Whistler Winter Activities for Non-Skiers
You probably already know that Whistler is famous for its world class ski fields. People come from all over the world to Canada just to ski on the slopes in Whistler. But is there anything to do in Whistler in Winter for non-skiers? Yes! There absolutely is and I’m here to tell you!
Whistler is set in the cutest little village with LOADS of bars, pubs and shops so from the moment you arrive, you will feel the holiday vibes.
You always hear everyone talking about the amazing skiing in Whistler, but not about the ziplining, snowmobiling, Christmas lights, snowshoeing and hiking and more!
In this guide, I will list activities to do in Whistler during Winter for non-skiers and also provide some tips for traveling to Whistler in Winter, including some amazing places to stay and commonly asked questions like is it safe to drive in Whistler in Winter?
📍 Where is Whistler
Whistler is located in British Columbia, Canada, just North of Vancouver. The closest international airport is Vancouver International Airport and the drive from the airport is about 2 hours.
If you arrive in Vancouver late, you could stay the night at a downtown hotel such as the Sutton Place Hotel Vancouver (this is where we stayed when we first moved to Vancouver) and then drive to Whistler the next day.
You could even spend a couple of nights in Vancouver and put aside a day in Vancouver to see the sights. It is a beautiful part of the world so worth exploring if you have the chance.
Click here to open the map in Google Maps!
🚌 How to Get from Vancouver to Whistler
If you are not able to rent a car, you can catch the Epic Rides express Bus. The bus takes about 1 hour 45 minutes from Burrard Station in Downtown Vancouver (other stops are detailed on the Epic Rides website) and costs about CAD44 round trip or CAD33 for one way.
Rent a car
You can rent a car from Vancouver Airport or from one of the car rentals in Downtown Vancouver if you decide to stay a night or 2 before heading up to Whistler. I like to use Rentalcars.com when planning my trip to try to get the best price.
From Downtown Vancouver, you will need to head across the Lions Gate Bridge which will take you over to the North side of Vancouver. You will need to stay on the BC-99N the entire way to Whistler. This road is also known as the Sea to Sky Highway which is an absolutely gorgeous drive. You may have heard of it.
Try to do this drive during the day so that you can enjoy the fantastic views over Howe Sound and out to the mountains.
From Vancouver International Airport, take Grant McConachie Wy E to Granville St which actually becomes Hwy 99 and will take you across the Lions Gate Bridge. From there, you will just need to continue on the BC-99N the entire way to Whistler.
Things to do in Whistler in Winter (for Non-Skiers)
Vallea Lumina is an outdoor light show in the forest in Whistler hosted by The Adventure Group. We were surprised to find out that the lights run all-year-round, but they change from a Summer edition of lights in October to a Winter edition which lasts until May.
Tickets cost about CAD45 per adult and you can book online at vallealumina.com. You will likely spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour on the trail enjoying the magic of the lights.
Go Ziplining at ZipTrek
If you love adrenaline but only in small doses, you will love Ziplining! ZipTrek offer tours all-year-round, but in Winter, the views are much more magical! If you go after a fresh dumping of snow, you will get views of a Narnia-like paradise below you as you fly through the air!
On a ZipTrek Tour, depending on which one you pick, you will get to do 4-5 ziplines and in between, you will hike along tree top bridges.
The entire tour takes about 2.5 – 3 hour in total and each zipline is different to the next. We did the Eagle Tour (5 ziplines) and highly recommend it! It was a lot of fun and a perfect morning out in the crisp Whistler Winter air.
Ride the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola
The Peak 2 Peak Gondola is a gondola that connects Whistler mountain to Blackcomb Mountain. The total distance between the two mountains is 4.4km (2.7 miles) which is the world’s highest lift of its kind at 436m (1,427 ft) above the valley floor.
The entire journey from peak to peak takes about 11 minutes and you get to see insane views of the forests, glaciers and surrounding mountain views.
We are actually ashamed that we haven’t tried the Peak 2 Peak yet because it’s such a huge and awesome attraction in Whistler!
Snowshoeing is a nice relaxing activity that enables you to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of Whistler!
If you don’t have your own show shoes, you can rent a pair from Whistler Olympic Park for CAD19 per adult per day.
There are a bunch of self guided snowshoeing trails that you can do such as:
- Whistler Olympic Park/Ski Callaghan
- Cheakamus River Trail
- Rainbow Falls
- Joffre Lakes
- Lost Lake Lookout
↪ If you don’t feel comfortable snowshoeing alone, you can join a snowshoeing tour like this one!
Take a Snowmobiling Tour
If you are looking to try something new AND see the beautiful snowy backcountry around Whistler at the same time, you might want to take a Snowmobiling Tour!
On this small group tour, you will get fantastic views of Whistler, Blackcomb, and Black Tusk as you ride through a Winter Wonderland with a guide.
