16 BEST Things to do in Whistler in Winter

When most people think of Whistler in the winter, they probably think of skiing or biking at North America’s largest resort. However, don’t make the mistake that biking and skiing are the only things there are to do in the small resort town.

There’s a lot more to Whistler, and after living in the valley for a year, we’re happy to share more. Whether you want to break up your ski days with another activity or are a non-skier, here are some of the best things to do in Whistler in the winter.


Ski/Snowboard at North America’s Largest Resort

Cameron And Natasha
Taking a break at Whistler to grab some photos together

Whistler Blackcomb is consistently ranked as North America’s Number one ski resort. We were dubious of this as we’ve been to many fantastic ski resorts in Canada¬†and the US, but we know why Whistler tops every list.

With 8,100 acres of skiable terrain spread across two mountains, Whistler offers a huge variety. Think steep and deep, chutes, bowls, glades, and superb high alpine terrain. Some of it is downright scary but epic. That being said, there is terrain for every ability to keep everyone entertained.

The lifts here are top-notch, compared to North American ski resorts, that is (we aren’t quite up to par with European ski resorts yet). Whistler also receives over 11 meters of snowfall annually, so chances are you’ll get at least one day of fresh snow when you visit, though some seasons it experiences serious droughts.

Cameron on a Powder day at Whistler!
Powder day at Whistler!

That being said, Whistler has some downfalls. Whistler is known for being extremely busy, and it is. Some of the worst lines we’ve ever seen have been at Whistler, even on a mid-Tuesday in early December. Whistler is also very expensive to visit during the winter, with accommodation prices topping $1000 a night!

Everything from accommodation to groceries is higher than you would find elsewhere. Lastly, although the snow falls in abundance here, it’s heavy, wet BC coastal snow, so you may find your legs getting more tired than usual on a powder day. That said, skiing is one of the best things to do in Whistler in the winter. Even if you are a beginner, you should still give it a try!


Find the Blackcomb Glacier

The Best Things to do in Whistler - Blackcomb glacier
Finding the hidden ice cave on Blackcomb Glacier

While you are skiing or snowboarding on Whistler Blackcomb, you may as well keep your eyes out for a hidden ice cave – it’s pretty impressive!


Fire and Ice Show

The Best Things to do in Whistler
Credit: Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane

During the winter season, the Fire and Ice Show is an iconic and impressive sight to behold and one of the best free things to do in Whistler. It happens every week, so everyone has a chance to see it with their own eyes.

It’s located in the Skier’s Plaza and is a legendary display of elements and ability. Talented skiers complete death-defying stunts, jumping and flipping through blazing rings of fire. The evening is full of entertainment, with DJs, fireworks, and fire spinners. 


Vallea Lumina

natasha at vallea lumina
We loved Vallea Lumina

For a little bit of magic, venture out to the Vallea Lumina. It’s an enchanting multimedia night walk and one of the best things to do in Whistler in the winter. An immersive spectacle, it’s set in the wondrous wilderness of Cougar Mountain and feels like a fairytale walking through.

The entire trail is a little under a mile and mostly flat, so it’s easy to navigate, but be sure to leave yourself plenty of time for photo ops and gazing in awe at ethereal and otherworldly installations. Tickets range from $25-$30, depending on the season.


Apres Ski in the Village or Creekside

Whistler Village Apres Scene

Whistler Village Apres Scene

After skiing and snowboarding all day one of the best things to do is enjoy a few drinks with friends. The Longhorn Saloon and Blacks Pubs are two of the most popular places to head in Whistler Village after a day out. On a nice day, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a seat. While if you head down to Creekside, it’s best to hang out at Dusty’s with a pitcher of beer.


Go Snowshoeing

The Best Things to do in Whistler in winter

One of the most fun and easy ways to experience Whistler’s natural landscape is to try snowshoeing! It’s a unique and traditional mode of transportation that doesn’t require special skills in a climate like this.

This makes it accessible to most folks with little to no learning curve involved. Follow forest trails covered with snow-capped pine trees, and keep your eyes out for spotting local wildlife of the area as well. Take a tour or adventure out self-guided.

There’s an abundance of trails to try in Whistler, including Sea to Sky, Cheakamus, Rainbow Falls, Real Life, the Whistler Train Wreck, and Nature Trails. 


Stroll Around the Whistler Olympic Plaza

Natasha walking the Whistler village
I always love walking Whistler Village

Set in the stunning Callaghan Valley is the site of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Whistler Olympic Plaza. A special ice skating rink opens here every winter and is such a fun time for everyone, especially when you bring hot chocolate into the mix.

It’s a favorite pastime of locals and tourists alike on the mountain, and it’s surrounded by thousands of twinkling lights plus towering mountaintops.


Stroll the Whistler Village

whistler in the fall
Strolling Whistler Village in the Fall

After you take your photo at the Olympic rings, the best thing to do is take a walk around Whistler Village! There are plenty of shops to wander into, places to eat at, and pubs to grab a drink at.

Whistler is a surprisingly great spot to enjoy some retail therapy and shop until you drop. Whether searching for that perfect souvenir or stocking up on your favorite specialty wares, it’s a lovely day out in the charming village streets full of adorable storefronts. Armchair Books is a legendary local haunt, with an impressive selection of good reads.

Everything from fine art to fashion to sports equipment is readily available. 3 Singing Birds, Portobello Market, Nook of the North, and Ruby Tuesday are all perfectly curated spaces to check out as well. 


Ice Skate in the Village

ice skating in whistler
Kids ice skating at the Whistler Village ice rink

One of the best things to do with kids in the winter in Whistler is rent a pair of ice skates and go ice skating on the small rink in the Whistler Olympic Plaza. It’s especially festive around the holiday season when the whole village is lit up in pinks, orange, green, and red lights.


