Whistler isn’t just the biggest ski resort in Canada – it’s the biggest in North America. You’ve got 8,171 acres to explore across Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, and they get smothered in around 40 feet of snow each year.
Whistler’s a great place to learn to ski, with dedicated beginner areas, slow-skiing zones and friendly instructors. But with so much terrain, it’s a proper playground for intermediates and experts too. The runs are graded differently in North America, so you won’t find red on the piste map. Beginners should stick to the green slopes, while more confident skiers can try out 170 blue, black and double black runs.
Tempted? Here are 9 of the best things to do in Whistler next winter…
Make fresh tracks
Empty slopes and untouched snow – it’s a skier’s dream start to the day. Get to the Whistler Village gondola before 7am and you can be up on the mountain before everyone else. You’ll fuel up with breakfast at the top of the lift. And after that, it’s just you and endless fresh corduroy and untouched powder until the lifts open to the public.
Get a free guided tour
If you’re a keen skier but are new to Whistler, buddy up with a Mountain Host to get a guided tour of the ski area. They’ll help you get your bearings and give you a local’s look at the best runs and quietest bowls – and all for free.
Relax at the Scandinave Spa
Need a little me-time? Tucked away in the forest just outside Whistler Village is the Scandinave Spa. Spend some time drifting between the outdoor hot pools, cold baths, saunas and steam rooms. And if you need a break, you can doze around the open fire pits, indulge in a massage or enjoy a light lunch in the bistro. And the best bit? This is a no-talking spa, so you can savour some proper peace and quiet.
Stroll through Whistler village
Rambling through the middle of town is the vibrant, car-free Village Stroll. This rainbow of shops, bars, restaurants and hotels bubbles over with that famously friendly Canadian atmosphere. It’s even prettier around Christmas, when it’s decked out with fairy lights, garlands and Christmas trees.
Ride from Peak 2 Peak
The 11-minute ride on the Peak 2 Peak gondola will give you plenty of time to gape at dizzying views of the summits and bowls. It spans 4.4km between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, 1,500 feet above the valley, making it the highest unsupported lift in the world. For an extra thrill, wait for one of the two silver cabins – they’ve got glass floors.
Chow down in Whistler’s restaurants
Take your pick from over 90 bars and restaurants in Whistler, from fast food to fine dining. For prime British Columbian steak, try Hy’s, The Grill Room or Sidecut. Or for a more casual meal, the Brewhouse pub has juicy ribs, poutine and local beers, plus 24/7 sports on TV. And the resort’s close to the Pacific Ocean so there’s tons of fresh fish and seafood around too. If you like a cool bar, go for a vodka flight in the Ice Room at the Listel Hotel’s Bearfoot Bistro – it’s the world’s coldest ice bar.
Zipline through the trees
Zoom through pine forests at 100 kilometres an hour, 600 feet above the ground, on Whistler’s ziplines. There are loads of tours to choose, from easy family routes to heart-stopping falls – and even a night-time excursion that’ll let you zipline by torchlight.
Race like an Olympian
Whistler was the Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and you can take your turn on the fastest ice track in the world at the Olympic Sliding Centre. Climb into a bobsled and race round twists and turns at over 125km an hour. If that doesn’t leave your heart racing, fly face-first down the track, skeleton style. Celebrate your win with a selfie in front of the Olympic rings back in Whistler Village.
Drive from Sea to Sky
You know a resort is special when just getting there is a jaw-dropping ride. You’ll drive through downtown Vancouver then head up towards Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway. Incredible views are everywhere as you wind through the straights and sounds, past the ocean and through the rainforest. This is one transfer you won’t want to end.
See the sights in Vancouver
Swap the slopes for the city and round off your trip with a couple of nights in Vancouver. You can take a stroll around Stanley Park and the beautiful Seawall, browse galleries and boutiques in trendy Yaletown and Gastown, or cheer on the Vancouver Canucks at an ice hockey game. Then get a taste for the local with a walking foodie tour of the markets and restaurants on Granville Island. As your base, choose to stay at either the Fairmont Waterfront, overlooking the harbour, or at the Listel Hotel on the city’s main shopping street.
Eager to see it all for yourself? Start planning your trip to Whistler.