If you hop in the car (or even more conveniently, a ground shuttle from YVR) and head north from Vancouver, in under two hours you'll find yourself in an idyllic, alpine village known as Whistler. Named after the whistle-like noises made by the furry marmots that populate the area, Whistler is one of the world's most popular ski destinations in the world. But even if you're not much of a ski bum, believe me when I say that you'll still love paying this place a visit in the winter (in fact, we didn't do any skiing and still had an amazing time!) My dear friend Haley and I spent 3 magical days exploring this village and I'd recommend every second of our itinerary to anyone. Here's what it included:
We stayed at Four Seasons, nestled right in Whistler village. Aside from the breathtaking views and convenient location, I've been an advocate for Four Seasons properties for a long while now. Whether in Canada or Paris or several corners of the United States, the staff always greets you with a warm, genuine hospitality. Some things I especially loved about this particular property?
- S'mores made daily at the outdoor fire pit for all guests.
- Massive outdoor heated pool (AKA giant hot tub).
- Custom hydrating spa treatments available at the spa to combat the dry climate (I saw such a difference in my skin after a hydrating facial).
- Fantastic dining options (both in-room and at Sidecut- their steak house).
- Friendly staff (as always).
- Shuttle services that run to Upper Village.
Whether you choose to stay in one of the 291 lodge guest rooms or one of the 95 suites, you're guaranteed to love your stay at Four Seasons Whistler + I can't recommend it enough!
If you're not skiing in Whistler, what do you do? That question was easily answered thanks to Canadian Wilderness Adventures, who filled two of our days with incredible experiences I won't ever forget.
Dog sledding has always been a bucket list item for me and it was a dream come true getting to do this in a place as beautiful as Whistler. From the moment we arrived, it was evident how happy these pups were (I've never seen so many wagging tails!) We got to meet the dogs before our run (which included lots of wet kisses) and learn a bit about their day to day. Contrary to popular belief, not all sled dogs are huskies. In fact, Whistler is actually too warm of a climate for pure huskies! Instead, Canadian Wilderness Adventures has a blend of mutts that are well suited for this climate (regardless of the breed they were all adorable)
These dogs genuinely love pulling the sleds (in fact, several who were "on break" and not strapped in the harness still ran alongside us the whole time and kept jumping into the mix because they wanted to join in on the fun. The staff knows every dog by name and it's clear they're all loved and taken extremely good care of.
On our run we got to see beautiful snowy trails throughout the Callaghan Valley (and of course had plenty of entertainment alone just watching the pups!) We stopped a few times for photos and even had the opportunity to mush ourselves. It was hands down an experience of a lifetime and something I can't recommend doing enough.
Another adventure that I was a lot more nervous about was snowmobiling (perhaps because I was responsible for operating large machinery at a rapid pace through snowy mountain peaks). But after detailed instruction from our guide and a few awkward minutes of getting my bearings, pretty soon I was zooming through powder wanting to go faster than our guide recommended (which was definitely for the best- although he did let us "open up" for a bit at the end). We did the 3 hour wilderness run, which carved us through the remote backcountry of the Callaghan Valley. We rode through thick forested trails and made our way up Sproatt Mountain for unparalleled views of the area. It was seriously some of the most beautiful scenery I can ever remember seeing.
Both dog sledding and snowmobiling were seriously experiences of a lifetime and items I can't recommend doing enough- especially with Canadian Wilderness Adventures. Their office is conveniently located in the heart of Whistler and everyone on their staff was wonderful.
We popped in this cute little lodge for breakfast one morning and loved the cozy mountain atmosphere (with great views and delicious food (we both ordered the traditional breakfast). It's open for both brunch and dinner and celebrates modern Canadian cooking; inspired by the mountains, fields, farms and waters of the Pacific Northwest.
We loved retreating to this cozy French bistro for dinner one night. The menu is seasonal and showcases traditional French cooking with only the best ingredients in season. The wine menu was extensive, the staff was wonderful (our server brought me a ginger seltzer concoction when I declined wine and commented I wasn't feeling well) and the overall ambiance was warm and enjoyable.
Probably my favorite meal of the trip was at Sidecut in the Four Seasons. Named for the curvature on the side of a ski or snowboard, Sidecut offers a modern take on traditional mountain cuisine balanced with healthy, lighter fare. Everything we had was amazing (my favorite was the British Columbia Salmon Sashimi with maple soy glaze, ginger, garlic and wasabi).
A few other things you should know about Whistler?
- Car optional: We took a ground shuttle from YVR and simply walked around the village from our hotel so a car definitely isn't necessary. In fact, Whistler’s main village area at the bottom of Whistler Mountain is a no-car zone. That said, should you prefer to drive your hotel should offer parking and it's less than 2 hours away from Vancouver.
- Après ski is a must: Regardless of whether or not you ski, this village is busting with restaurants, bars, and cafés offering deals in the late afternoon. Most of these places realize guests are coming straight off the mountain, so there’s definitely a relaxed and casual atmosphere in the village. Either way, pop into one of the countless establishments and warm up with a cup of mulled wine or another treat.
- It's great anytime of year: Whether you prefer a winter wonderland like we experienced or summer activities like hiking, biking and water sports- Whistler has it all. I'm told it's an amazing place to visit year round- just depends what you're looking for!
Anything else you want to know about planning a trip to Whistler? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks so much for stopping by and stay tuned for more Canadian adventures in my next post about Banff, Lake Louise and Emerald Lake!