So you’re planning to visit Whistler in Winter and are looking for the best things to do? We’ve been to Whistler quite a few times over the years and have always managed to find something new and interesting to do each time.
If you’re just a pow hungry shredder that’s going to spend all day on the slopes, then you’ve probably got your itinerary figured out already. But there’s always room for more! If you’re looking for something else to do while you’re here, then this this ultimate list of things to do in Winter in Whistler is going to be right up your street!
60 awesome things to do in Whistler in Winter; the ultimate winter Whistler bucketlist!
It wouldn’t be Whistler if we didn’t start with the most obvious things to do in Winter; wintersports! Yes, skiing and snowboarding in the resort is on this list, but there’s so much more as well. Be warned though, although some things on this list will be free or budget, Whistler is a really expensive place, so some of these activities might make your eyes pop when you see the price tag!
1. Ski or snowboard Whistler and Blackcomb mountains
This is the main reason Whistler even exists, and believe me when we say that Whistler has world class skiing and snowboarding. But did you know Whistler is really split into two massive mountains; Whistler and Blackcomb. Both individually have enough skiing to keep you going all day, so we really recommend alternating mountains each day. Trying to squeeze them both in on one day is too much.
If pushed, I would say that Blackcomb is probably the more advanced mountain with some more interesting terrain, but both of them have something for everyone. The resort is absolutely massive with 34 lifts total (21 on Whistler, 14 on Blackcomb – the Peak to Peak goes between the two, so it only counts as one!)
In terms of elevation. Blackcomb is slightly higher, but if you’re looking for an absolute leg burner of a run, both mountains have an 11km green run that goes from the top to the bottom. Say goodbye to your quads!
There is too much to go into a full review of Whistler Blackcomb on this blog post, but we’ll dive into it more in another blog post soon!
For a lift pass in February, the current cost is $219CAD per day, or $164USD. You can find out more about ticket prices here
If you’re planning to stay in the area for a while, or have access to more Vail resorts in the US, I would highly recommend investing in an EPIC pass, which essentially buys you a season pass to Whistler. If you’re planning to get a lot of days in this season, an EPIC pass is a no brainer.
2. Get first tracks and a mountain breakfast
If there’s a lot of snow in the forecast and you want to get those fresh lines, you can almost guarantee there’ll be long lift lines. But, if you plan in advance and buy a first tracks ticket, not only will you get to the front of the queue and have a chance to shred all the first lines, but for $28, you also get a $17 food/drink credit included in the price!
The lift loads you a full hour before the first regular skiers are allowed to load, so once you reach the top, you grab a quick bite and listen out for the “runs are now open” announcement.
As soon the announcement is made, you’re free to shred as much as you can while the late risers load on the gondola!
Only the first 600 people in line are eligible to get first tracks, so make sure you buy your voucher in advance and get up early if it’s a powder day!
3. Check out the Ice caves on Blackcomb
This, of course, falls under the ski/snowboard bracket, but it’s definitely something else to do!
The ice cave on Blackcomb Mountain generally is accessible during the winter season. Take the T-bar up to Blackcomb Glacier and drop into the bowl on the far side. Once you descend the first slope, the ice cave should be visible on the right.
Please bear in mind, the ice cave at the Blackcomb Glacier is not a safe environment and there is always a risk that it could collapse at any time. The resort does not recommend entering at all. Depending on the time of year you visit, the cave may also be full of snow! The cave changes every year as the glacier recedes, so pictures might not always reflect the view when you visit.
Please note, the ice cave in 2023 has supposedly been filled in by an avalanche, so it’s not longer visible this season!
4. Backcountry Skiing
I know, I know, this is basically the same as number 1, but as a sport, it’s almost entirely different. Backcountry skiing or backcountry splitboarding involves a backcountry setup, a lot more hiking and some knowledge of avalanches (AST1 or AST2 is a good idea).
If you’re new to the area, the best way to do backcountry skiing, by far, is to buy a backcountry pass at Whistler Blackcomb for $45, and take the chairlifts up to the backcountry in the Garibaldi provincial park area. This will save you an enormous amount of effort and help you focus on shredding! You’ll still have to get yourself back afterwards, but most of the effort is from hiking up!
You can also follow the uphill routes and hike up yourself but we’re lazy and paying for the lift pass is an awesome option!
To go backcountry skiing or boarding, you do need different gear (different skis, bindings and boots), as well as avalanche gear (transceiver, prove and shovel) and a working knowledge of how to use them. By far the most painless (but most expensive) way to do it is to go with a backcountry guide. These are one stop shops for gear and guides. All you have to do is follow the leader! There are a few reasonable companies out there; Mountain Skills Academy does backcountry guiding from $269 per person per day.
5. Cat Skiing
Working from the cheapest ski options to the more expensive, next on our list is Cat Skiing. If you haven’t heard of cat skiing, believe me, it’s one of the most fun ski experiences you can have. I honestly even prefer it to heli skiing, and it’s much cheaper.
Cat skiing is basically backcountry skiing but instead of hiking, you ride a converted cat (those things they use to groom the slopes) to the top of each hill. It allows you to ride in fresh, deep powder all day and save your legs for the downhill!
Generally speaking you get quite a few runs in during a day. Often you might get around 10 runs which, if you’re blasting through fresh powder, is a LOT.
Cat skiing operations usually have an enormous, enormous area to explore, so you’re virtually guaranteed to get fresh tracks on every run. The stoke is unbelievable.
As I mentioned, it’s significantly more than regular skiing for a day. Often costs are around $500-$1000 per day, but some operations require you to book multi-day excursions in the back country, which can get pretty pricey pretty quickly.
