This trip was December 19-23, 2017
Whistler, BC. To some it’s the host location of 2010 Winter Olympics, to summer thrill seekers it’s a hotspot for numerous activities and in the winter everyone and their mother shows up for alpine skiing, snowboarding and winter sports, bringing in over two million visitors annually.
So why did a Kansas girl and Ohio boy decide to ski and snowboard (for the second time in our life) in the top North American ski destination?
Well, we loved our trip to Vancouver and Victoria! My husband really wanted to visit Whistler and I had heard from numerous Washington friends that it’s a must visit location. We had our Thanksgiving in Oahu trip the month before, knocking out as many trips as we could before leaving the PNW.
HEADS UP Whistler is a world-class destination and prices everywhere will reflect that. If you’re buying or renting there are plenty of ways to save and/or splurge. We prefer to take trips instead of buying presents throughout the year and this was one of our Top Three FAVORITE trips we’ve ever taken. Get ready for a great time!
How To Prep
If you’ve never traveled to Canada, check out how to prep here.
A month before the trip (mid-November) I booked our hotel through Expedia. When we travel our main concerns are 1) Walking distance to nightlife/downtown and 2) Price. The best choice for us was staying at the Aava Whistler Hotel. This was minutes away from the gondola lifts, the Whistler Village and included a free locker for our ski gear.
We don’t own any gear so we rented everything from JBLM’s Northwest Adventure Center was closed during our rental so we went to Adventure’s Unlimited on McChord. They gave us coats, helmets, skis, snowboard, boots and poles. No, it won’t be the best gear or cutest helmets but it will get the job done. We agreed that, if nothing else, we would buy our own helmets. We don’t go skiing or snowboarding often enough, and move too often, to justify snow gear.
Hints…this very attractive photo of the goofy helmets
FUN FACT Whistler brings in tons of Europeans, Australians and others from around the world. It’s cool to be around the families who spend their ‘holiday’ for weeks/months at a time. It’s a popular choice among college students in Australia to spend their breaks or a year ‘off’ in Whistler either in the service industry or giving ski lessons. Plus, you might even ride the lift up with a young girl, Jemimah, who will be doing a double black diamond while you crash into the lift chair…so…yeah….
December 19, 2018
Driving up we noticed the farther north we drove the messier the weather got. We kicked in the four-wheel drive a few times but didn’t have to put chains on.
From Lacey, WA to Whistler, BC it was just over a five hour drive. While we never slid off the road we saw several people slide off so drive careful!
By the time we checked into Aava it was getting dark and it was a cute little town with the Christmas lights and skiers coming off the mountain. Aava was a very modern hotel with clean, simple rooms and big, white robes which were perfect for our trips to the outdoor hot tub and after a long day on the mountain.
As you know by now, our favorite thing to do in a new city is walk around eating and drinking from place to place downtown.
I brought cute outfits and heeled booties to wear but everyone is in jeans and a cute top, winter coat and snow boots if they’re not in ski gear. Be comfy and don’t slip on the ice, wear the big snow boots girl!
I don’t think we had a bad meal or drink the entire time we were there. There was a great mix of high-end, casual, pubs, pizza, steakhouses and much more. If you’re looking for something specific you can get exactly what you want on their website. A few places that we went to on night one were Stonesedge Kitchen, 21 Steps, Brewhouse was close to the Olympic Rings and ice skating rink so we checked out this side before stopping in for dinner. Amsterdam Cafe Pub was one of the only places open on our way back to the hotel. Once we sat down a couple came over asking if we were stationed at the same location in WA which we were. Ended up we had mutual friends!
Although we didn’t go in the Ketel One Ice Bar would also be a unique and super fun experience!
December 20, 2018
After a night out…this was a rough morning! With all of our gear and boots on, it was about a 10 minute walk (if that) to the lifts. Most lodging areas will have a shuttle if you’re not within walking distance.We bought our ski lift passes at the base of the mountains but they were super busy so I would get them online here 7+ days beforehand. Grab a map before you head up!
