Get ready to hit the ski slopes, the mountain bike trails or the lake, with family traveler reviews about Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada.
If British Columbia is Canada’s premier outdoor recreation province, then Whistler Blackcomb is its crowning jewel, providing an adventure for every season. My family of ski and snowboard fanatics likes to visit the resort area known as Whistler in the winter and early spring so we can cruise down miles of snowy trails and open meadows. Sitting side by side, Whistler and Blackcomb mountains offer more skiable acres and more vertical than any other resort in North America.
Developed as a ski resort with the goal of hosting the 1968 Winter Olympics, Whistler didn’t get the games that year, but they were asked to be the host city in 1976 after Denver backed out. Once again the games didn’t call Whistler home, but in 2010 Whistler was bestowed the honor of first ever Host Mountain Resort for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
Shockingly, Whistler didn’t even have water or electricity until the 1960’s, but today there are more than 200 ski and snowboard trails between the two mountains, offering skiers of all abilities the chance to ski at a top destination. The Blackcomb side has great terrain for kids, with fun and creative elements to keep them entertained. To access the mountains, visitors take a ride on the stunning gondolas from Whistler Village and can ride in enclosed comfort year-round between both mountains.
Winter Family Activities Off Whistler’s Slopes
Because Whistler Blackcomb has so many high-speed ski lifts, lines are short and skiers and snowboarders can really rack up the mileage. If you’re not exhausted yet, kick off your skis and check out the other winter activities offered in Whistler such as ice skating and tubing, then take a spin at the Coca Cola Tube Park. Offering eight lanes of tubing fun, this park is open into the night via the Excalibur Gondola on Blackcomb. All ages are welcome, but the 12 and under crowd must be accompanied by an adult.
Next, for a truly unforgettable experience, go on a horse drawn sleigh ride, and view the rugged beauty of Whistler.
Thanks to its ideal location in the Coastal snowbelt, some of Canada’s deepest snow blankets the region’s old-growth forests and surrounding mountain peaks as early in the season as October. Even before the alpine season begins, families can visit Whistler and try out the facilities at Whistler Olympic Park, built for the Olympics with 90 kilometers of recreational cross-country ski trails, bobsled and skeleton tracks.
Whistler in Summer Packs Plenty of Family Adventures
My friend Lesley’s family heads to Whistler every summer to take advantage of the vast array of warm weather activities. Her brother plays golf, her husband goes horseback riding, the kids rent bicycles to explore the miles of bike trails, and she has at least one afternoon alone to nose through the shops.
The entire family hikes and swims together, and each year they try something new — renting boats on the little lake, fishing, scaling the climbing wall, or rafting.
Her teens are too old for the kids programs now, but supervised for children as young as 18-months to 12 years old operate throughout the summer.
Whistler Village is Vacation Central
The Village of Whistler is a shopper’s dream, with hundreds of shops including The Northface, Burton, Quicksilver, and the Olympic Store offering deals on outerwear and recreational equipment. This purpose-built winter and summer community was designed with convenience in mind. For my family, that means no matter where we stay, we’re steps from the chairlifts and a broad choice of restaurants. For Lesley’s brood, it means that activities are within walking distance of her condo or a short shuttle ride away.
As you might expect, accommodations in the fully developed Whistler Village area range from the luxurious to the more moderately priced family-style hotels.
The Four Seasons Resort is just minutes from the slopes, and provides you with high-quality service and a plethora of amenities from a steam room to relax in after a day on the slopes, to restaurants, fitness centers and shuttles to the ski lifts.
Other more modest lodging options include the Aava Hotel. This modern resort near Whistler Village has excellent amenities as well, including storage for your equipment. There are also lots of condo complexes both in the pedestrian-only base village and slopeside. The Lodging Ovation company has three luxury condos by the Creekside Gondola on Whistler Mountain, for example, with 275 suites ranging in size from one to four bedrooms. You’ll also find all sorts of simple lodge rooms and apartments above the shops and restaurants in the village areas. Check every property’s website for early and late season discounts.
Out & About in the Whistler Region
Other options when planning your family vacation are to go off-mountain and explore some local attractions. Favorites include the Whistler Museum and Archives and the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center. This small, new museum celebrates the local Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations tribal people by providing a glimpse into their history and creative works.
Nor far away is Spa Scandinave, an outpost of the popular Scandinavian-style wellness retreat in Quebec. Here, famiies with older children can relax in the steaming hot steamroom or sauna, or plan for a massage. After a period of relaxation, guests are requested to plunge into a variety of waterfalls, pools, jacuzzis and even a frozen stream to alternately cool off or warm up, all in an effort to stimulate blood flow and relax sore muscles.
You can always find out more about Whistler Blackcomb, plan seasonal activities and book them, by visiting Whistler Blackcomb.
Photos courtesy of Wikipedia.
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