Some of the best travel recommendations of my life have come from chatting to locals in whatever destination I am visiting. Secret spots, advice on what to eat, and where to catch the best view in town; - locals are a treasure trove of tips just waiting to be plundered.
On a recent exploration to Whistler, Canada with Sno'n'Ski, I went on a mission to unearth tips that I hadn’t heard about this much-discussed destination, and the results were fabulous. I discovered the best bakery in the world, realised I could try downhill mountain biking without dying, and learned the origin of the name ‘Whistler’.
Here’s my stash of tips for your enjoyment, may they help you create many happy Whistler memories.
Mountain, Nature And Wildlife Tips
1. On a powder day, go up for first tracks on Blackcomb, because Whistler has a program that lets people up the lifts earlier. You have more chance of getting freshies on Blackcomb.
Afton, Tourism Whistler
2. A cruise along the Callaghan Valley Road is a gorgeous road and there’s a good chance you’ll see bears and other wildlife in the summer months. Please check out the Bear Smart website, both for your own safety and to protect the bears!
Tiffany, Sales Manager, Four Seasons Whistler
3. If you like a run, ski down it twice. The runs here are so long and varied that you’re bound to find fun side cuts or natural features you might have missed on the way down.
Jay, Burton Test Ride Centre, Whistler Village
4. There are all these natural wonders that are so accessible in Whistler. In spring, I love going up for a ski on the glacier and then coming down and jumping in the lake, it’s just magic.
Hannah, server at The Westin Resort, Whistler
5. We have the largest snow school in the world, and I can almost guarantee we have an instructor that speaks your language.
Dajh, Snowboard Instructor, Whistler Blackcomb
6. I don’t think people realise that you can be an absolute rookie and still enjoy our mountain bike trails. There are green, blue and black runs, just like there are in skiing. I’ve been coaching for seven summers and I could have fun all day in the learner section.
Andrew, Mountain Bike Coach, Whistler Blackcomb
7. There are a lot of glacial fed lakes around here that are freezing all summer long, but Logger Lake is fed from underneath via an old volcanic plug and it’s perfect for swimming. There are these huge rope swings that can send you sailing about four or five storeys high!
Wendy, Director of Sales and Marketing, Fairmont Chateau Whistler
8. You must go tubing! It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it brings out the kid in absolutely everyone and there’s no talent required.
Jasmine, Director of Sales and Marketing, Crystal Lodge
9. My favourite hike is just south of Whistler, and it leads to an old train wreck site. There was a crash in the 50s, and the old train carriage is still hidden away in the woods, all covered in graffiti.
John, Purebread Bakery
10. My favourite run is Peak to Creek. It might not be the fanciest or the most famous, but it’s 14km long, I live near the base, and it’s the most awesome way to cruise home after a day on the mountain.
Demi, Ziptrek Ecotours
11. This is a bit further out of town, but if you get a chance to get to Pemberton you can go paragliding through the mountains with Cayoosh Expeditions. It’s a gorgeous old town, well worth a visit.
Wade, Sales Manager at The Hilton Whistler
12. Whistler actually got its name from a marmot. The hoary marmot makes a really cheerful whistling sound, and you’ll find the little fellas all over the mountain in summer.
Sarah, PR Coordinator Whistler Blackcomb
13. On your drive up from Vancouver to Whistler, sit on the left side of the car or coach, and right on the way home. The views of the mountain islands along the coast are unforgettable.
Lauren, Landsea Transfers
Food, Drink And Town Tips
14. You’ve got to get a pie from Peaked Pies, the Aussie pie shop on Main Street. Do they do it right? They do it BETTER than right.
Cam, Resort Cabs driver
15. There are three places that actually make beer in town; Whistler Brewery, Coast Mountain Brewing and Brewhouse in the Main Village. They are all a must for lovers of craft beer.
Ian, Concierge at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler
16. Towards the end of the season, the Mallard Lounge at the Fairmont start having ‘Fairmont Fridays’. It’s the fanciest bar in town, but they have drink specials that attract a completely younger crowd, and it’s such a fun vibe!
Anna, retail seasonal worker
17. Purebread Bakery is a must! They are the best bakery in town, and possibly in the world. You are greeted by this smorgasbord of incredible baked treats as soon as you walk in the door.
Dee, Showcase Whistler Village
18. I love getting out on the mountain, but I was really surprised by how good the food is here, and what a huge range there is. There’s incredible sushi, and the Italian is at an excellent standard.
Frederica, seasonal worker from Italy
19. Anyone who loves gin and tonics has to visit Bar Oso - they have about six different types to choose from.
Mary, Travel Media Manager, Tourism Whistler
20. During summertime, Four Seasons have a $29 all-you-can-eat BBQ on Thursday nights. There are concerts and a beer garden with local brews on tap, it's great value for the most luxury resort in town.
Oscar, lift operator
21. There is such a good variety of nightlife here, the type you could expect from a full-blown city. I am from Scotland and we love our underground house, and there’s a few really cool spots in town. There’s a huge Swedish après scene happening too - if you go to the Cinnamon Bear at the Hilton on a Wednesday, they will be playing house music from 5pm. Apparently the Swedes like to get things going early!
George, Upper Village Market, Whistler
22. Make sure you take the time to wander down the Village Stroll and check out the Olympic Plaza. It’s a really beautiful town, and there’s a lot of shops, cafes and photo ops you shouldn’t miss out on.
23. The art scene here is incredible and people don’t realise it. The Audain Art Museum is amazing - every time my mum goes in there she cries because it’s just so beautiful. They have world class exhibitions too; there’s a Matisse drawing show on at the moment, and a collection of Fred Herzog photography.
Jo - Whistler Information Centre