Escape to beautiful Whistler, British Columbia. We took a trip there in late Fall and found out that Whistler isn’t just a winter destination.
After our Fall Whistler getaway, we both decided that these types of trips MUST happen more often. We definitely love our family travels, we love spending time with our kids, but something very special happens when we can get away just the two of us. Yes, we go on date nights, but there was something therapeutic about being away on vacation for 3 whole nights just for us. It felt like a life we once knew in a far distant memory… a life where we talked without being interrupted, a life where we were a little more free to do just what we wanted. Couples getaways open up a whole new world of growing together in relationship. It’s hard to explain. It’s kind of like life in slow motion. Whether you have kids or not, we can’t recommend couples getaways enough.
With being islanders, we started our trip off with a BC ferry ride to Horseshoe Bay. In my opinion the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal has to be the most picturesque out of all the large ferry terminals. It is north of Vancouver, away from the city, and right at the base of the Sea To Sky highway. As part of the preparation for the 2010 Olympic Games the highway not only got a new name but also a complete makeover to make the drive even more enjoyable. There are many ways to get to Whistler and we decided this time around to take the Greyhound bus option. We are not a big bus travellers, in fact, this was a first for both of us, but I have to tell you that we were pleasantly surprised with how enjoyable it was. We only had to wait about 30 minutes for the bus to arrive at the terminal and 1 hour and 20 minutes later we were in the centre of Whistler Village. The view was spectacular and because we weren’t doing the driving, we both got to enjoy the full view together from the big bus windows.
Whistler Village is a world class year-round resort. It’s known for its ski hill of course, but we found so much more. One thing we noticed right away was how close-by everything was. One of the reasons we didn’t bring our car was to not only save on parking, but we heard you don’t really need one. That turned out to be very true. We found no problem walking to and from places all around the Village. It seemed like everything was within a 10 min walk away: food, entertainment, stores, restaurants and accommodations. It was obvious that the Village was designed to cater to pedestrians and not cars. We weren’t there to go skiing, but if we were, we literally could take a chairlift steps away from restaurants and hotels. One minute we could be in the Village, and the next we could be on our way up the slopes.
The main reason we picked Whistler Village as our couples getaway destination was to attend a marriage conference, appropriately named “a weekend to remember“. We absolutely loved the conference and highly recommend it. The organizers sure got it right when they picked Whistler Village as the location for the conference… even before the conference started we both felt renewed and refreshed in our marriage simple because of our surroundings.
We definitely hope to do another couples getaway to Whistler Village in the near future. Being there for such a short time and attending a conference we only scratched the surface of what Whistler has to offer. However, we do have some helpful info to share on these 3 topics below.
Dining in Whistler Village? If you were to eat at a different restaurant for two months in Whistler Village, I don’t think you would have gotten around to every establishment. If there is one thing that the Village has a lot of, it is definitely restaurants. There are restaurants that can meet every budget, from formal, family friendly, casual cafes to fast food restaurants. Our favourite place for a quick bite to eat had to be Opa! We enjoyed their fabulous Greek Gyros and went back for more. There are many seasonal staff who descend on Whistler Village from all around the world. We found that dining in a restaurant is a fun way to meet these adventurous international travellers.
Where to stay? Once again this is something Whistler Village has plenty of and if you look hard enough, you can find a place that can meet every budget. We stayed at two different places during our time. It’s a more expensive option, but let’s just say you can’t go wrong with the Fairmont. Right next to the mountain, first class service and top-notch accommodations. We were impressed at every turn, from the welcome at the door, to the special anniversary upgrade we received. They even brought up a complimentary celebratory dessert and did an evening turn down service.
What to do when the ski hill isn’t open? Whistler during the winter is of course known for it’s world class skiing & snowboarding. We hope to try the skill ourselves one day and write a blog post all about it… but for now, what do you do when the chairlifts are closed? With some quick research online or at the Whistler Village visitor centre, you will quickly realize there are a zillion activities you can do without the chairlift. Whistler is truly not just a winter destination. We only like to write from personal experience so I will share two free activities we really enjoyed. One of our goals was to keep our trip simple, slow paced and enjoy the outdoors, so we chose to do these two activities:
• Lost Lake Trail – If you love going for a stroll, you will love walking around Lost Lake. The start of the trail is only a 12 minute walk from the centre of town and very easy to find. During the summer it is a prime spot to go swimming, during the winter it turns into a bustling location for olympic level cross country skiing. During the Fall, we found out that it is a network of fabulous hiking trails with gorgeous views all the way around the lake.
• Tour Whistler Village and The 2010 Winter Olympic venues – Touring around the village and window shopping is quite the experience in the Village. The resort is kept immaculate, and the day life and the night life make both times of day an enjoyable place to walk around. The 2010 Olympic Winter games have come and gone, but you can still sense the spirit and energy around the Winter Olympic venues. Whistler has done an excellent job in preserving and maintaing these very special places like the Whistler Sliding Centre, Whistler Olympic Park and Whistler Olympic Plaza. All of these places are open for tours and photo opportunities.
How about you, what’s your one favourite thing about Whistler, BC?
I love Whistler! I actually have a hard time thinking of it as a winter destination at all. I have only been there in the summer, with my bike, and so most of the things I've done revolve around riding some of the valley trails and the Lost Lake trail network. There are trails for any riding ability - people who have never ridden on dirt can easily manage many of the trails, and there are trails for people who like a challenge as well. All this, and no lift ticket necessary! We even took our toddler in a trailer on some of the trails - we went from the Village to Lost Lake and played in the mud on the beach, watched tadpoles and ducks enjoy their natural habitat, and splashed in the cool water. In the summer, it seems there are bikes to rent around every corner. They have bikes suitable for the Bike Park, and bikes that are more intended for cross-country riding as well. You can rent bikes for the kids, trailers, and those quirky bike-add-ons that kids pedal while you tow them. I've stayed in Whistler twice, and the last time we were in Whistler we stayed in a hotel/timeshare with a kitchenette, shopped at the local grocery store, and made meals from scratch in our room. It was less glamorous but made the trip LOTS cheaper, and in many ways, easier for our family (what with picky eaters, naptimes, and food sensitivities). My three favorite restaurants in Whistler, of the very few I've tried, are 21 Steps, Creekbread, and a place that makes crepes right on the edge of the Village Stroll (can't remember the name). I've always wanted to try some of the "adventure" activities - rafting, ziptreks, hiking the glacier at the top of the chairlift, and a few others - but so far we've stuck to activities that are essentially free. -
Wow, what a fun trip! Maybe next time we go we'll take our bikes too and use some of your suggestions. Whistler really does have so much to offer, doesn't it? Thanks for sharing all that info Rachel! Gretta -