Winter? Of course. Summer? Yes. Fall and spring? You bet. Whistler, British Columbia is the kind of place where you can ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon, before hitting the spa in the evening. There’s plenty to captivate you any time of year in this stylish, authentic, and friendly alpine village.
Whistler Blackcomb Resort
Downhill in Whistler is a no-brainer. With 1,530 metres of vertical and two mountains, Whistler Blackcomb is North America’s largest ski resort and a top global destination. There’s bountiful powder and 360-degree views, and you can choose from alpine, backcountry, heli, cat and Nordic skiing or snowboarding. Fans love the size and terrain variety — from bunny hills to double black diamonds. Also on offer is a slew of winter-related activities: 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 4.4 kilomtres between the two mountains some 435 metres up. The views through its large windows are outrageous, and some gondolar cars even have a glass floor. Ride any time of year to sightsee, spot wildlife, or hop between peaks, and dine at one of the 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 over 50 kilometres 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 in Whistler, but you really want to spend an afternoon unwinding at mountain-Zen Scandinave Spa. 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 1,450-metre bobsleigh, skeleton or luge track at about 90 km/h like the athletes did during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. 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 over 2,100 metres above rivers, canyons, and old-growth rain forest with Whistler zipline tours. Try multiple runs, including the Sasquatch, the longest zipline in North America at over 2 kilometres. There’s also buddy ziplining, and a backcountry snowmobiling-plus-ziplining combo. To round out the experience, 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 like 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 like canoeing, kayaking, and standup paddleboarding. The lake is stocked with trout that you can catch and keep, if you’re lucky. 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, $43.5 million, 5,203-square-metre building is a work of art. The Audain Art Museum debuted in 2016 and houses the incredible private collection of philanthropist and arts patron Michael Audain and wife Yoshi Karasawa: nearly 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.
Of course, you can always enjoy dinner on your own at upscale favorites Araxi Restaurant + Oyster Bar and Bearfoot Bistro. For casual, make a reservation at 21 Steps Kitchen + Bar, Caramba! Restaurante, and Mongolie Grill. Breakfast at artisan baker extraordinaire Purebread is a must. Once the sun goes down, get out on the town and into the famed Village nightlife.
Originally published by Destination Canada.