Family Ski Guide: Whistler, BC
Every ski day should be a bluebird day. For the team at Whistler, this means not only beseeching the snow gods for overnight flurries and daytime sunshine, but going out of their way to maximize fun and ease for kids and parents. The resort has tons of initiatives to help families feel welcome on the mountains and in the Village, from “Family-Certified” stars marking kid-friendly runs and restaurants to activities geared just for kids (bonus: many are free!). So bring on the bluebirds — here’s what you can look forward to.
Whistler stoked: Kids Play Free
There’s a wide array of Kids Perks in Whistler, both on and off the slopes, but this might be the headliner in terms of value: Kids under 7 ski 100% free. They’ll still need a lift ticket, but there’s no charge — all you need is proof of age. And if your small ones don’t yet know how to ski, grab that hearty on-mountain Fresh Tracks breakfast (where kids under 7 eat free), and then teach them the joys of laying first tracks.
For the rest of the family, the best deals are available when lift tickets and accommodation are booked together.
Canadian bonus: Canuck kids in grades 4 and 5 can apply for Ski Canada’s SnowPass, which means free skiing and snowboarding at Whistler and 100+ other Canadian locations.
It’s about getting outdoors
If your kids can walk, Whistler has an outdoor activity for them (some have age restrictions, natch). Ski through kid-friendly zones using the Kids Trail Map, guiding you to places like the Enchanted Forest, Magic Castle, and Tree Fort. And don’t miss the Crystal Hut, a cozy log cabin on Crystal Ridge famous for their Belgian waffles.
Other winter activities include the Tube Park — short legs love the Tube Lift — ice skating at Olympic Plaza, ziplining, snowmobiling, tobogganing, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, and more. If they’re too young to walk, just rent a chariot sled to pull them along with you. But it’s never to early to start teaching them how to make a proper snowball!
Family Après is a twice-weekly free festival from December to March, with ever-changing activities for kids. Sundays feature the pyrotechnics and stunts of Fire & Ice at the base of Whistler Mountain. And come the festive season, there are almost as many special events as decorated trees.
Indoors, kids have plenty of options too. Try four different escape rooms at Escape! Whistler, the craft workshops at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, Fathom Stone’s soapstone-carving class, and join Family Studio on Sunday afternoons at the Audain Art Museum. Meadow Park Sports Centre has indoor skating and kid-friendly swimming pools, and the Whistler Public Library hosts many free children’s activities.
If you’re in school, you can skip (the lift lines, that is)
Kids as young as 3 are welcomed at Whistler Blackcomb Snow School, in private or group lessons, as well as Whistler’s Kids Adventure Camps. You can also book a private family lesson that caters to all of you, skiers and boarders alike. Thanks to priority in the lift lines and on-the-spot instruction, gapers will become rippers and shredders in no time.
Whistler hotels come with extras for the family
Whistler has lots of accommodation options for families, from multi-bedroomed hotel suites (many with fully-equipped kitchens) to condos and chalets. Most hotels have pools (some with views of the mountains from the water), treats for kids (like hot-chocolate machines and canine lobby greeters), and some even have ski valets to minimize lugging gear to and from your room.
Keep in mind that Whistler has three main bases to get up the mountains: the Village, the Upper Village, and Creekside. The Village has lifts for both Whistler and Blackcomb, and you can walk from here to the Upper Village, where there are additional lifts for Blackcomb. Creekside is a five-minute drive from the Village and has lifts up Whistler Mountain. Take the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb to ski both mountains and gain access to all three bases.
Note: Your skiing isn’t restricted from any of the bases, but life will be easier if you ensure your ski-school meeting point is in the same area as your hotel. Luckily, no matter where you have to be, you’ll be deep in the magnificent mountain views that come so standard with Whistler.
Guilt-free alone time
Sometimes, though, you just wanna hit the double black diamonds and forget about the kids for a few turns. Whistler has plenty of childcare options your little ones will love, so you can enjoy some alone time while knowing they’re having a blast.
After ski school, kids 5 and over can check out Whistler Core’s Climb & Dine Evening Program. They’ll tackle climbing walls and have a pizza dinner, giving you time to linger over a baba au rhum after your Wagyu Flat Iron Steak at SIDECUT in the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler. Whistler also has licensed daycares for kids as young as 18 months, and babysitters are available for hire through most hotels. Consider Whistler your home base for mountain freedom — for the whole family.