Our Whistler Tips – Everything you Need to Know Before Visiting
These Whistler tips will help you navigate the incredible town that was once exclusively a one season resort town. Skiing was the main objective for anyone willing to travel the old and dangerous highway. Now, the city has fashioned itself to be a dynamic all-season destination. Not only does it still boast a stunning picturesque backdrop but there are a million activities you can do to pass your time there. It’s not a one-trick pony anymore; this town does have it all.
So whether you’re bringing the family, hanging with a crew for the party scene, or heading up for a romantic weekend, Whistler won’t disappoint. We’ve put together a packed list of Whistler Tips to help you get started.
Whistler Tip #1 – Book Your Events in Advance
Know what you want to get from your time in Whistler. The sky is the limit, but we do recommend booking in advance. Whistler rewards the early bird with lower prices a lot of times, plus you get to schedule when and where you want it to happen.
If you’ve booked at a full-service hotel, their concierge will always be happy to assist you before you even arrive for your stay. A lot of times your hotel can get you better deals for the activities you and your travel mates or family want to do.
Whistler Tip #2 – Know Where to Stay
Where you lay your head at night might have a lot to do with how much you enjoy your stay. If you’re visiting with your family, you may want to avoid the party buzz of the Village. If you do plan to party though, this is exactly where you want to be.
Creekside and the Upper Village are quieter spots that are perfect for families. There are plenty of hotels that offer incredible spa packages and boast outdoor pool complexes. Chilling in a hot tub while your kids go swimming after a long day of activities is an excellent rejuvenator before a jam packed night of fun.
A Whistler tip straight from people in the know (aka Forged Axe Throwing) is how to get a better deal on your lodging. There are a dozen quasi-secret codes to use when making a reservation online or by phone.
So if you book online or if you call the hotel directly, act for the “Advance Purchase” rate. This special rate will usually be 15% less than the supposed best available rate they are offering. To get this rate, you may have to book between 7-30 days in advance depending on the hotels’ policy.
Whistler Tip #3 – Spend the Afternoon in Function Junction
Regardless of the season, there are a whole bunch of fantastic activities that can be done off the mountain and away from the village. It’s also away from the crowds and busloads of tourists!
The hidden gems in Function Junction will surprise you. There are a handful of great bakeries and cafés with more reasonable prices than the village and with zero lineups. Once you’ve stopped here, you’ll probably make it a habit to drop in as you’re coming or going from Whistler.
Another great thing about Function is the evolving activity scene, including yours truly – Forged Axe Throwing, where you can literally learn to axe throw. We love groups, and we highly recommend it for building a strong relationship with the person you love.
Finally, if you’ve forgotten some essentials on your trip to Whistler that you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for, go to the Re-Use it Center in Function Junction. They’ll probably have what you need for a second-hand price point. You might even find that perfect Christmas sweater you have always been looking for.
Whistler Tip #4 – Don’t Miss Out on Après Ski or Your Sundowner
Regardless of whether you have kids of not, take in après ski. It’s a great way to unwind from the day, and most Whistler bars are kid friendly. Wherever you’ve skied down to, there’s a bar waiting. Whether it’s Dusty’s, Merlin’s or the GLC, you’ll enjoy the vibe and the live music they usually have. Word of advice though, from our experience the GLC has the best exposure to après ski sunshine.
Whistler Tip #5 – Where to Eat
The reason why there are so many restaurants in Whistler is that people flock here from around the world, and bring their taste preferences with them. So with this many options, how can you figure out what will work for you and your group?
If we are honest, you could spend hundreds of dollars on meals in Whistler. Sure, it’s great to enjoy that once, but it’s fairly easy to eat great meals in our town without blowing your entire budget. A weekend trip to Whistler shouldn’t cost your kids their college tuition. Chill spots that locals can afford to go to still offer great food and a fun environment. Also, don’t we check out new places so we can put our hand on the pulse?
