I’m honestly so lucky to live within a two and a half hour drive of such a world class destination in Canada. Whistler, British Columbia is pretty well a second home to me. I spend so much time here year round that it was about time for me to write an in-depth travel guide to a place I love so much.
I’m sharing all my favourite things to do and see, where to stay and where I enjoy eating out in this travel guide to Whistler, Canada. Whether you’re looking to ski or mountain bike Whistler Blackcomb in the Winter or Summer seasons, viewing nearby waterfalls, taking a leisurely stroll through the heart of Whistler Village, there is something for everyone here in Whistler.
Whistler is located about one and a half hours north of Vancouver and was really put on the international stage in 2010 when it hosted the Winter Olympics with Vancouver. Since then, Whistler has become a place that’s on quite a few die-hard skiers bucket lists, sees many international visitors each year, yet still has the true Canadian feeling at it’s core (even though in 2016 the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort was purchased by Vail Resorts out of Colorado). 2020 was obviously quite different with the pandemic, however most businesses have been able to adapt and still offer amazing experiences to domestic travellers.
Where to Stay in Whistler
There are so many great places to stay in Whistler. The following are some of my favourite hotels based on service and amenities offered to make your stay in Whistler so memorable.
Four Seasons Whistler (luxury accommodations) – This is my favourite hotel to stay at in Whistler. It’s an amazing resort and the service is what you expect from the Four Seasons brand. Rooms are very well appointed and each room features a sitting area with fireplace, perfect for a cozy glass of wine after a day on the slopes. They offer amazing included activities year round including daily complementary wine tastings, local cultural tours, and a “vintage camper” serving snow cones in the summer and s’mores fireside in the winter.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler (luxury accommodations) – This is my second favourite hotel to stay at and has probably my favourite outdoor pool in Whistler. Located slope side on Blackcomb Mountain, which means it has perfect ski in/ski out location in the winter or hiking access in the summer. The Fairmont Whistler offers amazing included amenities, dining experiences and has been awarded many awards in recent years. Check out my full review on the Fairmont Chateau Whistler here.
Westin Resort and Spa Whistler (luxury accommodations) – The reason I love the Westin Whistler is it’s slope side location on Whistler Mountain and it’s hotel rooms. Each hotel room here features a full kitchenette (yes, a stove, microwave, fridge/freezer, oven and dishwasher) and a fireplace, which makes this hotel amazing for long stays in Whistler and family getaways. Check out my full review on the Westin Resort and Spa Whistler here.
Nita Lake Lodge (luxury accommodations) – Located on Nita Lake, about eight minutes south of the main Whistler Village or adjacent to the Whistler Creekside area, this is another amazing hotel to consider if you’re looking to book a Whistler getaway. I highly suggest a visit to the spa here, even if you’re not staying here, they offer some great spa day packages.
Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside (luxury accommodations) – One of two Pan Pacific hotels located in Whistler, however this one is located slope side on Whistler Mountain as it’s name suggests. It’s a great location and the outdoor pool overlooks the bottom run where the “Fire and Ice” show in the winter takes place and the main Crankworx events happen in the summer.
Pangea Pod Hotel (budget accommodations) – A really neat concept pod style hotel in the heart of Whistler Village. They have a great “community” style vibe and I love visiting here for their “Happy Hour” in their “Living Room” which also features a rooftop patio.
Things to Do in Whistler
Whistler offers amazing things to do year round. Speaking with so many clients and people on Instagram, I’m constantly surprised when people tell me they only think of Whistler as a place to only visit in the winter. Yes, Whistler Blackcomb offers some amazing skiing in the winter, however there are so many things to do in Whistler during the spring, summer and fall months.
Whistler Blackcomb (Winter & Summer) – Obviously why most people come to Whistler is the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort. It’s constantly named one of the best resorts in North America and depending which magazine you read, one of the best in the world. I love skiing Whistler Blackcomb as it offers such varied terrain. It’s made up of two mountains, side by side (Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain) and are connected near the top by the engineering feat of the Peak 2 Peak gondola, which has been a game changer in the way you can experience both mountains for skiing and hiking. There are some incredible runs in the winter and some hidden gems (think ice caves you can explore on the Blackcomb Glacier, and for kids, magic castles on Blackcomb and tree forts on Whistler). There is so much terrain to cover over the two mountains, you can’t possibly do it in one day (there have been locals who challenge to get every chair/lift on Whistler Blackcomb in one day, however most don’t succeed haha). In the summer, the hiking and mountain views are incredible (hiking through alpine meadows and “snow walls” are always a highlight).
