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Ice cream stores at a ski resort? Sure, if the resort springs to life during the off-season, and Whistler Resort in British Columbia does just that. Unleash your inner adventurer in this vibrant and affordable playground when the ski slopes are taking a breather. The Whistler and adjacent Blackcomb chair lifts close for about a month after Canada’s Thanksgiving in October. During this time, you can dive into a world of exhilarating experiences that come alive during the shoulder season.
Trees adorn themselves in a kaleidoscope of fall colors during the shoulder season. Maples, alders and cottonwoods flaunt their ruby red, lemon yellow and lime green leaves, creating a vibrant symphony of colors. The sun weaves its magic through the leaves, casting playful patterns, while the crisp air sends multicolored leaves dancing in the breeze.
You hardly need snow to embrace the vigor of Whistler Village, located at the base of the ski runs. Whistler is a year-round blast, whether you’re a thrill-seeker, an outdoor enthusiast, or choose to relax. There are trails to climb to jaw-dropping views, bikes to ride and wild rivers to raft.
If you’re bold, feel the wind in your hair as you zip-line through treetops or take a Jeep tour to see bears. Helicopters lift golfers to obscure greens and obstacle courses challenge your wits and strength. Ready to take things up a notch? Climb into an ATV or a bobsleigh, kayak your way through crystal-clear waters, or even test your aim with a round of ax throwing.
If tranquility is calling your name, drive to nearby Squamish for a stunning view and take the chair lift. Hiking paths and a suspension bridge are sensational options at the summit. Enjoy soothing walks, capturing memories against the backdrop of the immense Olympic circles left behind after the 2010 Olympics. Explore enchanting waterfalls, with Alexander Falls tumbling down close to its parking lot. Wander along paved pathways that wind from Whistler to stunning lakes or immerse yourself in the rich cultural experience at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.
Art lovers, rejoice! The Audain Art Museum beckons with its captivating exhibitions. Meanwhile, distillery tours and a cozy movie theater offer a blend of relaxation and entertainment. Part of Whistler’s appeal is the signs in the language of the First Nation people that identify locations. Immerse yourself in those locations and their lore.
Best Tips & Tools to Plan Your Trip
Tips For Keeping the Cost of a Trip to Whistler Reasonable
- If it’s the shoulder season (not ski season), the rates are lower.
- Whistler Village Inn and Suites is in the heart of the village, and rooms have kitchens, providing the opportunity to whip up your own meals. The inn gives a 10% off coupon for The Keg next door, where the food is well executed.
- Plan your own fresh air experiences by walking, paddling or hiking rather than relying on organized tours.
- Bring your own canoe, kayak or bike.
- Check the restrictions on bringing food into Canada. Packing food ahead of time may work out, but there is a grocery store in the village.
- If you’re all about sharing the good times, explore the joy of communal dining. Treat your taste buds to the mouthwatering corncake breakfast at Elements, perfect for sharing laughs and stories. Craving pastries? Purebread and Hot Buns are ready to satisfy your cravings. Hot Buns offers delectable crepes packed with fresh ingredients.
- As the sun sets, let your taste buds savor a delicious dinner at Earl’s or 21 Steps, where the daily specials include two appetizers for the price of one.
Tips for Travelers to Whistler Using Seattle, WA, As a Starting Point
- Consider taking the bus or train from Seattle, WA. With affordable fares and a scenic journey, you’ll find yourself in Whistler with an excited heart and a happy wallet.
- Compare train costs to the price of gas. It’s 350 km (218 mi) from Seattle to Whistler and takes about four and a half hours to drive, depending on border crossing time. With gas costing around $5 USD per gallon, the gas cost is over $50 one way.
- If you must drive to Whistler, purchase gas in the US. It’s less expensive when the Canadian dollar is around par with the U.S. dollar. Gas can be 20%–25% less expensive than in Canada.
- The border crossing is a snap now that Canada has changed its COVID policy. There is no paperwork to fill out. Simply having a passport suffices.
- Buses can deliver travelers to Whistler from Vancouver or Victoria. Flying into either place is an option rather than to Seattle, but the cost and time don’t pencil out. One can also fly directly into Whistler. These more expensive alternatives are good choices if travelers wish to spend time in Vancouver or Victoria.
- Craggy mountains surround Vancouver, a bustling seaport in British Columbia that is densely populated and ethnically diverse. It offers a thriving cultural scene where directors often film movies.
- Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, thrives on outdoor activities and abundant parklands that feature stunning spreads like Butchart Gardens. The stately Craigdarroch Castle mansion exemplifies its Victorian architecture.
So, there you have it – the secrets to an unforgettable Whistler adventure that won’t break the bank. Get ready to unleash the fun, explore the stunning landscapes, and create memories that will keep you smiling long after you’ve left this paradise. Whistler is waiting—are you ready to play?
How to Book a Trip to Whistler
Where to Stay in Whistler
There are many options for accommodations in Whistler including B&B’s, condos, guest houses and full-service hotels and resorts. Use the suggested booking sites above to compare and find the best deals.
Where to Eat in Whistler
Shoulder season and off-season see up to a quarter of the strollers in the village than there are in the high season, so getting reservations is easy. Walk-ins are possible even at the most sought-after establishments.
- Suggestions for dinner: Earl’s, 21 Steps, The Keg, Mongolian Grill or Caramba
- Suggestions for breakfast: Elements, Stone’s Edge, Purebread, Crepe Montaigne or Hot Buns Bakery
- Suggestions for lunch: Numerous restaurants are pop-ins with open, heat-lamped patios perfect for lunch.
- Suggestions for entertainment: Whistler’s Best Activity Guide, Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, Audain Art Museum
Author Bio: Marcia McGreevy Lewis (she/her) lives in Seattle and is a retired feature writer for a Washington newspaper. She has written for literary journals, magazines, travel sites and books such as Chicken Soup for the Soul. Reach her on Facebook and Instagram: marcialewis25, Twitter: @McGreevyLewis and Linkedin: marcia-lewis