WHISTLER, 56km beyond Squamish and 125km from Vancouver, is Canada's finest four-season resort, and frequently ranks among most people's world top-five winter ski resorts. Skiing and snowboarding are clearly the main activities, but all manner of other winter sports are possible and in summer the lifts keep running to provide supreme highline hiking and other outdoor activities (not to mention North America's finest summer skiing). It is a busy place, be warned – over two million lift tickets are sold here every winter, more than at any other North American resort. Fortunately it also has one of the continent's largest ski areas, so the crowds are spread thinly over the resort's 200-plus trails and twelve alpine bowls.
The resort consists of two adjacent but separate mountains – Whistler (2182m) and Blackcomb (2284m) – each with their own extensive lift and chair systems (but a joint ticket scheme). The mountains can be accessed from a total of five bases, including lift systems to both mountains from the resort's heart, the purpose-built and largely pedestrianized Whistler Village, the tight-clustered focus of many hotels, shops, restaurants and après-ski activity. The gondola (cable-car) for Whistler Mountain also leaves from the Village. Around this core are two other "village" complexes, Upper Village (for the gondola to Blackcomb Mountain), about a kilometre to the northeast and the newer Village North about 700m to the north. Around 6km to the south of Whistler Village is Whistler Creekside (also with a gondola and lift base), which has typically been a cheaper alternative but is now undergoing a fifty-million dollar redevelopment that will see its accommodation and local services duplicating those of its famous neighbour. Such sums, and such development, are likely to be repeated in the build-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics, which will be largely based in and around Whistler. Property prices, especially around Whistler Village have already soared.
With gorgeous mountains, pristine lakes and untamed wilderness on its doorstep, the city of Whistler is an action junkie's paradise. Hiking, skiing, mountain climbing and river rafting are some of Whistler's biggest tourist attractions. But if trekking up a mountain or riding down a river is not your cup of tea, the city also has all the conveniences of a larger city, from shopping and sightseeing to wining and dining. It truly is one of those unique towns that encompasses the best of both worlds. Each neighborhood has something to offer, so why not start exploring right away?
The village is the main hub of Whistler. With over 200 stores, there is something to meet everyone's retail needs. It has everything from charming independent shops such as, BlueBalls Boutique , Edin Boutique and Whacks Of Whistler to the more traditional like Eddie Bauer, Foot Locker and Gap. The village also has a variety of different outdoor and rental shops for those looking to explore their natural surroundings. After a day of shopping why not treat yourself to one of the Village's many cafes and restaurants - Brandy's at the Keg , Pasta Lupino and Hy's Steakhouse - just to name a few. The Village also has a variety of indoor activities to choose from, such as, Whistler Museum and Archives Society , First Nations Cultural Center and several art galleries–all perfect for a rainy day! Pubs, bars and clubs are a main attraction for the night owls of whistler–places like Tommy Africa's Bar and Garfinkel's Night Club , which are all conveniently central are sure to show you a good night out. And while you're jam packing your days and nights in the village, be sure to look about and take in the beauty of your natural surroundings —try finding that in New York City!
The Upper village area of Whistler is where many of the outdoors activities happen. Many access points to trailheads and slopes can be found here, along with countless other businesses such as the Chateau Whistler Golf Clubhouse which is a popular summertime hangout and the Whistler Farmers' Market , which sells a variety of fresh produce and specialty breads, jams and spreads. For an extra special meal, check out Christine's , a gourmet restaurant that sits 6000 feet above sea level atop Blackcomb Mountain. Some of the best hotels, chalets and day spas can also be found in this wonderful part of town.
This area of town is the place to go to for adventure and adrenaline. Whistler Air , which conducts flying scenic tours and Whistler River Adventures , for those bold enough to brave the wild rapids of the Elaho and Squamish rivers. A great place to eat in this part of town is The Beetroot Cafe , which has a large selection of freshly prepared organic menu items. It's a health nut's paradise!
Alpine Meadows/Nicklaus North
This area of town is the place to head to if you're thinking about hitting the slopes. The mountains surrounding Whistler are known for having some of the best skiing and snowboarding trails around. There are several companies to go through, such as Powder Mountain Catskiing Ltd. and Whistler Cross Country Ski & Hike . Both offer skiing packages and rental equipment. There is also Whistler Nature Tours Ltd , who offer a variety of different tours and walks for the nature lover.