Blackcomb Ice Cave (Winter) – If you’re looking for a special and unique place to check out, don’t miss the Whistler Ice Cave or better known as the Blackcomb Ice Cave located in the Blackcomb Bowl on the Blackcomb Glacier. How to find the Blackcomb Ice Cave, you’ll obviously need to be on Blackcomb Mountain of the Whistler Blackcomb Resort. Ride the Glacier Chair up Blackcomb Mountain. Then take the Showcase T-Bar to the top. Hike up the marked pathway when you get off the T-Bar. Once at the top, ski into the Blackcomb Bowl. The ice cave is on the right of the run and down once the bowl starts to narrow (it’s marked as “out of bounds” with the orange rope and markers, this is another hint of where to find the cave, please make note as it is out of bounds you are visiting the ice cave at your own risk). It’s a great place to check out when you visit Whistler!
Scandinave Spa (Year Round) – If you’re looking for a place to really relax and unwind in Whistler, Scandinave Spa is for you. Access to the spa can either be packaged with a massage, or it can be purchased alone. The spa area is a quiet zone (no talking or cell phones) which makes for an amazing relaxing experience. They have various hot pools, cold plunge pools, saunas, steam rooms and yoga and relaxation rooms. Most hotels can arrange pick up and drop off service to the spa, talk to your hotel’s concierge for more information.
Vallea Lumina (Winter & Summer) – A fun, lighted, multi-media experience through the woods at night. The story changes between the winter and summer months and the lighting effects are fantastic. It’s a great activity for families, especially around Christmas.
The Adventure Group (Winter & Summer) – They offer great activities in summer and winter such as zip lining, R2R tours, white water rafting, snowshoeing, snowmobiling tours, and much more. I’ve done most of the activities they offer, I have to say their service and their guides are amazing! I’ve always enjoyed any activity I’ve done with them.
Whistler Olympic Park (Winter & Summer) – Located before Whistler on Callaghan Road, it’s known for where the cross country ski and ski jump events took place during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Now, it’s a great park to visit for hiking and sightseeing in the summer and groomed cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Admission to the park is charged by the car full, so it’s a great value for families.
Golf (Summer) – Whistler offers three world class golf courses, all offering amazing mountain views from the greens. All courses offer pro-shops, restaurants and rentals (clubs and carts).
Brewery and Spirits Tours (Year Round) – Whistler now has two breweries (Whistler Brewing Company and Coast Mountain Brewing) and a craft distillery called Montis Distilling (they distill vodka, gin and other spirits). They are all located in the Function area of Whistler and offer tours and tastings. Whistler Brewing Company is one of my personal favourites, definitely try the Chestnut Ale that they brew, it’s so delicious!
Audain Art Museum (Year Round) – A great place to wander on a rainy day or during the new “wine walks” that are now happening in Whistler. Featuring nearly 200 works of art, this museum features local British Columbia coastal artists. From collections of Northwest Coast First Nations masks to works from Emily Carr, they’ve done an incredible job on their permanent exhibits. The building itself is a work of art and a place not to miss the next time you visit Whistler.
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (Year Round) – I highly recommend visiting this Indigenous Cultural Centre if you haven’t already. They offer guided walks through the centre (usually starts with a welcome song) and during the summer months a guided forest walk, on the “Salish Stroll”, learning about the local flora and fauna that makes this area and eco-system so unique. They also have a cafe, gallery and gift shop.
Forged Axe Throwing (Year Round) – Looking for a fun activity for you and a group of friends? Forged Axe Throwing is so much fun and could even be a great team building activity as part of a corporate event or retreat in Whistler. You can book out the venue for private groups or book online to reserve your hour of throwing during their normal business hours.
Top Free Things to Do in Whistler
Train Wreck Trail – I actually wrote a blog post just for the Train Wreck hike, this is one of my favourite things to do in Whistler! Check out my in-depth guide on visiting Train Wreck here. Located just outside of Whistler, this is a great, easy walk that includes a well-built suspension bridge over the Cheakamus River along the way to the Train Wreck. Such a great free activity in the Whistler area!
Lost Lake – The Valley Trail system (a 46 km trail system (no cars), that spans most of the Whistler area) around Lost Lake are great for walking, running or biking in the summer and cross country skiing in the winter. There is also access to the lake for swimming with a beach and picnic area near the south east end of the lake.
Alexander Falls – A beautiful waterfall found near the end of Callaghan Road before you get to Whistler (same road to get to the Whistler Olympic Park). There are also some good hiking trails in this area.
