Whistler first made its mark as a world class ski resort. As the largest ski resort in North America, it continues to be one of the best places for a winter vacation. However, there are so many fun activities in Whistler for non-skiers and snowboarders. Here are 22 ideas of what to do in Whistler in winter instead of skiing:
1) Axe Throwing
Head to Forged Axe Throwing in Function Junction, just an 8-minute drive from town centre, to try Whistler’s newest attraction – hucking axes at a wall.
2) Bungee Jumping
Looking for an adrenaline rush? Try Whistler Bungee jumping! I’ve jumped a couple times in places around the world and can honestly say, it’s amazing to do it when you’re looking out at beautiful mountain scenery. Read my guide to 3 activities for adrenaline junkies in Whistler if you want more adrenaline ideas.
3) Taste Some Local Whistler Beer
4) Try Hydrotherapy
I’ve been visiting, and revisiting, Scandinave Spa since it opened in early 2010. Yes, I’ve lived in Whistler a long time! There is honestly no better way to relax than spending a few hours with a book or taking a snooze as you go through the therapeutic hot-cold-relax cycle. For me, the best way to start is in the hot tubs, then a really, really, really quick cold dip, followed by some chill out time with a book in the solarium.
5) Check Out One of the Many Whistler Hiking Trails
Rain, shine, snow or sleet, there are so many year-round hikes in Whistler. Try Train Wreck Hike – it is a favourite of mine. It’s an old train derailment from the 1950’s scattered in the old-growth forest and covered in cool graffiti art. You cross a spectacular suspension bridge to get to this easy, all-ages hike that’s accessible year round.
6) Grab a Sweet Treat at a Whistler Bakery
Bold words but every Whistlerite will agree, Pure Bread is THE best bakery in Whistler. My personal favourite treats to get are the Crack Bar, known for being so addictive, and the super dense Flourless Brownie. Two locations include the main village across from Whistler Olympic Plaza and the original location in Function Junction. If you’re looking for an eclectic cafe with some serious local flavour, check out these Best Whistler Coffee Shops.
7) Whistler Snowshoe Teepee Tour
In 2019, locally-owned Blackcomb Snowmobile started offering snowshoe tours to their unique, custom teepee with Whistler mountain views. I personally loved the Après Teepee Tour if you want to catch an epic mountain sunset or you can do the Daytime Teepee Tour earlier in the day.
8) Visit a Whistler Museum
Whistler has a rich history and culture that can be explored through museums, art galleries, and cultural events. Learn about Whistler’s local First Nations culture at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, visit the renowned Audain Art Museum to discover the historical and modern art of British Columbia, or learn about Whistler’s history at the Whistler Museum in the heart of Whistler village.
9) Check Out Some Live Music in Whistler
For such a small town, the music scene in Whistler is pretty epic. Mallard Lounge at Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Dubh Linn Gate at Pan Pacific have live music every night. They’re the perfect place to have a hand-crafted cocktail or a pint while listening to some great music.
10) Go Wild Skating in Whistler
It wouldn’t be a winter vacation without skating on a frozen lake in Canada. Head to one of Whistler’s frozen lakes for a little wild skating or play pickup pond hockey. Nita Lake, Alta Lake, and Green Lake are great options for a winter skate. By the way, did you know there are five lakes in Whistler?
11. Wild Life Watching
Whistler is home to many species of wildlife, including bears, eagles, and elk. There are tours available to see these animals in their natural habitats. While many animals are hibernating during the winter months, November through February is prime bald eagle watching time due to the salmon run. Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park is a great place for eagle viewing. If you want to see Whistler bears, spring through fall is the best time to do this.
12. Whistler Blackcomb Sightseeing
Take a gondola ride up Whistler Blackcomb to enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding landscape and mountain peaks. You can also take the Peak 2 Peak Gondola across, which connects the top of both mountains, and provides extraordinary views. A Peak 2 Peak sightseeing pass costs around $80. Try to get into one of the silver cable cars as they have glass bottoms giving you another unique view.
13. Dine Around Whistler
Whistler has a diverse culinary scene, with many restaurants offering locally-sourced ingredients and creative dishes. There are numerous award winning restaurants in Whistler, from the newly opened Wild Blue Restaurant to the long-standing Rimrock Cafe. Many of Whistler’s best restaurants are just a short walk from the front steps of your hotel.
14. Shopping in Whistler for Non-Skiers
Whistler Village has a variety of shops that sell everything from souvenirs to high-end fashion. The luxury hotels like Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Four Seasons Whistler also have some great retail shops within the resorts.
15. Relax at a Whistler Spa
There are many luxurious spas in Whistler that offer massages, facials, and other relaxing treatments. The treatments at Nita Lake Lodge Spa are particularly lovely.
