The site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler Blackcomb is a world-class destination for all things winter activity related and a haven for year-round outdoor enthusiasts. The charming and walkable Village pulses alive with apres-ski and dinner while plenty of activities off the slopes makes Whistler the ideal family vacation destination-we can’t wait to go back!
On the Slopes
Side-by-side with quad burning mile high verticals, Whistler and Blackcomb are connected via the Peak to Peak gondola. Both are massive with a huge variety of terrain and the best way to explore the mountains is with the help of those who know the mountain… enter private and group lessons!
Private lessons perfectly tailors a day to you or your group’s skill and abilities. Our guide, Alice, was instrumental in helping us hone carving skills and technique and also showed us the magical Tree Fort playground for a ski break! Extremely Canadian’s Big Mountain Awareness camp teaches advanced 10-15 year old skiers and riders to recognize the challenges of backcountry and off-piste skiing—our 11 year old loved shredding with her new friends.
An exclusive program Whistler Blackcomb offers is their Ski with An Olympian program. We spent the day with 2010 Vancouver Olympian, Robbie Dixon, who went easy on us and slowed down to 50 mph on turns; this helped keep all of our limbs intact.
Whistler Kids also runs a great group snow program for skiers and riders of all abilities—our little ripper really bonded with the instructors and enjoyed her time in ski school.
Off the Slopes
There’s so much more to Whistler than just snow activities and we loved that the day didn’t end just because we weren’t on the slopes.
Photo by Joern Rohde
Escape rooms are interactive, themed game rooms in which riddles and puzzles are solved to “escape” the room (note: the rooms are never truly locked). We tried the Pirate Ship escape room and it was a big hit as even the five-year-old got involved! The opportunity to collaborate and work together as a team was not only fun but a great chance for older kids to take charge and provide leadership. This was our absolute most favorite family activity and we ended up trying two other rooms because we couldn’t get enough!
When was the last time you had the chance to ice skate under both the stars AND Olympic rings? This gorgeous setting will have your family gliding under a starry night for a memorable, magical winter wonderland experience.
The forests come alive after dark in this tantalizing, immersive experience that utilizes lights and multi-media to showcase Whistler’s natural beauty. A night walk/hike of sorts, you will be led on a journey past a rushing river of LED-lit salmon as they run their way upstream among other dazzling sights. Warm up little hands after the trek with hot cocoa by the fire pits at the home base.
This indoor climbing wall spot offers guided climbing sessions for ages five and up and also a three-hour Climb & Dine session for the eight to 14 crowd in which kids are dropped off for an evening of climbing. Kidless apres-ski and dinner, anyone??
Peak 2 Peak Gondola
Even if you don’t ski/snowboard, you can enjoy the majestic views of both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains with the gondola ride. Holding world records for the longest unsupported lift, highest lift and longest continuous lift, the gondola is an engineering marvel of its own right. If luck is on your side, you’ll get the sole silver gondola that has a glass bottom for a truly spectacular view of glaciers, mountain peaks, lakes and forests!
A curated selection of self-guided tours are available when you download the Go Whistler Tours app. From art galleries to a sweet treats tour, your family can pick a tour and follow at your own pace and schedule.
The closest major airport is Vancouver and the majestic scenic drive to Whistler along the Sea-to-Sky highway takes about two hours and locally owned and operated VIP Whistler’s private car transfer is an easy, comfortable and convenient choice. Other options for transportation include shared shuttle Whistler Shuttle or YVR Skylynx but no matter what transportation mode, be prepared for epic views en route.
Whistler has no shortage of dining options from casual eateries to fine dining. Start your day off at the Grill & Vine (inside the Westin) for their extensive breakfast buffet to fill up for the morning. 21 Steps Kitchen and Bar serves up modern comfort food (try the prawns and short ribs) in a warm, casual setting that is perfect for families. Catch a bay window table for views of the Village below. Ohyama Ramen is a quaint, funky spot to get your fill of brothy noodles and The FireRock Lounge at the Westin is a chalet-style bar where you’ll find everything from burgers to a quinoa Buddha bowl.
The truffle fries and short ribs at Stonesedge Kitchen filled us up while the veggie falafel sandwich really hit the spot at Beacon Pub and Eatery. For sweet treats, the famous giant cinnamon rolls at Hot Buns Bakery are a must and the lovely Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is stocked full of truffles, candy apples, fudge and ice cream that await the sweetest of sweet teeth.
We always stock up on fresh fruit and snacks on trips and Fresh Market is a great choice within Whistler Village while a short five minute drive takes you to Nester’s with a pharmacy next door and their well-stocked liquor store downstairs.
Tucked away from the hubbub, the Four Seasons Spa is a retreat for ultimate pampering and relaxation. Our group of Moms relished the treatments as sore and tired muscles were kneaded into submission. The steam room was closed on our visit but when open, would complete the tranquil and indulgent experience.
Westin Resort & Spa
Located at the base of Whistler, this hotel is steps away from the Whistler & Excalibur gondolas and Fitzsimmons express lift so you can roll out of bed and onto the slopes. Every room features a fireplace, full kitchen with stove, microwave and dishwasher for easy meal prep and quick breakfasts (if that’s your thing). During the winter season, the hotel offers s’mores by the fire pits, hot chocolate and maple candy on the outdoor plaza, live entertainment and take away crafts and games for kids.
Good to know:
- Whistler Kids ski school is next door to the hotel, eliminating long treks with gear (the worst, am I right?!). This is one of the easiest, most convenient set-ups we’ve encountered.
- When it’s time for après ski (that inevitably rolls into dinner for the kids), a short stroll into the Village puts you in the center of all the hubbub
With a location that is hard to beat combined with impeccable service, we found staying at the Westin a highlight and attraction itself and think your family will, too!
—story and photos (unless otherwise noted) by Christine Lai
Editor’s note: This trip was sponsored by Tourism Whistler, VIP Whistler Car Service, Escape! Whistler & Whistler Blackcomb but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.