Brandywine Falls – On the way to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) you’ll come across the Brandywine Provincial Park. It’s a great stop to stretch your legs before you get into Whistler. Again, there are some hiking trails that does start in this area and from the final viewing platform, there are some amazing views of the valley and Black Tusk.
Whistler Farmers Market – A great market to visit in the Summer. Every Sunday from 11:00am to 4:00pm (these were the 2020 season hours) between June and October in the Upper Village of Whistler you’ll find the local market. It’s a great way to support local businesses from the Sea to Sky region including Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton.
Places to Eat in Whistler
These are my personal favourite restaurants and places to eat in Whistler. As I mentioned before, I live so close to Whistler and have spent so much time in the village over the years (basically my second home), I’ve tried many of the restaurants, bars and pubs. These restaurants are listed in no particular order.
Pricing guide: $ – $10 or under average per entree, $$ – $10 to 30 average per entree, $$$ – $30+ per average entree
Bearfoot Bistro ($$$) – One of my favourite restaurants in Whistler, dinners at Barefoot Bistro have always been absolutely delicious. The menu changes seasonally, always featuring a mix of local and top of the line ingredients from around the world. For an extra special experience, book the Chef’s Table featuring a curated five-course tasting menu. In the Cellar (quite impressive to see), they offer packages where you can pick and sabre your own bottle of Champagne or “chill out” in the Ketel One Ice Room and try two premium vodkas while wearing parkas. They also have a great seasonal “Happy Hour” as well at the Champagne Bar. Again, highly recommend Bearfoot Bistro for an exquisite meal in Whistler.
Rimrock Cafe ($$$) – Another exquisite, long standing restaurant in Whistler. Located in the Creekside area of Whistler, Rimrock Cafe is another amazing place to eat. Open for dinner only, menu features an incredible lobster bisque, tender filet minion, delicious seared scallops and an extensive wine list. The setting of Rimrock Cafe is quite cozy, with a beautiful fireplace which sets the mood.
Red Door Bistro ($$$) – This intimate restaurant can be quite hard to get into, but if you are lucky enough to make a reservation far enough in advance, it’s so worth it. Food served here is done with a French flair and also caters to Vegan and Gluten Free diets.
Wild Wood Cafe ($) – Located in the Function area of Whistler, this is the place to grab a cup of coffee and an eggs benny that won’t break the bank. Very “local” and down to earth cafe, food is good for the price for sure!
The Mexican Corner ($$) – My favourite Mexican restaurant outside of Mexico, no joke. The food here is authentic, portion sizes are decent and so good. My favourites here are the fresh guacamole, enchiladas verdes and the tacos. The margaritas here are also so delicious and refreshing on a hot summer’s day.
Basalt Wine & Salumeria ($$) – Again one of my favourite restaurants here in Whistler. The menu here is also very seasonal, offers amazing charcuterie, great “apres ski” aka “happy hour” specials (Charcuterie and spritz! With so many flavours of spritz’s, including my favourite made with Limoncello) and an extensive wine list featuring many local BC wines. On the weekends they offer a delicious brunch, again changes seasonally.
Il Caminetto ($$$) – A delicious Italian restaurant on the Village Stroll. Even walking by this restaurant before they open you can smell the freshly baked bread and see them making the fresh pasta in the window. Food here definitely takes me back to Italy.
El Furniture Warehouse ($) – If you’re looking for no frills, cheap eats, El Furny is your place. All food items are $5.95, yup that’s right, all food is $5.95. My fav here is the Union Street Noodle Salad (unfortunately I haven’t seen it on the menu since the pandemic, as apparently they are running a smaller menu).
Sidecut (Four Seasons Whistler) ($$$) – An amazing steakhouse in the Four Seasons Whistler Resort (proper restaurant is currently under construction and will re-open in December 2020, currently serving on the heated/covered patio). Food is seasonal, simple and the best that they can source. They’ve also recently introduced a “happy hour” with some great bites and cocktails.
The Wildflower (Fairmont Chateau Whistler) ($$) – A must for brunch when visiting Whistler. Typically they offer an amazing traditional brunch (buffet style breakfast with made to order items including an omelet station and carving station), however due to Covid-19 they are currently only offering an a la carte menu at the time of this travel guide being released. My go to breakfast here is usually the Eggs Benedict, it’s so delicious!