If you want to keep your trip varied, I’d probably recommend looking for a tour company that will take you out for a day trip and feed you lunch. But believe me, this will be the highlight of your trip.
Cat skiing is generally recommended for advanced to expert skiers. If you’re a beginner, I would probably stick to the groomed runs until you’ve got a bit more experience under your belt.
While there isn’t any cat skiing in actual Whistler, there are several operations just outside Whistler. Snow Cats operate 30 minutes outside Whistler, and offer two day cat skiing starting at $2000 per person. Bear in mind also that cat skiing dates often get booked up super early. Companies often prioritise groups that have booked in previous years, so make sure you book in advance if you want to guarantee your dates are free.
Powder Mountain Cat skiing offers day trips for $499 per person and is located 20 minutes outside Whistler. It’s not cheap but 100% worth it!
6. Heli Skiing near Whistler
Here’s the big one and undoubtedly one of the best things to do in winter in Whistler. Heli skiing is not cheap, but it is an epic experience if you can stretch the budget. Heli tours can take you much further into the backcountry for untouched powder and huge runs that seem to last all day. It’s the bougiest way to ski, and it’s honestly hard to find a more epic experience in the mountains.
A few things to note; heli skiing is definitely weather dependent. You don’t really want a blizzard on the day you’ve chosen to ski, and if the weather is poor, you might not be able to fly as high.
In terms of bang for your buck, it’s not really as cost effective as Cat skiing, and you might not get as many runs in either. But it really is a wild experience!
Please note, you’re not throwing yourself out of the helicopter like Triple X, it’s all a lot more slow and safety conscious. But still epic!
The easiest way to book heli skiing at Whistler is directly through the resort. They have over 432,000 acres of big mountain terrain to explore, so there’s an endless supply of fresh pow to explore! Packages at Whistler start at $1,345 per person for 4 runs. Additional runs cost 120 per person. Six runs start at $1730
In terms of value for money, I think it’s hard to justify heli skiing over cat skiing, but in terms of pure epicness and adrenaline, nothing beats heli skiing!
7. Extremely Canadian ski lessons
This is something we did last time and it was so epic that, although technically this is still skiing, I felt like it was worth its own bulletpoint.
If you’re a serious skier or boarder, and want to advance your abilities and big mountain riding, then Extremely Canadian snow school is where you want to invest your time and money.
The school is owned and operated by ex and current pro boarders and skiers and their sole purpose is to teach advanced skiers and boarders to tackle extreme terrain and learn how to tackle steep slopes.
During our time at the school, we were taught an intro to jumping off cliffs and tackling chutes. This is something I never would have tried to tackle on my own, and I was so grateful to have an expert guide us through it. It’s something I’ve always wanted to figure out, but sometimes it’s worth getting a pro to teach you how to do it correctly.
The company is all about diversity and inclusivity, and this is truly a company that welcomes anyone and everyone to learn. You can read more about our experience with Extremely Canadian here, or check out their website here. You can book a steep skiing/boarding clinic, or even a free ride course.
One more thing to know is that Whistler can be extremely busy when the snow is good. Taking a lesson with Extremely Canadian allows you to jump the lift lines! Worth it just for that!
One day steep clinics with Extremely Canadian begin at $299+GST per person. 100% worth it. Book now, take my car. If you’re a serious skier or boarder that’s keen to level up, this will seriously be one of the best investments you will ever make. I am a level 2 ski instructor, and this was absolutely worth it and helped me improve.
Tubing is a family friendly activity that you can find on Blackcomb mountain. This year it’s known as the Bubly Tube Park (sponsored by Bubly), and it’s a whole lot of fun!
Basically, you sit in a donut and fly down the chute at high speed! It’s a lot of fun and so awesome to do with kids. The runs are built to be super safe, so you can really just enjoy the experience without worrying about crashing!
Costs for adults are $28 for one hour and $40 for 2 hours. Here’s a full price list for tubing at Whistler!
Snowmobiling is an awesome way to adventure through the mountains and take the pressure off your legs for a day. Tours will take you deep into the backcountry down special areas and tracks designated for snowmobiling.
Probably the most fun and extreme experience I’ve ever had snowmobiling was in Revelstoke. This tour took us into the backcountry and the alpine and let us bounce around in the powder. We learned skills for tackling different conditions, how to roll your sled back if you flip it etc.
By comparison, the tour we had with Canadian Wilderness Adventures in Whistler was a lot more measured and calm, and mostly took us around various forest tracks.
In that sense, it was a bit more like a guided ATV tour, and wasn’t super extreme. It was just about ripping around a track at high speeds, which, don’t get me wrong is still super fun! This is arguably a much safer way to do it. Because of that, it’s probably more suitable for families with teenagers (and hungover bachelor parties, I’m told).
Can’t recommend this enough, and there are a great group of guides to keep you entertained along the way.
10. Heli snowmobile tour
Ok so we’ve talked about heli rides and snowmobiling, but I bet you didn’t know that heli-snowmobiling was a thing. And yes, you can do that in Whistler.
With Heli-sledding, you’re flown way out into the Rocky Mountains, dropped off with your sled and then you’ll embark on one of the world’s most epic journeys across mind boggling mountain terrain and into ice caves. Sometimes you might even eat lunch in one!
Combining a helicopter with a snowmobile adventure is one of the best ways to see parts of the world that would be truly impossible any other way.
An absolutely once in a lifetime epic adventure. Day tours begin at $1695CAD per person, and you can even book multiday tours!
11. Cross Country Skiing in Whistler
Not everyone is keen to get the most high octane thrills when they visit Whistler, and if you fall into this category, perhaps trying your hand at Cross Country or Nordic skiing is perfect for you.
