Both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain on their own would top the list of North American ski resorts by reputation. Combine them, and Whistler Blackcomb provides riders with over 200 trails, 3 glaciers, plus hundreds of restaurants, bars and après spots to warm your baubles after a long day on the slopes. For those less familiar with skiing terms, ‘apres’ (meaning ‘after’) is the glorious time after the skiing in which revellers begin the party. (Essentially, ‘apres’ is just an excuse to start drinking at 4pm!) With this ice cool selection of things to do in Whistler, it’s no wonder that this Canadian gem is the hottest place to visit this winter!
So, why do people fall in love with Whistler?
First off, the conditions are unparalleled in North America with Whistler Blackcomb enjoying around 460 inches of snow annually. Whistler’s not really the place for the perfectly coiffed, high-maintenance type. Less about a good ‘gram and more about a good time, Whistler is a casual yet lively, ‘let-the-good-times-roll’ sort of place with a thriving local community that make it the friendly and full-of-character resort that it is. With awesome hostels proving that you actually can have a ski holiday on a budget, really, there’s snow excuse not to visit!
Read on for the low-down on Whistler Blackcomb hot spots for eating, drinking and most importantly, après(ing?)
Where to stay in Whistler
Once an industrial park on the outskirts of town, Function Junction is now a vibrant art and cultural community. It is also home to Whistler Brewery Co., where you can take a beer-tasting tour of the brewery (I recommend the Mountain Lager, which can be found and consumed all over the resort!) Function Junction is also where you can find the Re-use It Centre, a thrift store full of hidden treasures for crazy low prices. If you like an off the beaten track vibe, Function Junction is most definitely for you!
HI Whistler is the best place to stay for those wanting to explore the edgy charms of Function Junction! HI Whistler is a super modern hang out and hostel boosting an onsite bar serving local beers and ciders. Take your pick from a private or dormroom and get ready to relax.
If you’re looking to stay in the heart of Whistler Blackcomb resort, you want Whistler Village. Here you’ll find the largest selection of restaurants and bars, and gain direct access up Whistler and Blackcomb mountains without the need for a bus ride or a long snowy trek. Whistler Village is also home to the Olympics Rings from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, which have been subject to many a classic photo op.
Upper Village (Blackcomb)
Upper Village, aka Blackcomb, is the more high-end side of town, full of fancy folk (oh darling!) Beautiful and a short walk from Whistler Village, Upper Village is a little quieter and has ski-in/ski-out options unlike Whistler Village.
Once the alternative option, Creekside has become one of the three main hubs in the resort, attracting a younger crowd, both season workers and tourists, and offering hostel accommodation and a free shuttle to the Village. Not that you’ll need it in the morning, just jump on the Creekside Gondola then take Big Red straight to the Roundhouse (see below).
Southside Lodge is a charming hostel lodge right in the heart of Creekside and perfect for anyone who wants to roll out of bed onto the slopes!
Where to ski in Whistler
Even with so many things to do in Whistler that don’t involve skiing, no trip would be complete without some time on the slopes. Luckily, there is something for everyone at Whistler, from easy greens (although beware of painfully slow cat-tracks on Blackcomb hiding beneath the guise of that innocent green line), to double black diamonds like the infamous Spanky’s Ladder. There are multiple parks, and there’s generally more than one way to get from A to B, meaning mixed-ability groups can more or less stick together.
Try Little Whistler for a group outing, and coast down Harmony Ridge, nipping off down Camel Back or Kaleidoscope as you please before regrouping at the base of the Harmony lift. Alternatively, drop down the other side of the mountain to The Saddle for a gloriously smooth run down to the Peak Express. From here, you can ride up to the peak of Whistler Mountain and enjoy some seriously kick-ass views at 7,160ft.
Aside from the awesome nightlife and the Olympics, Whistler is famous for its Peak 2 Peak gondola, which connects Blackcomb to Whistler in just an 11-minute journey. That’s two entirely different mountains separated by more than 33,000 hectares of forest over a thousand feet below. In 11 minutes…. 11! There aren’t any pylons either like a regular lift, so the gondola is literally suspended from one mountain edge to the other for two miles. If you like amazing views (and you’re not scared of heights) it’s worth a short wait to catch one of the two glass-bottomed Peak 2 Peak gondolas and watch the world fall away from beneath your feet. A ride in this gondola is definitely one of the best things to do in Whistler!
If you relish a challenge or you fancy yourself something of a speed demon, you can’t visit Whistler without crossing the Peak to Creek off your bucket list. The Peak to Creek runs straight down Whistler Mountain covering a 5,000 ft drop in elevation from the peak to (…you guessed it) Creekside in a 7-mile sprint on smooth, well-groomed trails.
Where to eat in Whistler Mountain
Like all roads lead to Rome, at one end of (almost) every ski lift on Whistler lays the Roundhouse Lodge. With two floors spilling out onto the large first floor terrace and a giant food court indoors, the Roundhouse is the obvious choice to regroup for a laid-back lunch and a pitcher of beer at the centre of Whistler Mountain.
