Whistler in the winter is basically Disneyland for skiers – a huge world-class resort with seemingly endless terrain. But there is so much more to Whistler in winter than skiing. I live just up the road from Whistler in Squamish so I’ve been going to Whistler for day trips and weekend getaways for decades… and I’m not a skier!
In this list of the over 30 things to do in Whistler in winter I’ve got something for everyone: adrenaline junkie things, relaxing things, things to do in the village, things to do indoors, guided tours, and other winter sports to try. Oh, and of course skiing things! Read on get the locals low-down on the best things to do in Whistler in winter.
Hey there: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase. Thanks for supporting my website. -Taryn
Skiing and Snowboarding in Whistler
Ok, let’s get the skiing stuff out of the way first. Yes, Whistler has amazing downhill skiing and snowboarding. But did you know it you can backcountry ski, country country ski, heli-ski and cat ski in Whistler too?
1. Downhill Ski or Snowboard at Whistler Blackcomb
Skiing and snowboarding is the reason most people come to Whistler in the winter. Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America with the most uphill capacity. It has been named the best ski resort by ski magazines countless times. With over 200 runs and lots of terrain for both beginners and experienced skiers, there’s something for everyone.
2. Heli-skiing and Cat skiing near Whistler
Riding the lifts isn’t the only way to ski and ride in Whistler. There are several heli-ski and cat ski companies in the area who will transport you deep into the backcountry, then guide you down untracked slopes. You need to be at least an intermediate skier (and have some $$$) for this splurge experience.
3. Backcountry Skiing
If you want to explore the backcountry, there are tons of places near Whistler to ski and snowboard. You can access “sidecountry” from the lifts, or explore the mountains around town. Duffey Road (part of Highway 99) north of Pemberton is a very popular place for backcountry skiing. However, you’ll need experience and avalanche training to go backcountry skiing in Whistler. Or you can go with a guide to show you the best spots and take care of your safety.
Beginners should book an Intro to Backcountry Ski Class. Experienced backcountry skiers should pick up a copy of the Whistler & Area Ski Touring Guide by Backcountry Canada and the Backcountry Whistler Ski Map by John Baldwin.
4. Cross Country Skiing
Whistler is also home to lots of excellent cross country skiing. You can explore 30 km of cross country ski trails next to Whistler village at Lost Lake. Or venture a bit out of town to Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley. They have 90 km of trails and you can even take biathlon lessons. If you have your own skis, you can even ski for free on Whistler’s Valley Trail. It connects neighbourhoods in the town by bike and on foot in the summer. In the winter, a portion of the trail is groomed for cross country skiing and free to use.
Other Ways to Have Fun in the Snow in Whistler
If you don’t ski, you can still have fun in Whistler in the winter. Here are my picks for non-skiing snow adventures. The best part: all of these options are beginner-friendly.
Snowshoeing is my go-to snow sport, and the reason I end up in Whistler a few times each winter. There are lots of great snowshoe trails in Whistler, ranging from beginner to expert, and most of them are free. You can even snowshoe to frozen waterfalls! In my opinion, snowshoeing is the best thing to do in Whistler for non-skiers since you can get out into the snow and don’t need any skills or experience to try easy trails.
Let a team of adorable dogs pull you through the snowy landscape. Whistler is home to two different dog sledding companies. Both offer tours through the wilderness outside of town. Settle into the cozy sled and enjoy the ride, or step on to the runners and learn how to drive. This is definitely one of the most unique winter activities in Whistler.
Drive yourself through a winter wonderland. If you’ve never driven a snowmobile before, there are scenic tour options for beginners and families. Experienced riders can opt for extreme backcountry tours into the mountains. There are a few different snowmobile tour companies in Whistler.
8. Sledding and Snow Tubing
Nothing says winter quite like a day of sledding. Head to the bubly Tube Park at Whistler Blackcomb and rent a tube. You’ll slide down the curving lanes, then ride the conveyor belt back to the top. For some low tech (and free) fun, bring your own sled to the gentle hill at Whistler Olympic Plaza in the village.