Think of it like a great way to go for a walk with a bit more speed and exercise involved. Obviously you can go as hard as you like, but it’s a great way to get out and get some fresh air!
For the best Nordic skiing in Whistler, make sure you head to Callaghan Valley and check out the trails. You can either ski the Whistler Olympic Park trails or disappear into the woods in Callaghan Country.
You may (or may not) be surprised to learn that Nordic skiing is very popular in Canada, so there are dozens of great trails in Whistler that are suitable for all abilities. We’re still fairly new to Cross country skiing, so generally the greens and blue runs are all we can handle. Even though we’re experienced downhill skiers, trying to tackle black runs is still a humbling experience!
Check out the tourism whistler site for more information on the best places to XC ski and rent equipment.
12. Go for a winter snowshoe or hike
Depending on the trail and the snow pack, you may find yourself either snowshoeing or hiking the trails around Whistler.
Exploring the forests and trails on foot is probably the calmest and most cathartic option on this list, and if you have the time to head out, it’s well worth spending a morning or day doing this.
If you feel like you’d be better suited to a guided tour, there are a number of tour operators in Whistler, but it’s just as easy to rent the gear and find the trails yourself!
Just like the Cross country skiing, the best winter snowshoeing areas are in the Callaghan Valley. Day passes to the area cost $24 for adults and $12 for nights. Yes, many of the trails are floodlit and you can still blast around the trails at night! Check out the Tourism Whistler site for more information.
13. Try a real life Bobsled or luge
Did you know you can actually try bobsledding or the luge in Whistler? Have you ever watched Cool Runnings? At the Whistler Sliding Centre, you can experience your own version as you ride at high velocity as a bobsled passenger! They hit incredible speeds of up to 125kmph and up to 4 G forces.
It’s the only place in Canada where tourists can actually try this for themselves, and it runs no matter the weather. It’s an awesome experience to try if you’re looking for an epic activity that doesn’t require you to go out and face the elements!
But I’ll warn you, it’ s not cheap! Each bobsled run is $209 per person for each run, but the entire activity takes approximately 1.5 hours. Ages 14 and up.
Bobsled runs from December to April each year. Advanced booking is required.
14. Ice skating
Depending on the weather, you may prefer to do either indoor or outdoor ice skating in Whistler. Fortunately, you can find both quite easily in Whistler village.
For outdoor maintained rinks in Whistler, you can head to the Whistler Olympic Plaza. For indoor skating, head to Meadow Park Sports Centre.
The outdoor rink is open November – March, depending on conditions.
Skates cost around $9 to rent or admission is $2 if you have your own skates.
Outdoor skating on natural lakes is possible in Whistler as well, but conditions need to be perfect. Much like the wild ice skating we do in Banff, there is generally only a very small window for skating on a real lake. You need to visit once the lake has frozen solid, thick enough to support a person (around 4 inches), AND you need it to be clear of snow.
Usually it snows when in the winter, so timing is everything! This year (2023) was a fantastic year for wild ice skating in Banff because it hasn’t snowed much at all!
15. Fat biking in Whistler
While Whistler is a Mecca for mountain biking in the summer, did you know you can still get out on the biking trails in the winter as well?
For those looking to keep the adventure going, taking a winter fat bike out on the trails is an awesome way to explore.
Most of the trails are still possible in winter, as long as people keep using them! Head to the Callaghan Valley and you’ll find a ton of great routes that are fat bike appropriate. Cut Yer Bars and Emerald Forest are a couple of popular options!
Talk to a local bike rental store for fat bike rental options and for updates on the best routes!
Hopefully at some point winter fat e-biking will become more popular in Whistler, but until then, you can head to Banff and try it. Read about one of our favourite adventures to Sundance Lodge in Banff on fat e-bikes!
16. Hike the Snow Walls on whistler mountain
As the winter gradually wanes, trails start to appear on Whistler for hikers. To continue bringing supplies to the Gondola station, the Peak to Peak gondola access road is cleared. This creates a unique hiking trail surrounded by huge snow walls on each side! It’s an awesome and short lived experience, so timing is important!
Access is included in the Peak to Peak gondola price, and the trail is generally accessible from May until melts. The snow walls in Whistler is an absolute must if you like hiking and want to find a great hiking trail in the spring.
Rest and Recuperation
17. Visit the Scandinave Spa
We tend to visit the Scandinave Spa every time we visit Whistler, because after a long day working out the legs on the mountain, it’s an amazing way to recover.
The Scandinave Spa encourages you to follow the Nordic rituals (Hot, cool, rest repeat), and you’ll spend at least a couple of hours bouncing between the sauna and cold pools, heated hammocks, jacuzzis and rest rooms.
There is absolutely no talking allowed in the spa either, so it’s a great way to take a break from the madness and the hype that typically accompanies a ski vacation.
The Scandinave Spa also offers various massages and spa treatments, so it’s a brilliant way to regenerate after a hard day on the slopes.
The spa does get extremely busy, so I highly recommend making a reservation in advance.
18. Visit the the spa at Nita Lake Lodge
The Spa at Nita Lake Lodge is much less well known, but if you’re on the Blackcomb side, it’s another great hotel and spa to visit for a massage treatment . We’ve stayed at Nita Lake Lodge a couple of times, and the spa is an absolute highlight. If you throw in a cold plunge in Nita Lake, you’ll feel as fresh as a daisy for your next day of skiing!
19. Take the polar plunge at Nita Lake
You don’t need to be staying at Nita Lake Lodge to enjoy the polar plunge in Nita Lake, but obviously it helps to be able to run back into the hot tub once you emerge from the cold!
The polar plunge at Nita Lake is really just a hole in the lake where you can dunk yourself in for some cryotherapy! I can never last longer than a few seconds, but even a quick dip can be therapeutic!