We were unsure of what options, mountains, etc. we would be doing when we got there but, after seeing it, definitely purchase beforehand!
Wear your access card in your pocket by itself, push it up against the machine and you’re in! There are several restaurants on the mountain top, a few in the middle and several at the base. You can get off and ski to another lift to keep going up or practice on the Olympic runs and greens. There are two mountains; Whistler and Blackcomb.
This first day we stayed on Blackcomb where I ate S**T!! MANY times! There are several sections where you will cross over so just watch out for people coming down (they have the right of way) and will move around you…or help you stand back up and bring your ski that fell off.
I started to get my ‘ski legs’ as I will call them by the end of the day and watching the sun set on the mountain while we grabbed poutine and beer at Longhorn Saloon and Grill.
That night we went out to a few new bars including a downstairs bar next to a movie theater called Three Below. Yes, it felt like we were in a mall but they had an awesome live band. Of course, when in Canada, you have to get truffle fries at Earl’s.
December 21, 2018
Day Two on the mountains was much better for me as I only fell once! We spent most of the time on Whistler and took their record setting glass-bottom lift (record setting) from one mountain to another called Peak to Peak. You get a 360 view of the mountains, the valley and Whistler.
It was a gorgeous day, sunny and clear. I noticed even though it was 0 degrees or something freezing and crazy, it felt like a dry cold so it wasn’t miserable or the biting cold we experienced in the Midwest.
Here are some videos going down through heavy snow machines…this was the choppiest iciest run we had and yes, that is me snow plowing and Drew crashing HA! and some other runs of the day.
After a few runs we grabbed some lunch at an Irish pub at the main area at the base of the mountain called Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub for burgers and beer.
Whistler had amazing skiing, unbelievable views and made me consider doing more ski trips in the future. One of the coolest things we noticed on the tops of Whistler Mountain were Inukshuks.
As you can tell by the unedited pictures below the views were breathtaking. This Iconic Statue is the Whistler Mountain Inukshuk, created for Whistler as a Symbol of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. If you’ve skied Whistler Blackcomb in the last couple of years, or visited the summit in the summer, chances are you’ve noticed the large stone statue at the top of the mountain.- Source
That night I enjoyed the outdoor hot tub next to the pool with a few other visitors.
The door to the pool was also next to the indoor sauna if you wanted to check that out. We had a casual dinner night and found super yummy food for CHEAP at El Furniture Warehouse. Sounds weird, right? Just trust me and go there! For our actual meal we stopped in at Beacon Pub & Eatery. We had tried to stop in once before but they weren’t serving food.
December 22, 2018
Day Three we went to the VERY TOP of Blackcomb mountain. One of the stops on the mountain were the Olympic Rings where we were able to stand on the platform and swap pictures with other skiers.
It was hilarious because we thought we had messed up because all we saw were black diamonds. At the very top were some more amazing views, above the clouds, it’s a long winding path before you can choose to separate to the trick and ramp area, novice or blacks and double blacks.
The best part of this day was that I didn’t fall ONCE! We were some of the last people to get on the lift so the way down was serene and easygoing. We also didn’t run into any bears. So that’s fun.
Out of the two days we really felt like we were on the mountain a majority of the day getting in as many runs as possible.
For our last night we had a ‘fancy’ dinner upstairs at 21 Steps.
December 23, 2018
Check out day! If you wanted to grab some duty free goodies, beer or anything cheaper than in the states go ahead and grab it now.
Luckily it was great weather to drive back but as we crossed the border back into the US we noticed the roads were jam-packed with the Christmas rush. We were an hour behind schedule because of crossing back into the border and we actually had to leave our dog in the kennel until the next day because we weren’t going to make it back in time. Just some weird tips from the border patrol: When going back and forth have your glasses off, passports out, back windows open and answer the questions quickly and simply.
I would love to hear if you’ve been to Canada especially now that we are on the East coast! Tell us where we should go, what we should see and do.
OH YEAH, GUESS WHAT? Phone calls and consultations are always free. If you have questions about your marketing approach or need to get serious and brand your business, let’s talk.