Whistler is a bucket-list destination for avid skiers and is the biggest ski resort in North America. The skiing is world-class, but there is far more to this mountain town beyond the slopes. When I first moved to Whistler it was to experience and try something brand new. So I came to Whistler and I did indeed try something new, in fact I tried many new things, and some I clicked with and others I didn’t. Skiing was one of those. Having now lived here for four years, I’ve since discovered the best things to do in Whistler for non-skiers.
There is a famous Children’s book here in Whistler called “Wally learns to ski” and it makes me laugh every time I see it, I think it was based on me! Except I think Wally does actually learn to ski and love it and I… haven’t.
Skiing is totally fun though! And I recommend everyone try it at least once in their lives. Some people just take to it and love it and some don’t. While I did enjoy the few days I spent on the mountain it just wasn’t something I was ever passionate about. I have however found many other activities in Whistler that I thoroughly enjoy. Believe it or not there is plenty of things to see and do in Whistler that don’t involve skis.
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How To Get To Whistler
Whistler is accessible from Vancouver via the Sea To Sky Highway. If you have some extra time you should highly consider spending a few days checking out the different stops on the Sea to Sky Highway, there are plenty more attractions along the way.
The easiest way to get to Whistler is by car and is approximately a 2-hour drive from Vancouver. If you are coming for a day trip, parking is generally easy to find in the day lots if you arrive early.
Alternatively you can take the bus which is what many people do. There are three main options for bus transport from Vancouver to Whistler. Whistler Connection and Skylynx both pick up from Vancouver YVR airport as well as locations in downtown Vancouver. Epic Rides picks up from Downtown Vancouver only.
Where To Stay In Whistler
There is an abundance of places to stay in Whistler. Depending on your chosen activities and people in your party there are a variety of Whistler Hotels.
One of my favourite hotels in Whistler is Nita Lake Lodge. This is Whistlers only lake front hotel and is outside of the main village area. This would be a great hotel for non-skiers as it’s not located within close proximity of any ski-lifts. It’s also in a quieter area of town.
If you have a mix of skiers and non-skiers, my hotel recommendations would be the Hilton Whistler, as this is located right in the heart of Whistler Village and sits at the entry of Whistler Gondola. This would be a fantastic location for everyone because it’s easy access to the ski lifts but also has restaurants and shops right next to it. It’s also located opposite the Carlton Lodge which is where both Ziptrek and Canadian Wilderness Tours have their kiosks!
For anyone visiting Whistler on a budget, I would recommend the Pangea Pod hotel. It’s Canada’s only pod hotel and an upgrade from hostels! This hotel is also located right in the heart of the village, just a 5-minute walk from the Whistler Gondola.
Things To Do In Whistler For Non-Skiers
Looking for Things to do in Whistler besides Ski? These are the best activities in Whistler if you don’t Ski!
All the activities listed below specific to winter time. I mean you can totally go hiking in the winter, if you have the right skills and knowledge. The activities below require no skills or practice and are suitable for all fitness levels, I’ve done almost all of them!
Walk Across A Glacier On The Cloudraker Bridge
The Cloudraker bridge is Whistler Blackcomb’s newest attraction and is open year-round (weather-permitting) I’m scared of heights so never let go of the railing! But as far as suspension bridges go, this one is pretty sturdy (looking at you Capilano!) The Cloudraker bridge is included with the sightseeing admission pass.
Peak 2 Peak Gondola
The Peak 2 Peak Gondola is one of the things Whistler Blackcomb is famous for. This Gondola runs between Whistler & Blackcomb, connecting the two mountains. When it first opened the Peak 2 Peak Gondola held the Guinness world record for the longest free span between towers at 1.88 miles. I’ve always loved the Peak 2 Peak, you can’t beat the views of the valley on a bluebird day!
Axe throwing has become a really popular activity over the past few years and Whistler is no exception. Axe throwing is one of the most fun things I’ve done in Whistler. This is great if there’s a big group of you too. Also something your party can do together on ski-free days!
The Scandiave is the perfect way to wind down after a busy day sightseeing. This spa is open year-round and is extra pretty in the snow. This outdoor spa uses the Nordic hydrotherapy routine of 3 minutes in a hot bath and 30 seconds in the cold baths. It’s a really nice place to slow down outside of the busy village.
Brewery Hop In Function Junction
What’s better than finishing your axe throwing session than sipping on some of Canada’s finest beer. Brewed right here in Whistler, both Whistler Brewing and Coast Mountain offer plenty of flavourful options in their tap rooms. The Whistler Brewing honey lager is one of our faves!
Get Lost At The Escape Rooms
The Whistler Escape! rooms are fun for all the family. You’ll get a choice of three rooms and a time limit to work out the puzzles and escape. I did this one year for a work party and it was super fun!
Snowshoe The Callaghan Valley
There are plenty of snowshoeing trails in Whistler. Many of them are free in fact! But my personal favourite is through the Callaghan Valley at Whistler Olympic Park. You can snowshoe the trail towards Alexander Falls, which is a sight to see in the winter when it is but nothing but a huge ice cube!
Go For A Ride On A Dogsled
Dogsledding is the all time winter bucket list item! Tours are offered through Canadian Wilderness Adventures. You’ll get to much your way through the Callaghan valley and enjoy the scenic views.
