A Winter Guide To Whistler, Canada
Planning a Whistler holiday? Use this Whistler Winter Guide to plan!
I have been to Whistler several times over the years and even lived there back in the late 90s. Rather than just write a blog post about the experience, I thought I would compile a Whistler winter guide since I often get asked for recommendations often. I love visiting and always had this notion that if I don’t retire on a tropical island I would retire in Whistler.
Please note that this guide is not just a winter guide for skiers and snowboarders. There is plenty for a non-sport enthusiast to do in town!
Where To Stay
Nita Lake Lodge
I have stayed at Nita Lake Lodge a handful of times and each time I really enjoy my time there. Even prior to staying I was already a fan of Nita’s Fix Cafe and the vibe of the property. While staying in the Village is convenient and something I suggest for first timers, I really the feeling of being “away” at Nita Lake Lodge. It feels like a real vacation. The lodge in a residential neighborhood but is still just minutes from the Creekside Gondola. There’s a free shuttle that goes to the Village and back every hour, in case you don’t have a car.
My suite at Nita
During my stay, I had a lakeside suite with a view. Even though it was winter, I would my first morning coffee on my deck to get some of that fresh Canadian air into my lungs. Ahhhhh! The bathrooms are spacious with a shower and a soaker tub. I was actually able to take a bath during my stay. At the end of a long active day, soaking with some bath salts to soothe my muscles was perfect.
During my stay, I visited the small but lovely spa on property. I had a Kundalini massage and it was utterly relaxing. After my treatment, I also sat in one of the two hot tubs on the roof as well as have a steam in the eucalyptus steam room.
I totally fell asleep and drooled during my massage. Whoops.
I recently stayed at the Westin in the Village for the first time and I loved my stay. I have been staying outside of the Village the past few years, so it was really convenient to stay in the heart of things since I was in town for an event. I’m a loyal Starwood Preferred Guest so of course, everything was up to par with my stay at the Westin.
I had a little kitchenette so I could store snacks and drinks in my fridge. I had a suite with a patio so I could go outside and get some fresh crisp air without having to go down any elevators. I did eat dinner at the Grill and Vine in the hotel and it was lovely too.
If you’re looking for a hotel in the heart of everything, I wholeheartedly recommend the Westin. It’s so close to the mountain’s base so perfect for those looking to ski and snowboard.
I’ve stayed at a handful of other properties in Whistler Village which were more budget friendly like Crystal Lodge and Holiday Inn, but that was ages ago. If you’re more of an Air BnB or VRBO person, I am sure there are some great listings for Whistler.
Where To Eat
Araxi is a long time fine dining favorite and there’s a reason for it. They have been around for over thirty years! The restaurant is helmed by farm-to-table pioneer James Walt and is located in the heart of the Village. When you are planning your Whistler trip, a meal or even a cocktail and some oysters are a must!
Bar Oso is Whistler’s newest dining and drinking establishment and a new member of the Araxi family. While I only came in here for a preview before its opening, I’m already a fan. As a Spanish food fiend, I’m excited to go back and do visit and try all of the pintxos. The cocktail menu looked great too (PS ladies the bar manager is a babe). Chef Jorge Munoz is a native of Madrid and has been cooking with the team at Araxi since 2011.
BC Oysters with capers, olives, and cava vinegar dressing
A gin cocktail at Bar Oso
Coffee at Fix by Parallel 49 Roasters
I ate at Fix, inside the Nita Lake Lodge, in the morning before heading out to the hill and grabbed a breakfast burrito and a freshly made green juice. They also make smoothies and serve coffee by 49th Parallel Roasters from Vancouver. Click here for a previous post about Fix Cafe.
Charcuterie and Wild Rice Salad at Cure Lounge
I had a nice post snowboarding drink at Cure Lounge. My companions and I also munched on a charcuterie plate, olives, and their wild rice salad (which is not only super tasty but vegan and gluten free).
