If you’ve made the trip to Whistler, then you are probably thinking about skiing. And, of course, Whistler and Blackcomb mountains offer over 8,100 acres of slopes and 200 plus marked trails. You can get in lessons for beginners and experts and even go heli-skiing; or snowboarding, if you prefer. It’s a skiers dream!
Maybe, though, spending all of your time on the slopes is a little bit much. Or perhaps you have somebody in the group who is not so serious about skiing. Here are ten suggestions for winter activities in Whistler that are not skiing or snowboarding, but nonetheless can help complete and round out your winter vacation experience!
- Dog sledding. There are very few opportunities to ride a dog sled. You can even try your hand at mushing and learn about these wonderful animals – who often find temperatures in the twenties too hot and can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. Life in this part of Canada was not possible without sled dogs for many, many generations.
- Snowmobiling. If the idea of trusting yourself to a pack of dogs makes you a little uncomfortable, then Whistler has snowmobile tours for everyone from beginners to the most experienced drivers. Drivers must be 16 and have a valid license. Children can try out mini snowmobiles on an enclosed, safe track. Some tours are suited to families, others are restricted to drivers only and can be very intense.
- Sleigh rides. Time to relax? Take an old fashioned sleigh ride – either with a group or privately. (A private sleigh ride can be a very romantic experience for an anniversary or even a perfect opportunity to pop the question). Enjoy hot chocolate or add a fondue dinner afterwards to warm up.
- Ice skating. Whistler hosted the Winter Olympics – and the Whistler Olympic Plaza is in the heart of Whistler village. The rink is free if you bring your own skates. Some of the lakes in Whistler are also suitable for skating if conditions are suitable (please make sure the lake is “open” first). The Whistler Olympic Plaza also offers an outdoor play area with a small sledding hill and the opportunity to take your picture with the Olympic rings or cauldron.
- Bobsleigh. The fastest ice track in the world is in Whistler. Passenger bobsleigh rides are available, so even if the idea of trying to navigate a bobsleigh course scares you more than a double black diamond, you can experience sliding at speeds of over 80 kmh. Or, if you are really brave, you can try the skeleton yourself.
- Zip lining. Yes, you can still go zip lining in winter. There are two companies that offer zip lining – Ziptrek, which uses free range harnesses, and Superfly, which uses sit in harness and allows two guests to ride side by side – ideal for couples or to allow an adult to accompany a nervous child. The Whistler Tree Adventure tours are also open year round, allowing for treetop views for everyone – including infants (who must be carried in a backpack). Appreciate Whistler’s beautiful forests from an all new angle. (Zip lining is restricted to 6 years and up with Ziptrek and 7 with Superfly).
- The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. Here, you can learn about the first inhabitants of Whistler and their legacy. The center is run by the First Nations and while some of it is outdoors, some is indoors, and there are some very interesting exhibits. Also, you don’t have to pay admission to access the gift shop for unique souvenirs, or the cafe to sample Native-inspired food with local ingredients.
- The Scandinave Spa. Inspired by Finnish tradition, you can soak in an outdoor bath and warm up in a heated solarium. You can also get Swedish or deep tissue massages – which if you are just a little bit sore from all of that skiing, the traditional spa route alternates hot and cold baths (or Nordic waterfall). Note that the spa is restricted to individuals over 18.
- Art galleries. Check out the Adele Campbell Fine Art Gallery or the Plaza Galleries, or many others. Whistler has a selection of art galleries that cover everything from modern art to First Nations crafts. The Black Tusk Gallery is an outlet for Native artists, whilst the Scotia Creek Gallery provides a space for local artists on a rotating basis. Whatever your taste, you can find an interesting art gallery in Whistler. And, of course, you might pick up something for your own space.
- Whistler Tasting Tours. Whistler has more restaurants than you can possibly eat at in one trip. The Whistler Tasting Tours allow you to check out more of them with four course dinners, each course at a different restaurant. A cheaper option is a 2.5 hour self-guided lunch tour. Otherwise, there are dining options for all tastes in the resort – everything from organic pizza from Avalanche Pizza Corp to the international fine dining at Araxi Restaurant + Bar to the Beacon Pub & Eatery for craft spirits and beers and locally sourced food.
Whistler is a fantastic place to go skiing, but it offers a lot more than that. Take a break from the slopes and enjoy some of the other things the resort has to offer – including indoor options to warm up.