Take this advice from a Whistler local, there are so many things to do in Whistler for non-skiers.
16. Try an Olympic Sport
Experience the rush of the bobsleigh track at the Whistler Sliding Centre. You can ride as a passenger with a professional pilot. There really is no rush like it as you zoom down the fastest track in the world!
17. Snowmobiling in Whistler
For a thrilling winter adventure, try snowmobiling through the backcountry. There are guided snowmobile tours in Whistler available for beginners.
18. Ice Skating in Whistler Village
The Olympic Plaza in Whistler Village offers a free outdoor ice skating rink that is open to the public. Skate rentals are available on site. Indoor skating is available year-round at Meadow Park Sports Centre.
19. Visit Vallea Lumina
Vallea Lumina is an immersive multimedia experience that takes place in a forest at night and combines technology, storytelling, and nature to create a unique and interactive experience. During the experience, you’ll follow a path through the forest that’s illuminated by a series of light installations and audiovisual effects that change with the natural environment.
20. Go Cross Country Skiing
Cross country skiing is a great way to enjoy the beautiful winter scenery in Whistler while getting a good workout. You can rent cross country ski equipment from local shops or take a lesson to learn the basics. Lost Lake, Callaghan Valley, and Rainbow Park all have great cross country ski trails.
21. Try Fondue
Fairmont Chateau Whistler offers fondue as one of their dining options during the winter season. The hotel’s “The Chalet” restaurant features a traditional Swiss fondue that includes a blend of three cheeses and is served with fresh bread, apples, and pears for dipping. They also offer a chocolate fondue for dessert that comes with a selection of fruits, pastries, and marshmallows for dipping.
22. Ziplining in Whistler
Ziplining is a popular activity in Whistler, and there are several companies that offer ziplining tours. Ziptrek Ecotours offers a variety of ziplining tours, including the Sasquatch, which is the longest zipline in Canada and the USA, spanning over 2 kilometers. Superfly Ziplines at Cougar Mountain just north of Whistler village has four ziplines and a suspension bridge, with panoramic views of Whistler and the surrounding mountains. Ziplining is a thrilling experience that provides a unique perspective of the surrounding forests and mountains. It’s a perfect activity for the whole family.
Your Questions About Whistler for Non-Skiers
Is Whistler worth visiting if I’m not skiing?
Yes, there are so many things to do in Whistler for non-skiers. There are plenty of other activities and attractions to enjoy in Whistler, whether you’re a foodie, spa lover, or travelling with young children, making it a wonderful year-round destination.
Can you go up Whistler Mountain without skiing?
Yes, you can go up Whistler Mountain without skiing. Whistler Blackcomb offers a sightseeing experience called the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. You will take the Whistler Village Gondola to the Roundhouse Lodge at the top of Whistler Mountain, then the PEAK 2 PEAK across to the Rendezvous Lodge at the top of Blackcomb Mountain, and the Blackcomb Gondola down to the upper village. This allows visitors see the ski slopes of North America’s best ski resort without the need for skiing or snowboarding.
Where can I sled for free in Whistler?
There are a few places in Whistler where you can go sledding for free. However, it’s important to note that sledding is not allowed on all hills in Whistler, as some hills may be dangerous or have restricted access. Here are a few places where sledding is allowed and free:
- Whistler Olympic Park: The park offers a designated family-friendly sledding area with a gentle slope. Sledding is free, but you’ll need to bring your own sled.
- Meadow Park: Meadow Park has a small sledding hill that is popular with families. The hill is free to use, and sleds can be rented from nearby sports stores.
- Lost Lake Park: Lost Lake Park has a sledding hill that’s suitable for all ages. The hill is free to use, and sleds can be rented from nearby sports stores.
It’s important to note that sledding is done at your own risk, and it’s important to sled safely and responsibly. Always wear a helmet, avoid sledding on steep or icy slopes, and be aware of other people and obstacles around you.
How Many Days in Whistler are Enough?
The number of days you should spend in Whistler depends on your interests and what you want to experience during your visit. You should plan to spend at least 3 nights/4 days in Whistler if you are not skiing. If you are skiing, then at least 6-7 days in Whistler would be the bare minimum I’d recommend. This will ensure you have an opportunity to experience some of the best things there are to see and do in Whistler.
How to Get to Whistler from Vancouver?
Whistler is about a 90 minute drive up the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver. There are many different ways to get to Whistler. If it’s your first time to Whistler or you’re not experienced driving in a winter wonderland, airport shuttles are a great option for transportation.
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Things to Do in Winter in Whistler for Non-Skiers
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