20 things to do in Whistler in Winter

You don't need to be an expert skier or snowboarder to enjoy a holiday in Whistler in winter

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Going to Whistler Blackcomb in winter is the ultimate big mountain experience for skiers and snowboarders. And there are plenty of reasons why Whistler Blackcomb is Canada’s top ski resort. After all, the host of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is world-famous. But should you go to Whistler if you’re not a good skier? The answer is yes! Besides learning to ski, there are so many other things to do in Whistler in winter.

Whistler has a huge list of off-slope activities such as a lively Après ski scene, international five-star dining, spas and wellness experiences, shopping, nightlife and a host of fun winter adventures.

things to do in whistler
One of the top things to do in Whistler in winter is to take the Peak2Peak gondola for the spectacular scenery.

For more about Canada read:

20 Things to do in Whistler in Winter

Besides being one of the best ski resorts in Canada, there are heaps of things to do in Whistler in winter when you’re not skiing or snowboarding. How many have you ticked off your Whistler wish list?

1- Ride the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola

Living in Whistler

Connecting Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola is a 4.4 kilometre (2.7 miles) one-of-a-kind experience.

The 11-minute journey allows skiers and snowboarders to access both mountains.

The gondola is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest unsupported span between two cable car towers and the highest cable car lift.

You’ll be awed by the breathtaking view of of the snow on the trees as you glide above skiers and snowboarders who are as tiny as ants. 

2- Whistler Apres-ski

learning to ski in whistler
Another thing to do in Whistler in winter is to join a skiing lesson.

Skiing and snowboarding are the reasons why most people head to Whistler in winter but even if you’re not a champion on the slopes, you won’t be disappointed at Whistler’s thriving après ski scene.

Whistler Blackcomb’s outdoor terraces and slope-side bars pulse with energy at the end of the ski day.

It’s a great spot to rug up and hang out in an enchanting atmosphere at the top Canadian ski resort. 

3- Chill out in the Bearfoot Bistro Ice Room

Dining at Bearfoot Bistro is an experience to remember, for its outstanding menu and after-dinner activities.

The food is sensational but I guarantee you’ll remember your visit to Kettle One Ice Room long after you’ve forgotten what was on the menu (as delicious as it may be!)

Bearfoot Bistro has one of the largest wine cellars in British Columbia.

You can attempt the centuries-old Champagne Sabering tradition and chill out in Kettle One Ice Room, which is the world’s coldest (-32C) vodka tasting room.

4- Scandinave Spa soothing soak

Scandinave Spa tops the list of Whistler’s wellness offerings and visiting the spa is something everyone should do at least once. 

Scandinave Spa’s enchanting forest setting is a picturesque place to experience the wonderful Finnish tradition of soaking in soothing outdoor baths.

If you haven’t experienced soaking in a hot pool after a snowfall, this is the place to do it. And if you’re game, try plunging in a cold pool for a few seconds. 

5- Watch the Fire and Ice Show

Cheer and clap as Whistler’s expert skiers and riders flip, twist and jump through a burning ring of fire.

The atmosphere is electric as entertainers dance and spin fire sticks to the electro beat. The fireworks finale draws plenty of oohs and ahhs.

Whistler’s Fire and Ice show is a free winter spectacular worth rugging up for on Sunday nights.

Watch the show while you dine on the outdoor patio at the Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC), which has outdoor heaters and blankets to keep you warm.

There’s usually a queue so book ahead.

6- Tubing at Whistler Blackcomb Tube Park

Take the kids on a fun tubing adventure at the Whistler Blackcomb Tube Park, which has seven tube lanes ranging from gentle slopes to fast lanes.

Tubing is a fun activity in winter for the whole family and the younger kids will absolutely love it. 

There’s even a special lane for kids that don’t meet the minimum adult height requirement.

7- Whistler Village shopping spree

With over 200 shops, you won’t have to try too hard to give your credit card a workout. 

If you’re there at the end of the season, Whistler has plenty of winter sports shops where you can stock up on fashionable ski outfits or get fitted for boots.

You’ll also find lots of galleries with an impressive display of art, jewellery stores and gift shops.

Looking for a Canadian gift? What about a maple leaf charm for your Pandora bracelet?

8- Bridges and boardwalks 

Whistler Tree Adventure Tours offer fun adventures for adults and children all year round.

You can explore the forest on bridges, boardwalks and platforms suspended in the trees on the TreeTrek Tour.

Or for an adrenaline rush, whizz through the woods and glide over creeks on an adrenaline-charged high wire zip line.

9- Dog sledding adventure

Feel the surge of canine excitement and watch the snow-laden trees rush past as you whizz along the tracks in a dog sled.