This area is home to Whistler's great summertime tradition - Canadian National BBQ Championships , a yearly event that takes place at Dusty's Bar & BBQ . The event garners a lot of attention and is worth checking out as it's one of the highlights of the Pacific Northwest's BBQ circuit. The Whistler Creek area has several lodges and hotels, all of which have gorgeous views and central locations.
Just up from Whistler's Upper Village is Blackcomb Mountain, an idyllic pedestrian-only area, which filters into both the Village Center and the glorious mountain. This area of town is one of the most exciting and luxurious. Some of the best hotels in the area are located here, like Blackcomb Lodge & Spa , which offers suits and studios that come equipped with kitchens, full amenities and pool/hot tub access and The Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre , an award-winning accommodation which has some of the best staff and services around. You can also find Coca-Cola Tube Park , Adventure Zone , and Blackcomb Horsedrawn Sleigh Rides , which offers unique rides and tours for the hopeless romantic.
Alta Vista/Blueberry Hill
Head over to this area of town for some beach time summer fun! The Beaches at Alta Lake are an idyllic place to swim, work on your tan or picnic with the family. Lakeside Park and Rainbow Park are the best places to head if you're looking for fun in the sun, and feel free to take bikes and hiking shoes with you because this area also as several lakeside scenic trails which are well-worth doing. Bear Back Biking is located in this area. You can rent bikes here and get advice from the friendly and experienced staff members about where to go on your journey.
This area is home to one of the most extreme biking businesses available to visitors. West Coast Freeride Guides , offer extreme mountain biking tours that take you off the beaten trail and into some really excluded parts of the mountain. Spring Creek is also a great area to hang out, grab a coffee or a bite to eat while taking in the beauty of your surroundings.
No matter how breathtaking the panoramic views from Whistler Peak or how thrilling the descent down the powdery slopes, half the fun of any vacation is when it's finally time to eat.
If you can't tear yourself from the mountains for even a moment, you will have no trouble finding a spot to dine. Casual-dining restaurants pepper the mountainside, starting at the top of 7th Heaven Express with Horstman Hut , which offers an array of snacks, drinks, and an outdoor BBQ at 7494 feet above sea level. At mid-station on Whistler Mountain, tucked into the pines, is Raven's Nest Mountain Deli , where you can enjoy soups, salads, and sandwiches while you admire the sweeping valley below. At the base of Blackcomb Mountain, Monk's Grill Steak House & Bar lures the weary skier with its outdoor patio, spicy chicken wings, fresh seafood, and an exceptional selection of draught beer.
If you're looking for white linen table cloths to complement the snowy peaks, try Christine's , where at 6000 feet up, you can taste savory gourmet soups as part of a multi-course lunch, and top it off with fondue. Or indulge in the culinary expertise of Aubergine Grille with a menu that changes seasonally and floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the majestic Rainbow and Sproat Mountains.
For those who can venture a little ways from the slopes (though surely not very far) to explore the restaurants nestled in the village below, Whistler offers fare of all varieties. To satisfy that sushi craving, try Zen Sushi , Teppan Village , or Sushi Village , with its unique Sake Margaritas to warm up your hands and feet in a flash. For Italian-style cuisine, Trattoria di Umberto offers hearty pasta and mouth-watering meat dishes. To complement its award-winning wine list, Quattro at Whistler has roaring fireplaces, silk chandeliers overhead and contemporary Italian cuisine.
For great Mediterranean, Kypriaki Norte delivers a warm atmosphere and a sizable menu full of seafood, steak, and traditional paellas. French cuisine finds its way into this pine paradise at Crêpe Montagne , where patrons choose between a variety of scrumptious crepe delicacies served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For a warm bowl of ramen, Amani , located on the second floor of The Sundial Boutique Hotel , specializes in rice, soup, and noodle dishes, offering a 10% discount on take-out orders for those looking to cozy up in their hotel rooms for the evening.