Just a short trip over on the Peak 2 Peak and you’ll find Rendezvous Lodge. Blackcomb’s answer to the Roundhouse, Rendezvous is a something-for-everyone eatery perfect for grabbing a burger, a burrito, or sushi salad at lunchtime.
If you’re feeling fancy however, the Rendezvous also houses Christine’s, an award-winning, mountaintop restaurant renowned for its incredible views and classic, locally sourced dishes – especially good for meat-eaters and cheese-lovers! Braised rib and wild mushroom ravioli with a side of the “mac ‘n’ three cheese” please!
Where to Apres
Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar And Grill
Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar And Grill, lovingly referred to as the “GLC” is the ultimate afternoon and evening destination, regularly being voted one of North America’s top spots for your après-ski shenanigans. Located at the base of Whistler Mountain with live music, regular DJ sets and a huge terrace looking out onto the slopes, the GLC is always a bit rowdy and always a lot of fun! Cruise your way down Lower Olympic (or take the gondola down, we won’t tell!) and try out a Caesar – the quintessential Canadian cocktail that’s basically a jazzier version of a British Bloody Mary… think extra onion rings and maybe even a burger stuffed on top of your cocktail!
If the Caesar leaves you peckish, the GLC also boasts a great food menu. Poutine purists look away now, but for those of us that like our cheese-and-gravy-topped fries just a little bit extra, the GLC’s butter chicken poutine provides a welcome and mouth-watering twist on a Canadian classic. Wash it all down with a few pitchers of sangria or go for the daily cocktail special (Tuesdays are margaritas!)
Don’t ask me how, but the sun is always shining down at Dusty’s. Dusty’s Bar & Grill is the proud owner of the biggest and best patio spot in Whistler and may just be responsible for putting Creekside on the map. This old reliable (whilst also a perfect lunch spot after ruining your legs on the Peak to Creek) is best served après thanks to its large cocktail menu, boozy crowd and famous BBQ sharing plates. If that’s not enough to entice you, they also serve chicken wings by the pound with your choice of Buffalo, Dry Buffalo, BBQ, Honey, Garlic, Jamaican Jerk, 5 Pepper, Maple Bacon or Extreme sauce. OH MY GAWD.
Blackcomb’s best après-ski scene is Merlin’s, where you are more likely to find someone dancing on a table than sitting at it. Merlin’s is loud and lively, with cheesy, feel-good tunes and a casual, friendly vibe. Prepare for some sing-a-longs – better start practising the ‘Come On Eileen’ lyrics!
Where to eat at Whistler base
Caramba does classic Mediterranean, but it’s best known and loved for its wood fired pizzas cooked up in front of you in the huge pizza oven in the centre of the restaurant. It’s never not busy, so book ahead. Be warned though – it gets super warm so leave the thermals at home and come grab a slice of the action!
In the heart of Whistler Village is one of its oldest and most popular restaurants: Sushi Village. Despite fierce competition from over 70 restaurants in the resort, Mikito Homma and his wife have been welcoming hoards of hungry powder-hounds (did I really just say that…?) to Sushi Village since 1985. Maybe it’s the ultra fresh fish sushi, the udon noodle soups topped with thinly sliced pan-fried beef or spicy tofu, or maybe it’s the must-try strawberry sake margaritas. Whatever it is, it works.
For awesome cocktails, hit up 21 Steps in Whistler Village. Favourites include “El Diablo” (tequila, cassis and ginger beer) and the Hendrick’s Margarita (Hendrick’s, triple sec, cucmber and lime). If you’re craving something sweeter, they also have a range of “liquid desserts” such as the “Go Getter” (Bailey’s, Kahlua, Vanilla Stoli and Espresso) and the “Oatmeal Chocolate Chip” (Bailey’s, butterscotch Goldschlager and Crème de Cacao). Espresso martini fans – this is your vibe!
Where to party
The self-proclaimed “number one party bar” in Whistler, Garfs is where to head after dark if you’re still standing from après. Head down on Locals Night on Thursdays for their biggest and best night of the week.
Is it a café? Is it a pub? No one knows. But good things come in small packages, and if anywhere can be cosy but wild at the same time, Amsterdam Café is the place! With decent happy hour deals and a heated patio, The Dam is the perfect place to get the party started (if it even stopped since lunch…)
Tommy Africa’s is one of those places with a different “night” every night, so you are bound to settle on at least one thing you love. If neither 90s night nor drum & bass are your vibe, there’s always the rival Locals Night on a Tuesday, or Double up Fridays!
Special mentions go to the Dubh Linn Gate, the only Irish pub in Whistler (brought over from Ireland brick by brick… allegedly) and Buffalo Bills for your classic top 40s bangers.
So there you have it, our recommendations for the best things to do in Whistler! What are your favourite things to do in Whistler? Spread the good word in the comments below. 👇