You don’t need to be a skier or snowboarder to spend time in the mountains. There’s an abundance of outdoor activities in Whistler that utilize its vast, wide-open terrain as well as some that are completely out of the elements (like an underground pirate ship).
It’s hard to squeeze them all into one trip, so we’d suggest setting up camp and opting for a longer stay (there are deals to be had), so you can take a real crack at some mountain adventures.
From soaring over them to scaling them and journeying through them, here is some inspiration for activities in Whistler that are off the slopes this winter.
Soaring Over It
Seeing the mountains from a birds-eye view is spectacular as you grasp just how vast the valley is, with white-covered trees and craggy mountain tops stretching to the horizon. There are varying levels in which one can make like a bird in Whistler, one of which is to attempt to imitate a diving peregrine falcon (the fastest bird in the world) as you launch into thin air over the glacially-fed Cheekye River with Whistler Bungee. Read about what it’s like to take a dive in Whistler Bungee Jumping: On Fear, Gravity and Getting Old.
Scale that back a touch with ziplining, with options for tackling three to five lines as you flit around the mountains taking in the views with the wind in your hair. Or maybe you want to get more intimately acquainted with some of Whistler’s ancient volcanoes and glaciers? You’ll need a big bird for that. Whistler has a range of helicopter tours from short, scenic flights to ice cave adventures (the ice cave tours start at the end of March). Read more about those in Rock Flour, Ice Caves and the Meaning of Time.
Journeying Through It
If you’re looking for something that breaks a sweat, Whistler has 90 kilometres of cross-country ski trails for you to tackle out at Whistler Olympic Park and 40 kilometres at Lost Lake Park, located right in Whistler Village (this location also has night skiing). If you’re bringing little ones, take a read of Fam Jam at Whistler Olympic Park: XC Skiing with Young Kids for some tips.
Snowshoeing is another outdoor activity in Whistler that can be a thigh burner or a peaceful, relaxing experience in the surrounding old-growth forest perfect to relax the mind, especially if you take a plunge in the cold pools at the Scandinave Spa afterwards.
There are snowshoe tours on the Ancient Cedars trail, which take you to an incredible grove of old-growth forest on Cougar Mountain and another that includes a campfire cookout with s’mores. For more ideas on where to snowshoe in Whistler read our Insider’s Guide to Snowshoeing in Whistler.
Located in the heart of the village, skating at Olympic Plaza is both beginner-friendly and photogenic. The rink features multi-coloured hanging icicles, is set against a picturesque mountain backdrop and is surrounded by Dr. Seuss-esque LED-wrapped trees. The rink is partially undercover and strollers are welcome on the ice. Meadow Park Sports Centre is another option for indoor skating, pool fun and gym time.
Whistler has vast backcountry terrain and one way to get out into the depths is via a snowmobile. With tours for beginners to expert riders, exploring Whistler’s wild tundra is fun when you get to fire a throttle. You can even wind your way up to a backcountry cabin for steak under the stars, read what that’s like in Snowmobiles, Steak and Starlight. Or, opt for fresh tracks by being the first out there on the Yukon Breakfast Tour.
When it starts to get dark in the late afternoon it’s time to head to the forest. Vallea Lumina is a multimedia, storified light show where you walk a winding one-kilometre path through the forest at the base of Cougar Mountain (it takes about 45 minutes). This is definitely a must-do while you’re here in Whistler, read more in Magic in the Mountains: Winter Vallea Lumina.
Download the free Go Whistler Tours app for a curated selection of self-guided tours. The app helps with a suggested route, navigating, warm-up stop ideas as well as information on the history and ecology along the way. There’s even audio that will play automatically when you hit each spot should you want some local narration along the way.
A very literal scale, ice climbing tours take place on Blackcomb Mountain. No experience is necessary, but you might need to dig deep and bring your brave face, read more in Bucket List Mission: Ice Climbing in Whistler. Indoor climbing is also available at Whistler Core Climbing and Fitness Gym.
The saying goes, what goes up must come down, and in Whistler why not take the Olympic route for your descent? The Whistler Sliding Centre offers Passenger Bobsleigh and Public Skeleton on the same track the Olympians use (you just start a little lower down). For what this ride feels like, take a read of How to Skeleton and Bobsleigh in Whistler.
You can also take a free self-guided tour of the Whistler Sliding Centre, just take a look at their This Week On Track to see if there’s a race or training.
Soaking In It
An outdoor spa in Whistler, in the winter, what? The Scandinave Spa is a tranquil oasis that’s found on the edge of Lost Lake’s forest. Encouraging you to invigorate your body with hydrotherapy (going from hot to cold), this spa has open-air baths, Swedish dry saunas, eucalyptus-infused steam rooms and relaxing solariums, all set in the beauty of nature. For more spa options visit our wellness page.
