Things to do in Whistler, Canada When You’re Not Skiing
If you are visiting Whistler with your family during the winter months, you probably came to ski. However, even the most devout skiers sometimes need a day off from the slopes.
Fortunately, there are many fun things to do in Whistler, Canada besides skiing that this world famous ski area has to offer to its visitors. From ice skating to playing at the magic castle and tree fort to sleigh rides and zip lining, the list is long and there is something here for everybody. Below are three fun non-ski adventures our family enjoyed when we visited last winter.
Peak 2 Peak Gondola
An engineering marvel, the Peak 2 Peak gondola connects two peaks, the tops of the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, just as its name suggests. And as they like to say in Whistler, “This is not your average gondola!” True, because this gondola holds not one, but three world records: first, it is the highest lift of its kind in the world (1,427 feet above the valley floor); second, it boasts the longest unsupported span in the world (1.88 miles); and lastly, it is the world’s longest continuous lift system.
These impressive statistics aside, the main reason I suggest a ride on Peak 2 Peak is the breathtaking 360° view of the Whistler Blackcomb valley through not only the windows, but also the glass floors of select gondolas, making this a truly unique and exhilarating experience. Needless to say, don’t forget your camera!
Many skiers, particularly those that are more advanced, take the gondola from Whistler to Blackcomb (or vice versa) simply to enjoy the different trails the vast ski area has to offer. But if you are visiting with smaller children (who ski select trails only) or non-skiers, the gondola is worth a lift ride up either mountain to be able to experience it. Both gondola stations have mountaintop dining facilities where you can enjoy a meal or a quick snack before heading back. There are also several interesting displays and gift shops. In the summer, you can hike around each mountain.
A few tips:
- Not all gondolas have glass floors. Ask the gondola attendant when the next one will be arriving. They track it and sometimes post the arrival/departure times on the board by the entrance. Trust me, it is worth the wait!
- If your kids are little engineers in the making, take them to the Viewing Gallery atop Whistler Mountain where they can get a closer look at the inner working of the lift through an interactive display.
- Another fun experience is to witness the Peak 2 Peak cabins being taken off the line at the end of each day. Stop by the Whistler Mountain terminal at 5:30 pm.
Coca-Cola Tube Park
Located in the Base 2 Zone on Blackcomb Mountain, the Coca-Cola Tube Park offers scream-out-loud family fun. Several lanes provide a variety of tubing experiences, from slower to faster and those with more bumps. After you catch your breath at the bottom and are ready to do it all again, the conveyer lift makes traveling back to the top a breeze. The park is open well into the evening, making it not only suitable for days when you are not skiing, but also for a fun after-ski activity (if your legs are still holding up).
A few tips:
- Children must be at least 3 years of age and a minimum height of 36”. Kids between 36” and 41” will be directed to use the mini-kids lane only from the halfway point.
- Aside from the ski boots, which are not permitted, plan on coming dressed as if you were going to ski. Think warm and waterproof clothes! Don’t forget the helmets, especially for younger kids. I also recommend bringing ski goggles as they can help with visibility and provide warmth if the weather is particularly cold.
- You can save some money by purchasing tickets three days in advance online. There is also a 10% discount available for families of four or more.
I probably saved the best for last. Dog sledding has been one of the items on my bucket list and I have to say that it was definitely a memorable experience, albeit a bit pricey. Our family still talks about how we were invited to join the mushers in harnessing the eager-to-go husky dogs, how we learned different commands and then enjoyed a ride in the beautiful Canadian forest wilderness. (We were lucky to have booked our tour after a fresh snow fall.) Some of us even tried steering the sled by stepping on the runners with our musher!
At the end of our journey we warmed up with hot chocolate, apple cider and cookies, but the real grand finale was visiting the puppy pen and playing with husky puppies, soon to be the newest members of the dog sledding team.
There are a few different companies who offer dog sledding in the area. We used Blackcomb Snowmobile Adventures, which as the name suggests, offers other kinds of winter fun such as snowmobiling or snowshoeing. The company’s office is conveniently located in the lobby area of Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa, where we were staying. Tours do sell out during peak times, so make sure to reserve in advance to avoid disappointment.
A few tips:
- Even though the sleds are insulated and have blankets, plan on wearing or bringing warm clothes. It gets breezy on the ride! Don’t forget gloves and ski goggles and, if the weather is sunny, sunscreen.
- The sleds accommodate two people, most comfortably an adult and a child. An additional small child might fit as well, but you will be charged an extra fee.
You may also enjoy:
- Why Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa is the Perfect Family Ski Resort for the Holidays
- Best Whistler Trails for Skiing with Kids
- Tips For Successful Family Ski Vacations
- How to Prevent Altitude Sickness While Traveling
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A native of Slovenia, Vera moved to the U.S. 20+ years ago after meeting her American husband. Together with their two children they live on the North…