Snowmobile In The Backcountry
I’ve spent a fair bit of my time in Whistler on a snowmobile, it’s easy to do when your husband owns one. In fact one of our first dates he took me snowmobiling in the backcountry where we watched the sunset.
I’ve also taken tours with local tour companies. Canadian Wilderness operates in the Callaghan Valley and offers what is one of the best snowmobiles tours in Whistler. This was one of the funnest days I’ve had in winter. Their tours are perfect for beginners
Bungee Jump Over The Cheakamus River
Not for the faint hearted, Whistler Bungee is open all year-round. The Whistler Bungee is located directly above the Cheakamus River. This is sure to get your adrenaline pumping!
Ride the Sasquatch – Longest Zip Line in North America
The Sasquatch is the longest zip line in North America and runs between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Tours are offered through Ziptrek tours who offer multiple zip trekking tours if the Sasquatch isn’t quite your cup of tea.
Go Tubing at the Coca Cola Tube Park
Grab an inflatable tube and go sliding down ice slides! The Coca Cola Tube Park is located at Base 2 on Blackcomb Mountain and is a super fun activity for everyone of all ages. There are a variety of slides at different heights and you can choose to slide down along or with multiple friends!
Enjoy your First Shot-ski at one of the many Aprés in Town
Apes Ski is French for after ski. If you don’t know what Aprés is (I didn’t for a long time!) it’s basically drinking and eating to your hearts content after you finish skiing. There’s no rule that says you need to ski before going to Aprés, many people just finish work and go straight to Aprés. Put on your best winter outfit and head to one of the bars to do shot-skis, listen to live music and eat hot wings!
Visit a Waterfall
While many of the waterfalls near Whistler will freeze over during the winter, that doesn’t mean that they are any less beautiful! Both Alexander Falls and Brandywine Falls freeze completely for sometime during the winter months but I have been there while there’s still some water coming down. Nairn Falls on the other hand rarely freezes (at least in my experience!)
Take a Walk to The Whistler Train Wreck
Another activity that is available year-round is the Whistler Train Wreck. This is probably one of Whistler’s oldest and most famous landmarks. Did you really visit Whistler if you never saw the Train Wreck? If you have your own snowshoes, this is a good trail for free snowshoeing!
Cross Country Ski at Lost Lake
I know I know, this guide is for NON-SKIERS. Downhill skiing might not be your thing, but maybe you’d like to give cross country skiing a go instead? Not only is it on relatively flat ground, it’s also cheaper!
Mountain Top Fondu
Who says you need to ski to enjoy the mountain? I think booking a mountaintop fondu tour is the perfect way to enjoy the mountain. Not only can you enjoy the views with substantially less people, but you can overindulge in cheese too!
If you’re looking to do something different and want to splurge, why not consider a helicopter tour? Wait for that special blue-bird day and book a scenic ride aboard Backcomb Helicopters. They have many options available so check out their website!
Squamish Lil-Wat Cultural Centre
The most popular museum in Whistler is the Cultural Centre. The Squamish Lil-Wat Museum showcases the history and culture of the local first nations people. Whistler is the cross-over point for these two nations and the tours available are a great way to learn about Canada’s past.
Marvel at the Artwork on Display at The Audain Art Museum
The Audain Art Museum hosts a variety of artwork including native art collections. Many local artists often host temporary exhibits here. Some of the local artwork on display include work by Chili Thom who was one of the most prominent artists to come out of Whistler. You’ll often see his artwork along underpasses throughout the village too.
Walk Through an Enchanted Forest at Vallea Lumina
Valle Lumina is an interactive night walk through the forests of Cougar Mountain. Using props, music and projections the story of an Enchanted forest unfolds as you wander through the trees. I absolutely loved this attraction, the area is so beautiful lit up at night.
Ice skating is the perfect winter activity and Canadian pastime. You can find Ice Skating in Whistler Olympic Plaza during the holiday season or the ice rink at Meadow Park sports centre.
Fire and Ice Show
The Fire & Ice show is a Whistler favourite. Only available on Sunday nights, this show is free to watch and features skiers and snowboarders jumping through hoops of fire. It’s a nice way to end your night after having dinner in the village.
Experience Whistler’s Fine Dining
Whistler is famous for it’s fine dining restaurants and you won’t have to walk far to find one. Whether it’s Il Caminetto or Araxi in the Village, Sidecut in the Upper Village or the Rim Rock in Creekside you’re sure to find an experience you’ll love.
Bobsleigh at The Whistler Sliding Centre
When will you ever get the chance to take the same journey as an Olympic Athlete? The Sliding Centre was first introduced during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver – now you too can try bobsleigh, skeleton or luge!
Catch the Latest Flicks at Village 8 Cinemas
Take a night off and go watch the latest movies at Village 8 cinemas. This is the perfect rainy day activity when all you want to do is warm up!
World Ski and Snowboard Festival
Okay I get it, you have no interest in Skiing and probably won’t want to attend any events for a Ski & Snowboard Festival. BUT, what if I told you there were free events like live music? Sure most of the events are geared towards people who ski but it’s a good time for everyone. A huge stage in Skiers Plaza gets set up and there are events that anyone can attend. The village really comes to life during this festival so it’s nice just to soak in the atmosphere.
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