While this is a great thing to do in the winter, the lake does carry a risk of swimmer’s itch in the summer when the water is much warmer. I only recommend this in winter!
20. Try Ice fishing
If you’re craving something a little calmer, ice fishing is about as far from skiing as possible, and the perfect way to relax on a winter day (as long as you pack warm clothes – there’s a lot of sitting around).
In Whistler, it’s possible to go on a guided ice fishing adventure between December and March (as long as the ice is thick enough). Whistler has a few stocked lakes with rainbow trout, so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to catch something.
Guided ice fishing tours in Whistler begin at $169 pp for 3 hours, and bear in mind that it’s catch and release!
Check out Whistler Year Round Fishing for tours and prices.
21. Whistler Helicopter tours
Even if heli skiing or heli sledding aren’t for you, you might also consider taking a heli tour of the incredible mountains surrounding Whistler. Some even land on glaciers!
Heli tours vary depending on how far and how long you’d like to go for, but they can range from a quick 15 minute tour around Whistler Blackcomb ($922 per group) to a 4.5 hour volcano and ice cave adventure ($5800 per group)
It goes without saying that anything that involves helicopters isn’t cheap, but if you can stretch the budget, it’s an epic way to explore the area!
22. Hop on a Snowcat tour
Snow cat tours are a really unique way to explore the mountains. Hop in the back of a specially converted, heated snow cat and chug up some absolutely ridiculous terrain.
Any time I’ve been in a snow cat, I’ve been absolutely blown away by how unbelievably steep the angles we’re climbing are. It almost feels vertical at times!
Typical Canadian Wilderness tours include the drive to the scenic viewpoint, hot chocolate, marshmallows and a roaring bonfire. Some also include a custom igloo and toboggan hill!
23. Take the Gondola up Whistler Blackcomb for the views
You don’t have to be a skier to be able to take the gondola up Whistler and take in the views. There’s plenty of food and drink options at the top, and many people want to just come up and soak in the vistas.
To experience all the views, the easiest way is to book the PEAK to PEAK 360 Experience, which includes the Whistler Village Gondola, the Blackcomb Gondola and the Peak to Peak Gondola.
Tickets for adults are $82 in winter, $60 from April onwards (once the ski season is over).
24. Take a ride on the glass bottomed Peak to Peak Gondola
This is kind of the same as the previous activity, but did you know there are couple of glass bottomed gondolas on the Peak to Peak tram?
If you time it right, there are actually a couple of gondolas that have glass bottoms! Last time we were here, these were the gondolas that were decorated with the indigenous Thunder Bird designs. But other times, they are just silver. There are only 2/24 that are glass bottomed, so you can step aside and wait for the glass bottomed one or just cross your fingers that you’ve timed it right!
The glass bottomed gondola is a cool one to check out because the Peak to Peak gondola actually holds the Guinness world record for the longest unsupported span (3.024km), and the highest distance above ground for a gondola of its kind (436m). So it’s one of the biggest and most epic gondolas in the world!
We were lucky enough to time the gondola perfectly last time we skied, and it’s very cool/trippy to see all the tiny trees below your feet.
If you’re not good with heights, you might want to avoid this though!
25. Take some photos with the olympic rings and the Inukshuk on Whistler
In case you didn’t already know, Whistler hosted the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter games. As such, there are a few Olympic ring sculptures dotted around.
Once you’re at the top of the Whistler Village Gondola, you won’t be able to miss the large sculpture right at the top. It’s definitely worth grabbing a couple of photos with the epic Whistler peaks in the distance!
There are also various Inukshuks dotted around that are worth a photo or two! Inukshuks are Indigenous stone sculptures that look like people. They can be used as directional guides or to symbolise safety, hope and friendship. It’s a very Canadian thing, so if you’re visiting you should be sure to get a photo with one!
26. Sleigh ride
Perhaps you’ve had enough ripping for one day, or you’re looking for something a bit more romantic. Then look no further than a sleigh ride with Blackcomb Sleigh Rides for an easy cruise through the mountains.
Amazing views, and who could forget the hot chocolate and marshmallows!
Sleigh rides are currently not available for the 2023 Winter season. Please check the Whistler site for updates.
27. Après Ski Winter Ziplining
Yes, in winter you can have your cake and eat it in Whistler. Enjoy a full day of skiing on the slopes and then head off into the old growth forests as the sun sets for a high speed après ski zipline adventure. Or in other words, night time ziplining!
There’s no experience like flying through the snow at night!
Pricing starts at $139CAD for adults and $119 for kids.
28. Winter Bungee jumping in Whistler
If you’re looking for extreme thrills, then bungee jumping is probably going to rank pretty high on your list. You might think this is more of a summer activity, but Whistler bungee operates year round! What’s more epic than bungee jumping in a snowstorm!
Whistler Bungee operates 20 minutes south of Whistler, near Brandywine Falls, and just 1 hour from Vancouver.
29. Ice climbing
Perhaps not as adrenaline pumping as bungee jumping but sure to get the heart pounding! Ice climbing is a big winter sport in Canada and we have literally thousands of frozen waterfalls to choose from.
But it’s a skill that has to be learned properly, so it’s highly recommended to get some expert tuition from a guide.
We’ve dabbled in ice climbing and regular rock climbing, and I would say the former is far more intuitive. Having crampons and axes allows you to perch nicely on the ice without needing incredible balance and grip strength.
An intro to ice climbing course would be an amazing day out if you fancied an excuse to get away from the ski hill (or if the ski hill is also icy).
One of the best places to try ice climbing is on Blackcomb, but for this guided adventure you will also need a moderate skiing/snowboarding ability and a lift pass.
