More than Just a Mountain | Whistler for the Non-Skier
When most people hear “Whistler” their minds jump to chairlifts, ski runs and snowboard jumps. As one of the largest and best (no bias here!) ski resorts in the world, this is fair. However, although predominantly known as a ski town, there is so much more to Whistler than just the incredible ski and snowboard terrain.
Why Whistler is the Perfect Destination for the Non-Skier
It’s Absolutely Beautiful
As soon as you arrive in Whistler, especially if it’s a clear, sunny day, you will understand why you don’t need to race down the side of a massive mountain to take advantage of what Whistler has to offer. The Pacific Coast Range of mountains creates a breathtaking landscape that even locals describe as “looking like a painting.”
It’s Not Too Cold
Whistler typically stays between 0 and -5 degrees Celsius in winter, rarely dipping below -10C. This means with mittens and a toque, it’s still fun to be outside! Compared to popular ski destination and Whistler’s eastern neighbour Banff, which regularly reaches -15C, Whistler is relatively mild.
There Are Tons of Things To Do
Not being a skier is no excuse to skip Whistler. There are countless things to do in the winter that don’t involve ski poles or bindings. Since the vast majority of people do ski or snowboard, other activities are often less in demand. You’ll be able to choose your preferred time, avoid long wait times, and you may even be able to score a sweet deal. From spas to museums, great dining to adrenaline activities and great nightlife, Whistler has something for everyone.
5 Things On The Mountain That Don’t Require Skis
The mountains are without a doubt one of, if not the most enticing element of Whistler. Just because you don’t ski or snowboard doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the epic landscape. There is a long list of activities to do up the mountain, and here are some of our favourites.
- Snowmobiling. Experience the fresh powder and the vast mountain ranges in a different way. You’ll explore the beautiful Callaghan Valley or Cougar Mountain while ripping around on powerful, sleek snowmobiles. Companies accommodate all skill levels, and if you don’t feel comfortable driving you can sit on the back! Check out all the tour options and what to expect here.
- Locals’sTip: Kids may be eligible to ride free and experience driving their own mini snowmobile! There are multiple tours to cater to your needs and abilities while still including all the epic-ness!
- Snowshoe. A unique experience that takes you into the mountains. Day or apres, snowshoeing is an activity for all ages that will get you into the fresh air and give you a great workout! Blackcomb Snowmobile offers two and a half hour tours for 89CAD for adults and 79CAD for children.
- Sightseeing. The Peak to Peak is world-renowned for being the highest cable car above the ground at 436 meters. It is also the longest continuous lift system in the world and offers spectacular views of the valley. On a clear day, the 11 minute one-way trip from Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb (and vice-versa) will be the highlight of your day. Purchase tickets ahead of time to avoid line-ups the day of and save!
- Local’s Tip: There is a “glass bottom” cable car available every so often that many people wait 30+ minutes for. It is a small viewing square in the centre of the car. It is often crowded and does not offer any views that the regular cars do not. A less crowded “regular” ride is more comfortable and the views are just as incredible!
- Dog Sleigh Rides. One for the dog lovers! Bred and trained to love running, and not to mention adorable, you’ll fall in love with these pups. While not inexpensive, dog sleigh rides are exciting and memorable. Observe the harnessing process and learn the commands before you take in the beauty of the Callaghan Valley in a two and a half-hour sleigh tour. Take a look at their gallery to see what you could be doing this winter!
- Horse Drawn Sleighs. Not a dog person? On the more affordable side, horse-drawn sleigh rides are equally as magical and can be done at night, adding a cozy or even romantic vibe. From group to private tours, this classic activity is one for everyone. Hot chocolate recommended!
5 Off-Mountain Winter Outdoor Activities
The great thing about Whistler is that even if you’re not directly on the mountains, they make every experience a little bit more magical by simply creating the picturesque landscape that they do. Here are four more winter activities in Whistler that have you surrounded by the beauty of the mountains but don’t involve skis!
- Ziplining. Yup! It’s a winter activity too, and perfect for the non-skier who still loves a rush. With two companies operating year-round, ziplining in the winter is a magical experience, Dress warm!
- Tubing. Great fun for the whole family (ages 3+), the Coca Cola Tube Park is a great option in Whistler winter for the non-skier. Open daily from 11am-6pm. You can choose one or two hours. Check here to see the fun!
- Skating. Get into the true Canadian spirit by lacing up a pair of ice skates! Olympic Square Plaza has $6 rentals and free admission for their rink. If the temperatures and weather conditions cooperate, you can skate on the frozen lakes of Whistler. Pick-up hockey is popular among the locals, and you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful arena.
- Scandinave Spa. It might be a stretch to call this one an “activity,” but it’s definitely a local favourite. Saunas, cold plunge pools, cozy firepits and the most relaxing atmosphere you could ask for, Scandinave is the perfect place to zen out, relax and refresh. Head inside and treat yourself to a massage for full-relaxation.
- Join the Apres! Just because you don’t ski doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the epic late-afternoon party atmosphere. With multiple bars and heated patios within steps of the mountain, the apres experience is unrivalled. Get there early to save your ski friends a spot around the fire!
- Local’s Tip: Dublin Gate, Tapley’s Pub and Longhorn Saloon all have tables with fires!
6 Activities To Do While Keeping Warm (Inside)
Take a break from the cold and enjoy the recreation and indoor activities Whistler has to offer. Whether you want to be active inside or just chill, there is something for everyone, even if you don’t ski.
- Forged Axe Throwing. Learn techniques and compete with your group, friend, or partner in fun games lead by the hosts. No experience required! They’ll get you in the true Canadian lumberjack spirit. For everything you need to know, check out the whole experience.
- Escape Room. Test your teamwork and puzzle-solving skills by escaping a room using clues in just 45 minutes. There are four different themes to choose from. To get out of the room, you need to think outside the box. Located in the Hilton Hotel.
- Go to the movies. Classic activity, right in the centre of the village. Village Cinema 8 is equipped with a concession stand and eight cozy theatres.
- Rock climbing. The Core is a fitness facility located in the heart of the village and is home to multiple climbing walls. Drop-ins and rentals available and a great way for the whole family to get active.
- Stay active! Meadow Park Sports Center offers drop-in rates and has skating, squash, basketball, a pool and a full fitness centre. It also has a hot tub and sauna to relax those sore muscles!
- Bar Hop. Whistler is home to many local spots that boast excellent craft beer and cocktails. The village is so compact that you won’t be outside for long, so you can stay warm. If you’re a craft beer lover, check out our recommendations for the places that shouldn’t be missed.
- Local’s Twist: Love the cold but can’t stand it for long? Head over to Bearfoot Bistro and check out the Ketel 1 Vodka Ice Room. You’ll dress in massive goose down coats and learn about the origins of Ketel 1 (samples included!). At -32 degrees Celsius, you’ll experience even colder temperatures than your skier friends, but only for 15 minutes!\
While renowned for its ski and snowboard terrain, Whistler in winter for the non-skier is an incredible experience and shouldn’t be skipped! There are so many winter activities in Whistler aside from skiing.
That being said, the smiles on the faces of all the people who are skiing may even convince you to give it a try. Luckily rentals and lessons are at your fingertips at Whistler Blackcomb Guest Services!