Whistler provides family adventure even in the off-season
The Peak Suspension Bridge at the Top of the World Summit is amazing.
Heading to Whistler, B.C., in the offseason? This ski resort is a great kid-friendly town with plenty to keep everyone occupied no matter what time of year you visit. Here is a roundup of all the fun and adventurous things to do at Whistler with kids during the summer along with suggestions for where to stay and what to eat.
Update, July 2018 by Julie Hanson, Seattle's Child web editor:
My family has been coming to Whistler for years, but boy, it seems crowded this year. There weren't many great lodging deals to be found, but we have always had luck with a condo-rental site called Allura Direct. That has taken us to many different spots in Whistler, and the accommodations are always clean and well-appointed.
This allows us to eat breakfast at home, and otherwise meals have been a combination of snacks, happy-hour noshes (a personal favorite in this family), casual restaurants and perhaps one fine-dining experience before the week is out. We are here for seven days, and the time is flying by. The possibilities for both food and entertainment seem endless.
There are countless walking/hiking/biking trails, lots of parks (many with playgrounds), several golf courses — and walking through the villages also is great entertainment. What my family does is buy season passes for the sightseeing chairlifts and gondolas. We found that, by the second day of high-mountain sightseeing, the pass has paid for itself. In the past, besides being pure fun and a route to beautiful landscapes, it has also been a virtually guaranteed way to spot black bears. On this trip, there has been just one bear sighting, but stay tuned.
This year we have discovered two new attractions. One is the Whistler Train Wreck Hike, something locals have been doing for years but that has recently gone "legit" with the addition of a signed trail and a cool suspension bridge. Several derailed boxcars, dating back to the 1950s, are scattered around the site and have long been a magnet for graffiti artists and gawkers.
It's great for families because it's just a mile or so round-trip, and the payoff is getting to explore such a cool site. Some of the train cars are even climbable! (at your own risk, of course). My family did it in about an hour, although at least one of us could have spent a lot more time climbing and exploring. This hike is located in the Cheakamus/Function Junction area about 10 minutes south of the main village.
The other also involves a suspension bridge, but that's where the similarities end. The new Peak Suspension Bridge has been built at what feels like the top of the world — and, in fact, that's what they call it.
If you've purchased a gondola/lift ticket to ride the Peak to Peak (see below) or possibly do some Alpine hiking, the suspension bridge can be reached by a half-mile hike to the Peak Express Chair (included in the cost) that whisks you on a very scenic, impossibly high route to the Top of the World Summit where a very popular suspension bridge connects two rock outcrops.
Awesome tree fort at playground in Whistler Village
Awesome tree fort at playground in Whistler Village
Original story, 2017:
Where to Eat
There are many great places to dine in Whistler and a surprising number of fantastic ones perfect for families.
This authentic French crêperie offers more than just crêpes. Their fresh juices, savory and sweet crepes along with traditional Swiss Raclette is a treat for all palates. The French-language kids books provide distraction while waiting for your food.
El Furniture Warehouse
In addition to a casual and fun atmosphere, perfect for families, everything at El Furniture Warehouse is $5.95 which means it is also budget friendly. Go early though as the restaurant tends to get rowdier later in the evening with local ski and snowboard pros.
Located in the Whistler Marketplace, the Brewhouse is popular all year round. The five in-house beers on tap along with the kid-approved menu options means this is a place for everyone in the family. The large sunny patio near the Olympic Rings provides a great place for adults to relax and kids to play.
This is THE spot for pizza. Creekbread’s giant wood-fired pizza oven is always a hit along with the chefs hand tossing pizza dough, high in the air. This is the place for large families and multiple strollers and the pizza is some of the best in town.
Kid-friendly Nagomi Sushi has a wide range of Japanese options from fresh rolls to fried edamame and Takoyaki Balls. Located at the base of Blackcomb mountain, this cozy restaurant has everything for your sushi-loving kids.
Where to Find Adventure
Adventure is everywhere in Whistler as well as relaxation. This adventure destination is packed with fun for every type of family. Hiking, biking, zip lining, sports centers and amazing vistas provide opportunities for delight around every bend.
