Whistler- Beyond the Ski Lift

Whistler brings a wide spectrum of people together-from 20 something Australians on temporary work permits, laid back ski bums and upper-crust city folk to fancy celebrities. Everyone loves Whistler, but mostly Australians. There are really a lot of Aussies in Whistler.  I wouldn't be shocked in the least to discover that there are more Australians than Canadians in Whistler.  Regardless of where you're from, Whistler is all about celebrating British Columbia's spectacular mountainous playground. Its hard not to be impressed in Whistler, equally by how expensive it is- and its beauty. 

The drive from Vancouver to Whistler is stunning, especially if you're lucky enough to have clear weather. The Sea to Sky highway could take a whole day if you stop off for a picnic at Porteau Cove, hike to Shannon Falls, ride the Sea to Ski gondola and stop at all the lookout points. A full awesome day, really. 

 View from the Sea to Sky Gondola (picture from May)

View from the Sea to Sky Gondola (picture from May)

Squamish the main town between Vancouver and Whistler has lots to offer and makes a great place to stop, even for a couple days.  

Squamish is home to the towering granite Stawamus Chief Mountain, (known as The Chief) which you can climb, the yummy Howe Sound Brewery, delicious Indian food at 'Essence of India,’ world-class artist Andy Anissimoff, and the cheapest groceries you're going to see for quite some time (at least until you leave Whistler again).

 Picnic at Porteau Cove (picture from May)

Picnic at Porteau Cove (picture from May)

Winter or summer Whistler is chock full of outdoorsy activities. Downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, skating, mountain biking, hiking or riding up and down in gondolas, Whistler can probably offer you some sort of activity you're interested in. Even if your favourite activity is sitting- there are many restaurants and pubs to help you accomplish your goals in that department. Haven't spent enough money on hotel, lift tickets and expensive food? Whistler's shopping options can easily relieve you of your extra cash, too. 

 Olympic Rings from 2010 Games.. the quintessential Whistler pic

Olympic Rings from 2010 Games.. the quintessential Whistler pic

The Whistler village is adorable and the views are incredible. The skiing isn't bad either. Or so they say. I am in no position to make any comment on downhill skiing in Whistler having spent significantly more time sprawled out on the mountain as a failure than successfully skiing anywhere. But all the other happy, competent skiers can't be wrong. They all seemed quite content as they sped past me, expertly avoiding my errant skis and poles all while impressively managing to stay upright. It even looked as though they were having fun. I say this with no small amount of envy. 

Although no doubt almost everyone will strongly disagree, my favourite Whistler activity was cross country skiing. That's fine. You can judge me.

 Karly loves cross-country skiing too- who knew?

Karly loves cross-country skiing too- who knew?

Lost Lake is an easy walk from the village and has many kilometers of groomed trails for a less terrifying ski experience. Rent gear at the Passivhaus and grab a trail map. The green loop around Lost Lake itself is great for starters. There are even 4kms of lit trails for night skiing! Monday and Thursday after 3pm is half price!

My second favourite day in Whistler involved, not surprisingly, craft beer. We had a plan inspired by this helpful website. We were going to take the local bus from Whistler village to Function Junction (about 25 mins), visit the Whistler Brewing Company, Coast Mountain Brewing, walk back along the all-year path to Creekside and the take the bus the rest of the way back to the village. It was an ideal plan combining beer, exercise and nature. Unfortunately there were just too many delicious beers to taste at the breweries and it was dark by the time we were ready to walk.. darn you February and your short days. Even without the walk though, our mini brewery tour was super fun and well worth an afternoon of sitting on our behinds.

whistlerbrewingco

Whistler Brewing company had a large tasting room and food menu. The atmosphere is warm and casual and there are lots of beers on tap. My favourite was the 'Black Nut,’ which is actually a combination of the Chestnut Ale and Black Tusk Ale. Go on, order like a local.

Coast Mountain Brewing is just up the road and is the perfect complement to the older Whistler Brewing company. Small, cozy and artsy with a great selection of beer, you gotta get here early to get a seat at their one big slab table..maybe even by the fireplace...It will be worth it. My favourite beer here, with much deliberation, was the Surveyor IPA. Always bring friends to breweries. More friends= more flights= more beer to taste. That's my tip of the day!

 Coast Mountain Brewing- tasting the rainbow

Coast Mountain Brewing- tasting the rainbow

Where to eat: El Furniture Warehouse (the whole menu is $5.95! Food is good and portions are surprisingly big! Great deal, especially in overpriced Whistler)

Where to rent  downhill ski gear: Spicy Sports (reserve online for 20% off)