👕 Clothing Tips
Make sure you wear warm clothes and a beanie and gloves. If you have waterproofs and goggles, wear them, otherwise winter gear you do not have the tour company can provide ie: Goggles, Snow pants and jacket, Gloves.
Have a Spa Day at the Scandinave Spa
The Scandinave is mine and Dave’s FAVOURITE! We have only been one time, because it is a little pricey but MAN is it worth it!
The Scandinave Spa is only a 6 minute drive from Whistler Village or you can catch the 10, 31, or 33 bus from the Library and Museum bus stop and get off at Spruce Grove Way. From there, you will still need to walk about 15 minutes to the Spa.
Once you arrive at the spa, you will be given a robe and towel and told to head down to the change rooms to shower and get ready. Once you are showered with swimsuit and robe on, you can head out into the spa area.
Waiting by the door, is tea and water and in the spa area you will find, outdoor relaxation areas, indoor relaxation areas, cold plunges with different temperatures, hot pools with different temperatures, saunas and steam rooms.
You are supposed to do Hot, then cold and then relax. When we were there we spent HOURS doing this with a break in between to get some food at the café in the reception area. You could definitely spend all day there because they also provide massages (at an additional cost).
Join a Yoga Class
The weather isn’t always sunshine and rainbows during Winter in Whistler so having a couple of indoor activities to escape the wetness is a good idea.
If you are staying at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, you can join a yoga class at the hotel for free!
If not, you can join a yoga class at such as Yogacara Studios which is located in Whistler Village.
Try the Bobsleighs at The Whistler Sliding Centre
This is a super unique thing to try because you definitely can’t bobsleighs like an Olympian anywhere! In fact, the Whistler Sliding Centre is the only place in Canada where the public can try a bobsleigh themselves and slide like an Olympian!
The Whistler Sliding Centre is where the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games were held. It is famous for being the fastest track in the world so trying bobsleighing here would be a once in a lifetime opportunity!
No experience is necessary and you will not be driving yourself but have an experience trained pilot as the driver. The bobsleighs fit 3 passengers and 1 drive and will race through ten twists and turns at speeds of 125+ km/hr with the acceleration of up to 4 g-forces which I think is absolutely bonkers. 😅
Go Bungee Jumping
Calling all adrenaline junkies! This one is for you! The Whistler Bungee is a 160ft (50m) drop into the Cheakamus River Gorge.
The Whistler Bungee is an all-year-round activity and is located 20 minutes south of Whistler Village.
Go Dog Sledding
This is something we have both always wanted to do but haven’t had the chance yet because it is a bit of an expensive experience. However, if you are looking for a truly Canadian experience, then you can’t go wrong with dog sledding!
You will glide along a beautiful snow covered forest trail in your super comfortable sled filled with blankets.
Prices start from CAD579 and you can book online.
Have a go at Tubing
Did you ever go sledding as a kid? Well, tubing is pretty similar! You slide down snowy hills in a rubber ring! At the Bubly Tube Park in Whistler, there are 7 lanes to slide down which range from mild and gentle to so fast you will feel like you are flying!
Dress in snow gear with a beanie and clothes. The more waterproof the better otherwise you will probably get wet.
Outdoor Ice Skating at Whistler Olympic Plaza
A pop up Ice Rink gets set up at Whistler Olympic Plaza from late December. You can check here to see if the ice rink is open yet.
If you would prefer to skate at an indoor rink, you can do so at the rink at Meadow Park Sports Centre.
Have a go at Axe Throwing
Axe Throwing has become very popular in Canada recently. It’s a lot of fun and a great indoor activity to do on a rainy day.
You will be under the guidance of an experience coach and learn how to throw one handed and two handed throws safely.
Hike to the Whistler Train Wreck
The Whistler Train Wreck is a short, 2km walk that will take you about an hour. The train carts have been in the forest since 1956 when a train derailed when it was approaching an area under track repair a little too fast and furious.
The wreck has now been painted colourfully and is a popular thing to do in Whistler all-year-round.
Take a Heli Sightseeing Tour
There are loads of incredible tours to do in Whistler in Winter, but a helicopter tour would probably be the one to take the cake for me.
On this helicopter tour, you will see mind-blowing views of the mountains in Garibaldi Provincial Park and 12,000-year-old glaciers.
Not only will you enjoy the flight and the views, but you will LAND on a beautiful mountain top for photos! I know personally how tough it is to hike up these mountains, so because able to land on one with a helicopter would be absolutely incredible!
