Home to the 2010 Winter Olympics and the world’s coldest ice bar, this village nestled in the Canadian Rockies is so much more than just a ski town—although the skiing here is legendary. It’s also a mountain biking, paddleboarding, and adventure-racing hotspot. About a two-hour drive from Vancouver, British Columbia, there’s so much to do every season of the year that more than half of tourists come in the summer months. Whether you want to be super active or just chill out in the fresh mountain air, plan your perfect getaway with this year-round guide.
Winter & Spring
Heliskiing Boasting North America’s longest ski season (you can hit the slopes from November to July); 8,171 acres of terrain; and 38 lifts, Whistler attracts all levels of skiers and snowboarders. To really explore the powdery backcountry, sign up for a heliskiing adventure with a certified guide. A helicopter transports you into the wilderness where you’ll be free to carve out your own trail in virgin powder. Heliskiing season runs from December 1st to April 21st. Find a tour at Whistler.com.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing If downhill’s not your thing, strap on a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes and explore the more than 43 miles of groomed trails in Whistler Olympic Park. Since the area averages more than 33 feet of snow a year, you can glide effortlessly through powder bowls and past glacial lakes; or work your way over to Lost Lake on the edge of town to traverse the almost 20-mile trail network. With the de-stressing power of the great outdoors topping even the best yoga class this is the most peaceful way to get a workout we’ve ever found.
Snowmobiling. Get access to backcountry terrain only accessible with a snowmobile (or ‘sled’ as the locals like to call ‘em). For the ultimate experience book the 7-hour (round trip) Powderhound tour which includes a private guide, lunch, and avalanche safety equipment.
Peak 2 Peak Gondola Ride. Connecting the peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, this record-breaking gondola is not only the highest lift with an elevation of 1,427 feet, but also the longest unsupported lift span in the world. Wait for one of the silver, glass-bottom rides for an even more spectacular view of the peaks and glaciers—and possibly some grizzlies. Just be aware that you’ll need a lift ticket and will want to check availability here before you go.
Summer & Fall
Mountain Biking Mountain biking is as popular as skiing and boarding in Whistler, thanks to the lift-serviced pathways that offer riders 5,000 feet of vertical trails. Testosterone Tuesdays are all-male drop-in nights at Garibaldi Lift Co., the mountaintop bar where you can grab drinks, a hearty meal, and enter to win prizes post-ride. (Whistler is kind of famous for their après scene). If you’re a devoted rider—or if you just want to see the world’s top free-ride athletes compete with gravity-defying displays—don’t miss the 10-day Crankworx festival.
Mud Racing Whistler Olympic Park, the site of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, is now host to a Tough Mudder. If you’re ready to man up to the challenge of overcoming obstacles that deliver up to 10,000 volts of electricity, you might want to do it in Whistler’s rugged terrain for the ultimate adventure vacation.
Ziplining Watch bears from the safety of above as you zip through treetops in a harness. Your adrenaline will be pumping as you fly between ancient cedars and over rushing whitewater.
SUP Paddle your way around the off-the-beat-track and brilliantly blue Alpha Lake. Get standup paddleboard lessons and rental equipment through REO Rafting Whistler, and then chill out on the beach for a barbecue afterwards.
Ironman Triathlon. Whistler won the bid for 2013’s Ironman Canada happening next August, and the victory may have had something to do with the stunning mountain terrain. The 2.4-mile swim happens in the glacial-fed Alta Lake at Rainbow Park; followed by a one-loop, 112-mile bike ride starting on the Sea-to-Sky highway; and finishes with a 26.2-mile run past the Valley Trail and Lost Lake to end next to Whistler Olympic Plaza.
Hiking. Hundreds of trails crisscross Whistler’s alpine meadows, old-growth forests, and glacial-covered peaks. Choose to start out from the village itself or take the gondola to the beginning of the Overlord Trail (a challenging ridge climb that takes about four and a half hours to complete).
The Fairmont Chateau Whistler If it’s convenience you’re after, this ski-in, ski-out resort has everything you’d want: an on-site golf course; holistic spa; health club with saunas, hot tubs, and a heated outdoor lap pool with underwater music; plenty of on-site dining and bar options; and even a wedding chapel. (Rooms start at $199 a night; fairmont.com)
Alta Bistro Chef Nick Cassettari and his team cook up modern French cuisine using local seafood and organic meats, cheeses, and produce from nearby farms (hint: the braised Fraser Valley Pork Belly with apple and cabbage slaw and toasted corn bread makes for a manly meal). Order the night’s featured cocktail from the mixologist, which may be shaken with Alta Bistro’s own house-made syrups or potato vodka from the nearby Pemberton Distillery. (altabistro.com)
Barefoot Bistro This stylish champagne bar has a rail of ice to keep your flute chilled, and there’s a river rock fireplace nearby to keep you warm as you sip. And don’t miss their ice bar, the world’s coldest, featuring more than 50 vodkas at minus 40 degrees Celsius.