Set within spectacular scenery, Whistler Blackcomb is one of the biggest ski resorts in North America. Over the last four decades, Whistler has grown from a small mountain community to a bustling resort village that sees millions of visitors come every year for world-class skiing and winter sports.
The Whistler village is nestled at the foot of the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, full of picturesque chalet-style accommodations along cobbled streets. The base camp area is relatively small as compared to a larger city, but it is packed with bars, restaurants, shops, and hotels.
There's no shortage of things to do when you're off the slopes, and while it obviously caters to the ski crowd, the mountains also offer summer visitors exciting outdoor fun.
As a venue for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Whistler is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. Along with alpine skiing and snowboarding, you can try snowshoeing and tobogganing down the slopes, cross-country or Nordic skiing in nearby Lost Lake or the Olympic Park.
The après ski scene is definitely hot, with live music, cocktail bars and much more. You can eat tapas until the wee hours, curl up next to a fireplace at a stylish lounge, and dance with your ski boots on at a club.
From snowy peaks in the winter to the lush green forests that surround Whistler, your camera app will get a serious workout here. The Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which spans the dizzying height between the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, runs all year round for the most spectacular views from above.
The area is surrounded by forests to hike in, rivers for whitewater rafting, swimming at Lost Lake municipal park, and several golf courses. Mountain biking is another favorite activity on the trails when the snow is gone.
From high-end gourmet fare to affordable family meals, you can dine mountainside or in the Village, with an emphasis on local ingredients and cuisine.
Naturally, the most popular season to visit Whistler is the winter, but that period is less limited than you might think. The skiing season runs from November, (with the opening usually timed to coincide with American Thanksgiving,) to mid-May. The summers in Whistler are dry and warm, though, and prices are at a discount, making it an alternative for fans of the great outdoors.
If you're arriving from an international location, you'll be landing at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR), located about 84 miles from Whistler. The Whistler Shuttle company runs a service from that Airport at C$69 for adults and C$32 for children 6 to 12. Children 5 and under ride free. Departures are flexible based on your flight. Pacific Coach Lines is another option, with a bus service from the airport and a number of stops in downtown Vancouver to Whistler. The bus runs door-to-door service to hotels and condos for C$55 from downtown Vancouver and C$74 from the airport.
The Whistler railway station connects to North Vancouver via the Rocky Mountaineer Whistler Sea to Sky Climb, a privately run tourist railway company. The vintage-style trains run a scenic three-hour tour during the winter tourist season on. Regular rail service is available from the east via Jasper, Alberta by the CN (Canadian National) Railway.
The 78-mile drive to Whistler from the Vancouver area is spectacular. It follows British Columbia Highway 99, also known as the "Sea-to-Sky highway," and it also connects to the interior of the province.
You can catch a bus from Pemberton, to the north, with Greyhound or The Whistler and Valley Express company. Epic Bus is a private company offering budget trips at C$24 one way and C$35 return from downtown Vancouver to Whistler. Bus service in the winter depends on the weather, and may be delayed in the event of storms or other bad weather events.
The Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel offers you contemporary luxury and superb service in an ultra-convenient location. At the high end of the scale, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Resort is a beautiful building. At Lost Lake Lodge, you'll find clean, comfortable rooms and basic amenities.
Whistler Village - this is the main tourist area, open to pedestrian traffic only. It's where you'll find a range of accommodation, and the streets are lined with shops, restaurants, and nightlife. It's the hub of activity in this resort town.
Upper Village/Benchlands - this area is located less than a third of a mile from the Village at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. It is home to a weekly farmers market along with many ski lodges and some of the area's iconic hotels.
Creekside - this is an alternative to the busy Village area, and is the site of the original ski resort at the foot of Whistler Mountain. Here, you'll find shops, restaurants, and accommodations including lodges and hotel rooms in a family-friendly environment.
There is bus service to most areas of the town, and in spring and summer, there are convenient bike racks on each bus. The cash fare for a single ride is C$2.50, with a day pass available at C$7. Most of the hotels operate free shuttles between the hotels and the ski lifts. During the summer, there is a free shuttle service between Whistler Village and Lost Lake, a municipal park nestled between the mountains with swimming, hiking, and biking trails.
Taxi service is fairly plentiful in Whistler, with three companies available. Fares run about C$8 for a trip of about two miles.
The Whistler Village is open to pedestrian traffic only, so a car won't help with getting around in that area. However, a car will let you explore the scenic area. Rentals - with companies like Avis and Alamo - from Vancouver International Airport start at only C$15 per day.
Whistler Village is definitely the place to buy top-flight mountain and outdoor gear from a variety of retailers, such as Patagonia and the Whistler Blackcomb Outlet Store. For summer needs, there is Garbanzo Bike And Bean, stocked with world-class biking gear, and clothing, and a repair shop to get you back on the trails as soon as possible if you run into problems.
There are a couple of good options when it comes to supermarkets in Whistler, both located within the Village resort area. The IGA Plus is well stocked with a range of grocery items at reasonable prices. The Whistler Grocery Store is a bit smaller, but also offers a good range of items. A gallon of milk should run about C$5, and a dozen eggs about C$3.50.
If you're craving some comfort food, 21 Steps Kitchen + Bar offers big portions in a location with great views. Main dishes start at about C$25. The name may suggest casual eating, but the Bearfoot Bistro is a French bistro-style restaurant with a sophisticated menu of fine dining - it may also be the only place you'll be able to order Dom Pérignon by the glass. A three-course menu starts at C$98 per person. For high-end vegetarian dining with a view, you can try Raven's Nest, with a scenic location at the top of the Creekside Gondola on Whistler Mountain. Mains start at C$11. If you're looking to eat on the go at value pricing, try the Roundhouse Lodge, a huge restaurant that's a leftover from the 2010 Olympic Games set 6,069 feet above sea level on Whistler Mountain next to the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. There are three food court areas with prices that start at about C$10 for a main dish.