Symphony Bowl on Whistler Mountain (um, hi beautiful gorgeous untouched powder)
I may be a bit biased here, but the Pacific Northwest is one of (if not the) most beautiful places in the country. We get all four seasons in all of their beautiful glory. In the state of Washington alone you will experience epic mountains (including Mount Rainer, the tallest active Volcano in the U.S.), rainforests, deserts, beaches, iconic city skylines, a gorgeous wine country, and some of the most pristine lakes you’ll ever lay your eyes on. It also happens to be neighbors with our northerly friends in Canada. Once you cross that border to the Great White North, you are mere miles away from some of the most epic skiing or boarding you may ever find, in a village that looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale.
Enter: Whistler, B.C. one of North America’s most epic ski resorts. The term “winter wonderland” was likely written after someone came to Whistler-Blackomb for the first time and thought to themselves, well if this isn’t winter heaven, I don’t know what is! From the charming village to the two (yes, TWO) massive mountains you can spend days on, there are things in this playground for everyone.
Whistler is about a 4 hour drive from Seattle (minus the border wait time) so we’re incredibly lucky to have this skiers paradise in our backyard. If you happen to find yourself around here, I’m rounding up my favorite places to stay, where to eat, get your aprés ski on and some of my favorite runs! First things first, where are you going to stay?
Top of Sea To Sky Gondola, photo courtesy of Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, B.C.
Whistler has two different villages, Whistler Village and Creekside Village. Whistler is much larger, and has more access to lifts, restaurants, and bars. Creekside is a short trip down the road and is a bit smaller. There is still lift access from this village, but it will definitely be more quiet. This can also mean less crowds, which is a good thing, because the lines for the lifts can be Disneyland-esque at times. I’ll start out by saying, we didn’t stay in either village when we went during our most recent trip, because staying in either village is going to cost you a pretty penny. Y’all already know I like to ball on a budget during our trips, because I’m a huge believer that amazing experiences shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg (possibly two legs, but who’s counting). If you do decide to stay in The Village (s) I would highly recommend using Whistler’s Last Minute Hotel Deal option. This is such a great option to stay on budget (especially because most of the hotels in Whistler will cost you upwards of $250/night). They currently have hotels for as little as $90 USD per night, which is seriously a score in Whistler!
I’ve spent time talking about my love for Airbnb, and our trip to Canada was no exception. If you find that you want to explore a bit more of this area, Squamish is a wonderful option for lodging. Located between Vancouver and Whistler, it’s about a 45 minute drive to the mountain from this little town, but you can get killer deals on lodging. Our Airbnb was $70 USD for the entire weekend (less than half of what we would be paying if we were staying in the Village itself) so it made the short drive up there worth it!
If you do find yourself staying a bit further south in Squamish, this town also has tons of winter activities to take part in. Including the Sea To Sky Gondola pictured above! This gondola opened in 2014, and despite a somewhat terrifying ride to the top, has some of the most incredible mountain views you’ll ever see once you do get up there. There’s also a gigantic bridge in the wilderness you can trek across to further your mountain explorations. Although, I wouldn’t recommend it for those that are terrified of heights. It may be a little spooky (again…so worth it!) But don’t worry, you can ease your woes with a refreshing adult beverage located at the stunning lodge at the top. DONE. Well, now that you have a place to stay it’s time to head to the mountains.
Peak 2 Peak Gondola, connecting Whistler and Blackomb Mountains. Photo Courtesy of Whistler Tourism
Pretending to be Snow White while in the outskirts of the Symphony Bowl
Epic views near Upper Peak to Creek on Whistler Mountain
As I mentioned, this resort has two mountains for all your winter wonderland fun, and it can seem very overwhelming to try to conquer every run (I wouldn’t recommend trying to do this…) With that being said, I’m highlighting just a few of my can’t miss runs for you right here! As a note, Whistler is so large, it definitely has all levels of skiing (Blacks, Blues and Greens) but the higher you get up on those mountains, the more advanced the runs get. Zach consistently pushes me outside of my “I definitely cannot go down that insane Black Diamond” thought process, for which I am grateful (after the fact, and I know I survived that is!) There’s no shame in saying you’re not comfortable with a certain run, so always go at your own pace. P.S., if you’re a Washington, Oregon, or Canadian resident be sure you sign up for an Edge Card. These pre-loaded cards come with discounted lift tickets for residents of the PNW, and include discounts and perks from tons of different shops and restaurants in the village. Alright enough chatter out of me, let’s get to the runs.