Dog sledding is a quintessentially Canadian way to experience the landscape.

Dog sleds were a historic means of transport for traders and trappers.

10- Snowmobile tour

Invented in Canada, the Skidoo or snowmobile is a fun way to explore Canada’s backcountry. Whistler Blackcomb has a huge range of snowmobile tour options.

There are tours for all levels of riders, from moonlight snowmobile tours to extreme adventure snowmobile tours for experienced riders to cruisy family snowmobile tours.

For a memorable experience, try the Backcountry Dining Pinnacle Dinner.

It’s a journey to a remote log cabin in the backcountry, with a private chef to prepare your meal.

11- Horse-drawn sleigh ride in Whistler

Rug up in a horse-drawn sleigh and ride along the snow-covered trail through the forest.

It’s an enchanting experience straight out of a storybook. 

A horse-drawn sleigh ride is something the whole family will enjoy and one of the things to do in Whistler in winter the kids will always remember.

12- Winter bungee jumping in Whistler

Yes, you can go bungee jumping in winter in Whistler!

It’s a heart-in-your-mouth experience and a 50 meter (160 ft) plunge over the Cheakamus River.

13- Ice skating

Ice skating is a classic Canadian winter activity, so it’s not surprising that Whistler Blackcomb has both outdoor and indoor options.

You can try skating on one of the local lakes or at Whistler’s outdoor skating rink in Whistler Olympic Plaza.

There’s also an indoor skating rink at Meadow Park Sports Center.

14- Channel your inner Olympian in Whistler

things to do in whistler in winter
There are lots of things to do in Whistler in winter, even if you’re not a keen skier or snowboarder.

Experience the rush of sliding down the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games bobsleigh, luge and skeleton tracks.

The four-person Bobsleigh is a piloted experience through 10 twists and turns at speeds of over 125 km/hr.

Not for the faint-hearted!

The Skeleton is a daring winter thrill where you launch yourself head-first down the fastest sliding track in the world at speeds up to 100 km/hr.

15- Ice fishing 

Whistler has ice fishing adventures for all experience levels, from beginner anglers to pros.

An experienced local guide will show you rivers, lakes and secret fishing holes.

Drilling a hole in the ice is the easy part.

16- Snowshoeing the Whistler wilderness

Snowshoeing is a fun, low-impact activity for anyone who can walk.

But it’s not a walk in the park.

Snowshoeing is good exercise and an excellent way to explore the wilderness.

Whistler Blackcomb has over 40 km of wilderness snowshoe trails.

17- Bromley Baseboarding

Imagine sliding down a slope, head first, while hanging on to an aerodynamically designed bodyboard.

Sounds wild?

If you like bodyboarding in the ocean you might want to give Bromley Baseboarding a try.

Whistler is a leader in Bromley Baseboarding, a new activity that has the potential to become a competitive sport.

Whistler’s Bromley Boarding Park has a 1,500m (5,000-foot) run.

18- Fat Biking

Get a workout along the trails at Whistler Olympic Park while riding a fat bike.

Or try the new electric bikes for easy cruising.

19- Ice Climbing

Climb Whistler Blackcomb’s spectacular ice formations with the help of expert guides.

There are ice climbing locations between Whistler and Lillooet.

In summer, Whistler’s Via Ferrata (Iron Way) is a vertical pathway of metal rung ladders and fixed cables to the top of Whistler Mountain.

20- The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre

The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler shares the culture of the Squamish Lil’wat First Nations people.

21- Whistler Tasting Tour

things to do in whistler in winter
Drinking vodka and trying out restaurants are some of the cool things to do in Whistler in winter.

Not sure where to eat? Fancy an Amuse-bouche at Bearfoot Bistro, a Cajun crusted tuna at Hy’s, some wild salmon at Quattro and an Icewine truffle at the FireRock Lounge?

Why not try four restaurants on a progressive Whistler Tasting Tours.

It’s a multi-course dinner where each course is served up at a different restaurant and guides add to the experience with local knowledge and tips.

things to do in whistler in winter
When you’re off the slopes there are so many cool things to do in Whistler in winter.

For more things to do in British Columbia see:

Living in Whistler

Simmone Lyons (34) from Portland in country Victoria went to Canada with the intention of living in Whistler for 12 months. But (in her own words) “got stuck” for eight years.

As an advanced snowboarder and keen intermediate skier, there are worse places than Whistler Blackcomb to get “stuck”.

Actually, with so many things to do in Whistler, you could say that being stuck living in Whistler is a bit like winning the lottery!

After reading this interview, you’re going to be envious of her workplace too! Simmone is the Marketing Manager at Scandinave Spa Whistler.