9. Play in the Snow
You don’t have to be a little kid to head outside and play in the snow. Build a snowman, make snow angels, or have a snowball fight. Popular places to play in the snow in Whistler are Whistler Olympic Plaza in the village, Rebagliati Park near Blackcomb Base, or anywhere along the Valley Trail.
Extreme Winter Sports in Whistler
If you like to go fast, feel your heart beat through your chest, and get your adrenaline pumping, these extreme Whistler winter sports are for you. You also don’t need any experience to try these exciting (or scary) activities.
In Whistler, you can zipline all year-long. In the winter, you’ll enjoy winter wonderland views and snowflakes falling all around you. Ziptrek Ecotours lets you soar like an eagle over Fitzsimmons Creek between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Superfly Ziplines is located 10 minutes north of the village and has ziplines deep in the wilderness.
11. Bungee Jumping
3… 2… 1… Bungee! Jump off a bridge 50 metres above the Cheakamus River just south of Whistler. In the winter, the river freezes, the surrounding cliffs are covered in ice and snow, and you’ll jump into a postcard-perfect winter landscape.
12. Ice Climbing
Have you ever dreamed of climbing a frozen waterfall? Strap on some crampons, pick up an ice axe, and make it happen in Whistler. Several local guiding companies offer ice climbing trips. If you’re a beginner, they’ll show you the ropes (literally… sorry couldn’t resist). But there are also trips for experienced climbers.
13. Bobsleigh, Luge, and Skeleton
As host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler is home to one the two bobsleigh tracks in Canada. Sign up for a one-day bobsleigh, luge, or skeleton lesson to try out the sport. If you just want to go for a high-speed ride, they offer passenger bobsleigh rides too. You’ll go up to 125 km/hour!!
Winter Sightseeing and Tours in Whistler
Sometimes it’s fun to sit back and enjoy the scenery. Whether it’s snowy landscapes, mountain peaks, icy glaciers, frozen lakes, or local history, you’ll see something beautiful on these Whistler winter sightseeing tours.
14. Peak 2 Peak Gondola
Even if you’re not a skier, it’s worth riding the gondola up into the mountains. The views from the top are spectacular. Your lift ticket includes the Peak 2 Peak Experience. This spectacular gondola connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains with a cable that is 436 meters above the valley floor – a world record. Gaze out the windows at the gorgeous mountain views, or ride a special glass-bottomed gondola for an adrenaline-pumping bird’s-eye view.
15. Flightseeing Tours
Fly high above Whistler’s glaciers and peaks on a helicopter or floatplane tour. There are lots of tours to choose from: glide over Whistler Peak, see Whistler village from above, or head into the backcountry to see mountain peaks and tumbling glaciers. Some tours even let you land on a glacier and explore an ice cave!
16. Sleigh Rides
Go dashing through the snow in a two-horse open sleigh. Jingle bells optional. The nightly sleigh ride tours on Blackcomb Mountain are a magical way to enjoy the snowy forest. They include lots of blankets and a short stop at a cozy cabin to enjoy hot chocolate.
17. Ice Fishing
Walk out onto a frozen lake and fish for trout through a hole in the ice. Definitely a bucket list experience. In cold weather, you’ll sit inside a portable ice hut or beside a heater, but in milder temps, you can enjoy the scenery around you.
18. Snowcat Tours
If you aren’t sure what a snowcat is, you’re aren’t alone. It’s a truck-sized vehicle that uses tank-style tracks to move across the snow. Take a scenic snowcat tour to see the twinkling lights of Whistler Valley at night from above. The tours include warm drinks in a glass-topped igloo or fondue at a charming log cabin.
19. 2010 Olympic Self-Guided Tour
In 2010, Whistler and Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. I went to tons of events in Vancouver and managed to get tickets for the Paralympic biathlon in Whistler too. So fun! You can relive the glory and excitement of the games on a self-guided walking tour. It includes event venues and other legacy buildings from the Olympics like the bobsleigh track and medal ceremony location.