One of my dinner courses at Aura….yum duck breast
Aura, inside the Nita Lake Lodge, is casual West Coast cuisine sans pretension. The menu is very local or as local as possible. If you’re looking for a nicer sit-down meal in Whistler, I definitely recommend a meal here.
*If you’re not staying at Nita Lake, they have a free courtesy shuttle. Call the Lodge for details. *
A tasty beet salad at Alta Bistro
Alta Bistro is the definition of dining in Whistler to me. It’s run by locals and they truly live their lifestyle. They care about sustainability and support local farms and businesses. It’s a cool spot in the Village for a nicer but of course still very Whistler casual (I don’t think formal is a thing here).
I am not sure why I’ve never dined at Christine’s on Blackcomb before. I really enjoyed it. It’s a nice civilized way to dine on the mountain. You do need a reservation, but it’s totally worth it. The price is not far off from the cafeteria-style eateries on the mountain, but the food is really tasty. The views from the restaurant are pretty epic on a clear day too.
Tucked away in the Village North, this little taqueria was a nice find. My friend and I were looking for a quick lunch and both of us were pleasantly surprised, especially since we are both SoCal inhabitants. The tacos were small but super tasty so load up!
If you’re looking for something quick to pick up or eat fast, Peaked Pies is a great option. If you’ve been to Australia and crave a meat pie or even a long black and a flat white, come here! I ordered a traditional Aussie and while it may not look appetizing in the photo, it was! I spied a lamington but sadly didn’t have it because I had some sweets at Pure Bread. Next time….lamo you will be mine!
If you love baked goods and sweet treats, prepare to get stoked at Pure Bread. A local bakery that has grown and expanded all the way down to Vancouver, it cannot be missed. Try everything! They also serve Stumptown Roaster coffee!
Stumptown Coffee at Purebread
If budget or healthy is an issue and you’re staying in a rental property and you’ve got a kitchen or kitchenette in your accommodations, hit up the IGA or Nesters for groceries.
Where To Drink
Photo credit: GLC
The GLC is located right underneath Whistler Mountain. Stop here for their popular Caesars or nachos.
Photo credit: HighOnAdventure.com
The Longhorn is a classic place to apres-ski when you’re in Whistler. I’ve had many a beer or cocktail on their patio during warm weather and inside when it’s snowing.
A tasty post mountain drink at Cure
I did the apres mountain thing with drinks and munchies at Cure Lounge at the Nita Lake Lodge. If you’re staying closer in or close to Creekside, I suggest it. Oh and just so you know…they have a s’more station outside!!
Did someone say s’mores?!
This is the coldest vodka ice room in the world. It’s super fun if you like shots or vodka. I wrote about it here (YouTube video included).
Bar Oso (see above)
What To Do
It’s seriously amazing here!
Whistler Blackcomb wins awards consistently for being one of the best winter resorts in North America. I haven’t gone snowboarding outside of North America, so I can’t judge, but I am sure it is one of the best in the world. They had the Olympics here, come on! There’s so much terrain to ride, from beginner to expert level. It’s a great place for everyone.
On this recent trip, I got to try out Whistler’s Ski/Snowboard With An Olympian Program. This is a program that started at Whistler Blackcomb after the 2010 Olympics where you get to ski or snowboard with an Olympic athlete. An athlete guides you on the mountain for the day or however long you book them for. It was an incredible experience hanging out with Julia Murray for the day. She took it easy on me since I hadn’t ridden in a long time and even helped me out on flat spots.
Julia is such a sweetheart. Her dad is the late, great Dave Murray of the Crazy Canucks. He has his own run named after him, as well as the ski school and camp at Whistler. Her mom is freestyle skier Stephanie Sloan. So she doesn’t have it in her genes….nope. She shared stories about her journey to the Olympics and post-Olympic life when we had down time on the chairs and gondolas. It’s amazing how accomplished she is at such a young age. She is a true ambassador of Whistler.
