Whistler Blackcomb is a ski and snowboarding paradise. The twin peaks' expansive 8,171 skiable acres of terrain offers something for everyone, but it's the more than 2,200 acres of Warren Miller-worthy black and double-black runs setting it apart—it's also one of the most welcoming ski towns in North America. In the 1980s when snowboarding was still banned at many mountains, Blackcomb embraced the sport. Locals may not reveal all of their secret powder stashes, but they'll definitely club you in to challenging mogul runs and the best aprés spots. What's more, the recent acquisition by Vail Resorts means Whistler Blackcomb is part of the Epic Pass, so it's more accessible than ever. Whether it's your first visit or your fifth, these local tips guarantee you'll experience this premier vacation destination like a true insider.
The Secret Is Out: Here's What To Do
Best Breakfast Spots
If you're looking for something quick and easy to do that can be enjoyed while you're uploading, the Lift Coffee Company at the base of the Whistler Village Gondola is your place for coffee and a wrap. The breakfast menu at Ingrid's Village Cafe, a cute, locally-owned cafe in the main square, is a grab n' go-style. Don't miss the tomato and cheese melt with scrambled eggs. If you're not in a rush to snag first tracks, settle in at Elements, where the benedicts and caramelized banana and chocolate stuffed French toast will keep you fueled until the last chair.
Best Challenges for Experts
"Try to keep up with a local," jokes Aaron Peart, a bartender at Garibaldi Lift Company. "This is some 'big boy pants' skiing out here, and I've had my share of tagalongs who had to call it quits after a 10-minute hike into Ruby Bowl." Spanky's Ladder is a great spot to test your abilities, according to Olympian Robbie Dixon. "That run's got a lot of steep and deep and crazy chutes and big lines to rip," he says. On Blackcomb, Saudan Couloir is a local's proving ground.
Best Plan for a Powder Day
Everyone watches the weather forecast apps closely, so if there's a big system moving in, be ready early. They all want to get that fresh pow. Jorge Munoz, chef of Bar OSO, is in the lift line, coffee in hand, by 7:15 a.m. He usually heads straight to the Wizard chair, which is being replaced with a new gondola from Blackcomb Base to the Rendezvous. "Transfer onto the Jersey Cream lift to do a few laps there, then move to the Crystal chair and be first in line for it to open and do a few more laps," he shares. "Finally, move to the Glacier chair and do some runs until Spanky's Ladder opens." Sometimes the best skiing is on lower or mid mountain, where there are fewer lift lines and more shelter on stormy days, advises Tracy Higgs, a massage therapist at Scandinave Spa. "Check out Red Chair, Garbanzo Chair, or the runs leading back to the base of Creekside Gondola," she says.
Best Tree Run
When the alpine is too cloudy or windy, the trees are the place to be. Jorge Munoz, chef of Bar OSO, beelines from Peak to Creek, aka Whistler Peak to Creekside, through the forest.
Best Way to Ride with a Pro
You can skip the lines by booking the Snow School's ultra-exclusive Ski or Ride with an Olympian program. Follow in the tracks of athletes like three-time Olympic alpine and slalom skier Mike Janyk or halfpipe star Crispin Lipscomb. No matter your ability, they'll help fine-tune your technique while sharing Olympic stories and favorite mountain terrain.
Best Aprés Scenes
Garibaldi Lift Company, locally known as GLC, is consistently voted by locals as Whistler's top post-ski party. You can practically ski onto the recently expanded patio, which is even more popular after the addition of five toasty fire pits and comfy lounge chairs with views of the mountain. An always-changing lineup of entertainment ranges from DJs to live bands like Ruckus Deluxe. "I've worked here four winters and love the true cross-section of Whistler," says bartender Aaron Peart. "You get young and old bonding over beers, skiers and snowboarders laying down differences to take a shot-ski, and locals and tourists swapping ski stories." Dusty's at the base of Creekside is particularly fun on Saturdays, says Robbie Dixon, when longtime resort rockers, Greatful Greg and Guitar Doug of the Hairfarmers jam. If you're looking to let your hair down and dance on the tables, head to Longhorn Saloon, says Olympic snowboarder Mercedes Nicoll. For a more low-key scene, stroll into the village and relax over wine and charcuterie at Basalt.
