Why we Keep Coming Back to Whistler

Whistler, BC is one of those destinations that we just can’t shake. One that we keep coming back to, time and time again. It’s both foreign and familiar, a place we can adventure and relax in.

January of this year marked our third visit to this popular ski resort, just a two-hour drive from Vancouver, Canada. And although it continually keeps growing and expanding, much of it remains ever the same, which I love.

For me, Whistler offers a chance to unwind and take it easy. Each time we’ve visited, we’ve given ourselves at least a handful of days to enjoy the snow-capped mountains, explore the village on foot, and almost become a local in the neighbourhood.

And if you’ve ever been to Whistler before, you’ll know it is a favourite location for many kiwis and Australians, who choose to live and work there.

In this post I’ll be sharing photos and experiences from all three of our amazing trips in Whistler, so grab a cuppa and get settled in.

Why we Keep Coming Back to Whistler

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Lodging

Depending on what you want to get out of your trip to Whistler, you can stay right in the Village Centre, the Upper Village, or Village North. We always opt for Village North, as we prefer to be slightly away from the action, and actually enjoy walking along the Village Stroll every day to the shops, restaurants, and snowfield.

When it comes to organising accommodation in Whistler, our favourite booking site is alluraDirect. A dedicated site for holiday homes in British Columbian mountain resorts; it is easy to use, and offers a range of options. Because we like to stay for a few days, amenities such as a kitchen are important to us, making a holiday home or condo the ideal option.

Stoney Creek North Star
During our first two visits to Whistler, we actually stayed in the exact same condo within the North Star complex, because we loved it so much. This complex is in a great location, being right across the road from Market Place, where fast food restaurants, a post office, pharmacy, and supermarket (among other things) lives. The complex also has a communal pool and hot tub.

The condo we picked was spacious with a full size kitchen and bathroom, laundry, dining room, lounge (with fireplace), drying room, and a large bedroom.

Glacier’s Reach
For our most recent visit to Whistler, we decided to mix things up and try a different complex. Glacier’s Reach is just around the corner from North Star, so still provides easy access to Market Place and other amenities, which we liked.

Unfortunately our condo was quite a bit smaller than what we got in North Star. Although it did have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, the living spaces (kitchen, dining area, lounge) were all considerably smaller. But, as a bonus, it did have its own hot tub, which gave it extra points in our books!

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What’s for Eating?

There are so many different eateries available in Whistler. Even better, the supermarket is well stocked and reasonably priced, so you can totally fend for yourself if you’ve got a kitchen at your disposal.

During our three visits, we mostly cooked our own meals, but we do like to treat ourselves now and then, and have managed to visit all of the below restaurants and cafes.

Amsterdam Cafe and Pub
Amsterdam is an experience! The music is loud, the wait staff are entertaining, and the food is good. Either sit indoors in the European style restaurant; or enjoy your meal on the patio overlooking the Village Square.

Avalanche Pizza
Avalanche is a popular choice. When we ordered our pizza, it definitely took a long time—or perhaps they forgot our order—but it was worth the wait. Yummy pizza, ’nuff said.

BeaverTails
Oh wow. BeaverTails combines my love of donuts with my love of everything that goes well with donuts. A BeaverTail is basically a flat donut, maybe 15-20cms long and 10cms wide—kind of like a real beaver tail (see what they did there?). You choose what toppings you want on it, such as cinnamon sugar, nutella, maple syrup, banana…. you get the picture. Delicious! There is a kiosk up on the mountain near the learner slope, or you can purchase them from Zog’s in the Mountain Square.

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Blenz Coffee
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—it’s hard to find a decent coffee in North America. Or maybe Melbourne has just turned me into a bit of a coffee snob? Either way, Blenz is a Canadian-owned coffee house, not dissimilar to Starbucks (of which there are three in Whistler!). Their coffee is good, and they always seem busy, no matter what time of day you pop in, so they’re obviously doing something right.

Hot Buns
In the heart of Whistler Village, Hot Buns makes fresh baked goods daily, and has a growing menu of dining options available. I highly recommend their crepes, their coffee is pretty decent, and their hot chocolate is beyond.

The Keg Steakhouse
We love The Keg! After dining at the Montreal restaurant in December, we were very keen to try it again in Whistler. The food is so good—although yes, we are those people who go to a steakhouse and order chicken—BBQ Ribs? Good. Supreme Chicken? Good. Brownie Sundae? Gooood.

