Whistler in British Columbia might be one of the most beautiful spots in the country — and, perhaps, even the world. But if you're not an avid skier or snowboarder, you might have eschewed the snowy wonderland until now. Fortunately for those of us who love to dine and imbibe, there are plenty of things to do in Whistler that go beyond packing a hip flask in the pocket of your ski pants.
From world-class wine and food at grand dining rooms to the legendary (and loud) bars at the base of the Whistler gondola, there's plenty of culinary wow to go with that fresh pow. Then, when you're ready to detox, there are plenty of chilled-out things to do in Whistler, like yoga and spa days, to round out your itinerary.
Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention some of the alpine activities on offer. With over 8,000 acres of terrain, it's no wonder that Whistler is consistently ranked as one of the best ski hills in the world. Whistler and Blackcomb mountain (which hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics ski and bobsleigh events) are linked by the Whistler Gondola, an 11-minute ride that affords stunning views of the mountain ranges. The diversity of the region means that visitors have the opportunity to shoop-shoop across everything from nursery slopes to backcountry skiing.
Here's our guide to the coolest things to do in Whistler.
Whistler, B.C., What to do
Apres Flow Yoga Class at Yogacara
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Strength, flexibility and concentration will come in handy when you're on the slopes — and it doesn't hurt to wind down(ward dog) in the company of qualified and patient yoga instructors. This friendly Whistler studio has a 15 person cap, so you'll never feel overlooked, plus you'll have plenty of space to stretch out. Mat rental, snacks and tea are all available free of charge so feel free to namaste a while.
Bluebird skies aren't the only way to enjoy the majesty of Whistler. When night falls, head to Vallea Lumina, a multimedia evening stroll beneath the trees with illuminations, sounds and effects that'll make you feel like you're walking in a literal winter wonderland. The path takes guests on a scenic trail through an enchanted forest, following the story of two hikers from long ago and the legends of the valley.
Snowshoe and Biathlon Tour at Whistler Olympic Village
If your favourite part of the Winter Olympics is the James Bond-esque ski sequences, we've got the activity for you. Biathlon combines the thrill of cross-country skiing with target practice — shoot a .22 calibre biathlon rifle at the Olympic range and convince yourself you're the next 007 when you hear that satisfying thunk on the bullseye. Shooting lessons include a 40-minute class and 2 clips (10 shots) of ammunition, but you can also book as an add-on to a Private Cross Country Ski Lesson for the full, adrenaline-pumping race lap experience.
The Spa at Nita Lake Lodge
Whether you're hitting the slopes or the apres-ski hard, we think you deserve a little R&R. The award-winning Spa at Nita Lake Lodge has a variety of pampering picks, including The Nita Signature Treatment, which scrubs, smooths and exfoliates using Himalayan salt crystals until you sparkle. The Champagne Nail Bar gives guests a chance to sip while you're sanded down, plus the hot tubs upstairs offer views of the mountains.
EPIC Ski Pass
If you're going to clip on some skis, you might as well get the most bang for your buck. Earlier in the year Vail Resorts (owners of Whistler Blackcomb) announced a historic pricing reset, reducing the cost of their pass products by 20 per cent in an effort to make the mountains more accessible. Depending on the ticket you purchase, you can get access to incredible discounts and world-class resorts. If you tend to buy a lift pass, we strongly encourage you to think about purchasing an Epic Day Pass which offers up to 65 per saving off of one-day lift ticket window prices. The last day to purchase this season's pass is December 5th, 2021. Check the website for the latest deals, like the Cyber Sale which ends on November 30, 2021.
Whistler B.C., Where to eat and drink
This classy establishment has enough to offer discerning diners with its menu packed with seafood and wild game from British Columbia and beyond. However, should the beef tenderloin and Alaskan king crab fail to tickle your tastebuds, Bearfoot Bistro has a couple of other experiences up its sleeve.
Ketel One Ice Room kits out guests in a snuggly parka before plunging them into the world's coldest vodka tasting room. Sip a selection of premium global vodkas in the optimum temperature (-32 C) and observe how the complex spirit opens up in flavour. If you prefer to keep your fingers and toes toasty, there's the opportunity to sabre a bottle of champagne in the bistro's underground cellar.
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Don't let Whistler's smallest pub, located in the Upper Village, deceive you. Fitzsimmon's serves a fine selection of local craft and microbrews just a short stroll from the, ahem, chaos of the main thoroughfare of Whistler. You won't find deals on mainstream produced lager, but you will find a rotating selection of eight taps of local craft suds, a fantastic whisky selection, fresh-pressed B.C. craft ciders, wines by the glass or bottle, plus cocktails the gram wouldn't turn its nose up at.
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Active pursuits (or the spa, no judgement) call for sumptuous dinners. Alta Bistro, with its modern French Bistro cuisine, hits all the markers. The local angle is on full display here, from the charming decor sourced from B.C. pine beetle wood to the primarily British Columbian produce and small farms selections from Pemberton Valley that make it onto your menu. Treat yourself to a craft, housemade beverage or peruse their wine list, which is award-winning for its depth and pairings.
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If organic sourdough bread isn't your jam, we probably wouldn't be friends by now. So head to Ed's Bread in Creekside for everything from rye loaves and pizza dough to cinnamon rolls and hot cross buns. They also serve coffee but don't sleep on their house-made Indian chai, available daily, or their hot chocolate made with real choc. Oh, and everything at Ed's Bred is 100 per cent plant-based and vegan-friendly. We live here now.
Whistler, B.C.: Where to stay
Nita Lake Lodge
While the lion's share of skiers spend their stay in Whistler Village, we recommend camping out in nearby Creekside. The original Whistler is just 7 km away from the Village (with a regular shuttle service to the slopes) and provides a laidback home base with no shortage of entertainment options. Cozy up beside the fireplace in your room or in a lakeside hot tub and heated plunge pool. Or liven yourself up with a polar dip in Nita Lake (many swear by the health properties of an ice-cold dunk).
Nita Lake Lodge has a number of delicious spots to visit before and after you hit the slopes, like the Cure Lounge & Patio and the Fix Cafe, but upscale spot Aura Restaurant will be undergoing a rebrand in time for spring 2022. In the meantime, you can check out their seasonal concept, Winter Den by Nita Lake Lodge, which offers alpine cuisine, craft brews and beverages, plus a menu full of winter warmers from their celebrated chefs.