Blackomb Glacier: If you have a Bluebird Day–do not stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200 (actually…if you can do that one, go for it) and head to the Blackomb Glacier bowl immediately. This is at the tippy top of Blackomb, and while it will take you a while to get there, it’s worth the trek. After a few lifts, a t-bar, and a hike, you will arrive at Blackomb Glacier. You will be rewarded with insane views, epic powder, and having one of those “heaven on earth feelings.” Go here before visibility gets shot later in the day. This is also a great run to start with because it definitely takes some time to get up there, it’s not something I would recommend ending the day on. After you’ve made your way down, head to the Peak 2 Peak Gondola (shown above). This world-record breaking gondola is a must do for your time on the mountains! Talk about feeling like you’re living in the clouds. After your epic journey across two mountains, make sure to hit this next spot. Level: Intermediate-Advanced
Symphony Bowl: This bowl is everything. Fresh powder, backcountry options, birds that will eat out of your hands….It’s the definition of a skiers playground. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced the fresh dry powder like that that exists within Symphony on Whistler Mountain. This is the intermediate skiers haven, and for good reason. You can make your way through the trees and plow through fresh powder that hasn’t been touched. Who knows, when you get to the trees you may just make some bird friends like I did! Added bonus: while some runs on these mountains are super long, you can easily do the Symphony Bowl multiple times without it eating up a ton of your day. Level: Intermediate
Peak to Creek: This is such a fabulous run to end the day on. Much like it’s namesake, this run will take your from the tippy top of Whistler Mountain to the base, where you’ll land in Creekside Village. This is located on the far edge of Whistler, giving pretty incredible views the entire way. It’s also one of the longest runs on the mountain, spanning 3.3 miles. Your legs might (read: absolutely will) be screaming at you a bit by the time your done. Thankfully, by this point in the day it’s time for the reward every skier (and snowboarder) deserves after a long day on the slopes. It’s aprés ski time, baby! Level: Intermediate
Ah, après ski time. What is this magical time, you ask? Après ski is French for “after skiing” and entails the celebrations and libations you indulge in after a day on the slopes. Whistler has this tradition down to a perfect science, and no matter where you choose to go after your day, you really can’t go wrong. Depending on what run you ended on, your après ski location of choice will either be in Whistler Village or Creekside Village. I’m breaking down my favorite place in each village (and why you truly can’t miss them!)
If you’re in Whistler: Without a doubt, make your way to Longhorns (pictured above). You’ll begin to see the iconic yellow umbrellas as you make your way down the mountain, and it feels like coming home. If you want to still get the mountain views, try to snag a table outside. There are overhead heaters and fires at many of the tables, so you can still stay toasty outside. Longhorns has been Whistler’s #1 après ski spot for over 25 years. It’s definitely always busy, so don’t hesitate to grab the first table you see. Enjoy your beverage of choice, but beware of The Bulldog. Consider yourself warned.
If you’re in Creekside: The very first après ski spot in this beautiful village is Dusty’s, (pictured below) and it has been a staple ever since it’s inception. Located at the base of the Creekside Gondola, this spot is a must for anyone staying in Creekside. Known for their famous BBQ sauce, this laid back joint has the comfort of a dive bar with hospitality that can’t be beat. Don’t miss the wings here, they’re incredible. Grab a spot on the upper floor to watch all the action go down.
Our Après Ski Spot of choice: Dusty’s in Creekside Village
Strolling through Whistler Village, photo courtesy of Whistler Tourism
Now if you’ve worked up more of an appetite at this point, there are equally excellent choices to grab some grub in either village. Let’s continue our stroll, shall we?
If you’re in Whistler: La Bocca is one of our favorite spots in the village, and is influenced by both Italian and Mediterranean dishes. After a long day of skiing, what is more comforting than a giant bowl of pasta? That’s a rhetorical question, because nothing is more comforting than that. The ambiance of this place is very cozy, and they boast an incredible local wine list. Win-win.
If you’re in Creekside: Hands down, make your way to the local spot and pizzeria Creekbread. I’m hesitant to even write about this place because that’s how delicious it is, and it is always busy with locals. Get there before 5:30 to avoid a long wait. Their pizza is handmade in a giant and primitive wood fire oven that sits in the middle of the restaurant. It honestly may be the best pizza I’ve ever had. My mouth may or may not be watering as I write about it.
Whistler is just as memorable in the summer months, but that’s a story for another day. What are your favorite places to ski? Is it Whistler? What are your favorite things to do there? Share with me in the comments or #CurateThatMoment with me over on Instagram with @thelyonbadger. Is it time to go skiing again yet….?