Firsts are special, they have the power to leave deep impressions and create long-lasting memories. In The Art of Making Memories, author Meik Wiking’s research showed it’s the novelty of firsts that make them so extraordinary. To have experiences worth remembering is one of the biggest reasons we travel.

I bet you remember your first time skiing (or boarding). The butterflies in your stomach, how funny it felt to suddenly have planks strapped to your feet and then the absolute thrill of pointing those planks downhill and giving into gravity – the wind rushing past your cheeks, the crisp smell of the snow and the cheers of your instructor. It’s the heightened emotion and sensory experience that makes it stick with us.

Parent and child looking down a slope getting ready to ski
That pivotal moment. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

How do you create an incredible first trip to Whistler that you’ll remember forever? Here are our tips:

Ask a Local

We live in a time of unprecedented choice. Take the decision-fatigue out of vacation planning and go straight to the locals. The articles in this blog are all written by local people, hence the term “insiders,” check out our guide pieces for “how-to” information on the top things to do and see. The team at are Whistler veterans who live, work and play here so you’re getting information from people really in the know. Check out their itineraries for inspiration and their new Ask Whistler initiative where you can text, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger your specific questions from 8 AM to 9 PM daily (Pacific Standard Time). You can also pop in to see them at the Whistler Visitor Centre.

Learn the History

The history of a place is my favourite place to start when choosing a new destination. That way, you understand the context and subtleties of a town, culture or experience you might otherwise miss. If you really want to get to know Whistler, there are two places you need to visit.

First, the Squamish Lil’wat Culture Centre, run by the Sk̲wxwú7mesh Úxwumixw and Líl̓wat7ul who came together to create a place for cultural sharing and education. Until March 2020 you can catch the AMBASSADORS exhibition, a celebration of the passion and connection the Cultural Ambassadors of the centre feel to the place they work, their culture and the land, through photography, stories and works of art.

Entrance to the Squamish Lilwat Cultural Centre
Ready to welcome you. MIKE CRANE PHOTO

Second, the Whistler Museum is where you can learn everything from who dreamed up the ski resort to what happened with the Olympic bids – people are often surprised we tried more than once to host them! You can start digging into the past with our The People’s History of Whistler series.

A group of skiers stand in the sun on Blackcomb Mountain.
Just a taste of the archival gems that can be found at the museum. PHOTO WHISTLER MUSEUM

Taste the Region

We know taste and smell can play a huge role in memory, so why not surround yourself with a delicious variety, straight from the surrounding land? A lot of our restaurants focus on showcasing local produce and a farm-to-table experience. For a casual, social atmosphere check out Hunter Gather. Looking for a quiet, intimate experience? Make a reservation at Alta Bistro. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, look no further than Araxi. We promise that Whistler tastes as good as it looks.

Get Your Heart Beating

Oh yes, there’s nothing like an adrenaline rush to make a first stand out. Now, we’re not saying you have to head straight down the skeleton track or bungee jump off a bridge, but they are guaranteed to be unforgettable. If you’d like to warm up to that, try ziplining between mountains, snowmobiling through the Callaghan Valley or picking up speed in the Coca-Cola Tube Park.

two people ziplining over snowy trees
Let go or hold on, it’s up to you! PHOTO THE ADVENTURE GROUP

Experience Awe

Awe does wonders for you, not only in creating memories, but also for your overall well being as it evokes feelings of joy, gratitude and a connection to something larger than ourselves. In Whistler, awe is all around you, from frozen waterfalls to volcanic peaks, the phenomenon of alpenglow to the feats of the Fire & Ice Show performers. One sure-fire way to experience it is to get yourself on the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, not only for the views you but also to experience the engineering feat itself. It’s a testament to the Whistler spirit – if you can dream it, you can do it.

Peak 2 Peak gondola car against a snowy tree backdrop
The PEAK 2 PEAK has the longest unsupported span in the world. PHOTO ANDREW STRAIN

Do Something New

What’s the best kind of first? One that leads to a second, third, hundredth and so on. Whistler is addictive. If you listen to the voices around you, you’ll notice just how many people have come to Whistler for that “one ski season” and then ended up staying for life. There’s so much to do here, from the obvious gravity-driven escapades to the more hidden gem variety in Whistler’s cultural scene, like learning to paint the landscape we all find so breathtaking. Uncover a new passion by learning a new skill or create a new connection by putting your phone away and striking up a conversation on the chairlift or at après.

A couple taking a selfie in while snowboarding in Whistler
Photos are good, memories are better. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

There’s one thing we can’t help you plan for and that’s the unexpected, the magic and delight that comes with a first – it’s best left discovered in person.

Ready to experience Whistler for the first time? Head over to to start planning your trip or hit them up on Ask Whistler for help.


Nikkey got her start in Whistler as an outdoor guide and the habit of talking about the place has clearly stuck. Whistler’s general laid-back lifestyle and immediate access to fun is what’s kept her around. When not hanging out on the Whistler Insider team Nikkey works as a freelance creative for outdoor and wellness brands. Nikkey’s favourite Whistler animal is the marmot- she just wants to pinch those fluffy cheeks! (but never would because she respects wildlife and really likes having her fingers attached to her hands.)