If you don’t ski or ride a bike and have a small family in tow, is Whistler worth your time? O my goodness, YES!
I have only ever skied once in my life and believe it or not that was in Australia, and I am utterly miserable at hurling my self down the side of a mountain on a bike – I know this because, embarrassingly, I have already tried it. However, what I do like to do is get myself a good coffee, gin or Caesar and plonk myself and my brood, equipped with snacks and colouring books, on the terrace of the Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC) and watch everyone else do it!
I’ve been to this part of the world three times. The first time was about five years ago. We spent some time in Whistler just before we went to Vancouver and caught a cruise to Alaska. Yes, it really was as amazing as it sounds – Alaska and the cruise! The second time my husband spent an afternoon navigating the bike trails on the mountain before we went camping on Vancouver Island and I lost little pieces of my heart to places like Tofino, Telegraph Cove and Nanaimo. This third time was exclusively to spend time in Pemberton and Whistler with my sister, my children and my mother.
Now, we obviously didn’t go everywhere, however, here is a run down of what my munchkins and I did experience.
Things to do
Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains
A trip up the mountain has to be one of the first things to do in whistler. The 25 minute ride in the gondola to the top doesn’t just offer superb scenic panoramas of Whistler and beyond, it is also a chance to squeeze in a bit of bear spotting! In one day we saw seven bears on the mountain and that included cubs! Seeing the bears never gets old and mixed with feelings of unreserved excitement and astonishment is a sense of absolute privilege at being allowed a sneaky peak of these beautiful animals.
Once at the top of Whistler and Blackcomb there are numerous walks, although if you have children in buggies or pushchairs this might be a little difficult as some of the trails are a bit rocky and a bit steep. If you are going to go for it make sure you’ve put in the training!
The top of the mountain can also be a little chillier than the temperature at the bottom, so remember to take a jumper or coat for everyone so you can enjoy your time and spend as long as you want there without getting uncomfortable.
You also need to keep an eye out for the resident Marmots that live on the mountain. It’s these little critters that gave Whistler it’s name, wonder if you can guess why?
This is the gondola ride that takes you from Whistler to Blackcomb or vice versa and is a great way to see so many more of the wonderful views Whistler has to offer. You can even travel in a glass bottom gondola for that extra special birds-eye-view of the forrest below. The wait is usually a little longer for these, so you might want to take this into consideration if you are with kids.
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre – First Nations Museum
This is a great place to spend a few hours and learn about the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations who built the cultural centre to educate and share their history. Peruse the totems, admire the canoes, beat the drums, be welcomed by their songs, learn about the Wild Woman of the Woods and make cedar rope!
Then after all that you can do a little souvenir shopping in the gift shop and perhaps have a coffee and a cake or a spot of lunch in the Thunderbird Cafe – if you do the bread is just amazing and I have never seen or tasted anything like it before! It really is great experience for the big and small munchkins in your group.
Whistler Olympic Plaza Playground
This playground is in the upper village as you walk in from parking lot 4. It’s a lovely, good sized park that’s well looked after and a great way to start your village stroll off by letting the kids have some fun first. It’s also next to the Whistler Medals Plaza meaning we could fling off our shoes on those hot summer days and burn off some energy chasing each other around on the grass too. Also, a great spot for a toilet stop as the public loos are well tended and conveniently located
Have a Picnic!
If your wanting to keep costs low, a picnic is always the way to go! Next to the park there are plenty of picnic tables and the grassed area is perfect for relaxing with a blanket and letting the kids run about.
On the other side of the play area you will find the Market Place and at one end a good grocery store called IGA. Here you can purchase everything you need for more budget friendly day out in Whistler.
Have Your Picture taken at the Olympic Rings
Everyone does it and it’s impossible to miss it.
Walk to Lost Lake
This is always a favourite of mine. Lost Lake can be reached via the Valley Trail and to walk there from the village will take a good half hour. The walk is not arduous, however, it is stoney so hard wheeled buggies will bump about a bit and it wasn’t really practical to use my daughters scooter either. We have seen bears on this trail before, so it’s another great opportunity to do a bit more bear watching!
Walk the Village Stroll and Go Shopping
The village stroll is such a lovely walk and I never tire of it. The stroll leads you to the bottom of Whistler mountain and is lined with restaurants, bars, coffee shops and stores of all kinds!
When in Whistler our top shops are:
1. Roots – to get our quintessential Canadian attire
2. Bear Necessities – because the kids pyjamas are just too cute, but they are a little expensive
3. Gap – as you can always get a good bargain in there and they are always running some kind of deal
4. David’s Tea – I love tea… and pretty much everything else this shop sells!
Family Adventure Zone
This is situated at the bottom of Blackcomb in the Upper Village and includes mini golf, carting, trampolines and batting cages to name but a few!
Takes place in the Upper Village on Wednesday’s and Sunday’s. Here you can experience fresh produce and tasty treats from the Pemberton Valley, street entertainment and food trucks galore!
Eats and Drinks
The Old Spaghetti Factory
Such good value for money and so much food included! As the name suggests there is lots of pasta on the menu, however, they do also have a gluten free menu for those that need it, like me!
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre – First Nations Museum
This has already been featured in this blog, but it’s worth another mention for the food too. The bread is devine, what they do with their Sockeye Salmon is amazing and the chowder yum yum yum!
The GLC sits at the base of Whistler mountain and one of my favourite things to do is sit on the terrace and watch the bikers come down the mountain. It’s good for food, drink, generally chilling out in the day and enjoying a slightly livelier atmosphere at night.
Samurai Sushi – Nesters
Not in Whistler Village, but a popular choice with the locals and I can confirm it is very tasty!
You can find a Tims in the Market Place behind the kids playground. Everyone loves Tims because it’s cheap and cheerful, they have amazing donuts and you cant help but make an unnecessary purchase of a box of Timbits.
This is also by the kids playground and has some great coffee. The Maple Macchiato Latte is very tasty and the hot chocolate a local award winner!
You have to take a look inside this coffee shop just to look at the amount of cakes on offer. The choice is unrelenting. I was grateful for the queue as I could not decide what I wanted!