Instead of skiing for the fourth day in a row, I figured I would get to know the quaint little ski village of Whistler. I wanted to take pictures and walk around, so I headed out by myself when the others all decided to ski.
Learn more about the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and visit the statures in the plaza as you are walking through Whistler. Want to be the next Olympic figure skater or hockey player? Test out your ice skills on the rink by renting skates to enjoy more of the Canadian winter experience.
The Olympic rings decorate Whistler Village and the mountains. However, I had trouble finding ample amounts of information away from a plaque. I was hoping for a little visitor center explaining the development of the area and playing highlights from the Vancouver Olympics.
Whistler Sliding Center
If you walk to the Whistler Sliding Center from the village, take the Blackcomb Gondola and say you are going to the park. The lifties should not give you are hard time since you do not have skis or a board with you. Follow signs to the Tube Park and continue up the road until it ends at the sliding center.
Built for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic games, the sliding center is free and open to the public to walk around. Bobsledding options are available and lasts from 2 to 3 hours with instruction, along with a few bobsled runs down the track. Even though I wanted to try, I decided not to pay the $169 to bobsled and walked around the inside of the course to watch the brave soles. Read about Seattle’s (of Seattle Travels) bobsled experience.
Lunch on the Patio
Since it was almost spring, it was a perfect day to eat lunch outside and watch skiers and people watch. Many restaurants have outdoor patios but make sure you bundle up! With warm food options on the menu and heat lamps, it is easy to stay warm. Most of the restaurants also serve warm alcoholic beverages.
Consider creating a food tour, where you sample food at the many restaurants or go on a formal food tasting tour to see what culinary treats Whistler offers.
A perfect way to learn about the history of this little ski town. It originally started as a summer destination with Vancouver residents wanting to escape from the city to the mountains. Before the Sea to Summit highway was built, it would take hours of dirt road driving and stream crossings to make the journey to Alta Lake. Rainbow Lodge was a summer destination built by Myrtle and Alex Philip in 1913.
A few Vancouver businessmen decided to bid for the 1968 Winter Olympics. Having a long way to get the mountain resort ready, they lost the bid. The rejection caused a desire to build a world class resort. Whistler Mountain (formally London Mountain) opened in 1965. Blackcomb opened as Whistler’s rival in 1980. The two were not merged until 1997 and were only connected at the bottom until the Peak2Peak Gondola was built in 2008. In 1981, the area was hit by a recession. A mountain bike park was established for the off-season months to generate more tourism and revenue.
I learned way more than I thought I would by visiting the museum. A informational video is available with images to highlight the key pioneers of the area, along with displays on the geology and development. The evolution of the ski and snowboard is also displayed, which I found extremely impressive. I can’t believe how technology can improve the skiing experience.
Other attractions for non-skiers:
Peak2Peak Gondola Since I had already skied for three days and rode the gondola, I wasn’t about to pay to ride it again even if it was the nicest day. Open year round to show off the beautiful, mountainous terrain, visitors can ride Whistler Gondola to the Peak2Peak Gondola and enjoy a meal on the slopes at either Roundhouse Lodge (Whistler Mountain) or Rendezvous Lodge (Blackcomb Mountain). It may not be the best attraction for those afraid of heights.
Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre
I had every intention on exploring the cultural center on my day off. The museum is closed on Mondays and was something I overlooked. A modern-looking building, the center was built to honor the local tribes of the area.
Snowshoeing/Cross Country Skiing
Snowshoes and cross country ski trails are mapped out and available. Lost Lake is a designated area for snowshoeing and cross country skiers and offers lessons on both. However, free trails can also be found if you know what resources to use.
The village has a variety of stores. Start by window shopping and head inside once you find one that piques your interest or when you need a break from the cold. Many stores have outdoors clothing and gear, which is great in case you forgot to pack warm.
If staying at one of the hotels, you could take a dip in the heated pools or hot tubs. However, Scandinave is a world-class spa and is located within Whistler. If you want to add a way to fully relax, head to the spa and check out their packages.