Enjoy the Breweries
If there’s something that Whistler isn’t short on, it’s breweries! There’s nothing better than rewarding yourself with a beer or two after an exciting day out in the mountains. Some breweries that are worth checking out in Whistler are:
- High Mountain Brewing Company Brewhouse
- Whistler Brewing Company
- Coast Mountain Brewing
Have a Blast at the Whistler Escape Rooms
An Escape Room is a really fun thing to do with a group of 2-6 friends or family members. At Escape Whistler, in each escape room you have 45 minutes to solve all of the puzzles in order to escape from the room. They have 6 different rooms to choose from, each a different level of difficulty.
Take a Short Hike to Brandywine Falls
Brandywine Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls near Vancouver. The walk to the viewpoint overlooking the waterfall from the parking lot is only 1km return and will take you around 15 minutes in total.
The drive from Whistler is about 15-20 minutes and is straight back down the Sea to Sky Highway towards Vancouver.
There is also an “unofficial” hiking trail down to the bottom of the waterfall but you need to be careful as it can be very slippery once you reach the rocks at the base of the falls.
Go Indoor Rock Climbing
Have some fun and burn some energy indoor rock climbing at Whistler Core Climbing Gym. You can choose to climb with a friend at your own pace or you can do a guided session if you haven’t indoor rock climbed before or need a refresher.
Have a go at Ice Fishing
The Ice fishing season runs from December to March (weather dependent) and is probably one of the most Canadian things you can try on this list. I know, I know, I keep saying that, but seriously, this is it!
Ice fishing is literally what it sounds like. A hole is drilled through the ice and you sit down and fish through the small hole.
You will want to make sure that you wear something warm as you will be sitting around in the cold. Snow gear is recommend and snow shoes to keep your feet warm.
🛌 Places to Stay in Whistler that are SO Worth it!
When it comes to choosing accommodation in Whistler, there is a lot of choice, however nothing is cheap in Winter. Here are some places I recommend checking out that are super nice!
Fairmont Chateau Whistler – If you imagine a castle out of a fairytale movie and then place it in a Winter Wonderland setting, that is the Fairmont Whistler in Winter. This hotel has everything from hot tubs, saunas, and Eucalyptus steam rooms, a heated lap pool with underwater music (WHAT!) and so much more!
Nita Lake Lodge – The Nita Lake Lodge is only 500m from Whistler Mountain and Creekside Gondola with a free shuttle service to Whistler Village so you don’t have to worry about the dreaded parking situation. The lodge is beautiful and set right on the lake.
Pangea Pod Hotel – Pangea Pod Hotel is located in the middle of Whistler Village and is a great alternative to a hostel if you are on a budget. You will sleep in a single or double pod which has a small opening to get in and then a privacy curtain to cover the opening.
Winter in Whistler FAQs
❄ Does it Snow A Lot in Whistler in Winter
Each Winter looks slightly different in Whistler. This year has been a shocker so far with not much snow at all! Luckily, the ski resorts have snow cannons to keep the slopes in action while waiting for the real stuff to fall.
On a “normal” snow year, Whistler usually starts seeing its first snowfall in mid-late November and the snow could last until late May depending on weather conditions.
🧊 How Cold Does it Get in Winter in Whistler
Whistler does not get as cold as other snowy places in Canada like Banff. It’s average daily minimum during Winter is -5c degrees (23f degrees).
Of course if it is a windy day, the wind chill can make it feel a lot cold so make sure you have your beanie, gloves and a warm coat with you to keep you warm.
Temperatures rarely go below -10c degrees (14f degrees) in the valley and -15c degrees (5f degrees) up on the mountains.
🚗 Is it Safe to Drive in Whistler in Winter
It is safe to drive in Whistler in Winter, however you do need to make sure you have Winter tires. Mud and Snow tires are also legal but full Winters are better for grip. You should also carry snow chains with you in case the conditions are really snowy.
Other than that, we find it helpful to have an all wheel drive vehicle (it just makes us feel safer) and just be careful driving up the Sea to Sky Highway if it is icy. A lot of the time, the highway to Whistler from Vancouver, stays pretty snow free, however it will occasionally get a dumping of snow.
🍽 Restaurant Tips for Whistler in Winter
If you are looking at staying in Whistler over Winter and wanting to eat out, I highly recommend booking any restaurants for dinner at least a couple of weeks in advance. Winter is Whistler’s busiest time for tourists and so the restaurants tend to fill up quickly.
What is the Best Month to Visit Whistler in Winter
Choosing the best month to visit Whistler during Winter may vary from person to person and depending on what you are looking for. If you want Christmassy vibes, then you should obviously visit in December. Late December would be more likely to have more snow if that’s what you are looking for.
The snowiest time of the year is usually January through February as this is the peak of Winter in Whistler.
If you are wanting it to be a bit warmer but still snowy, March is a great month to visit! The temperatures start rising a little but the snow still sticks around for a while longer.
You might also enjoy:
- Amazing Whistler Winter Tours
- How to Spend One Day in Vancouver
- Beautiful Hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park
- Best Vancouver Snowshoeing Trails
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