Jump into the lazy river at the Meadow Park Sports Centre which also boasts a slide, six-lane lap pool and vortex, along with squash courts, ice arena and a fitness center. It’s the perfect place to get out the wiggles, rain or shine.
Head to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre to learn more about the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations. This authentic cultural activity will thrill the whole family. Created to celebrate the joint history of the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations, the art & exhibits showcase tribal history, creative works and cultures. Located at 584 Blackcomb Way, the center also features performances, crafts and guided tours.
Go to the top of the mountain on the Whistler Peak 2 Peak Gondola Experience! The gondola leaves from Whistler Village and provides an amazing 360-degree experience of two side-by-side mountains along with miles of hiking and walking trails. Check the website for hours of operations as they change from week to week.
Older kids and adults will dig the Superfly Ziplines. The side-by-side zip lines are the longest in Canada and allow you to soar through the mountain valleys as a family. The round trip takes approximately three hours with a minimum age of 7 and 60 pounds.
Kids bouncing off the walls? Take them to Bounce Whistler to enjoy the indoor trampolines, padded walls and foam pit. Drop-in rates and times available daily.
One of many accessible attractions at Whistler Inclusive Playground
The Whistler Inclusive Playground is bound to be hit with your kids. The 13,000-square-foot outdoor play area has innovative spinning disks, swings and carved structures. Located in Whistler Village, the playground was built in 2010 for children attending the Olympics and Paralympics and does not disappoint.
The Family Adventure Zone at Blackcomb is open daily from June to September and provides hours of fun. Enjoy the bungee trampoline and rope course, or drive a mini-car. The Family Adventure Zone is pure fun for toddlers to teenagers. It's not cheap, though ($11 per "attraction," or five for $50.)
Let the kids climb the walls at The Whistler Core. The climbing gym offers rock-climbing classes for big kids, evening climb/dinner child care options and fun Whistler summer camps.
Head to the Whistler Public Library for storytime or some reading snuggles. The library is packed with drop-in programs throughout the year and offers free internet access with a guest membership.
For mountain biking families, Whistler is the place to ride. The Whistler Bike Park has over 4,946 feet of lift-serviced descending mountain bike trails while the Whistler Mountain Bike Trails provide a slightly easier (and no need for a lift) access to miles of bike trails.
Where to Stay
Whistler has a ton of family friendly accommodations from luxury hotels to cozy condos and everything in between. Visiting in the off months means you’ll be sure to snag a great deal!
4005 Whistler Way | (On the edge of the village action), Whistler, British Columbia V0N 1B4, Canada
Just a 2-minute walk from Whistler Village and all the action, the Aava Whistler Hotel is ideal for families. The hotel features an outdoor pool and hot tub surrounded by mountain views along with access to complimentary GoPro Hero 4 HD cameras to capture all your family fun. The hotel is also pet friendly and offers free WiFi.
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler
4591 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, British Columbia V0N 1B4, Canada
These luxury accommodations will ensure total relaxation. The magnificent townhouses or private residents are tucked away in the Upper Village near the base of Blackcomb mountain and are spaciously outfitted with all the amenities (spa, heated outdoor pool, and fitness center). Personal mountain guides and a ski concierge are at your service to help make your home away from home even better.
4090 Whistler Way, Whistler, BC, V0N 1B4, Canada
Recently renovated, the 419 rooms at the Westin Resort & Spa are large and well suited for families with kitchenettes, pull-out sofas and fireplaces. One drawback is that the pool is only open seasonally, but kids of all ages will enjoy the nearby putting green year-round while parents will appreciate the child care program. The hotel is also pet-friendly with dog-focused events throughout the year.
Travel FYI: Plan on at least five hours from Seattle, depending on Puget Sound-area traffic, Vancouver, B.C., traffic and border waits. (There are signs on the freeway as you approach Blaine, giving approximate wait times for the four border-crossing options. Take note.)
For even more information, including maps, events and travel details, visit Tourism Whistler.