Check out Mountain Skills Academy for their guided ice climbing options.
30. Dog sledding
Dog sledding is SO much fun. We’ve done it a couple of times now, and if you’re a dog person, believe me, you will absolutely love it. I’ve never seen such happy dogs in my life. To be honest, our dog sledding experience in Revelstoke is one of my favourite winter memories.
Dog sledding tours are absolutely unforgettable. Hold on for dear life, because the second that brake is released, you are going to absolutely haul it. It’s an extremely loud and chaotic experience, but also beautiful and unique. 100% worth it at least once.
Having said that, I’ve generally felt that a 2 hour tour is plenty to get the full experience.
Prices begin at $559, based on 2 adults sharing a sled.
31. Indoor climbing at the Core
Maybe you’re sick of the cold and would prefer to get some exercise indoors. Well, look no further than the enormous indoor climbing centre; The Core. Located right in the heart of downtown Whistler Village, you can’t miss it.
Regardless of your fitness or experience level, the Core has a variety of different routes for different skill levels. There’s top roping, auto belay routes, bouldering and an adjustable “Tension Climbing” training wall for all interests.
Drop in sessions start at $19 for adults and $16 for youths (under 18). You can rent all your gear there too!
32. Audain Art museum
The Audain Art Museum is a stunning museum located in Whistler Village. It’s an art gallery dedicated to mostly coastal BC artworks, including a large collection of early 19th Century paintings. This includes the highly treasured painting “the Crazy Staircase” by Emily Carr, which sold for a record $3.3m at auction.
It also is home to a huge collection of 19th Century Coastal Masks and Sculptures. If you like Indigenous artwork and sculptures, you will be blown away by the exhibits here.
Aside from the permanent exhibition, there are up to 3 temporary exhibits per year. It’s well worth exploring if you have a quiet afternoon and a penchant for art and culture.
Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for youth
33. Whistler Museum
The Whistler Museum is all about all things Whistler! How it came about and the early pioneers that made the dream a reality. What once a quiet little town with just a few permanent residents in the 1950’s has become one of the world’s premier skiing and four season adventure resort towns.
How did it become what it is today? Find out at the Whistler Museum!
34. Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is a museum designed to celebrate the two First Nations communities that are native to the Whistler area.
The Squamish and Lil’wat people (the correct spelling is Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh and L̓il̓wat7úl – in case you’re curious, the 7 is a glottal stop or pause, not the number seven!) have stewarded the area for thousands of years.
The Cultural Centre is an amazing place to experience the stories, music, skills, crafts and traditions of the people that were here first.
You can also try delicious indigenous foods, like Bannock and seafood chowder.
It’s important to acknowledge that all of the lands we enjoy today are still very much indigenous home lands and territories, belonging to the First Nations that were here first. Learning about and supporting this true history and culture of Canada is enormously important. Make sure you stop in!
Unique Food and drink experiences in Whistler
35. Visit the Ketel One Ice Room
It’s a well known fact that vodka tastes better when chilled, so where better to try a few vodkas than a chilled bar kept at a constant -32C (-25F)! It’s the coldest tasting room in the world!
The Ice Room is so cold that you can only stay in for a few minutes, but don’t worry, it’s enough time to put away a few shots!
There are literally dozens of great vodkas to try in your ice glass, and while you’re drinking your bartender will teach you all about the distilling process.
It’s always a fun experience, but sorry kids, it’s adults only! Experiences cost $52 per person.
36. Use a Saber to open a bottle of Champagne
As if the ice room wasn’t enough, the bougiest travellers can opt for an even fancier drinking experience at the Bearfoot Bistro; learning how to open Champagne with a Saber (a sword).
Pair your champagne sword fighting with a delicious 5 course meal from a world class chef and it’s going to be a meal to remember! Reservations are highly recommended, and prices are on request. Look for the Experience to book!
Crystal hut fondue and snow cat tour
37. Grab a graze box and go for a picnic
From super fancy to grabbing a picnic for the road; Picnic Whistler is a local company that hand picks ingredients and creates unique grazing charcuterie boxes to go. You can use these to start the night with a few drinks or take a box up the ski hill and enjoy a picnic outside on the slopes!
Last time we visited, we had an amazing spread on the patio outside the Roundhouse Lodge. Definitely beats a ham sandwich from the supermarket!
38. Grab a hot dog from Zogs
There’s nothing unique about a hot dog, but I felt like it’s such an iconic thing to do in Whistler that it deserved a mention. Hot dogs were always such a big part of my European ski trips growing up that perhaps it’s more of a nostalgic trip for me. Either way, they’re delicious and enormous, and the perfect lunchtime snack after you’ve been shredding on the slopes for a few hours.
They’re just about the cheapest food you can find in Whistler, and have all the toppings you could ever want on a hot dog. Definitely worth grabbing one on your way past.
Zogs is located right at Whistler base, by the Excalibur Gondola.
39. Take a food tour in Whistler
Food tours seem to be popping up all over the world these days, and I, for one, am thrilled about it. They’re an amazing way to try multiple restaurants and eateries in one sitting. More often than not, you end up in a hole in the wall that you’d have never found on your own. Totally worth the time and money.
In Whistler, check out Whistler Tasting Tours for a 4 or 5 course tasting tour. If you book the Finer things tour, it also includes the saber champagne we mentioned above!
Tours start at $149pp. Reservations in advance are recommended.
40. Try an Aussie pie at Peaked Pies
Whistler is absolutely full of Aussies, so it will come as no surprise that there is somewhere to grab Aussie pies in town!
The great little pies at Peaked Pies are absolutely perfect after a day on the slopes. If you’re looking for the fastest way to cram calories into your body, this has got to be up there!