*She also has a breakfast cereal line called Jules Fuel. I picked some up at the Grocery Store in Whistler. It’s not only super tasty but healthy too. I also love supporting homegrown brands and women entrepreneurs.*
Some Jules Fuel I made at home
Even if you’re not participating in any winter sports on the mountain, it doesn’t mean you can’t go up it. Take one of the gondolas up to the top, then ride the Peak2Peak which takes you from Whistler to Blackcomb and vice versa. And in case you’re wondering, the scenery is stunning all year round. I wrote about my previous experience here.
I had to GoPro selfie as proof to my friends I was on skis
I cross-country skied for the first time in January. We went to Passive House near Lost Lake and skied around the lake. I learned that I am not a good skier…at all. I’ve been snowboarding for over 15 years, but this was the first time I had ever strapped on skis. I wasn’t completely horrible, but it was such a different feeling to be on two skis over one board. I bailed on a slope too. I’m not even talking big slope, I’m talking a baby one. I totally bailed and landed on my butt. While I was horrible at the skiing part, I do have to say that it was beautiful and tranquil around Lost Lake. The silence was pure bliss. If you’re not into cross-country you can also snowshoe around the lake too. I’ll do that next time for sure. I tried snowshoeing for the first time in January but in Vancouver and loved it.
If you are an adrenaline junkie, then bobsleigh is totally up your alley. I did this at the Whistler Sliding Centre where bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton took place during the 2010 Olympics. I signed up to do this but then may have gotten a bit worried when I sat in the information session before we went. I also hate signing my life away. Of course, I didn’t retain anything they told us and did not know what to do once we got up to our sleds. Luckily for me, they remind you one last time before you get on the course.
This 40-second ride seemed like the longest 40 seconds of my life but of course, when I was done, I was super proud to have completed this. Our sled’s time was third for the day too! If you’re ballsy enough you can also do skeleton here. I was not. They also say it’s safer…I don’t believe them.
It seems as though I really like extreme adventure and adrenaline. Haha. I think I am coerced into things and then end up loving it. I’m what you call a reluctant adventurer! Check out my post about my first zip line experience here.
**People always ask me if they were to only do one thing on a trip to Whistler, what would it be. Scandinave. I love it love it love it. I wrote a whole post about it here.**
Where To Party
My best suggestion is to head into the Village and walk around to find a place to party. You can pop into any bar to have a drink or if you want to get your dance on, there’s a bunch of nightclubs too. For the younger set, I suggest Tommy’s or Maxx Fish. If you’re a bit older, Buffalo Bill’s may be your scene.
Helpful Tips For Whistler
- If you are flying into Vancouver and going straight to Whistler, you don’t really need a car. I suggest taking Pacific Coachlines Skylinx. Super fast and convenient and they pick up at the airport, downtown and in the Whistler Village and Whistler Creekside
- Be sure to check the weather. With Mother Nature in charge, you never know what kind of weather or snow conditions you’ll have.
- The Whistler website has tons of information about things to do, where to stay, etc.
- Explore the Village. There’s tons to do, places to shop, and restaurants and bars.
Some older posts I have written about Whistler:
Well, there you have it…my winter guide in Whistler. Have you been before? What are your favorite things to do there?
**Thank you to Whistler Tourism, Nita Lake Lodge, and Westin Whistler for their support in putting together this Whistler winter guide. Also to Burton Snowboards for the snowboard gear. As always, all opinions are my own.**
Handy Gadgets For A Whistler Trip
- I use a Sony RX100M3 mirrorless camera. It takes amazing video as well as photos. You have your options for auto shots as well as manual. It’s pretty small. Not pocket sized but small enough for a purse or men’s jacket!
- I love GoPros. They are perfect for those on mountain moments. They can be waterproof, so in case you bail in a big pile of powder, you’re protected! I had a Hero 3 before but have since upgraded to a GoPro Hero 4 Silver (the one with screen) and I love it.
- I have Lifeproof cases for both my iPhone and my iPad. If you are taking them near anything wet, it’s a good idea to have a case. I have one for my Ipad because who doesn’t love reading by the pool?