9 Reasons Whistler Is Your Perfect Escape This Winter
With its epic terrain, the kind of vertical you’d expect to find in the Swiss Alps, and an authentic snow-globe village feel, it’s little wonder BC’s Whistler is a bucket-list destination. For us Canadians, it’s an escape in our own backyard, more accessible now than ever.
Getting to Whistler is easy. From downtown Vancouver or the Vancouver International Airport, grab a shuttle or hop in your car and head up the Sea-to-Sky Highway. It’s a two-hour drive of nonstop spectacular scenery with the Pacific Ocean on one side, the rugged Coast Mountains on the other, and lots of West Coast wilderness in between.
Once in Whistler, you won’t need that car — this is a true pedestrian village we’re talking about. You’ll find that everything you need is close by — restaurants, accommodations, myriad activities — even the lifts and the mountains they serve.
In case you need convincing, here are nine reasons why a winter holiday in Whistler is like no other.
1. That rugged mountain landscape is hard to beat…
Whistler’s jaw-dropping scenery is dominated by Whistler and Blackcomb, two massive side-by-side mountains. Each has its own character for skiers and snowboarders: Whistler is all about gigantic bowls and rolling, twisting trail skiing above the tree line, while Blackcomb features a vertical rise of an incredible 1,600 metres and a true fall-line run.
But beyond the ski mountains, you can’t gaze at the horizon in Whistler without gawking at the snow-capped peaks extending into the distance. It’s the perfect backdrop for any winter trip.
2. …while the skiing and snowboarding is truly second to none.
Over 8,100 acres of skiable terrain. A full mile of vertical. Average annual snowfall of 1,138 centimetres. More than 200 named runs, 16 alpine bowls, and 35 lifts. These are absolute dream numbers for skiers and snowboarders.
More than half of those 200+ runs are marked blue for intermediate skiers, with groomed trails amid the expansive above-tree terrain. If you’re a black diamond skier, get pumped for the steep chutes and huck-able cornices on Blackcomb, while there’s endless off-piste for you to race down on both mountains.
And if you’re new to skiing or snowboarding, learn with some of the best instructors in the industry at Whistler Blackcomb Ski and Snowboard School. You’ll even get lift-line priority so you can log bonus runs as you practice what you’ve learned.
3. There are unmatched views on, off, and between the slopes…
The lifts at Whistler and Blackcomb are part of the resort’s legend. The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola connecting the two mountains is a masterpiece of engineering. It’s the longest single-span lift in the world, crossing 4km above an enormous canyon. Skiers and non-skiers alike will want to board the glass-bottom gondola car for an exquisite bird’s-eye view.
Bonus: Whistler Blackcomb has added some new lifts for this season. The Big Red Express replaces the existing high-speed four-person lift with a six-person version, while the Creekside Gondola is a new high-speed eight-person gondola that will take more guests from Creekside Village straight up the mountain. Long story short: Wait less, explore more!
4. …and world-class winter adventures are abundant.
Not into skiing or snowboarding, or just need to give your legs a break? That’s okay! Whistler has even more rec options:
- Get your adrenaline pumping with some bobsledding at the Whistler Sliding Centre, a bonafide Olympic venue.
- Explore those epic winter landscapes by snowmobile, snowshoe, or cross-country ski.
- Expand your bird’s eye view with a helicopter sightseeing tour. Soar over the rugged landscape in short scenic flights or on your way to more adventurous journeys like heli-hiking or ice-cave exploration.
- The whole family will enjoy adventure activities in the Village — think ice skating and snowtubing.
- Adrenaline junkies can see the sights from the air by opting for high-octane ziplining through the snowy forests on North America’s longest and highest zipline.
- Partake in the Finnish tradition of hydrotherapy in a world-class spa. A digital detox is included (i.e., no cell phones allowed).
5. Whistler itself is a vibrant alpine village…
You’ll want to take some time to wander around Whistler Village. The payoff is a fast-evolving cultural scene that’s rich in original events, museums, boutiques, and award-winning restaurants and patios.
You can find your favorite Canadian labels such as Lululemon and Roots, as well as cool indie brands like 3 Singing Birds and Ecologyst. And Whistler’s reputation as a dining destination is almost on par with its skiing credentials. The Village has some 200 restaurants offering fine dining, street food, and everything in between.
Whistler Village also hosts an abundance of events, festivals, and concerts. Winter is an especially thrilling time with the weekly Fire & Ice Show in Skier’s Plaza. This live, free event showcases Whistler’s best skiers and riders as they jump and flip through a raging ring of fire along with fire spinners, a DJ, and fireworks display. The Whistler World Ski & Snowboard Festival in April is more than a week of nonstop action with ski and snowboard competitions, music, art, photography, and filmmaking, plus some of the best skiing and après sessions of the season.
6. …with cultural options to match those of many big cities…
When you’re here, don’t miss the Audain Art Museum, a first-class art institution showcasing BC artists through the years. You’ll find it in a stunning building designed by Patkau Architects, one of Vancouver’s foremost modernist firms.
An equally gorgeous building houses the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, a gallery and museum built by the Squamish and Lil’wat nations to showcase West Coast Indigenous art, culture, and historical artifacts. The aim, certainly achieved, is to forge understanding and respect across cultures.
7. …and a celebratory vibe wherever you are.
Whistler Village is the beating heart of a social community where locals bring their up-for-anything attitude to every shop, restaurant, and gathering place — its energy is palpable. But if you’re more into chill, no worries. The great thing about Whistler’s après is it’s as relaxed or rambunctious, luxe or laid back, as you want it to be.
Drink craft beer and listen to local band The Hairfarmers at Merlin’s Bar & Grill, or saber a bottle of champagne at the oyster bar of upscale Bearfoot Bistro. Another recommendation: Sip a creative cocktail at Cure Lounge & Patio in Creekside, where you get front-row seats to the stunning views of Nita Lake and the mountain.
8. The season runs long…
The quality and consistency of snow and the extra-long season are two of Whistler’s platinum calling cards. No joke — it’s not uncommon to get fresh powder in the middle of April.
Because the season is so extensive, you’ll be basking in that glorious coastal snow long after other resorts have locked up for the winter. Whistler is where shoulder season becomes high season.
9. …so you can stay and play longer.
Notably, accommodation options for all budgets and tastes are plentiful in Whistler, with either the luxury elements you want or the budget options you need. You can score lots of deals if you visit midweek, meaning you can stay even longer — extra-extra-long weekend, anyone? Early bookers enjoy even more savings if you book before 15 November this year.
Whistler’s unmatchable winter sports, elevated cultural offerings, and gorgeous scenery draw people back year after year, season after season. Will this be the year you become one of them? Plan your winter getaway in Whistler now at whistler.com/winter.