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Old Spaghetti Factory
One thing I really appreciate about the Old Spaghetti Factory is that it’s almost like an all-inclusive meal. You pick your main, and then get a salad, bread roll, coffee/tea, and dessert included. How great is that?! Probably because of this, it is a super popular restaurant, and you definitely need to book ahead to ensure you don’t miss out.

Peaked Pies
As a kiwi, I love me a good pie. And Peaked Pies do not disappoint. Think: flaky pastry, delicious fillings, and friendly kiwi/Aussie staff.
Pro tip: Pay the extra and get your pie Peaked! The mashed spud, mushy peas, and gravy really take these scrumptious delicacies to the next level.

Zogs Dogs
Whether you’re making your way home from a night out or a day on the slopes, or just want a snack in-between meals, then Zogs is an obvious choice. A kiosk in the Mountain Square, they make yummy hotdogs and poutine; and as I mentioned earlier, you can also get BeaverTails here.

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Activities

One of my favourite things to do in Whistler is curl up on the couch or sit in front of the fire with a blanket, a cup of tea, and a good book.

BUT, Whistler is one of those destinations that offers so much to do! Whether you visit during summer, or during the Winter months—as we do—there really is something for everyone.

Ziptrek Ecotours

The highlight of all three of our Whistler adventures has to be ziplining. We booked ourselves in for the Mammoth tour, which at the time (all the way back in 2011) was the longest tour available. It consists of 10 ziplines, takes half a day to complete, and includes a break for lunch.

At first I was terrified, as I had never done anything like this before, I’m not overly confident when hanging from a height, and I’m a bit of a control freak. However, our guides were awesome and they made me feel safe and taken care of right from the start. It wasn’t long before I was having the time of my life, and I was actually disappointed when we reached the final zipline—I wanted to keep going!

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Image from Ziptrek Ecotours, 2011.
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Image from Ziptrek Ecotours, 2011.

Dog Sledding

Dog Sledding can be quite the controversial topic. So, I am only basing this suggestion on my own personal experience, because that is all I can do.

My partner and I love animals. We love dogs. And we love to see them happy. We booked a dog sled tour with a company that unfortunately no longer exists, so I can’t link to anyone here. The dogs we met were healthy, happy, and keen to get moving! One in particular on our team (pictured below) was called Grey, and she instantly melted our hearts. We would have taken her home with us if we could!

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From memory, the tour lasted for about 2-3 hours, starting in the afternoon. We met and interacted with our dogs, learned how to use the sleds, and then were off, with our guide driving the sled, and us snuggled up in front. We each got a turn to drive, but honestly, I much preferred sitting in front! Driving was tricky, and my hands absolutely froze.

The landscape was stunning. Snow everywhere, trees everywhere, and the dogs knew their way like the back of their hands paws? My feeling is that if they didn’t want to be there, didn’t want to pull the sled, then they wouldn’t have. Simple as that. You could tell that the guides loved and respected these dogs, and it is in their blood to work and pull sleds. Each sled had 6-7 dogs pulling it along, and they all worked together to get the job done.

At the end of the tour, we went indoors—which was a shock to the system as it was welcome; the room was so warm and we were soo cold—for a hot drink and snack before the tour officially ended.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and loved meeting these beautiful dogs.

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Peak to Peak

The Peak to Peak gondola takes you between the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. Each gondola is huge, and provides spectacular views of Whistler and its surrounds. If you have a lift pass, then you also get access to this gondola; but if you’re not interested in skiing or snowboarding, you can just buy a ticket for the gondola.

To get to the gondola, you first have to take a lift or smaller gondola up the mountain, where you will find the Peak to Peak gondola. Then jump in and enjoy the ride!

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Snowboarding

Because, duh.

I’ve shared my snowboarding experience (or lack thereof) over here, if you’re interested.

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Fire and Ice Show

Every Sunday during Winter, Whistler puts on a free show with live music, fire dancers, awesome tricks from local skiiers and snowboarders, and the piece de resistance: a ring of fire in the snow that they perform stunts through.

Tours

Some tours that we have been super interested to take part in, but haven’t yet managed to are the Eagle Viewing Float Tour and Snowmobiling.

There’s always next time.

Final Thoughts

Whistler in Winter is beautiful, a little big magical, and just a great place to be!

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Have you been to Whistler before?
Is there anything else we should add to our list for next time?

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Why we Keep Coming Back to Whistler

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Author: Michelle

Michelle Harvey is a kiwi traveller, writer, photographer, list-maker, coffee drinker, and wanderer. Winter holidays are her favourite kind.

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