Aussie pies can come loaded with mushy peas, mash and gravy. Absolutely not to be missed if you’re looking for a quick meal or something to take on the go. We come here every time!
41. Visit one of Whistler’s craft breweries
No small ski town is complete without its own craft brewery. Well Whistler has three, with no doubt more to come! If you’ve got the ‘thrills for the pils[ner]’, you’ve got to check out High Mountain Brewing Company Brewhouse, Whistler Brewing Company and Coast Mountain Brewing.
Make sure you check them out!
42. Take a Whistler Distillery tour
If you like booze, then why not go straight to the source! A distillery tour is a great way to learn a little about the drinks you like and try a few cocktails at the same time!
The Montis Distillery is offers tours of their facility in Function Junction, and tours are bookable through the The Whistler Distillery Tour & Tasting Experience operated by Whistler Valley Tours. They’ll pick you up and drop you off on this two hour tour, and each drink is paired with a delicious grazing option from Picnic Whistler.
This is a great pick me up after a long day of skiing, and a brilliant way to work up an appetite for dinner after!
Tours begin at $69.99 per guest and only run on Friday and Saturday evenings at 5.30pm. This tour is 19+ only unfortunately.
43. Drink up the Views at Whistler’s Umbrella Bar
Looking for a drink with a view? The Umbrella Bar on top of Whistler Mountain (part of the Roundhouse Lodge) offers panoramic views of the Whistler Valley and surrounding mountains. There is really no better place to sip a cocktail.
There are very few places in Canada that you can enjoy a tipple at 6000ft, so grabbing a drink here is an absolute must!
Why is it called the umbrella bar, I hear you asking? Because the entire roof is one giant umbrella! In the summer, the entire thing folds down to allow all the drinkers to soak up those beautiful summer rays.
Definitely worth stopping in and easily one of the best things to do in winter in Whistler on a sunny day.
44. Heli Dining in an Ice Cave
At $20,000 per couple, this is a bit of a ridiculous thing to include on the list. But it’s so extra that I really couldn’t resist.
Yes, for 20 grand you can take a helicopter out to an ice cave in the middle of the Icefield, and have a gourmet chef prepare you a 5 course meal full of truffles, champagne, caviar, oysters and steak. Hey, a guy can dream.
Obviously it’s probably only realistic for billionaires but hey, maybe one will read this and find it useful!
Winter Events in Whistler
45. Vallea Lumina
Vallea Lumina is another awesome production by Moment Factory (the same people that created Nightrise up Sulphur Mountain in Banff). This time, it’s a beautiful winter walk through the forest, combined with multimedia, sounds and lights.
It’s an awesome experience for kids and adults alike and it only runs in winter while the nights are long. Make sure you check it out!
46. Whistler Pride and Ski Festival
Whistler Pride and Ski Festival is now in its 30th year, and the events are bigger and better than ever. This festival is all about getting together, socialising, and celebrating all things 2SLGBTQIA+. Events include guided sking, pool parties, music festivals, Vallea Lumina, a parade and much more.
The event has concluded now for 2023 but check back in late 2023 for 2024 events and dates.
47. Check out the Banff Mountain Film festival (in Whistler)
Yes, I haven’t gone crazy. The epic Banff Mountain Film Festival visits Whistler each year, and features great stories from around the world, generally focusing on the year’s most awe inspiring movies filmed in the great outdoors and mountains.
Categories include some of the year’s best snowsports movies, the most ‘radical reels’ (i,e the most epic movies), and some of the biggest and most pioneering documentaries that will make your jaw hit the floor.
In the past, we’ve seen “the Rescue” (the Jimmy Chin movie about rescuing the Thai football team from a flooded cave – unbelievable movie, btw), movies about 100ft waterfall drops on Kayaks, growing turnips in India, slacklining between hot air balloons. Believe me, the movies are epic, and something that really brings the community together.
In 2023, the Mountain Film Festival rolled through on February 10 and 11, but check back later this year for 2024’s dates.
48. Check out Whistler Cornucopia food festival in November
Cornucopia is Whistler’s foodiest food festival, taking place every November!
It’s an amazing opportunity to sample the best food that Whistler has on offer, as well as learning a few things from culinary experts from around the world.
At Whistler Cornucopia, there are signature tastings of food and drink, seminars to learn about food and drink and also opportunities to learn various cooking skills. At the culinary stages, you’re basically watching a live cooking show that’ll send you home with a fresh set of skills to impress the family with!
Lastly, there are tons of events hosted by local restaurants and bars, that showcase the absolute best that Whistler has to offer!
2022 dates were November 4 – 6, 10 – 20 & 25 – 27, so expect 2023 to be at a similar time. Check the website for tickets to events. They sell out quickly so make sure you plan in advance!
49. Check out the Fire and Ice show every Sunday night
Yes you heard that correctly. Every Sunday night during the winter months, there’s an event called the Fire and Ice show. You can probably guess where this is going,..
It’s a show where some of the top skiers and snowboarders in Whistler put on a dazzling display of jumps and tricks, through a giant flaming ring. On top of that, there’s live music and fireworks.
It’s definitely worth checking out, and did I mention it’s absolutely free! Just show up at the Whistler Village plaza, by the Excalibur Gondola. You can’t miss it.
Shows begin at 7pm, between December 31 and March 12.
50. Check out the World ski and snowboard festival
This year’s World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler is taking place April 10-16, 2023! Put it in your diary!
This is a week of epic ski races and events that have been running for decades.
For example, check out the steepest ski and snowboard race in the world, the Saudan Couloir Race Extreme; a double black diamond slalom race down a couloir! This is on April 15 on Saudan Couloir, Blackcomb Mountain.
There’s also the slush cup on the April 16th – a competition where skiers and boarders try to skim a pond without disappearing under the water!