Soak in the serenity of the wild outdoors while catching your dinner. Whistler’s ice fishing season runs from December to March and can be booked online. Whistler Year Round Fishing and Pemberton Fish Finder are two local companies offering ice fishing tours, and even though “ice” fishing is weather dependent, there are always lakes and rivers to access in the Sea to Sky. Read more about this experience in How to Ice Fish in Whistler.
Out of the Elements
Here are some of your options for indoor activities including escape rooms, axe throwing, arts and culture suggestions and more.
Did you know that there’s a pirate ship in Whistler? With six different escape rooms at Escape! Whistler, this is an activity you’ll want to do more than once. You have 45 minutes to puzzle your way out of your chosen room. This is a great activity for families and groups of 2-6 people.
Audain Art Museum
The Audain Art Museum boasts an impressive permanent collection of British Columbian art, including several commissioned sculptures by contemporary First Nations artists, a gallery dedicated to Emily Carr and a large space for their rotating Special Exhibitions. For more on the Audain, read Culture Up: How to Get the Most From a Visit to the Audain.
Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre
We always suggest a visit to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) to gain an understanding of the land, Whistler’s history and the Indigenous people who have inhabited it since time immemorial. Their tours start with a welcome song, a short film and a guided tour of the exhibits with a Cultural Ambassador. Read more in How to Experience Indigenous Culture In and Out of Whistler.
Whistler Museum and Whistler Public Library
Have you ever wondered how a place like Whistler came to be? The Whistler Museum has an extensive exhibit on the creation of Whistler Blackcomb, the design of Whistler Village, the Olympic bid history and more. Entry is by donation, and it’s typically open every day of the week but Wednesday. The Whistler Public Library is also right next door and typically has something fun going on. These two locations can be found on the Cultural Connector Tour on the free Go Whistler Tours app.
Take a Tour of Montis Distilling
Whistler has several craft breweries and a distillery. Most of these are located in Function Junction, about 15 minutes south of Whistler Village. However, the best way to visit the distillery is via Whistler Valley Tours. Read more about this in Whistler Distillery Tour and Tasting Experience. Whistler Valley Tours also offer sightseeing during the winter. Hop in with them and get a fully commentated trip to some of Whistler’s most photogenic places like Green Lake, and iconic ones like the Olympic bobsleigh, skeleton and luge track.
If you’re after craft beer, you could opt to join a group tour or you can take a look at the Go Whistler Tours app to go on a self-guided hops-based adventure.
Whistler Dining Tours
Are you a foodie? Whistler Dining Tours offers both lunch and evening tours that take you to several of Whistler’s best eateries. You can do the multi-course lunch option guided or unguided, with an optional drinks package available too.
Throw an Axe
Forged Axe Throwing is open nightly until 9 PM, making it one of the best Whistler evening activities whether there’s just one or two of you or an entire group. It’s very easy to try, and your session will include demonstrations, tips, and safety protocols. Plus, the guides are always happy to help you nail some trick shots. They are located in Function Junction and it’s good to note that Coast Brewing is right next door! Read more about this experience in How I Conquered the Axe Throwing Challenge.
Yoga & Dance
Stretch it out in the studio. Take a look at what’s happening at Yogacara and ALGN, both located right in the heart of Whistler Village. You can do drop-in sessions, just check their calendars for what’s running while you’re here.
Whistler’s got a fantastic arts scene and the best place to find out all about it is the Maury Young Arts Centre, the home of Arts Whistler. There’s a free gallery to explore as well as a Sea to Sky artisan shop. They also host comedy nights, arts-based workshops, live music nights, performances and movies. Take a look at their events calendar to see what’s on!
Hit Some Balls
The Whistler Racket Club is something of a hidden gem. It is multi-purpose, with sporting activities such as indoor and outdoor tennis (summer only), pickleball, corn hole and axe throwing. Not to mention, the cafe and patio serve tasty snack foods and all your favourite drinks, making it a great place to spend an evening trying your hand at different activities and grabbing a bite with a few friends. It’s open until 10 PM every night and is an easy walk from the Village.
There is so much to do in Whistler, I’ve been here for sixteen years now and have only just scratched the surface. I am also still building up the courage to try one of the ultimate outdoor activities in Whistler – ice climbing! For even more inspiration, flick through some of Whistler.com’s winter activity itineraries. It’s always a good idea to take a look at our events calendar too, to see what’s happening in Whistler while you’re here.
Come experience Whistler Blackcomb’s extensive terrain and adventure at every turn to see why we're known as one of the best resorts on the planet. Secure your mountain getaway with Whistler.com for personalized service and the local knowledge of our Whistler-based team. Want to win a winter trip for two to Whistler? Check out our Drop In to Winter contest.