Whistler for the Nonskier: Ziplines, Snowmobiling, Spas and Dining

It’s easy to fill your days with outdoor—and indoor—fun at this expansive mountain resort

By Leslie Kelly December 7, 2018


This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Seattle magazine.

This article appears in print in the December 2018 issue, as part of the Best Winter Getaways cover story. Click here to subscribe.

There’s absolutely no doubt Whistler Blackcomb is a world-class ski and snowboarding destination; the two vast mountains both offer thrilling steeps and mellow cruisers. But not everyone who visits in the winter is interested in those slopes; there’s a ton of fun for the nonskier looking to chill, eat amazing food and venture outside. Here are some of the best ways to spend a few days getting the most from this beautiful destination north of Seattle.

Adrenaline Rush
A heart-pounding way to explore the outdoors is via one of the many zip lines around the resort, most of which operate during the winter…well, unless there’s a big storm. Ziptrek, with multiple zip lines that travel through old-growth forest, includes one that spans 2,400 feet and features a 30-story descent. For a few bucks more, upgrade to a package that includes the famous Peak 2 Peak gondola, linking Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

Speed along trails on a snowmobile with The Adventure Group which also offers snowshoe tours. Photo courtesy of The Adventure Group

Or fill your Instagram feed with photos snapped on a snowmobile tour with Canadian Wilderness Adventures, which offers a variety of guided rides of the nearby Callaghan Valley (site of numerous events during the 2010 Olympic Games), including a four-hour morning trip that ends with breakfast at a backcountry lodge. Or tromp through the woods on an Adventure Group snowshoe trek aimed at those taking their first baby steps in that sport, a 90-minute tour aptly called Natural Mystic. Book a seasoned fishing guide and take a shot at hooking trout through a hole in the ice at the area lakes. Art of Angling takes care of everything on its popular excursion to secret fishing spots around the area.

Spaaaah Time
Need to reset your chakra after a hectic workweek? No problem, as more than a dozen spas put a sharp focus on energy-boosting treatments. Our faves include the kundalini massage at Nita Lake Lodge’s spa, where those tight limbs are kneaded into the consistency of limp spaghetti using essential oils and a light touch that draws on traditions dating back centuries. Arrive early for your treatment and begin your relaxation in one of the rooftop hot tubs. At the Four Seasons Resort’s sumptuous spa, booking a treatment, such as the signature brown sugar and maple syrup scrub, allows nonguests access to the swanky hotel’s outdoor pool and hot tubs.

Hot pools and cold plunges are part of the Scandinave Spa experience. Justa Jeskova Photography

If you’re in the mood for the ultimate in peace and quiet, head to the lovely Scandinave Spa, where talking is not allowed in the outdoor hot pools or the cold plunges, although a frigid dip following a soak might cause impromptu squeals of surprise.

Cap the day with scallop crudo from the stellar offerings at Bar Oso. Photo courtesy of Bar Oso

Foodie Paradise
Award-winning Araxi—long one of Whistler’s premier restaurants—deservedly grabs the spotlight, but there are loads of other options on the fine dining front, including its stellar sister restaurants, Bar Oso and Il Caminetto, where the exquisite handmade pasta will stir up sublime sensory memories of that trip to Italy. Alta Bistro in Whistler Village and Aura at Nita Lake Lodge both take the farm-to-table mission seriously. Satisfying fare from comfy and casual Main Street Noodles and Fifi’s Bistro get raves from locals, the latter for its outstanding cinnamon rolls. Bring a big appetite to The Corner Deli, where hefty sandwiches, like the meatball sub, are made with locally sourced ingredients. Drink a toast to your action-packed day and dive into the house-cured charcuterie at Bar Oso, or in the crazy-popular Living Room bar at the new Pangea Pod Hotel. 

Compact accommodations at the Pangea Pod Hotel. Photo courtesy of Pangea Pod Hotel

Where to Stay

The resort has no shortage of hotels, but here are a few that span the options. Nita Lake Lodge offers luxury suites and is a 10-minute drive from the village, but just a short walk from the Creekside Gondola. Even a basic room at the Four Seasons Resort will give you room to spread out; the resort’s sky-high prices are matched by a sky-high level of service. Steps from the lifts, the comfy suite-centric Sundial Boutique Hotel offers stunning mountain views from its rooftop hot tub. The new Pangea Pod Hotel finds the sweet spot between hostel and hotel, with private sleeping accommodations (i.e., pods) and plenty of shared public spaces.

Getting There

Whistler is approximately a four-and-a-half-hour drive north of Seattle, though travel time can vary depending on border-crossing waiting times.


Art of Angling, 604.906.0353
Araxi Restaurant and Oyster Bar, 110 – 4222 Village Square; 604.932.4540
Bar Oso, 150 – 4222 Village Square; 604.962.4540
Canadian Wilderness Adventures, 4280 Mountain Square; 604.938.1616
Fifi’s Bistro, 113 – 4557 Blackcomb Way; 604.935.3263
Four Seasons Resort and The Spa at Four Seasons Resort, 4591 Blackcomb Way; 604.935.3400
Il Caminetto, 4242 Village Stroll; 604.932.4442
Main Street Noodles, 4368 Main St.; 604.962.1068
Nita Lake Lodge and The Spa at Nita Lake Lodge, 2131 Lake Placid Road; 604.966.5715
Pangea Pod Hotel, 4333 Sunrise Alley; 844.726.4329
Scandinave Spa, 8010 Mons Road; 604.935.2424
Sundial Boutique Hotel, 4340 Sundial Crescent; 800.661.2321
The Adventure Group, 855.824.9955
Ziptrek Ecotours, 4282 Mountain Square; 604.935.0001

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