Tried & tested: the best ways to make friends in Whistler.
Despite being home to many outdoorsy individuals, Whistler can be a surprisingly difficult place to make friends. With an ebb and flow of 10,000 people per winter, many of them only stay a season or two and then move on. You may find yourself with a huge crew for one winter season, and come July only a handful are left, so you find yourself starting all over again. This can be hard. So, here's some tips to make new friends if you find yourself in this difficult position!
1. Be Respectful!
This is the most important step! A large percentage of Whistler's transient population are in their early 20s and have come to Whistler to experience their first taste of freedom. Unfortunately, sometimes this means that whilst they are having the best time of their lives, they maybe aren't respecting the environment and town the same way longer-term locals do. This can make befriending some of the longer term locals (who have so much knowledge, experience, and friendship to offer!) a little trickier. Learn about your environment, don't litter, be bear smart, and respect the fire ban! This will set you up well for new friendships.
2. Whistler Blackcomb Men's & Women's Nights
If you're into mountain biking (novice or expert) and want to meet some like-minded biker babes/dudes to shred the hill with, check out WB's GT Women's Nights and Men's Nights. Mountain biking can be a little intimidating for newbies, and this offers a great blend of learning and socialising. Once you are assigned to a group based on your experience, the awesome coaches take you up for some pressure free riding whilst offering tips and pointers to help you get the best out of your bike. Each lesson wraps up with an après session (free beers!) at Merlin's with tons of giveaways every week, a fantastic way to make new shred buddies! Women's nights are Mondays & Wednesdays, 5.30-7.30, and Men's Nights are Tuesdays 5.30-7.30 from May until September.
3. Toonie Rides
All riders, all ages, all skill levels! Every week during the summer for 18 weeks, WORCA hosts Thursday night Toonie Rides (where you ride for $2!) sponsored by various local businesses. They host group bike rides on Whistler's off road trails, where the more competitive ‘racers’ go up the front and the more chilled ones cruise at the back. Everyone is there to have fun, explore the trails, get some exercise, and obviously socialize! Most sponsors provide a snack and a beer afterwards, making it a really fun way to exercise and make friends.
4. Go to free events!
Arcteryx Whistler and Escape Route host a variety of events in their stores year round. They are usually free and include talks, presentations and raffle contests - all themed around the outdoors. Ski waxing, avalanche safety, mountain biking, climbing, mountaineering - you name it, they host events dedicated to all kinds of mountain travel. Whilst there's usually no charge, tickets often need to be reserved on Eventbrite. This site is a great resource to browse upcoming events, but also keep an eye on the Arcteryx Facebook Page to spot events when they are announced! Come ready to learn, mingle and snack a little. These events often include a free beer from Coast Mountain Brewing and a delicious food platter.
5. Join the library!
Whistler Public Library is an absolute gem. Membership is free, which includes use of computers and noise canceling headphones, plus access to tons of film screenings, events, and classes throughout the year. They are very active on Facebook, where you can sign up for ongoing or one-off events. They also have a weekly Book Club, language lessons, games nights and sometimes mediation classes. Often they have talks on things such as financial wellness, bodily health and even knitting classes. This year, they ran an awesome educational course called Indigenous Canada, providing much-needed information on the First Nations peoples that lived in Canada long before the rest of us. These events are very friendly and provide an awesome platform to meet new people in a mellow space!
6. Get a Second Job
Hospitality jobs tend to have good social scenes off shift. Employees in bars/restaurants tend to be quite closely knit and friendships can often be forged over an after-work beer (or three). On top of that, many workplaces will organize weekly staff parties or dinners. Lots of people seek out second jobs in the hospitality industry in order to increase their social circle. More advice about different types of jobs can be found on our jobs page.
Give back! Lots of long term locals have realized that Whistler requires a lot of effort to keep it running. The most popular volunteer opportunity is giving your time to WAG - Whistler's Animal Shelter. They need volunteers to walk and socialize with their cats and dogs whilst the small group of core employees look after quarantined animals, new puppies and the admin stuff!
There are also plenty of opportunities to volunteer for other charities such as Aware Whistler, Whistler's Environmental Charity, who are at the forefront of Whistler's Zero Waste program. Aware is run by a group of awesome women who truly care about the fate of the planet, and they provide a fantastic work environment. The WCSS (Whistler Community Services Society) also has an ongoing need for volunteers, whether at their Re-Use-It Centers, School Lunch Program or the Food Bank, there are tons of volunteer positions available here. Of course, you could also volunteer on the mountain for Whistler Blackcomb and nab yourself a free lift pass by doing so!
8. Talk on the chairlift!
I know, it's taboo, but sometimes striking up a conversation with your neighbours on the chairlift can lead to new shred buddies - chances are you may have a mutual friend or two!
9. Fitness classes/sports teams/bootcamps!
Join one of Whistler's local gyms or yoga studios! A rundown of all the options can be found on our Fitness & Yoga page. Come summertime, fitness camps and sports teams start rallying for new players for weekly matches, practices and sometimes summer-long tournaments! Go to drop in ice hockey, join a boot camp or join a local 5 a side team such as Whistler FC. More info on local sports teams can be found here.
Getting to know young families in the area by babysitting can be a great way to increase your network. There are a lot of rad moms and dads in Whistler, and they will often recommend you to their friends.
Signing up to Rideshares through apps like Poparide gives you the opportunity to meet new people whilst you're traveling from place to place (usually down to Vancouver or Squamish). You're way more likely to chat with people in the car than on the bus, and you may walk away with a new friend at the end of the day!
12. Post on Facebook
People regularly post on Facebook looking for new people to hang out with. There are niche groups for activities and people looking for adventure buddies, such as South Coast Touring, Whistler Hikers and Whistler Climbing Scene. For ladies looking for advice, Women's Mountain Collective is a very friendly group to ask questions about all things outdoors.