10 Things You Need To Know Before Going To Whistler, B.C.
Welcome to Whistler, the Canadian mountain town that birthed the avalauncher gun, an incredible downhill bike park and the first ever quadruple backflip on skis. Aside from having some of the best skiable terrain in the world, Whistler offers endless possibilities for just about any outdoor activity. Not to mention the festivals, spas, restaurants, and bars that make Whistler the ultimate holiday or career-break destination. These tips will help you get the best out of your time here, and maybe even help you make conversation with that friendly ski bum next to you in the bar.
1. The tap water is crystal clear and perfectly safe.
Whistler has some of the best-tasting tap water in British Columbia, coming straight from our mountains and glaciers. Water quality is tested at multiple locations every week to ensure it's up to scratch. To reduce single-use plastic waste, choose tap water over bottled water.
2. There are two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb.
Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains used to be separated and were friendly rivals until they merged in 1997. Together, Whistler Blackcomb ski resort is now one of the world’s largest in the world, with over 8,000 acres (3,237.4ha) of skiable terrain. The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola that connects the two mountains is the world’s longest continuous lift system and is a sightseeing attraction in its own right.
3. There's more than just the village.
Sprawling from Function Junction to Emerald, Whistler is a lot bigger than most visitors think. Visit our local breweries, go ice skating and watch the planes take off at Green Lake, all just a short bike or bus ride out of the village. There is a large variety of supermarkets, liquor stores, cafes, and restaurants - each neighbourhood has a favourite! Check out the Southside Diner or Alpine Café for local vibes outside the hustle and bustle of the village.
4. Even when the snow is “bad”, it’s still pretty good.
Whistler has so much epic terrain that you can find powder long after the last snowfall if you know where to look. Many people who have been here for years still haven't done every run, not to mention the endless backcountry options for those who are equipped with the knowledge and gear! With two immense mountains to explore, and the Spearhead Range connecting them both, plus multiple terrain parks for all abilities - it's hard to run out of things to do on the mountain!
5. It's just as good, if not better, in summer.
Whistler really comes into its own in the summertime. Home to arguably the best downhill bike park in the world, with a vast network of trails just outside the resort, adventure enthusiasts flock to town year-round for biking and hiking alike.
Beach volleyball, fishing, festivals, lake swims, kayaking, paddle boarding, patio sessions, frisbee golf, BBQs in the park, a weekly farmers market - Whistler has it all. With a completely pedestrianized village centre and Valley Trail network, exploring Whistler in the sunshine couldn't be easier.
6. Y'all gotta tip.
It is common nature (and expected) in North America to tip on food and drink service. Tipping etiquette in Canada is usually between 15–20 percent, unless the service was unsatisfactory - in which case you should inform your server prior to getting your cheque. Check out the best happy hours and après locations in town here.
7. There are bears.
We have some delightful furry neighbours who called Whistler home long before us. You'll spot them on the local trails or munching on fresh grass at the golf courses. They are full of personality and generally very chill around humans, but they need space and respect. Learn more about Whistler's bears here.
8. Whistler used to be called London.
It's good to have a fun fact in your small talk arsenal. Here's one for you: Back in 1932, Whistler was known as London Mountain, after a resource claim in the area and the low lying fog in the valley similar to that of England's capital. Afraid that potential guests would associate the name with bad weather, early developers changed the name in 1965. The name Whistler is inspired by the whistling sound made by marmots—large, furry squirrels—that are native to the alpine area.
9. It's expensive!
Hotels are super expensive in Whistler, as is parking. Come in the shoulder season for the best room rates, or hit up one of our local hostels or campgrounds. Check out these money saving tips if you're headed to Whistler on a budget, plus our favourite meal deals in town.
10. Whistler is big on the environment.
That means no littering, making sure you recycle and compost everything, drinking the tap water instead of buying it bottled, being Bear Smart and respecting the fire ban. A place of stunning natural beauty, Whistler needs its inhabitants and visitors to protect and respect its environment. If you want to learn more, check out this article on How to live Zero-Waste in Whistler.
Enjoy! For more in-depth info check out our posts on Whistler's Top Hikes, Best Yoga in Whistler, Transport and Gear Rental!
To get pumped for your trip to Whistler, check out the locally made Magnetic movie right here that showcases some of the best riding in (and out) of the resort.