Best Place for a Drink with a View
Last year's renovation of Roundhouse Lodge Terrace and Viewing Deck saw the addition of Roundhouse Umbrella Bar, a circular, 60-seat bar enclosed by glass with unforgettable 360-degree mountain views. Perched higher than 6,000 feet, the bar is accessible by the Whistler Village Gondola and is the hot new, end-of-day hangout, says bartender Peart. The umbrella roof is retractable and the glass panels can be removed so you can soak in rays on bluebird days.
Best Beer Selection
Located in the Upper Village at the base of Blackcomb, the HandleBar may be tiny but its selection of beers on tap make it worth squeezing up to the bar. Look for BC brews from Strange Fellows Brewing, Superflux Beer Company, and Riot Brewing Co. Soak up your suds with a soft German pretzel topped with hot mustard or the excellent sausages, like lamb merguez and wild boar with apple.
Best Hot Chocolate
Locals unanimously agree that Blenz Coffee serves the mountain’s best hot chocolate. No powder-y mix used here. The secret to their silky-smooth cocoa is high-quality milk and a mix of dark and white chocolate chips.
Best Cures for Sore Muscles
Whistler boasts some of the longest runs in North America. Warm up your quads and hamstrings with a yoga class at Yogacara Whistler before you hit the slopes. Robbie Dixon, a former Olympic alpine skier, is used to feeling aches after a big day on the hill. He suggests recovering at the amenity-heavy Four Seasons wellness spa, where the popular après-ski massage includes warm stones, hot towels, and a peppermint foot mask. To be a bit more one with nature, says Dixon, visit Scandinave Spa. “This unbelievable Scandinavian-inspired spa has outdoor hot and cold pools, steam rooms, saunas, and the massages will help you recover for another killer day on the slopes,” says Dixon. Tracy Higgs prescribes the hydrotherapy cycle of hot-cold-relax to increase circulation and aid in flushing out any lactic acid build up, followed by a deep tissue massage to refresh your legs ahead of another hard-charging day on the mountain.
Best Lunch Spots
Olympic snowboarder Nicoll is a fan of the memorable sandwiches at The Corner Deli (meat lovers shouldn’t miss the charcuterie, piled high with ham, brie, pesto, and raspberry preserve) and the authentic Australian pies at Peaked Pies. Bartender Pert is addicted to the pho, curries, and fried rice at Main Street Noodles. “At one point I was going once a week,” he confesses. And you can’t come to Whistler without trying a Splitz burger from legendary Splitz Grill. The single 1/3-pound patty with house made sauces is the local go-to (of course with an order of the signature Splitz fries) but the menu also offers free-range bison, Canadian lamb, and spicy lentil burgers.
Whistler has no shortage of amazing eateries. With just a handful of tables, a reservation is required if you want to enjoy the cooking of talented Chef RD Stewart at Red Door Bistro, says Tracy Higgs. His French-influenced West Coast menu features crowd pleasers like a hearty bouillabaisse spiked with crab claws, scallops, and fresh fish. Sushi Village has a reputation for serving the best margarita in town, as well as the freshest selection of sushi and sashimi. Alpine skier Robbie Dixon heads to Araxi to get his oyster fix and Il Caminetto for killer Italian in a classy setting. Bearfoot Bistro is a Whistler classic known for its extraordinary 20,000-plus bottle wine cellar—the largest collection in Western Canada. Wine nerds can learn to saber a bottle of champagne or dine in the cellar while foodies can reserve the chef’s table, located in the heart of the kitchen. “Make sure to order the special nitro ice cream for dessert,” says Dixon. “The servers make it tableside."
Where To Stay
OWL IN THE WOODS - 4 Bedrooms | 5.5 Bathrooms
Your luxury vacation home sits above Whistler Creekside Village, putting the valley below on display and offering a closeness with nature rarely found in any of North America's top mountain resorts.
SPIRIT ISLAND - 4 Bedrooms | 4.5 Bathrooms
Located high in the mountains about Whistler Creekside Village, the alpine-inspired design and thoughtful floor plan of Spirit Island takes its cue from the outdoors.
SUNDIAL HOUSE - 4 Bedrooms | 5.5 Bathrooms
Sundial House offers private ski-in/ski-out access that puts you front and center to the slopes.
VIEWPOINT WEST - 4 Bedrooms | 4.5 Bathrooms
Viewpoint West features a unique, rustic farmhouse design—picture a spacious gourmet kitchen with bar stools for four leading into a large open dining room.