Vegetarians, please be advised: Gone Bakery 's extensive soup selection always includes 3 savory, meatless options. And be sure to check out The Beetroot Cafe , where organic ingredients are fashioned into healthy snacks, from breakfast burritos to black bean burgers.
A mecca of eclectic tastes, Whistler nourishes its vacationers and adventurers with cuisine from all corners of the globe. With decor that is never lacking, whether casual or candlelit, Whistler restaurants dazzle the palate and stun the sightseer with windows that look out onto spectacular mountain views.
With the arrival of the first snow at Whistler, this small town gears up for its world-class winter season. But the typical slopes are not the only options for profiting from this abundance of snow. More advanced skiers will enjoy Powder Mountain Catskiing Ltd. , a company that takes a groups of 12 high up into the Coastal Range to find the best powder skiing runs virtually untouched by other skiers. No lines, no waiting, and a long, exciting ski down the face await you! Definitely not novice skiers. Not much of a skier at all? Hop on a Sno-Limo and glide down the slopes in luxury. The Sno-Limo Mountain Ecotouring Inc. offers you the ride of a lifetime! Their custom-built chairs are designed with skis on the bottom and handles for the instructor, so all you have to do is sit back and relax and get whisked down the slopes in comfort. Snowmobiles are a fun way to explore the mountain with speed and comfort with Canadian Snowmobile Adventures . Equally fantastic is the opportunity to ski or snowboard the obscure slopes with your own helicopter chauffeur. Whistler Heli-Skiing and Coast Range Heliskiing Ltd. offers intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders a prestigious and private experience in the Coastal Range. Journey back in time to the time before motorized snow vehicles and glide along the snow behind a team of huskies. The winter landscape shall be at your fingertips with Whistler Dogsledding in their various tours of the mountains around Whistler. The early winter months are also the time when Bald Eagles are most easy to spot near Brackendale. Take a bus out to Bald Eagle Viewing and witness the majesty of these great birds as they nest and hunt for salmon in the river. Need to get away from the kids? Want to rekindle your romance? Take an old-fashioned sleigh ride with Blackcomb Horsedrawn Sleigh Rides and get the fire started. A lovely activity in itself, the sleigh ride can also include a delicious fondue dinner, hot cocoa, and a bonfire to top off a perfect evening.
Family Fun Tour
Though known mainly for its world-class skiing, Whistler is also a great place to bring the whole family for some outdoor bonding time. Winter or summer, an incredible variety of activities await you! Start the day at beautiful Rainbow Park located on the shore of Lake Alta. A perfect place for a family picnic, the park has a long bike trail, large grassy areas, mature trees, and panoramic natural beauty. Sandy beaches and shallow waters make this a great place to stay for the day, or simply for a quick and fun outing! If your family is feeling adventurous, head to Peak Adventure or Wedge Rafting , both will be the trip of a lifetime! The Peak Adventure includes a gondola ride to the Lodge, a chairlift to the base of the mountain, and a ride to the top! From there hiking and truly stunning 360 degree views of Whistler await you. Wedge Rafting is also a great option, from full day journeys to two-and-a-half hour trips. Everything is included, and you only need to bring your family and some sun block. Wetsuits, boots, rafting equipment, and transportation to and from the base is provided. Another great place for families (especially kids) is Whistler Blackcomb's Whistler Kids , where children of all ages participate in a variety of nature based activities, summer and winter. Kids will be ecstatic at the prospect of horseback riding, snowboarding, or archery. It's no wonder that Whistler draws so many nature lovers season after season!
While Whistler's fame derives primarily from its snowy slopes, the spring melt washes in a host of topnotch fair weather fun. Pass an unforgettable vacation in this mountain resort exploring the region's infinite possibilities. Start out with a trip crashing through the rapids in the magnificent scenery with Whistler River Adventures . Continue your exploration by land on horseback at Horseback Riding and survey the land from the peaks. Although the ocean is out of reach, the Beaches at Alta Lake are a lovely spot to take a dip and bask in the sun. Bring a picnic and make a day of it. Or enjoy your open-air Saturday lunch in the fields, sampling the local flavors at Feast of Fields . For lessons on all the ins and outs of fishing, Valley Fishing Guides Ltd. will teach you where and how to find that big catch.