Whistler in British Columbia is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Canada. The famous winter resort town is situated just a two-hour drive from Vancouver, making it easily accessible for those wanting to hit its famous ski slopes.
While Whistler does attract travelers year-round, offering up incredible hiking and mountain biking during the summer months, its true appeal lies during winter. It held a number of Olympic events when Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, and this only solidified its position as one of the world’s greatest winter ski resorts.
Over two million people travel here each year, and more and more people are looking to purchase real estate for sale in Whistler; both local Canadian residents from Vancouver who are looking for a winter home, as well as plenty of foreign buyers.
A 15% Foreign Buyers Tax may be imposed in the Vancouver area, but this doesn’t apply to Whistler, which has kept the buyer interest going, especially Americans to the south who take advantage of the favorable exchange rate and Whistler’s closeness to the U.S. border.
Come see what all the hype is in Whistler as I introduce you to the top ten winter activities that continue to lure travelers from all around the world every year.
10 Winter Weekend Activities to Enjoy in Whistler
Peak 2 Peak Gondola
You don’t need to be a skier to experience and appreciate the incredible gondola ride known as the Peak 2 Peak.
Regarded as the world’s longest continuous lift system, it takes riders on a nearly four-and-a-half-kilometer journey where you’ll be suspended well over 400 meters above the ground, making it the highest gondola ride in the world.
The gondola spans the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, allowing skiers the opportunity to tackle the slopes of both mountains in a single day. Sightseers can simply hop on for the incredible views of snowcapped peaks, snow-covered pine forests, and glaciers.
Taking the special glass-bottom gondola is a real treat if you’re not too scared of heights and don’t miss the PEAK 2 PEAK 360 Experience’s famous towering snow walls above Pika’s Traverse on Whistler Mountain.
Dog Sled Tours
There are a few different companies in whistler that offer the chance to be led through the Callaghan Valley’s old-growth forests by a team of Arctic sled dogs.
You can choose to lay back and enjoy the relaxing ride as a guide does all the hard work or you can learn how to mush your own team of dogs. Some tours even stop by a fur trapper cabin where you can learn about all that goes into trapping Canadian animals in the depths of winter.
Alternatively, those that aren’t dog people can opt for a horse-drawn sleigh ride led by beautiful Percheron horses. You’ll stay warm and dry for the hour-long journey thanks to plenty of blankets and a canopy overhead.
Rides usually include a stopover at a cabin where you can warm up even further with hot chocolate by the fireplace.
Whistler offers a wide range of snowmobile tours that cater to beginners, families, and even advanced riders. They even offer up Mini-Z snowmobiles so smaller children can get in on the action.
You can choose to take a ride into the Callaghan and Brandywine Valleys, or head high up Blackcomb Mountain. There are also rides that take you over the Hurley Mountain Pass.
Some runs will take you through thick forested trails and over frozen lakes, while others visit gold mining sites like Northair Mine or the historic gold mining town of Bralorne.
The tours offered vary in duration, so you’re bound to find one that fits your schedule, with even moonlit night-time rides available.
Skiing and Snowboarding at Whistler Blackcomb
Skiing and snowboarding are of course what draws most travelers to Whistler. With over 8,000 acres of slopes and hundreds of trails, Whistler Blackcomb is North America’s largest ski resort and regarded as one of the world’s best.
On average, the area sees around 38 feet of annual snow fall. You can easily rent all the latest ski and snowboard equipment, while also getting lessons from some of the industry’s best instructors.
There are free daily guided tours on the slopes or you can check out the many easy-to-access steep chutes and quality bowls yourself.
You can also try cross-country skiing or embark on an adventurous heli-ski or cat ski experience which departs from Whistler base and takes you into the backcountry far from the crowds.
Snowshoeing in Whistler
If downhill skiing seems a bit too daunting for you, you can opt for a snowshoeing experience which is enjoyable for all ages and fitness levels.
The best part about most of the snowshoe trails in and around Whistler is they are free, making this activity far more affordable than skiing.
Snowshoeing is a great way to observe some of the wildlife that stays active during the winter months. You’re bound to see a few birds such as various jays, ravens, ptarmigan, and possibly a bald eagle or two.
Snowshoe hares may also be seen or if you’re lucky a lynx. Black bears will likely be in hibernation most of the winter, but you may catch one emerging from its den late in the season as spring approaches.
Many people chose to snowshoe in Brandywine Falls Provincial Park. Here you can walk to a towering waterfall that may be partially frozen during colder weather and observe giant icicles and beautiful snow-covered trees along the way.
The best part is that the park is just a short drive from Whistler.
Blackcomb Mountain also offers up a fun tubing park which is great for the whole family. Whether you want to take things slow and easy or fast and daring, the tube park offers up over a half dozen different lanes on the hill, each one catering to different abilities.
A convenient conveyor lift allows you to get in plenty of runs, without having to struggle back up the hill on foot, and onsite fire pits will get your hands and feet warm again in no time. The park is even lit up at night if you wish to tube beneath the stars.
Ziplining may be offered all year round in Whistler, but it becomes a bit more magical in winter and quite a bit more refreshing.
Ziplining courses are set up in several places around whistler including lines that will see you fly over Fitzsimmons Creek between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, as well as ziplines on Rainbow Mountain which is on the west side of Whistler.
There are many variations of zipline tours, some with a few short runs and some with around a dozen which include quite long spans. Spans generally run in the range of 400-2,400 feet, with some located as high as 1,000 meters.
Some zipline tours are offered towards nightfall, complete with headlamps and a lit course. Heaters are placed on decks to keep warm in-between your “zips”.
For those a bit too scared to strap into a harness, there is an alternative way to see the incredible views by checking out the area’s suspension bridges, stairways, and boardwalks.
Bobsledding, Luge, and Skeleton Sledding…Oh My
If you never knew what the differences were between bobsledding, luge, and skeleton sledding was, you can find out in Whistler. Whistler is the only place in Canada where you can experience all three for yourself, with no previous experience required.
You can choose to be safely driven by a trained pilot, or be taught how to pilot your own sled. You will reach speeds of around 125kph where you’ll definitely feel some g-forces.
All three of these high-speed Olympic sports are extremely exhilarating and definitely worth a try the next time you’re in Whistler and want to experience something unique.
Yes, Whistler even offers bungee jumping during winter, and the best part is that you won’t be able to tell if your cold feet are from the fear of jumping or the weather outside!
Whistler bungee jumping allows you to jump tandem or alone, and even those in wheelchairs can partake in the action. Dive into the air as you race snowflakes down to the ground, the icy waters of the glacial fed Cheakamus River waiting some 50 meters below.
You won’t know whether it’s the terrifying experience or the ultra-brisk rushing air in your face that takes your breath away.
Day Spas and Hot Springs
If all this outdoor action doesn’t exactly fit your idea of a relaxing winter holiday in Whistler, there are day spas and hot springs on offer. This may also be just what the doctor ordered after a long weekend of skiing.
Two of the most notable day spas in Whistler include the Scandinave Spa Whistler and Whistler Day Spa. You can book in for a variety of massages and treatments, while gaining access to the steam rooms, saunas, hot tubs, and cold plunge baths.
Most take advantage of the scenic views Whistler is known for. Many of the resorts and hotels also offer relaxing hot tubs, some of which may be half indoors and half outdoors. Some rentals even come with their own private hot tubs.
You may even want to check out one of the natural hot springs that are within a two-hour-drive from Whistler including Skookumchuck Hot Springs and Key Hole Hot Springs.