Independently Awesome: Whistler for Solo Travellers

Hiker standing on a rock at Cheakamus Lake

Independently Awesome: Whistler for Solo Travellers

Whistler welcomes the world – especially if it swings into town solo. From outdoor challenges and cultural connections to quiet contemplations, it’s just the place for the independent traveller with an ambition to explore.

There are activities abound, food and drink to be savoured and accommodation of all kinds in a resort that’s safe and fabulously friendly. And there are tips, tools and seasonal itineraries to help map out the adventure.

Hiker at Cheakamus Lake, Whistler

Haven’t travelled solo before? Whistler is the perfect place to start. PHOTO MARK MACKAY

A journey and a destination

There’s only one road in: Highway 99, or the Sea to Sky Highway, which winds along mountainsides and takes in British Columbia’s spectacular coastal scenery. It’s among the most beautiful drives in the world. So why drive it yourself? Enjoy the views instead using transport options from downtown Vancouver or the airport. Nab a seat on the left-hand side of your ride up for vistas of Howe Sound, North America’s southernmost fjord, and the Tantalus Range of mountains and ice.

The stunning Sea to Sky Highway

Sit back, relax and enjoy the view. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

A car’s redundant in Whistler and that means cost savings. Treat yourself with a massage, a movie (the world-class Whistler Film Festival runs December 4 – 8, 2019) or join a group for a heart-thumping zipline tour. Whistler is compact and easy to stroll, local bus and taxi transit services are reliable and the resort maintains much of its paved and accessible Valley Trail network through all seasons. So walking and biking are great ways to get around or simply to immerse in Whistler’s natural wonders.

Oh, and keep the luggage light. Whether you’re independently awesome at age 25 or 55, hauling a heavy bag is just no fun. Quality local shops and services ensure that you can buy or rent almost anything that’s required, be it lip balm, hiking boots or a fat bike.

Secure in a good night’s sleep

Accommodation can be a trip maker or breaker. Hotels are spread throughout Whistler Village the Upper Village and Creekside. From five star to more moderate, accommodation ranges across all budgets. There are kitchenettes for the self-caterer, along with pools and hot tubs. Fall and spring are great times to find accommodation offers, with online planning tools to help. It’s all about needs and wants to feel secure in a good night’s sleep.

Pangea Pod Hotel

Inside, looking out. The view from the pod at Whistler’s Pangea Pod Hotel. PHOTO PANGEA POD HOTEL

Up for something unique? Check out the Pangea Pod Hotel. On the Village Stroll, Pangea offers private sleeping pods with shared bathrooms and common spaces. Neither hotel nor hostel, Pangea has a boutique hotel vibe without the prices. And its inviting “living room”, with communal tables, food and drink and theme nights, and rooftop patio are great places to connect with travellers and swap tips and tales.

The dining dilemma: spoiled for choice

Where to go is the biggest dilemma facing the solo diner. It is easy to eat well in a resort featuring fabulous international offerings.

Many restaurants sport relaxed and informal communal tables where you’ll find a delicious, affordable meal and the chance for a chat. When the world comes to Whistler, it generally arrives happy and relaxed (or gets there soon enough!). Try Hunter Gather, a no-reservations-needed kind of place with a menu that ranges from barbequed meat to vegan bowls. Bar Oso on the Village Stroll has Spanish influenced small plates and a convivial bar. And it’s a great spot for people-watching.

Apres at Hunter Gather in Whistler

The fun and social setting at Hunter Gather. PHOTO HUNTER GATHER

Counter dining options abound if you’re after a quiet, comfortable meal for one. You’ll be well seated and well treated at Main Street Noodles, Sushi Village and Sachi Sushi.

For takeaway, Pasta Lupino and Peaked Pies (think: the savoury sort) are noteworthy among grab and go options. For the self-caterer, the Village has delis, two well-stocked grocery stores and shops selling beer, wine and spirits.

The best from BC and beyond can be found at Cornucopia, Whistler’s fall food and drinks festival, which runs November 7 – 17, 2019. There are winery dinners, tastings, culinary workshops and more. If beer is of interest, why not join Whistler’s craft beer crawl for a warm welcome and a few cold “flights”, as the tasting sets are known.

Patron holding a beer flight at Whistler brewing Co

A flight at Whistler Brewing Co. PHOTO KARINA ERHARDT

The joys of sharing

Even the most seasoned solo traveller likes to share. With special offers on autumn activities such as ziplining and e-bike tours and on culture and the arts, there’s always a way to connect.

Group sightseeing tours take in Olympic venues (Whistler was host to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games), historic sights and provide a great community overview. Cultural Ambassador led tours are also on offer at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, complimentary with admission. Don’t miss the Thunderbird Cafe while there, it’s a great place for a quiet cuppa.

Woman ziplining upside-down in Whistler

A great choice of activity any time of the year. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

The world-class Audain Art Museum holds daily tours of its inspiring collection of works from coastal BC. And the gift shop is a must-visit! It also hosts Art After Dark, evening sessions where visitors are invited to explore their creative potential.

The Audain’s galleries make a compelling backdrop, too, for evening yoga. The more intrepid traveller may want to fully embrace the seasons with yoga outdoors … or not! On the more meditative front, take a look at the Whistler Public Library, an inviting community resource with a monthly evening meditation. And there’s no better place on a blustery day than the library’s fireside armchairs.

The Audain Art Museum in Whistler

Even the entrance to the Audain Art Museum will leave you inspired. PHOTO NIKKEY DAWN

Want to work up a sweat? There are drop-in exercise classes and personal training at a variety of venues, among them Whistler Core Climbing and Fitness Centre or Whistler Creek Athletic Club. Tennis and running groups are great places for the independent traveller to get active with like-minded locals.

Weekly newsmagazine, the Pique, can be found free throughout the community, you can read about local events and happenings over a cup of coffee at any cafe. You can also find a comprehensive listing of events in this online calendar. Once in the Village, drop by the Visitor’s Centre at the Gateway Loop for top tips from experienced hosts. And, of course, Whistler.com is here to help by phone, email or social media.

Hiker at Ancient Cedars in Whistler

Where will your Whistler adventure take you? PHOTO MARK MACKAY

Feel your feet itching? Start planning your solo getaway now! Whistler.com has tips, tools and seasonal offers to help make the most of your independent travel.

Abby Deveney

Abby Deveney

Abby Deveney is a fair-weather skier, cyclist and walker. She’s also a writer and editor who wonders endlessly what’s on the other side.

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