From the Road: Winter in Whistler

From the peaks to the valley, Whistler offers abundant activities, great lodging and stunning scenery. And while its boutiques, restaurants, galleries and events offer options for all seasons, winter is Whistler’s prime time. 

Photo courtesy of Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane

The host city of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler boasts North America’s largest ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb. With 200 marked runs, 32 lifts and over 8,000 acres of terrain, it’s a wonderland for alpine enthusiasts of all abilities.

To get the inside edge, check for weather updates. This well organized site curates info about temperatures, webcams, avalanche reports and chair lifts status — all the details you need to have a super day on the slopes.

But even those who don’t ski or snowboard will fall for Whistler’s charming pedestrian-only village. Its winding walkways, wooden bridges and manicured landscaping allow easy strolling between shops, restaurants, ski lifts and lodging. 

For a luxurious base camp, opt for the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler. Nestled at the base of Blackcomb mountain, the resort offers an idyllic setting to unwind after an adventurous day. It even boasts a ski concierge who will take care of every detail, from lessons to rentals to meeting you post-run to collect your gear. 

Those looking to stay in the laid-back Creekside area should check out the Nita Lake Lodge, Whistler’s only lakeside boutique hotel. Each of its 77 rooms features wooden interiors flooded with light and its own basalt gas fireplace.

“Après-ski” is French for “after ski,” and it marks the shift between muscle-burning ski runs and the convivial buzz that takes place after skiing. Head to the Garibaldi Lift Company to mix with skiiers coming down from the mountain to grab a beer and recount their day.

For additional après vibes, check out Coast Mountain Brewery. Its flagship “Hope You’re Happy” IPA and homemade pepperoni sticks draw crowds, making it a perfect spot for people-watching while loosening your boots at the end of an epic day.

But this picturesque ski town offers more than adreneline-fueled adventure and ways to unwind; it’s brimming with culture as well. The Audain Art Museum, which opened in 2016, offers a transformative experience for appreciating the art of British Columbia. The architecturally stunning 56,000-square-foot gallery boasts a comprehensive collection of the province’s most celebrated artists, including works by Emily Carr, Jack Shadbolt and Jeff Wall.

A different kind of transformation awaits at the Scandinave Spa; namely, the ancient Scandinavian tradition of hydrotherapy. Tucked away from the main village, this tranquil oasis offers various hot pools, cold plunges and saunas in a lush rainforest native to British Columbia. The Nordic-style outdoor thermal spa promises silence and a digital detox — cell phones, cameras and talking aren’t allowed in the baths areas — as guests journey through cycles of hot, cold and relaxation. 

Plan to spend between three and four hours to allow time to linger in the cedar-burning dry saunas, eucalyptus-scented steam rooms and soothing solariums. Better yet, enjoy a massage before donning a robe and sinking into a lounge chair with a good book. 

After you’ve recovered, stroll through Whistler Village and pick up a globally sourced gift or something from a local designer at shops like 3 Singing Birds, Arthentic or Amos & Andes.

In the evening, world-class dining awaits at Araxi, famous for its seasonally focused menu made with locally sourced ingredients. Pro tip: Snag a reservation after 8 p.m. to have time for a pre-dinner drink at Araxi’s sister restaurant, Bar Osa. The Alpine-themed cocktails rival libations in any major metropolitan — think local spirits like B.C. gin and cedar-infused rye.

Another high-end option is Bearfoot Bistro, which highlights the exceptional seafood and wild game found in British Columbia. Try the Ice Room to experience a flight of four vodkas and discover how the extreme cold enhances the flavor while minimizing the alcohol burn. Or head to the underground wine cellar to swing a saber and experience the thrill as the blade hits the bottle and the Champagne flows. 

Soak up your hangover the next day with fresh bread or pastries from Purebread Bakery in the village. This Whistler original is famous for warm baguettes, mouthwatering cake and other baked delights. 

For another casual favorite, tip into Peaked Pies, which serves up perfectly baked Australian meat pies. Quick, warm and tasty, the pies come in savory, sweet and breakfast varieties. Go early in the day before they sell out. 

Families will love Whistler Blackcomb’s free Fire & Ice Show, where Whistler’s best skiers and riders hit air jumps through a blazing ring of fire every Sunday night. The awesome evening mixes music, dance and fire as world-class athletes flip and twist through a burning ring of flames before finishing off with a first-class fireworks show. 

Whistler is easily accessible from Vancouver International Airport. From there, it’s a two-hour drive from Vancouver along the scenic Sea-to-Sky highway, which follows the Squamish River from the Howe Sound past Daisy Lake and Brandywine Falls. Try to time the drive for the day, if you can. With its mix of powder and peaks, outdoor adventure and nightlife, Whistler just may be the perfect winter destination.

About Karen Werner

Karen Werner is the editor of Frontdoors Media. She is a writer, editor and media consultant. She has interned at The New Yorker, worked at Parents Magazine, edited five books and founded several local magazines. Her work has appeared in Sunset, Mental Floss and the Saturday Evening Post.
More in: Magazine, Travel

From Frontdoors Magazine

Back to Top