20. Vallea Lumina
This unique multimedia and light experience is truly unique. It’s a story-based journey where you walk through the snowy forest encountering lights, sound, and lasers that create a sense of magic in the landscape. I haven’t been, but I’ve heard it is the kind of thing you can’t really understand unless you’ve experienced it.
Things to Do in Whistler Village in Winter
You don’t need to leave the village to find lots of things to do in Whistler. You could easily spend a day or two exploring the winding pedestrian friendly streets. Just be sure to wear your winter boots and as it gets pretty snowy!
21. Wander through Whistler Village
Whistler’s core is a purpose-built pedestrian village. Some people say it looks a bit like alpine Disneyland. In the winter it’s covered in snow and charming twinkling lights. Take a walk on the Village Stroll, a pedestrian-only street that winds past cafes, boutiques, and ski shops. It’s a great place to window-shop, people-watch, or just enjoy a walk. Use this map of Whistler Village to find your way.
Since it is an international ski destination, Whistler has surprisingly good shopping for such a small town, and most of it is concentrated around the pedestrian-friendly Village Stroll. You can find your favourite chain stores like The Gap and Lululemon alongside fine jewelry and tons of outdoor and ski shops.
But the real gems are boutiques selling local goods. Check out 3 Singing Birds for locally designed and made clothing and home decor. Find local art at several galleries. Or pick up a local book at Armchair Books. (They carry my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia, so I think they’re pretty awesome!)
Whistler has an amazing restaurant scene. It’s home to upscale fine-dining at places like The Rimrock Cafe and Araxi Restaurant, but there are also lots of amazing casual places where you can show up in your sweaty ski clothes and no one cares.
We usually grab beer and burgers at the High Mountain Brewing Co. Brewhouse or Garibaldi Lift Co., but I’ve also heard great things about La Cantina (a Mexican restaurant). For coffee, I highly recommend Mount Currie Coffee Co., and for a sweet treat purebread is to die for.
24. Ice Skating
What could be more magical than ice skating outdoors? Each winter Whistler transforms part of the Whistler Olympic Plaza into an outdoor ice rink. It’s especially phenomenal at night when the nearby trees are lit up with twinkly lights. You can rent skates on-site or bring your own. (If you’d rather skate indoors, head to the rink at Meadow Park Sports Centre.)
25. Valley Trail
Spend a few hours exploring the Valley Trail. It’s a 43 km-long network of pathways that connects Whistler’s neighbourhoods. In winter, many of the sections are plowed for easy walking. Wander through the snowy landscape and discover the Whistler that locals know. This map of the Valley Trail has all the info you need.
The apres-ski culture is strong in Whistler. There are three craft breweries in town (High Mountain Brewing, Whistler Brewing, and Coast Mountain Brewing), each with its own tasting room. There are also tons of pubs around town, perfect for relaxing after a day on the slopes. You can’t go wrong with Dusty’s Bar and BBQ. It’s Whistler’s original apres spot, open since the 1970s.
For an upscale experience apres experience, try the Ketel One Ice Room at the Bearfoot Bistro, billed as the coldest vodka tasting room in the world at -32C (-25F). (Don’t worry – they’ll give you a parka to wear!)
And if you still have energy for dancing, Whistler has several nightclubs. I remember Tommy’s from my early 20s clubbing days, and according to locals, they’re still going strong (even if I’m not!)
Relaxing Things to do in Whistler in Winter
It’s not all go-go-go: Whistler is also a great place to relax. Here are my picks for the most relaxing things to do in Whistler.
27. Go to the Spa
Whistler is home to lots of spas and there’s something for everyone. Choose from high-end hotel experiences like The Spa at Four Seasons Resort, classic Swedish massage at Aviva Wellness, or unique experiences like the Javanese style Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa.
But the one spa all visitors will love is Scandinave Spa Whistler. Their outdoor network of steam rooms, saunas, and hot and cold pools is a great place to relax and enjoy the snow falling. They also offer several types of massage and have a silence-only policy so you can really zen out.
28. Take a Yoga Class
Stretch it out after a day on the slopes. There are is one dedicated yoga studio in town: Yogacara. If you want to do your asanas with locals, head to a budget class at the Meadow Park Sports Centre (the local community centre). And if you’re fancy and staying at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, complimentary yoga classes are included with your stay.
