Last month I took an opportunity to head out of town for a weekend getaway. During the off season you can still enjoy Whistler Village and find some great things to. It had been several years since my last visit and I was ready to breath-in the fresh mountain air and indulge in some me time.
Whistler Village is one of the largest ski resorts in North America and was host to the 2010 winter Olympics. It’s a compact resort town that caters to every taste. You’ll find world-class shopping and dining venues for the traveler who prefers luxury, as well as laid back resort style shops that attract a younger crowd.
If you love the outdoors, Whistler is one of the most spectacular destinations, with an endless offering of adventure both in the winter and summer. On this return trip, our objective was to explore a little, relax a little and experience a little.
We departed Vancouver and headed up BC highway 99 N often referred to as the Sea to Sky Highway. No matter which form of transportation you take to get to Whistler, make sure you grab a window seat. The views are incredible!
My need to replenish the caffeine my body craves had us stopping in Squamish at the local Starbucks. As luck would have it, there are a few great shops in the plaza, so we popped into the Whistler Blackcomb Outlet Store. The deals at this place were irresistible.
We arrived into Whistler Village, just after lunch. We were fortunate enough to have friends who lent us their timeshare, which made our accommodation extremely affordable. From the living area of the condo we could see Whistler mountain, we watched the relentless rain. We cracked open a bottle of wine and waited for it to conclude.
The rain didn’t let up and with no end in sight, dinner plans secured, we organized ourselves and headed out on the town. Whistler Village is well known for it’s food and beverage scene. On this weekend, Whistler was playing host to a culinary event known as Cornucopia, a celebration of food and drink. This week-long event covers all your culinary and libation bases.
In 2017 the event ran from November 9th to the 19. With 10 full days of beverage and culinary events, it is extremely difficult to whittle down the choices. If you’re into food and beverage, this is the week to visit Whistler.
We headed over to The Westin for the Restaurant event titled Savour which was put on by the Grill & Vine Restaurant. The atmosphere was fun, with a great mix of attendees. The room was void of stuffy wine snobs, everyone exuded a relaxed and casual aura. I was worried it would be wall to wall people and I would have to get my elbows out, but it was very well organized, elbows stayed at my side.
We awoke to the sound of rain, beating upon our window. We had plans to go ziplining. I pulled the covers over my ears and thought if I lingered a little longer under the warmth of my duvet, the rain would stop. It did not.
By mid morning the rain turned to wet snow, our stomachs began to growl. We decided to forgo ziplining and find a cozy restaurant to wait out the weather. Everyone else in Whistler had the same idea. After several attempts at locating a table, that didn’t require a 45 minute wait, we sat down at the bar in La Brasserie and ordered a bite to eat.
Insider tip: Whistler Village is busy, despite the abundance of restaurants. You can expect to wait for a table if you go during peak times. It’s best to plan ahead. Go before peak meal times or make a reservation in advance.
After lunch we browsed the streets and did some window shopping. Whistler Village can be very expensive, if you’re on a budget you may find some good sales during the off-season as retails shops move out seasonal items.
After exploring the village, we thought we would take advantage of the mild weather and explore some of the local trails. We didn’t head too far up the trail as we had to get back for our spa appointment.
If you do some window shopping check out these authentically Canadian shops in Whistler
- Whistler Kitchen Works – Popular local store, in business for 23 years. They showcase pottery, linens and souvenirs.
- Showcase Snowboard, Surf & Skate Shop – Well known among the locals as THE place to get your equipment and clothing. Located in the Sundial Hotel.
- Mountain Galleries – Located in the promenade area of The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, for lovers of art, this shop does showcase some of Canada’s revered artists.
If you’re spending time in Whistler and relaxation is on the agenda, then I highly recommend you visit Scandinave Spa. It is one of the most popular outdoor spas in Whistler. The hydrotherapy experience is modeled after the Scandinavian spa tradition; Hot-Cold-Relax. With 4 hot zones and 3 cold zones and plenty of space to relax, this spa will rejuvenate you. Plan to spend anywhere from 2 - 3 hours, more if you have a massage before hand.
Insider tip: The spa can get very busy. We headed down after 6:00 pm based on a recommendation and found it was still quite busy. If you want to enjoy a treatment, call at least 2 weeks ahead, more if you’re going during peak holiday times. If you are not having a massage treatment, plan to bring your own flip-flops and robe. Renting robes is $13 per person. Flip-flop rentals are not available.
Money saving tip: Scandinave Spa gift certificates are available for purchase through Costco at a discounted rate.
We awoke to sunlight beaming in through the blinds. Our weekend getaway was concluding. How fitting that the sun would come out just as we are packing up to return to life in the city. Heading back down BC highway 99 N we stopped just south of Squamish in Brackendale for brunch. This little café requires a 3.7 Km detour but is well worth it. Take the Squamish Valley Road exit to reach Fergie’s Café. This little café will most likely be busy serving up classic brunch items with a west coast twist.
Insider tip: Fergie’s Café only serves brunch from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM daily. It’s a very popular spot. Plan to arrive well before closing to avoid disappointment.
Top 7 Outdoor Activities in Whistler
1. Hike the Valley Trail. It takes you all over whistler and is paved in many areas. All skill levels and it’s free
2. Enjoy some hydrotherapy at Sandinave Spa – Outdoor pools, a very relaxing experience with a beautiful mountain scape backdrop
3. Ziplinging – includes hiking, suspension bridges and tree-top platforms. Available year round
4. Skiing or Snowboarding – Winter
5. Mountain Biking – Spring/Summer. Extensive trails for all skill levels
6. Golf – Choose from one of 4 world class courses, each with unique mountain views
7. Canoe Alta Lake – Rents are available at Lakeside park.
How to get to Whistler:
The easiest and most direct route is to drive, taking the scenic Sea to Sky highway/BC-99 N. If you choose this option you will have the luxury of stopping and enjoying one of the many, easily accessible parks and hiking paths along the way. Departing from downtown Vancouver, the drive is about 90 minutes long. However, the weather can be inclement, and traffic does get heavy during the weekends and over the holidays.
In addition to driving there are many bus shuttle servicing Whistler from Vancouver’s downtown core. Check out https://www.whistlerrides.ca/ for affordable rides or Greyhound Bus Lines https://www.greyhound.ca/Express/Default.aspx
When to go:
Whistler is a year round resort and busy during long weekends and peak holiday times. The best time to go for hiking and mountain biking is during the late spring, over the summer and into early fall. If you prefer winter activities, the best times can be as early as December and go right through into March for awesome spring skiing conditions.
To find more great information about Whistler-Blackcomb check out the Tourism Whistler website.
*This post is not sponsored in any way. It is based upon the writer's own experiences and honest views*