcapped mountains. Having said that, you would definitely find an activity in Whistler that you would love that doesn’t involve skiing or snowboarding.

  • Wow so many things to do. Peak to peak gondola is super exciting. I can spend the whole day snowmobiling. I suck at skiing though. Whistler village looks magical. Such a great share.

  • The snow-capped mountains and views are just breathtaking and riding the Peak 2 Peak gondola sound super exciting. This place is a perfect description of a Winter Wonderland with all the fun and adventurous activities as well as very charming.

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