Bucket list vacation: The perfect weekend in Whistler without skiing
While Whistler is renowned for its world-class skiing and snowboarding, there’s much more to this resort town than simply hitting the slopes.
If you’re more of an apres all day than shred the gnar person, look no further. We’ve put together the ultimate guide of what to do in Whistler — without setting foot on a ski hill.
From Instagram-worthy dining domes to lounging at a spa nestled in breathtaking nature, here’s some recommendations for an epic vacation.
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Hop in a dome
Take a trip through the history of popular cocktails in an Instagram-worthy dome with a new cocktail experience.
The award-winning cocktail bar, The Raven Room, just launched its “Campari Corner” geodesic domes on its exterior patio, letting visitors experience the magic of the outdoors while being protected from the elements. Groups of up to seven people can be accommodated.
Editor’s note Dec 20: Please note that the domes are closed until further notice. Check The Raven Room for the latest information
Decorated in antique furniture and giving off serious Hygge vibes, each 30-minute private booking “experience” includes a private cocktail tasting with one of their bartenders where you learn about the history of a popular cocktail.
Choose between Negroni, Old Fashioned, Daiquiri and Margarita, and the $50 cost includes three sample cocktails. The Kingston Negroni, a rum-based version inspired by the Caribbean sun, is like a vacation in a glass.
Eat all the things
There’s a good reason why Whistler is known as a major player in the BC culinary scene. Boasting unique, seasonal and high-end eats for every appetite and budget, you’d need to visit many times to make a dent into the city’s offerings.
Head to Il Camineto, where BC Restaurant Association Hall of Fame winner and “farm-to-table” pioneer James Walt dishes out hearty West Coast fare like fresh wagyu beef meatballs and lobster and saffron linguine.
If you’re feeling a bit more upbeat, hit up Sushi Village, the OG Japanese spot with great rolls and even better sake bombs. With a motto that is “Epic Food. Epic Parties. Epic History” you know you’re in for a good time.
For a locavore experience, take a stroll to The Brickworks Public House, where the menu is packed with locally-sourced signatures. Some highlights include the Fraser Valley Duo of Duck, brushed with a honey glaze or the tapenade-crusted or BC Lingcod with confit tomatoes and fresh basil.
It even has a “grazing menu,” with artisanal cheese and meat boards that are good for a hearty appy but, quite honestly, are big enough for a meal on their own. The largest, “The Grazing Board,” is packed with boutique meats and cheeses from across British Columbia, no less than three handmade jams and spreads, house pickles, caper berries and an ample amount of crostini and baguette.
Still hungry? Check out Daily Hive Dished’s bucket list of restaurants in Whistler you have to eat at once in your life.
While there is absolutely no shortage of places to grab a bevvie or three in Whistler, there are some standouts to mention.
For the best people-watching in the Village, hit up the patio at Longhorn Saloon. Smack dab in the middle of the action at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb gondolas, this is THE spot to hit up apres, and there’s live DJs every day, sometimes kicking off as early as 2 pm stretching into the wee hours.
In terms of signature sips, you can’t go wrong with a Bulldog — a lime margarita adorned with a glacier cold inverted Corona — or check out their Champagne Sled. Brunch partakers can enjoy a pour your own Mimosa Tower, which includes a 1.5L magnum of Henkel Brut.
They also make a pretty spot-on nacho platter, if you fancy something to soak up your libations.
For those seeking something a little more civilized for their happy hour, head on over to Whistler’s lesser-known but totally rockin gin bar.
Find some zen in an absolute world-class setting at the Scandinave Spa in Whistler.
The mountain hydrotherapy involves alternating between hot (steam baths, saunas, hot baths) and cold (Nordic waterfalls, Nordic showers, cold-plunge baths), with periodic breaks to rest by the outdoor fireplace, take a nap, read a book or get a massage.
And, most relaxing (and perhaps most shocking) of all, no talking or electronic devices are allowed — note the staff with “silence” written on their jackets. Spa access from $105, but be sure to book ahead because there are capacity restrictions during COVID.
Go sky high
The Peak 2 Peak Gondola connecting Whistler and Blackcomb mountains is a must-do when you’re in the resort city. You can ride the special glass-bottom gondola for a closer look at the old-growth forest, and stop at the top for a bevvie in the Umbrella Bar.
Featuring 360-degree views of Whistler Village, mountain peaks, lakes, glaciers and forests, your ticket also includes access to both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and 50+ km of hiking trails (open depending on season)
Kick back in a luxury hotel
Whistler boasts a range of accommodations for every budget. From the budget-conscious pod hotel that makes it easy to get to know your fellow travellers, to cozy cabins perfect for snuggling up to the fire, you can truly tailor your vacay to what you’re looking for.
If you’re feeling like treating yourself, the resort city offers more luxe hotel offerings with refined service and elevated amenities, including 24-hour concierge services, high-end linens and elevated food and beverage offerings.
An eight-time winner of the World Ski Awards “Canada’s Best Ski Hotel,” Pan Pacific Mountainside is just steps from the gondolas and Whistler Village and gives you front door access to shops and dining. The hotel features an outdoor heated swimming pool and two hot tubs, fitness centre and steam room.
It was just voted one of the Top 5 Resorts in Canada in Condé Nast’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2021, and all suites feature Aveda salon amenities plus gas fireplace and floor to ceiling windows, to take in the views.
Take a big leap
If you are more into wild than mild, then Whistler has all the adventures a thrill seeker can desire.
From zip-lining through lush forests to whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, four-wheeling and snowmobiling through the woods, there are endless amounts of things to do for people who want a little adrenaline rush.
Zip through the forest
Zipline tours offer fly throughs over Whistler’s old growth forests and across the Whistler Valley, letting you take a bird’s eye view on an exhilarating high wire adventure.
If you’re feeling up for an extra heart-racing experience, the Eagle Tour includes the five longest and fastest ziplines on Whistler Blackcomb Mountain, including a monster 2,400-foot zipline with a 30-storey descent. Tours start at $140 per person and transportation can be arranged from Whistler Village.
Take to the skies
Take your vacation sky high with a private helicopter excursion tour over the pristine and rugged landscape of the Coast Mountains.
Flying over knife-sharp peaks, ancient glaciers and hidden lakes and valleys, some tours even include volcano ice-cave explorations or a gourmet al fresco picnic on top of a glacier. Tours run year-round, however, are weather dependent.
Drive and explore
There’s a reason why the BC Sea-to-Sky Highway has been featured in countless car commercials. This absolutely stunning drive, connecting Vancouver to Whistler, provides awe-inspiring views over the waters of Howe Sound.
If you’ve got the time, take a pit stop in Squamish — hailed as the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada” — for some must-see attractions and dining, including Backcountry Brewing and Fergie’s Cafe.
If you’re feeling adventurous, take a ride up the Sea-to-Sky Gondola, choosing between a more leisurely or strenuous hike or stroll at the summit. Take a selfie on one of the many viewing platforms, or over the suspension bridge.
The author of this article was partially hosted by Cadillac Canada