29. Soak in a Hot Tub
Hot tubbing is a way of life in Whistler. Everyone loves an evening soak after a ski day. And it’s extra magical to be in a hot tub while it’s snowing.
The hot pools at Scandinave Spa are hands down the best place for a soak in Whistler. But there are tons of other hot tub options in town. Most of the spas in town include access to their hot tubs with entry. The spas at the Four Seasons and Nita Lake Lodge both have gorgeous outdoor tubs with mountain views.
Most hotels in Whistler also have great hot tubs that only guests can access. On a splurge trip, I loved the incredible indoor/outdoor hot tub at The Westin – you can swim through a doorway from inside to outside. Lots of rental condos also come with hot tubs too. I’ve stayed at Glacier’s Reach a few times – each suite has its own private hot tub!
And lastly, if you’re on a budget, head to the hot tubs at the public swimming pool at Meadow Park Sports Centre.
30. Visit a Natural Hot Spring
For a real mountain relaxation experience, visit a natural hot spring. There are several hot springs in the mountains near Whistler. However, to reach them in winter you’ll need to be comfortable with some serious winter driving on snowy backroads, or have a snowmobile. Read my guide to hot springs in Canada for more details.
Indoor Things to Do in Whistler in Winter
Sometimes you just want to stay inside, out of the cold. Thankfully, there are lots of great things to do in Whistler like museums, indoor rock climbing, movies, and more. (Axe throwing anyone?
31. Audain Art Museum
Opened in 2016, the Audain Art Museum houses a huge collection of British Columbia art in a beautiful and award-winning modern building. It includes art from the late 18th century to the present. The museum is home to a large collection of Coastal First Nations masks as well as works by settler artists like Emily Carr, Jack Shadbolt, and Jeff Wall. The gift shop is also one of the best places in Whistler to pick up beautiful and unique local souvenirs.
32. Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
The Squamish and Lil’wat Nations have lived in the Whistler valley since time immemorial. Visit the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre to learn about their history, culture, and art. Guides welcome you with drums and song, then take you on a tour of the exhibits including a hand-carved canoe. Visit the Thunderbird Cafe to try indigenous-inspired dishes made with local ingredients. It’s one of the best indigenous museums I have been to.
33. Whistler Museum
Learn about Whistler’s history at the community-run Whistler Museum. It has exhibits detailing Whistler’s history from wilderness to world-class ski resort including vintage ski gondolas, retro photos, the 50-year-long road to the 2010 Olympics, historical furniture and gear from the early days of the Rainbow Lake Lodge, and profiles of local people who shaped the town.
34. Escape! Whistler
Take on challenging puzzles to escape from themed rooms at Escape! Whistler. They have four different scenarios to choose from: Pirate Ship, Buried Cabin, Pinball Machine, or Rabbit Hole. These escape rooms are really fun with groups, but you can also get a private escape room for parties of two. (No sharing with strangers!)
35. Forged Axe Throwing
Let your inner lumber Jack or Jill out at Forged Axe Throwing. If you’ve never thrown an axe before, don’t worry: they’ll give you all the pointers you need to help you hit the bullseye. Most visitors go for a one-hour session, but if you’re super keen (and competitive) they also have a weekly league night.
36. Village 8 Cinemas
Enjoy a night at the movies at the Village 8 Cinemas in Whistler. With eight screens, there’s sure to be something playing that you want to see.
37. Whistler Core Rock Climbing Gym
With 5,500 square feet of indoor rock climbing space, Whistler Core caters to climbers of all ages and abilities. If it’s your first time, take one of their classes. If dizzying heights aren’t your thing, check out their bouldering zone where you can climb just a few feet above cushy crash mats – no ropes required.
So that’s my big list of winter activities in Whistler. I’m sure you’ll find something to do in the Whistler in the winter that you’ll love. (Actually, I’m sure you’ll find a bunch of things.) What’s your favourite Whistler winter activity? Tell me in the comments.
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- Your Guide to the Best Hot Springs in Canada
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