The downside is vegemite is pretty expensive in Whistler but like most enterprising Aussies in Canada, Simmone manages to get a continuous supply from family and friends.

What’s it like living in Whistler?

Most of my workday is spent at my desk dealing with emails, working on graphic design projects for marketing pieces and video projects.

I live in a year-round resort, lunch breaks can be spent in the spa, on the ski hill or on the mountain bike trails right outside my office door.

What are some of the challenges of living in Whistler?

The hardest part is finding a solid friendship group.

Whistler is such a transient town with people coming and going your always saying goodbye.

What’s it like at Scandinave?

Scandinave is a little hidden gem in Whistler.

Yes I know I’m a little biased but even before I worked at Scandinave I was a massive fan and regularly purchased one month passes.

There is no shortage of adventure-based activities in Whistler but life balance is important.

Whether you’re on holidays or a local, taking time out to relax and rejuvenate from mountain activities is essential for muscle recovery and managing stress levels just to maintain a few reasons.

My first impression of Whistler

At first, it comes across as a hive of activity and parties filled with transient people.

Now after eight years here, it is still an action-packed lifestyle but you realise there is an amazing tight-knit community that is really supportive.

What’s the difference between skiing in Canada vs Australia?

I worked at Mt Hotham back in 2004 and I’ve snowboarded in several resorts in Australia and New Zealand.

The terrain just doesn’t compare to what we have to offer in Whistler. The runs seem endless in comparison and the snow quality is unbelievable.

Powder days take on a new meaning in Canada. True white fluffy powder days are unbelievable.

Three things I love about living in Whistler

  • The people with their endless enthusiasm to participate in activities.
  • The mountains and everything they have to offer.
  • The endless free activities on offer, lake hikes, frolf (frisbee golf), whiffle golf, hiking, snowshoeing…..

Whistler offers one of the longest ski seasons in North America.

There are endless activities and you have world-class facilities in a small community.

How do you handle the cold?

In Whistler we’re pretty lucky it doesn’t get as cold as the interior resorts in the Rockies.

Yes, there is some – 20 days but only a handful of these.

As long as you prepare yourself with quality gear the weather isn’t a problem.

Has your family visited?

I’m pretty lucky I actually have two of my brothers living here as well and the rest of my family come out every year so we’ve ticked off all the sites over the years from the Peak 2 Peak to Scandinave Spa.

What do you do in your free time?

Snowboarding and a lot of mountain biking when the weather permits. I’d also recommend cross-country skiing, zip lining and snowmobiling. They are all pretty unique cool experiences.

How to get the best out of a Whistler holiday?

Plan ahead to make sure you can take in all that the area has to offer.

Whistler isn’t just a ski resort there are lots of things to do so do your research.

There’s so much to do in Whistler that you don’t need to be a skier or snowboarder. 

In fact, even if you are a skier or snowboarder I’d encourage you to take a day or two off the slopes to experience everything else Whistler has to offer.

What are your favourite places to hang out?  

Stonesedge is one of my favourite lunch spots. I also love Brickworks for a catch-up and beers with friends.

What’s on your bucket list?

I would love to get up to the Yukon and see the Yukon Northern Lights as well as head over to the East Coast and check out some things to do in Prince Edward Island and more fun things to do in Nova Scotia.

Ideal family road trip?

Kick it off in Vancouver and make sure to check out Gastown and Flyover Canada.

Head up to Whistler for at least four days but I’d recommend staying longer if you can.

Then head for the ski resorts in Alberta, Banff, Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway.

What are three things you’ll miss most about Canada?

I don’t think I’m coming home but I do thoroughly miss the Australian beaches. If only I could transplant one of those to Whistler I would be in my dream hometown.

My dream job would be a home-based marketing job so that I can still live in Whistler and enjoy this amazing lifestyle.

1- The best time of year for snow is March. It’s a little warmer but the snow is usually the best and there are plenty of powder days.

2- Plan a day-trip to Pemberton if you can as the views of Mount Currie are spectacular.

Getting to Whistler

Whistler is on the west coast of Canada and a two-hour drive scenic drive from Vancouver along the Sea to Sky Highway.

The highway is a winding scenic road and if you’re not keen on driving, Pacific Coachlines has frequent daily bus services between downtown Vancouver or Vancouver Airport and Whistler.

Where to stay in Whistler

Check the latest prices for Whistler Blackcomb here

things to do in whistler in winter

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Christina Pfeiffer Travel Writer
Christina Pfeiffer is a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia. She has lived in three continents and her career as a travel journalist has taken her to all seven continents. Since 2003, she has contributed travel stories and photographs to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. She has won many travel writing awards and is a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.