I’m heading to Canada – British Columbia and Alberta, to be precise – from mid-December for six weeks. My family are keen skiers but I’m not so I’m hoping you may have some suggestions for things to do. Otherwise, I’ll be schlepping around in over-snow boots, going from coffee to hot choc to coffee, while my husband and kids throw themselves down the mountain. BTW, I’m not opposed to whiling away the hours drinking hot chocolate, staring out the window, and even doing a spot of shopping but surely there’s more on offer there? Thanks in advance.
Image: Roberto Nickson (@g) on Unsplash
Of course there’s more to do than just sit and sip hot chocolate in Whistler. There’s gluhwein, too. Just kidding! The JTC team did a bit of trawling through past Guest Traveller stories, Googling, and checking in with my dear friend Lydia Lassila who just loves Whistler, and came up with…
Top 8 Things To Do In The Snow That Don’t Involve Putting On Skis
You may not like to ski, but that doesn’t mean you don’t like other adrenalin sports or activities, does it? I ask because Whistler has Winter Zipline Adventures and these may just float your boat. You catch a custom 4×4 trip up to the top of Rainbow Mountain, then soar through the air – either screaming or smiling – while you admire the beauty of Cougar Mountain, and the Whistler Valley 600 feet below. If you’re afraid of heights, perhaps this one’s not for you though!
If you can walk, you can snowshoe. And do you know what? It’s actually considered a sport in Canada! Just strap on a pair of snowshoes and head out, with or without a guide. But do me a favour? Take care not to get lost in a white-out on the mountain, OK?
Now, you may not know this, but I’m just about to finish my book on cruises, and one of the tips I share with readers is this: the moment you get on board, book a spa treatment. Why? You get to chat with people who know the ship – or in your case, the mountain resort – and you can ask their advice on things to do in Whistler, without skis. So, I suggest you book yourself something like an Ayurvedic massage at the Vida Spa, which draws on a 5,000-year old system of holistic Indian medicine, working from the inside out to bring your dosha (personality) into perfect harmony so you can enjoy better health. Sounds like you’ll learn a little more about the resort and yourself. A win-win.
How many of the ski fields you’ve visited had their own library and museum? This one does! The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre brings together two indigenous ‘nations’ to celebrate, preserve and share their traditional cultures with the world. Then there’s the Audain Art Museum, which has a permanent collection of works from British Columbia, as well as rotating exhibitions from leading museums around the world. And, if you’re bookish, or just like to people watch or flick through some magazines, Whistler has its own public library. Finally, when your family gets home, take them out for some night-time fun at Vallea Lumina – a multimedia night walk.
One of our fab Guest Travellers, Kathryn Garland, spent a white Christmas in Whistler Blackcomb and recommended the peak-to-peak gondola, which takes you from the peak of Blackcomb to Whistler. It’s 1,430 feet high and the longest, free-span gondola in the world. “Not for the faint-hearted”, Kathryn warned. You can do the gondola ride with or without skis on in about half an hour.
My pal Lydia Lassila, the Olympic high flyer whom we featured in ‘Come Fly With Me’, says Whistler is one of her “all-time favourite places”, partly because it’s spoilt with great eateries. After many years visiting there, her favourites remain the same, so I think you should definitely try these out, with or without your family in tow:
“Mongolie Grill – I love this place. Basically you grab a bowl and pick the ingredients you want to stir-fry. You pay at the register by weight and then the very skilled chefs stir-fry everyone’s meals on a giant hotplate tossing their utensils (and your food) in the air. So delicious and you won’t leave disappointed.”
“Sushi Ya – The Canadians know how to sushi… they just get it. Whilst there are a few really good sushi spots in town. I love Sushi Ya – great rolls, amazingly fresh sashimi that just melts in your mouth and lots of delicious traditional dishes. Divine.”
“Splitz Grill – You can’t go to Whistler without visiting Splitz for one of their famous burgers and skin-on fries. You choose all your toppings and sauces and OMG…. soooo good. If you’ve got room and really aren’t fazed about breaking the calorie bank then go for one of their thick shakes as well.”
7 Dog sledding
If you’re a steadfast cat (not dog) person, ignore this suggestion. However, if you love dogs, you’ll love racing across the snow-covered landscape, and through forests, pulled by a team of exuberant, specially-bred Arctic sled dogs. No previous experience necessary. Just sit back and enjoy the ride, in the hands of expert guides. Or, for added fun, learn to ‘mush’, or drive, your own team of canines.
8 Eagle-spotting cruise
Well, of course I’m going to finish with a cruise! Peak season for spotting the bald eagles in North America is between mid-December and mid-January so, if you’re into wildlife, you’ll be in for a treat! The eagle is a sacred, wise and noble creature representing power and prestige to the First Nations People of the Northwest Coast. Every year, one of North America’s largest congregations of bald eagles can be found just 40 minutes south of Whistler, in the Squamish River Valley. These tours see you gently floating along (no paddling), while experienced, knowledgeable guides educate you about the life cycle of the bald eagle, and the salmon it depends upon, along with the other incredible flora and fauna all around you.
I hope there’s something among these eight suggestions that gets you excited about the trip. Send us a story about whatever you do, please!
And have a wonderful Christmas with your family.