Portobello (Fairmont Chateau Whistler) ($$) – Portobello is a great dine in or grab and go option even if you’re not staying at the Fairmont Whistler. They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and have some great offerings including; delicious gourmet donuts (they change everyday and usually sell out before lunch, so get there early for the best selections), carving station (try the mac and cheese, it’s so yummy!), full bar with local brews on tap, a cafe (all the espresso drinks you could ever need to fuel your day) then take your meal, treat or beverage outside to relax by a fire pit.
Bar Oso ($$) – A great place for small bites, charcuterie and wine. I’ll sometimes pop in here with friends before dinner, or even if we just want something light instead of a proper dinner. Atmosphere feels like an intimate wine bar you would find in Europe, a definite gem in Whistler.
Hunter Gather ($$) – A locals spot for craft beer on tap and locally made food. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Highly recommend the pulled pork eggs benny and the chicken and waffles for breakfast, for lunch try the kahlua pulled pork sandwich (reminded me of Hawai’i).
Elements Urban Tapas & Wine Bar ($$) – Again, a great place for brunch, really delicious breakfast offerings which cater to many dietary needs/restrictions. I’ve eaten dinner here once and it was also really good, portions are really decent sized.
Peaked Pies ($) – A popular Aussie treat, the savoury pies can be eaten in or taken out, served with (or without) mushy peas. So delicious on a cold day, after skiing.
Pizzeria Antico ($$) – A delicious pizzeria, close to what you’ll get in Italy. Tuesdays have been “beer and pizza night”, a special with any one of their pizzas and a beer on tap (they have 18 beers on tap) for $15!
Crepe Montagne ($) – I typically get the treat of a Nutella Crepe here once every so often, fresh and delicious. They also offer savoury crepes too!
The Living Room (Pangea Pod Hotel) ($$) – A great place for Happy Hour, cocktails, flatbreads and nibbles on the rooftop patio overlooking Whistler Village.
Peak Donuts (inside Fresh St. Market) ($) – Stop into the market for these amazing gourmet donuts made fresh everyday. Flavours vary day to day, arrive before 11:00am for the best selection.
Whistler Insider Tips and Tricks
I honestly find the best time to visit Whistler is in the “off seasons” April through June and September through November. Most hotels have great rates and restaurants offer amazing valued “tasting menus” (usually a 3 or 4 course menu between $29 and $49 per person). Most of the tourists have gone, and you’ll feel a more “locals vibe”. My absolute favourite time to visit is the Fall. Leaves change colour and the cozy vibes are amazing to sit in front of a fireplace in your hotel room with a glass of wine after a hike.
Best place to park in Whistler? Look for “Day Lots 4 or 5” (Day Lots 1, 2 & 3 are more money for parking and not much further of a walk to make the difference to be honest). Parking at Day Lots 4 & 5 in the high seasons (July 1st to September 15th and December 15th to April 15th) it’s $5.00 for the day and free after 5pm. In the low seasons, it’s free parking. It’s also free parking overnight from April 1st to October 31st, so if you’re looking to save on hotel parking fees this is a great option, just be sure to move your vehicle here once every 24 hours. There is also overnight parking available at the Whistler Convention Centre or the Whistler Library for $5.00 (between 5pm to 10am) or $15.00 for 24 hours, these parking lots are also underground, so perfect in the winter months. In the winter months if I’m up skiing Whistler Blackcomb for the day, I’ll park up on Blackcomb in Day Lots 6, 7 or 8. These lots are also free parking and is easy access to the Excalibur and Blackcomb Gondolas. There is also free parking at “Creekside”, the area of Whistler you’ll come upon first if you’re coming up from Vancouver, keep in mind that there is no easy access to the proper Whistler Village from Creekside.
When hiking or enjoying Whistler Village, please be a responsible human. We share these areas with wildlife including bears, so if you’re hiking, what ever you bring in, please pack it out. If you’re around Whistler Village, use the “bear safe” garbage disposal cans. If you can’t figure out how to open it, ask someone or move on until you can dispose of something safely. This goes for food scraps and fruit. Don’t just toss it into the bush. A fed bear around here is unfortunately a dead bear. Just something that I’m really passionate about, so again please be a responsible human when visiting Whistler and the backcountry areas.
I hope you found this travel guide to Whistler, Canada helpful. As I visit Whistler again and again, I’ll keep this up to date with my favourite recommendations and photos.
If you have any questions about Whistler, British Columbia, or if you’re looking for help planning your next trip to Whistler, I’d love to help. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a travel agent who specializes in luxury travel and I’m a proud travel agent member of Virtuoso. Click here to contact me on how we can work together.
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