See the Village Lights Around Christmas

Christmas in Whistler is magical!
Christmas in Whistler is magical!

The charming village of Whistler is a must-visit in the area. It boasts a strict no-car rule, meaning it’s a veritable pedestrian paradise for wandering. The streets are enchanting, all lit up with twinkling lights adorning every tree and building and reflecting in the snow-covered paths. Especially during the holidays, it’s genuinely a festive feat of extravagance. 


Bobsleigh

things to do in whistler in winter

The world’s fastest ice track was built in Whistler for the 2010 Olympics and remains for all to try at the non-profit Whistler Sliding Centre, though it’s still an active training and competition site. It’s a one-of-a-kind thrill ride, as you fly down at unbelievable speeds, either as a passenger or a solo skeleton rider.

No experience is required, though there is an orientation, and a trained pilot takes care of all the steering, which is quite a relief at 80 miles per hour. It’s available in any season but is certainly not for the faint of heart. Even if you’re not a daredevil, it’s fun to visit the impressive center on a tour or self-guided tour. 


Go Tubing

The Best Things to do in Whistler

The Tube Park guarantees a good time in the winter landscape of Whistler. Whether you call it sledding or tobogganing, this fun activity is made that much better with the addition of the magic carpet, a mechanism that takes you all the way uphill. There are multiple lanes and over 1,000 feet of snowy hill to fly down. You can even try sliding under the lights in the evening. 


Relax at Scandinave Spa

Natasha at the Scandinave Spa in whistler in the winter
Relaxing at Scandinave Spa (I had special media access before the spa opening to take these photos) Typically, no phones are allowed.

For a true relaxation retreat, we can’t recommend Scandinave Spa enough. These Scandinavian baths are set in a peaceful and quiet environment. Throughout the outdoor oasis, various thermal pools, saunas, and steam rooms are located on the edge of Lost Lake Park’s spruce and cedar forest. It’s the perfect place to head on a day out skiing, and it’s especially lovely when the whole area is covered in snow.

Access to the baths starts at $120. This spa is silent, and no technology is allowed inside. It’s best to book in advance for guaranteed access during busy periods.


Enjoy the Many Whistler Lakes

nita lake in the winter
Us at Nita Lake on Christmas Eve!

Whistler has an abundance of clear, shimmering mountain lakes to explore. There are five in the valley: Alta Lake, Alpha Lake, Nita Lake, Lost Lake, and Green Lake.

  • Alta Lake: I particularly love Alta Lake because you get great views of both Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains.
  • Alpha Lake: This is an excellent place to take the dogs for a walk and enjoy the area with children.
  • Nita Lake: This is the closest lake to the Creekside Gondola and one of our favorite lakes in BC. It’s a stunning lake with open views and in the winter there’s often a little dedicated cold plunge area – if you dare!
  • Lost Lake: Lost Lake is great in the winter as you can nordic ski around the lake!
  • Green Lake: Green Lake is the largest and most northerly lake in Whistler. Its shores are lined with plenty of million-dollar houses to fantasize about.

Walk the Valley Trail

Walking the valley trail in Whistler in the winter

The Whistler Valley Trail is a paved, car-free trail that connects many of Whistler’s neighborhoods, viewpoints, and lakes. Locals and visitors use over 45 km of this trail daily for running, walking, and fat biking in the winter.

It’s accessible year-round, and getting out on it is a great way to see what Whistler has to offer. My favorite thing to do on a nice day is take a walk through the forest on the Valley Trail. Much of the trail is quite far from the Sea to Sky and noise pollution. It is also extremely well-signed and difficult to get lost. Get the map here.


Have a Beer at a Brewery

Enjoying Beer at Coast Mountain Brewing clearly around Halloween
Enjoying Beer at Coast Mountain Brewing clearly around Halloween

Whistler isn’t just fancy restaurants! You can get a great craft beer at many of the breweries around town. Two of my favorites are Whistler Brewing Company and Coast Mountain Brewing, both of which are part of the BC Ale Trail.


Dine at one of the Best Whistler Restaurants

Happy Hour at Pizza Antico
Happy Hour at Pizza Antico – our favorite!

As one of Canada’s premiere ski resort, you can bet your bottom dollar there are some amazing restaurants here. On any given night, you’ll be able to get whatever kind of cuisine you fancy. The Rimrock Cafe provides a stellar meal in an unassuming restaurant, while Araxi has locally-sourced Pacific Northwest plates.

Pizza Antico has a fabulous Happy Hour special in the winter for their wood-fired margaritas, and Ed’s Bred will make you wish you had paid attention to baking in high school. Whatever you crave, you can find it in Whistler.


Where to Stay in Whistler

My two favorite places to stay in Whistler are Nita Lake Lodge and the Fairmont.

Fairmont Whistler

The Fairmont is nestled at the base of Blackcomb Mountain and is the most beautiful ski-in/ski-out accommodation you can score. It’s luxurious on the inside and out and offers unparalleled guest service.

Nita Lake Lodge

Nita Lake Lodge is perched perfectly on Nita Lake near the Whistler Creekside Gondola. It’s easily one of the nicest places to stay in Whistler and provides guests with a comfortable stay in a surreal location!


Visiting Whistler in the Summer?

Wedgemount-Lake
Wedgemount Lake in the Summer

These are just a few things to do when the snow is falling. We recommend the summer if you want to visit Whistler when the weather is a little more cooperative! From mountain biking to hiking up to Wedgemount Lake, you can read here for the ultimate summer guide.

About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

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