It’s nice to give gifts and eat candy canes but the most important part of the holidays is having fun and spending time with the people you love. Of course, sometimes the people you love are too small or young to partake in your first choice of winter activities (Editor’s Note: taking a three year old to try biathlon is super nerve-wracking for everyone involved) so Whistler is chock full of family-friendly options to keep everyone’s stoke level high. To prove it we’ve compiled a list of our Top 5 surefire ways to have fun with your kids this holiday season.
#1. Free Bouncy Castles
You can’t argue with free. The Whistler Holiday Experience starts up Friday December 20, 2013 and is basically a little kid’s dream come true in a safe and warm indoor environment. Three bouncy castles, mini golf, indoor soccer and hockey, board games, video games, table games, balls, hoops, toys, noise and more.
The Holiday Experience can be found in the Whistler Conference Centre daily from 10AM. New this year: a daily performer each afternoon, balloon animals, two visits from Santa and a gingerbread cookie making workshop. The cafeteria food is cheap and kid-approved and the adults can easily spend hours in this place chatting with other parents while the little ones burn off all that excess holiday energy. The Holiday Experience runs until January 5th (but is not open on Christmas Day).More info here.
#2. Soapstone Carving Lessons
Fathom Stone Gallery is home to some incredible pieces of artwork but the real fun for kids is getting into one of their Stone Art Classes. Pretty much anyone aged three and up can learn to carve (or stack and glue) their own Inukshuk and older kids can work on carved bears or other fun projects. Fathom has a handful of professional carvers in the studio and the overall vibe is really fun, friendly and genuinely chill — no art-snobbery at all. You can also just stop in and watch the pros hard at work on their latest masterpieces. Stone Art Classes start at $75 and are available daily from 11 AM-7 PM. Holler at them for availability.
#3. Free Ice Skating at Whistler Olympic Plaza
Fresh air and firm ice make for a real Canadian experience and the FREE rink at Whistler Olympic Plaza is open every day (with limited hours on Christmas and New Year’s Eve). Anyone can rent skates right there next to the hot chocolate booth so you really have no excuse not to get out for a rip. Highly recommended that your little one wears a helmet and word around the campfire is Santa will be there from 1–4 PM on Sunday December 22, 2013. More info.
#4. Ride a Black Bear
Psych! All Whistler’s resident black bears are hibernating in their dens right now but there is a beautiful bronze cast bear and cub from local carver Mike Tyler that you can sit your kids on for a pretty good photo op. The Bear is located near the entrance to Millennium Place, which also has a decent contemporary/graffiti art show running in their Scotia Creek Gallery December 18-January 17, 2013. The show is called Spectrum and is a good FREE way to expose the kids to a little culture without them realizing it. (Everyone loves spray paint right?)
#5. Tubing and Tobogganing
In the old days we’d all just slide at… well actually you aren’t allowed to do any of that stuff anymore but the good news is we no longer need to now that Whistler has a Whistler Blackcomb Coca-Cola Tube Park at Base Two on Blackcomb Mountain that is safe and fun for all ages. Plus there’s music playing, a fire and snack shack for warming up, a conveyor belt lift to minimize uphill hiking and best of all, no skill or experience required! The Tube Park is open 11 AM – 7 PM through the holidays.
Toboggans are not allowed at the tube park but Whistler Olympic Park out in the Callaghan Valley has a public tobogganing zone suitable for really little kids and beginners, with entry to the park just $10 per carload. If you have never tobogganed before the little slopes in the Callaghan will give you a taste of the sport but anyone with tobogganing experience will want something a bit longer and steeper and are probably better off just hitting up the Tube Park. Once the Village gets enough snow there is usually another small toboggan hill adjacent to the Whistler Olympic Plaza ice rink where really small kids can slide to their heart’s content.
BONUS PICK! Family Après!
Finally one of the most integral parts of the ski town experience is now available for the whole family. Family Après takes place every Monday and Wednesday from December 23 – March 26, 2014 as the Whistler Olympic Plaza kicks out the jams from 4:30 – 6:30 PM with street hockey, snowman building contests, stories, fire spinning and more. (Just don’t blame us when your kids are still in ski boots dancing on the table way past their bedtime!). This one is weather dependent so its sometimes smart to check to see if the event is happening with the Whistler Village Hosts booth right there at the Plaza.
So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Just remember, no matter how much money you have you can’t buy time, so spend it wisely with the people who matter.