Let’s start by saying there will be no skiing in this guide, no snowboarding either This is a guide for those who love Whistler for everything it has to offer that doesn’t require strapping things to your feet and trying to avoid doing a Sonny Bono impression. This is for people who like good food and drinks with great people in an awesome setting.
If you’re like me you’ll most likely want to head up early to avoid traffic. Leaving early means you arrive in Whistler for early check in at your hotel which frees you up for lunch! Staying in the Village is recommended, the Upper Village is ok too but for me Creekside is too far away from the action. Hotel choices are very personal but you can’t go wrong with the high end chains in Whistler. The Four Seasons, the Pan Pacific, the Westin and the Fairmont are all REALLY nice but very expensive. Keep in mind it’s just one night and ask if there’s a corporate discount attached to the company you work for. I do it everywhere and it saves lots of $$’s. There are some more affordable hotels in the Village, the Aava, the Pinnacle, the Delta ect. They’re all very adequate and the corporate discount usually works as well.
So, you’re all checked in, you’re enjoying the snow covered mountain views and you start to think about lunch. Whistler is all about walking around which is great. Leave your car parked until tomorrow and hit the Village on foot! First stop, The Whistler Brewhouse! The Brewhouse is a Mark James Group restaurant so anyone from Vancouver who’s familiar with Yaletown Brewing Co, Big Ridge Brewing Co or The Flying Beaver will feel right at home here. The menu is casual and the restaurant side accommodates families and has a kids menu. Try their award winning 5 Rings IPA! The Brewhouse is located right next to the Whistler Olympic Plaza in the Village.
Assuming you don’t end up spending hours at the Brewhouse you’ll probably have time for a nice walk around the village. There are lots of cool little shops all over Whistler but one of the most unique and my personal favourite is Rocks and Gems Canada. Filled with fossils, gemstones and all kinds of custom jewellery there’s something for everyone. I’m trying to figure out how to convince Lyndsey that I need a $10,000 fossilized Cave Bear skull.
Dinner time in Whistler always brings me to one place. Whether I’m there for a day, a week or a month Alta Bistro is always my first choice. Located under the Pinnacle Hotel, Alta Bistro serves up modern French bistro cuisine focused on locally sourced sustainable dishes, hand crafted cocktails, an impressive list of fine spirits and craft beer and a world class wine list featuring Whistler’s first Enomatic machine. I put Alta Bistro in my top 5 restaurants, anywhere at any budget. This year I was lucky enough to return to judge their second annual cocktail competition, this time as part of the Cornucopia Festival, Alta’s own Scot Curry walked away with the title beating some of Vancouver and Whistler’s finest cocktail technicians. The value to quality ratio of Alta’s food is not found anywhere else in Whistler with 3 course menus starting at the same price of one entrée in most comparable Whistler eateries. If they still have the pork and pickled veal tongue terrine when you visit I highly recommend it. Reservations are accepted and encouraged.
So by now you’re probably ready for bed. If you’re a reader of this blog I would hope that you’d be quite intoxicated by this point. Wander back to your hotel, try to avoid the main entrance as it’s always embarrassing when you fall over in front of the late night desk staff. Get a good night of shut eye, you deserve it. When you wake up you’re probably going to need a good breakfast. My favourite spot is Wildwood Bistro. Located alongside the Whistler Tennis Club, Wildwood has won “Whistler’s Best Breakfast” every year since 2002. The Benny’s are amazing and the prices are what you’d expect to pay at a big breakfast chain in the city.
I usually spend some time walking the Village before heading home but if you’re looking for something unique and have some disposable income grab a gondola ticket and head up the mountain. The views are gorgeous no matter the season and you can take a ride in the Peak to Peak gondola. Try and get one with a glass floor, it’s fun to watch people freak out that didn’t know it was there before they got in.
On your way back to the city you HAVE to stop in at the Campfire Grill in Squamish. They’ve moved from their super cool but very seasonal outdoor location to a real restaurant space in downtown Squamish. They are open for breakfast but you’ll probably roll through town around lunch time. Their potato salad is insanely good and their slow smoked meats are fantastic. They don’t follow a traditional style of southern BBQ which I love, it gives them the freedom to do whatever tastes good.
Whistler is a world class resort and it’s right in our backyard. If you haven’t been there in awhile I recommend you make some time, even if it’s just one night!