Casual, no hassle restaurants like Ingrid’s are a great lunchtime spot with ready-to-go items for the vegetarian or meat eater. A higher scale casual restaurant is Portabello’s at the street level of the Fairmont Chateau. Lots of locals visit this spot because the food is plenty with decent prices.
There are plenty of guides out there, with plenty of whistler tips directing you to which dining spot will fit your mood and budget, but don’t forget you also have access to your concierge service at the hotel.
Whistler Tip #6 – Hikes Away from the Crowds
As enticing as the village is with all the shopping, there is a lot of natural beauty waiting to be explored. Thanks to Instagram and social media, popular hikes in the area can cause enough congestion that you don’t really get that “I’m in the great Canadian Wilderness” feeling.
Some quiet spots for hiking are away from the village and beyond. If you head north of Whistler to the Duffey Lake Road, you’ll have quite a few options. These include Rohr Lake and the Marriot Basin. A close spot is Brandywine Meadows which you may have seen signage for on your way to Whistler from Vancouver.
Local Whistler favorites include Wedgemount Lake, Brew Lake and Rainbow Lake which are in the perimeter of Whistler, and some are easily accessible with public transit!
Whistler Tip #7 – Get Your Adventure On
One of our favorite afternoon adventures in Whistler is the Ziptrek tours. A cooler way to see it is during twilight hours, both in the literal sense and the atmospheric sense. It’s all the most interesting because you have to strap on a headlamp and soar through the forest in the semi-darkness.
Mainstream ATVing can be done on Blackcomb Mountain during the summer months. If you want to see the full spectrum of wilderness surrounding Whistler, go off-roading. Off road adventures will get you away from the people and closer to the wildlife.
If you happen to have your own canoe, by all means, bring it to Whistler. There are many perfect lakes and even creeks that you can explore. There are also canoe tours you can partake in. It’s a peaceful pastime and a good outdoor option for families to do together.
For a cool biking adventure, you can go on an e-bike tour. Electric bikes are handy because let’s face it; Whistler is mountainous. It’s not always easy biking up a 60-degree hill for an hour just to take in a stunning waterfall. An e-bike tour means you can get away from the crowds without too much strenuous activity.
Whistler Tip #8 – Spoil Yourself Spa Days
While this is a fairly standard thing to do in Whistler, there’s good reason for it. There are plenty of options. One of the newest is considered a must-do experience. The Scandinave Spa is a European experience that will blow your mind. No kids allowed and it’s encouraged that there’s no speaking. It’s like a lavish afternoon of meditation. There are hot baths, a wood burning Finnish Sauna, and eucalyptus steam room. Relaxing massages available too. If you honestly just went up to Whistler to relax, this is the place to do it.
Whistler Tip #9 – Shoulder Season Offers the Best Deals
Here’s an excellent Whistler tip: if you want to take in Whistler for the best price imaginable, go during the shoulder season. The shoulder season is before Christmas (November is perfect) and from April to May. You’ll find major savings for everything, including hotels, activities and incredible sales in the village.
Plus, spring skiing offers warmer days with plenty of snow on the mountain. It’s also a perfect time to bid bears a good sleep or welcome them back from their winter slumber. During the shoulder season, it is a lot quieter, but this gives you the opportunity to talk to locals and save money!
Whistler Tip #10 – The Secret Way to Save on Lift Tickets
If you’re coming up for a group or family trip to ski Whistler Blackcomb, one of the biggest expenses are the lift tickets. Here are a few Whistler tips to soften the blow of the cost.
- Purchase your lift tickets before getting to Whistler.
- Purchase your tickets within a vacation package. Your hotel may offer a great rate. Booking through third party sites like Expedia also offer discounts on lift tickets.
Don’t be restricted by our short and sweet series of whistler tips. Whistler has more to offer than you realize. Book your tours in advance but also give yourself time to enjoy the unexpected. You may go for a walk, only to observe a black bear and her cubs foraging for an hour. There might be a festival going on that has you watching some slope side event full of adrenaline. Plan a little but keep yourself open to all Whistler has to offer.