With an attractive downtown that gives off big Little-Switzerland vibes, a slew of luxurious hotels and restaurants, and—of course—the snow-splendored mountains looming in every direction, Whistler ranks as one of the top ski and winter sport destinations in the world. Located a scenic 90-minute drive north of Vancouver, the town is one of British Columbia’s top outdoor destinations all year, but winter is when it shines.
This might be particularly true for the winter of 2022–2023, the first time since the pandemic began that Canada has scrapped its COVID-related border restrictions for an entire ski season. Accordingly, scores of powder hounds will flock from all over to hit Whistler’s famed slopes.
To beat the crowd, you’ll need to plan ahead and book early, and to that end we’ve got you covered. Here’s your guide to where to ski, where to stay, and where to eat during your Whistler ski vacation.
Skiing in Whistler
While there are various skiing opportunities scattered around the region, the most popular and accessible is undoubtedly the dual mountain park of Whistler Mountain and Whistler Blackcomb. With lifts located on both sides of the village—topped by the Peak-2-Peak gondola, the highest and second-longest free span in the world, providing gorgeous 360-degree views of the surrounding area—it’s easy to go from hotel to slope in minutes.
Once you’re on the mountains, you’ve got some 200 marked runs and 16 alpine bowls to choose from. These include runs of all difficulty levels suitable for everyone from groms to the most seasoned experts. A few of the most popular runs include the Blue Line (a warmup route that offers incredible panoramic views), Burnt Stew Trail (a green run for beginners with enough bowls, glades, and scenery to make it appealing to skiers of all experience levels), and Whistler Bowl with its many chutes and drops.
There are several restaurants scattered across both mountains for a food break, including casual spots like Rendezvous Lodge, Roundhouse Lodge, Garbo’s Grill, and Crystal Hut, plus fine dining options like Christine’s on Blackcomb and Steeps Grill & Wine Bar.
For luxury seekers: Four Seasons Resort Whistler
Book now: Four Seasons Resort Whistler
Having completed a full renovation in 2019, Four Seasons Resort Whistler steeps everything from the lobby to the rooms in sleek yet homey opulence with plenty of wood and soft lighting. Rooms with balconies offer views of the surrounding mountain landscapes, and there’s nature-themed art all over the place—and a contemporary gallery on the lobby level. Dine at the on-site steakhouse Sidecut for perfectly cooked beef (sorry, vegetarians).
For practical skiers: Pan Pacific Mountainside
Book now: Pan Pacific Mountainside
If you’re looking for accommodations that are more geared toward longer-term or family stays, check out Pan Pacific Mountainside. All 121 rooms include fully equipped kitchens—perfect for longer visits when you’ll need to cook the occasional meal for yourself. Suite sizes range from studios to two bedrooms, meaning there’s plenty of space to bring along the kids or travel in groups.
Eats, relaxation, and arts in Whistler
Indulge at Bearfoot Bistro
For an over-the-top dining experience, make reservations at Bearfoot Bistro. The food leans into seasonal, locally sourced Pacific Northwest cuisine (think seafood and meaty cuts) with additional elements and ingredients drawn from around the world. Ask about sabering a bottle of champagne in the wine cellar (the owner holds the Guinness record for the most bottles sabered in a minute—21), get the ice cream made tableside using fresh ingredients and liquid nitrogen, and—if you’re feeling particularly rowdy—reserve a visit to the room made of ice where you’ll don massive Canada Goose parkas before shooting shots of vodka.
Soak in the silence at Scandinave Spa
When it’s time to unwind, go to Scandinave Spa, where you can alternate between various Scandinavian baths, saunas, and steam rooms, relax in solariums and hammock rooms, and warm up by the fire. Silence is the rule here and there’s no limit to how long you can stay (well, until closing), so it’s the perfect atmosphere to slow down and escape from stresses of the outside world.
See the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre and Audain Art Museum
When visiting Whistler, consider tapping into local Indigenous culture. Go to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre to learn about the First Peoples of the region and view some of their art and artifacts. Just down the street you can also check out the Audain Art Museum, a private collection that includes a wide range of Aboriginal art created over the past 300 years, plus rotating exhibits featuring works from contemporary Indigenous artists and other visiting installations.
Don’t love Whistler to death
It’s no secret that humans haven’t been very adept when it comes to managing our relationship to natural spaces. As a result, a lot of landscapes have been spoiled and species threatened by our imposition. One British Columbia–based nonprofit organization, Don’t Love It to Death, is addressing that situation through education. It’s partnered with a number of local businesses and organizations to offer resources (like sustainable camping and boating guides) for visitors to be mindful of their impact on the Sea to Sky region, which spans the increasingly busy stretch of British Columbia between the coast and the mountains of Whistler.
Camping and other outdoor activities have surged in popularity in recent years; consequently, there are lots of wilderness newbies who don’t know how to enjoy natural spaces without degrading them. And even seasoned outdoors folks could use a reminder now and again. So before you go, keep the conservationist ethos in mind while enjoying the beautiful natural bounty that Whistler and wider British Columbia have to offer.