Did you know that Whistler offers an Apres promotion that offers a $75 drink voucher for every third night booked between March 1 – April 30, 2023. What a ridiculous deal! Book through the Whistler website and enter the code SPRING2023 to get your voucher!
51. Enter the Peak to Valley Giant Slalom race
Whether you’re an Olympian or just an average skier, the Peak to Valley Giant Slalom race is a Whistler classic that offers a rare glimpse into what those professional athletes get up to in the World Cup…only this is several times longer.
Say goodbye to your thighs!
The Peak to Valley Giant Slalom is comfortably the world’s longest GS race. It has over 1400m elevation, is 5.6km long and each racer has to travel almost 180 gates.
To put that into context, pro GS courses can have a maximum of 450m elevation and 70 gates. This race is a leg BURNER!
But that’s all part of the fun. And the great news? Anyone can enter!
To enter, round up a team of 4 (must be co-ed), and two of you race on Friday, two on Saturday. Then there’s a big gala for entrants on the saturday night. The combined fastest time of all 4 teammates wins!
It costs $660 per team, but that includes your gala ticket and event swag.
It’s an event to remember, and it really doesn’t matter how long you take.
This year’s race takes place on Feb 24 and 25th, 2023! Make sure you check it out, even if you’re not participating! (Sorry, tickets have to be purchased by Feb 19, 2023)
52. Check out LUNA for late Unique Night time Activities
These are designed to be late night alcohol free activities for young people to get involved in. LUNA is a community project to help young adults avoid getting boozed up and give them something a bit more interesting to do.
This winter there are hockey lessons, late night cross country ski events, laser tag in the library, late night snowshoeing and more. Check the website for more events.
Unfortunately, this is for residents of the sea to sky corridor only, aged 18-35.
53. Axe throwing
This sort of feels random to throw in here, as it’s not really limited to winter time, but Axe throwing is a fun activity that you could definitely check out in the winter!
Take out your rage/frustration on the wall by hurling tomahawks as hard as you can. What’s not to love!
Axe throwing is $37.99 for one hour
54. Visit Squamish and the sea to sky gondola
Squamish is a must visit if you’re driving from Whistler to Vancouver (or vice versa). It’s a tiny town that’s become a mecca for rock climbing and outdoor fun. I believe there will also soon be a new ski resort there in the next few years.
Squamish is known for the outdoors, so while you’re there you can go for a hike, look for wildlife, take the sea to sky gondola, take a flight seeing trip, climb the iron way via ferrata.
Eagles and Squamish are synonymous. In fact, if you visit during the month of January, you can enjoy the Brackendale Eagle Festival (just next door to Squamish). From November to Feb, you can also take an Eagle rafting tour to spot these amazing birds!
55. Visit Brandywine Falls
Brandywine Falls is a huge (70m) waterfall just off the side of the Sea to Sky Highway on your way from Vancouver to Whistler. Park and it’s just a few short steps to the top of the falls.
You can walk around the side a little to catch a good view of it as it plummets to the rocks below or if you’re feeling really brave, you can hike down to the foot of the waterfall.
This hike is not easy as a much of the route will require climbing over slipper, icy or wet boulders. There is definitely risk of injury, so please don’t attempt this unless you have the correct gear or experience! Parking lot and trails are not maintained in winter.
56. Visit a remote natural hot spring
We’ve written about hot springs near Whistler in depth, and there’s no better time than winter to go and check them out. Nobody wants to sit in a hot tub in the summer after all!
There are plenty of amazing hot springs in the wilderness near Whistler and Pemberton, as the area is still somewhat geothermally active. The downside? You really need to be prepared to drive into the middle of nowhere. You need a vehicle that’s up to the task, and you need to be comfortable with being totally alone in the wilderness with no cell service. Some areas a known for having nosy bears even.
But having said that, if you can brave it all, there is no more satisfying feeling than having an incredible natural hot spring to yourself!
After Dark in Whistler
57. Hit the bars
I am sure I don’t really need to go into this in too much detail. If you’re planning a trip to Whistler in the winter, you’re probably going to hit a pub or bar or club or all of the above.
If you’re looking for a great apres ski deal, then Black’s has a great apres bucket full of beers and bulldogs. You really can’t walk 10 feet without finding a great drinking hole, and most of the top spots are relatively close to the base of Whistler mountain. Garibaldi Lift co. and Grill is another great spot to grab a post ski drink (it’s right above the Whistler Village Gondola.
If you’re looking for a fantastic jug of strawberry margarita, Sushi Village is hard to beat (random, but trust me, it’s amazing – also so is the food).
Put it this way, you won’t struggle to find a good drink after a day on the slopes. The hard part is putting yourself to bed.
58. Try to break out of an Escape Room
Escape rooms have become a global phenomenon, and Whistler has joined the hype. Check out 6 different escape rooms, ranging from a buried cabin, to Yukon gold to an underwater lair and more! Rooms range from easy green runs to hard black diamonds. Check out Escape Whistler if you need some indoor fun, away from the cold!
Your adventure costs $36.99 per player. Reservations are recommended.
59. Late night pizza at Fat Tony’s pizza
This isn’t a thing to do per se, and more of a late night eats option, but it never hurts to know where to go once you’ve had a few pints and are craving something greasy.
Fat Tony’s Pizza is open super late (until 3am every night), so you can guarantee you can find something to eat when you’re staggering around and feeling peckish.
You can buy a whole pizza or just rock up to the window and grab pizza by the slice. They have a few interesting options on the menu, including their specialty, the beef and blue cheese pizza. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it though, I loved every bite!
