The Top 10 Attractions in Whistler
Whistler Blackcomb Resort
Downhill in Whistler is a no-brainer. With a mile of vertical and two mountains, Whistler Blackcomb is North America’s largest ski resort at 8,100 acres and a top global destination. There’s bountiful powder and 360-degree views. Choose from alpine, backcountry, heli, cat and Nordic skiing or snowboarding. What fans love is the size and terrain variety — from hardcore to bunny hill. Consider vacationing during April’s Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival. Also on offer is anything winter-related: snowshoeing, snowmobiling, tubing and sliding, plus ice climbing, ice fishing, dogsledding, and ice skating.
PEAK 2 PEAK gondola
PEAK 2 PEAK is the world’s longest and highest gondola ride, stretching nearly three miles between the two mountains some 1,400 feet up. Views are outrageous through large windows, and some even have a glass floor. Ride any time of year to sightsee, spot wildlife, or hop between peaks, and dine at five restaurants up top. Waffles with a view on the patio of log-cabin-style Crystal Hut are a must. Cafeteria-style Roundhouse Lodge is another popular choice for its food courts serving pretty much any international cuisine you can think of. There’s a gallery explaining the sophisticated engineering behind PEAK 2 PEAK and a 2010 Winter Games display, plus a cinema screening alpine films. Summer and fall are optimal for 31 miles of hikes and walks from the top, especially the popular half-day High Note Trail.
Whistler Mountain Bike Park
Fat-tire riding is a lifestyle here and you can try it on at Whistler Mountain Bike Park, known for outstanding downhill green, technical, and jump trails winding through the forest, over catwalks, rocks, and ladders. Join the top athletes for August’s Crankworx, a fest of gravity-fueled racing, demos, and fun events. If slower is your style, rent bicycles and pedal the mellow Valley Trail, stopping for a picnic or afternoon nap in the sun.
Scandinave Spa Whistler
There are day spas and even float therapy in town, but you really want to spend an afternoon unwinding at mountain-Zen Scandinave Spa Whistler. This oasis — a series of Nordic-style outdoor hot and cold pools and waterfalls connected by landscaped paths and little atriums with saunas, steam rooms, and loungers — is chic and serene. It’s also as inviting dusted in snow as it is with fall leaves fluttering or spring flowers blooming.
Whistler Sliding Centre
Most of us secretly wish we were Olympians. At Whistler Sliding Centre you can pretend. Shoot a .22-caliber biathlon rifle. Or, shoot down the nearly one-mile bobsleigh, skeleton or luge track like the athletes did at about 56 mph on the world’s fastest ice track at the Whistler events of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Go solo on the skeleton or ride behind a pro pilot on the bobsleigh (in summer, on wheels). You can also take a self-guided tour of the cutting edge facility or take a selfie in front of the Olympic rings in the town plaza.
Whoosh 7,000 feet above rivers, canyons, and old-growth rain forest on a warm, sunny spring day or mid-winter over ice and snow. Try one or multiple runs, or there’s the Sasquatch, the longest in North America at 1.2-miles, buddy ziplining, and the backcountry snowmobiling-plus-ziplining combo. You can also wrap in some education and learn about local ecology and wildlife in between zips.
Make time for Whistler Village — cozy in winter, carefree in summer, festive pretty much all the time. Strolling the Euro-style, pedestrian-only Village is an activity in itself. People-watch at busy outdoor cafés, heated in winter or warmed by outdoor firepits. Shop for ski or adventure wear, art, designer duds, collectibles, or Canadiana at standbys such as Roots. Catch a free outdoor concert in the plaza or visit during one of the many festivals — Cornucopia or the film festival.
Walk or cycle from the Village to easily accessible Lost Lake, a perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, or water sports — canoeing, kayaking, and standup paddleboarding, or cross-country skiing in winter. Fishing for small trout is good in the stocked lake, too, and you can keep your catch. Spring, summer, or fall bring a picnic — Nesters Market in the Village is a good source of provisions — and spend the day relaxing lakeside.
Audain Art Museum
Even the angular, $30 million, 56,000-square-foot building is a work of art. The Audain Art Museum debuted in 2016 — the largest of its kind created as a gift to BC. It houses the incredible private collection of philanthropist and arts patron Michael Audain and wife Yoshi Karasawa: 200 works reflecting BC art from the 18th to 21st century. Don’t miss it. Other local art options include the First Nations showcase, the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, galleries in town, and a public art tour.
Whistler Tasting Tours
Eating out is a pastime in this village of 100 restaurants. Whistler Tasting Tours takes you on a walkabout to five top venues for chef wining-dining pairings. Or enjoy dinner on your own at upscale favorites Araxi Restaurant + Oyster Bar and Bearfoot Bistro. For casual, try 21 Steps Kitchen + Bar, Caramba! Restaurante, and Mongolie Grill. Make a reservation! Breakfast at artisan baker extraordinaire Purebread is a must, or for sit-down counter service, go to the Fairmont’s Portobello. Once the sun goes down, get out on the town and into the famed Village nightlife.