60. Walk around Whistler village
And last but not least, make sure you wander the streets of downtown Whistler at least once! There is a lot of hustle and bustle and some great stores to check out as well. If you have some spare spending money left, there are plenty of amazing outdoor brands here as well as some great gift shops.
Downtown Whistler is all pedestrianised so you can stomp around it in your ski boots and leave your car in the hotel.
Whistler in Winter FAQ’s
Where should I stay in Whistler?
If you’re planning to ski a lot in Whistler, it makes sense to stay as close to the ski hill as possible.
On our last visit, we booked a stay at Crystal Lodge. I have to say, it was amazing to be so close to the ski hill and only footsteps from the gondola. We’ve stayed a lot further from the hill before, and carrying your skis for half a mile is never fun.
At Crystal lodge, you can roll out of bed, grab your boots from the boot dryer room, pick up your skis from the front desk and be on the gondola in less than 5 minutes. Absolutely worth it for the convenience!
You’re also right in the centre of downtown Whistler, so it’s just footsteps from all the restaurants and shopping
Aside from the location, the rooms are really stylish and spacious, and if you have pets, you’ll be pleased to know it’s dog friendly as well!
There’s a great heated outdoor pool, sauna and the crystal Lounge in the basement if you’re looking for a pub vibe. Lastly, it’s basically attached to Fat Tony’s Pizza, so if you’re hungry for a late night snack, you barely have to leave the hotel!
Where do I park in Whistler?
Parking in Whistler is not easy or cheap. As Whistler is ski in/ski out, many visitors opt to take a bus transfer straight from Vancouver or the airport and leave the car behind. We’ve taken an airport transfer before and it’s very painless and most buses will drop you off directly at your hotel.
Parking in Whistler tends to be very expensive. Most hotels charge an average of $25 per day to use their underground parking.
For day visitors, there are day lots 1 to 5, but parking overnight is illegal in winter and carries a $100 fine. The only place that does allow overnight parking in winter and isn’t a hotel is the conference centre underground parking lot. There are no guarantees that you will find a space though, so it’s better to use hotel parking if you do decide to stay overnight.
What is the weather like in Whistler?
It goes without saying that the weather is cold and there is a lot of snow. The snow in Whistler is much more wet and dense than the champagne powder we get in Alberta, and sometimes the lower mountain can receive rain instead of snow.
As a result, the skiing is generally better at the higher altitudes because often the lower mountain can get icy or slushy. In fact, the first time I visited, I got soaked because it was snowing on the lower mountain. People were skiing with garbage bags on.
It’s worth noting that the waterproofing on most ski jackets is minimal, so if you have the choice, opt for a shell with more waterproofing.
When does Whistler get the most snow?
Average snowfall in Whistler varies by month:
November: 89 inches
December: 89 inches
January: 74 inches
February: 62 inches
March: 98 inches
April: 33 inches
May: 8 inches
Between November and December, it dumps with snow but the base is still growing and not all runs would necessarily be open. March is probably the best time to visit because the hill gets absolutely nuked all month and the temperatures tend to be milder than January or February.
April and May are likely to be spring skiing conditions, so expect warm weather, slush and the occasional bit of powder
Is Whistler expensive?
Yes unfortunately a trip to Whistler is pretty expensive. At $219+GST per day for a lift ticket, even a week of skiing is over $1000 per person. Hotel accommodation can be pretty expensive as well.
Food and drinks aren’t absurdly expensive compared to Vancouver or the rest of BC, but there is definitely a slight mountain premium. After all, you’re stuck there and you don’t really have an alternative.
There are various Airbnb’s that are available to rent in Whistler, so you do have the option of buying groceries and cooking for yourself though in a pinch.
And don’t forget, if you’re visiting from Alberta or somewhere with lower taxes, BC has 12% taxes (5% GST plus 7% PST), so everything works out a bit more expensive.
If you’re visiting from abroad, did you know you can reclaim the GST paid on goods and also short term accommodation? Here’s a link to the form!
Where is Whistler and what is the best way to get to Whistler?
Whistler is about 2 hours north of Vancouver, British Columbia (in Canada) by car.
The drive along the sea to sky highway is absolutely breathtaking and will take you first along the coast, before heading inland into the mountains. Along the way you’ll pass through Squamish and a number of other small communities.
If you have time to stop, make sure you check out Brandywine falls along the way (don’t try to go down in the winter, but in the summer you can actually reach the foot of the waterfall on a very sketchy trail).
Obviously driving yourself is the most convenient way to get there, but sometimes the roads can be really hairy if there’s a blizzard, and as I mentioned, parking is quite tricky in Whistler. Sometimes taking a bus is the easiest option!
Bus fares are typically $95 per adult each way (Vancouver to Whistler), but paying for a door to door airport shuttle service is absolutely worth it if you’re dragging a giant ski bag around with you.
Are Whistler and Blackcomb the same place?
Whistler and Blackcomb are two neighbouring mountains that together, are known as Whistler Blackcomb. The Peak to Peak gondola connects the two mountains, enabling skiers to bounce between the two on any given day.
Typically the only time it matters is when you’re deciding which mountain you’re skiing on, or when you’re deciding where to stay. If your hotel is on the Blackcomb side, you are not in walking distance of Whistler village and will either have to take the Excalibur gondola over or drive. There are a few awesome hotels on this side (like Nita Lake Lodge), but they are not ideal if you’re visiting for the apres vibe in Whistler Village
Final thoughts on Whistler in the Winter
Visiting Whistler Blackcomb in the winter should absolutely be on your bucket list, particularly if you’re into snowsports. It’s a wild adventure and probably the only place I’ve visited in Canada that closely resembles the apres-ski vibes you’ll find in Europe. I love our trips to Whistler and I’m sure you’ll love yours!