I always get a kick out of walking through Whistler’s pedestrian-only village center. It feels faintly European, with a mix of familiar retail shops, unique restaurants and local hangouts that appeal to all kinds of visitors. This universal appeal is a key to Whistler’s success in becoming the largest ski resort in Canada, and one of the best and busiest in North America. The mountains and snow conditions help too of course, as skiing remains at the heart of Whistler’s reason for being. These ingredients for success make Whistler a superior choice as a family holiday destination, one that’s not just limited to winter. Here’s a complete guide of the top 35 things to do in Whistler with kids all year round.
Things to do in Whistler with Kids
As a true four season mountain resort, Whistler has something for everyone at every time of year. For families, this world class ski resort offers great hotel deals and accommodation options, lots of family-friendly restaurant choices in close walking distance, and an amazing assortment of activities and attractions. You won’t have to worry about the kids getting bored on holiday, this mountain town is packed with loads of things to do in Whistler for kids.
Whistler Kids Activities Year-Round
1. Step aboard the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, one of the longest free span gondola rides in the world. If you dare, opt for the glass-bottom gondola to maximize your views. The Peak2Peak operates year round, which is fabulous for skiers to access the terrain on both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, and for hikers to do the same in summer. As with all the Whistler gondolas, this is a great place for bear-spotting in summer and fall – bring binoculars
2. Take a guided tour with an Aboriginal Youth Ambassador of the beautiful Squamish Lilwat Cultural Centre in the Upper Village. Try weaving cedar strips into a bracelet, or watch a multi-media presentation about Lilwat culture, heritage and history.
3. Channel your inner Viking, or lumberjack, at Forged Axe Throwing in Whistler’s Function Junction. Adults and kids ten years and older can take axe throwing lessons that progress from small hatchets to full-sized wood-splitting beauties like ‘Agatha’.
This is a really fun family or group activity to enjoy for an hour or tow. Celebrate hitting the bullseye with a stop at Whistler Brewing Company located next door, where kids are also welcome.
4. Zip through snow-covered mountains or a summer forest of tall cedar trees with ZipTrek Ecotours. Fly high above frozen or flowing Fitzsimmons Creek on a half-day Eagle Tour. Ziplining in Whistler is perfect for adventurous families with kids 6 years and older. Guides teach about forest preservation while securing zip lines for hours of high flying fun.
5. Kids climbing the walls? Bring them to the Core Climbing Centre, Whistler’s indoor/outdoor fitness facility. The Core offers climbing lessons (& child-minding), as well as a children’s “Climb & Dine” evening (dinner included) for 2-3 hours, allowing parents a precious dinner evening to themselves.
6. Take a ride in a lazy river or practice your freestyle in an open lane in the lap pool at Meadow Park Sports Centre. This family-friendly sports facility is just a few kilometers north of the village, and includes a indoor kids pool (with said lazy river), lap pool, hot tub, steam room and fitness facilities.
7. Fill up a bag with the candy of your choice from the many sweet offerings at the Great Glass Elevator Candy Shoppe in Whistler Village. The Village’s excellent playground is located just outside the doors, and there’s no better place to run off steam than at this 13,000-square-foot outdoor play area with slides, spinning disks and soft flooring.
8. Caught in a rainy day in Whistler? Catch a flick at Whistler Village 8 Cinemas.
9. Jump for joy at Whistler Bounce, an indoor trampoline park located in Function Junction south of town. Complete with padded walls, a foam pit, and instructors ready to teach your kid how to bounce, flip and twist like a pro. Tip: You may spot local pro skier and snowboarders dropping in to train.
10. Less than a two hour drive up the Sea to Sky Highway, the Audain Art Museum is an iconic art gallery and Whistler’s cultural hot spot. Located by the Village, the Audain hosts a permanent collection of artworks from British Columbia and around the world. Entrance is free for children 16 years old and younger.
11. Fathom Stone offers stone carving classes for kids and adults that are educational, creative and fun! Instructors will guide you in creating your own stone art piece from British Columbia soapstone.
12. Need some quiet time or free WiFi? Stop in at the Whistler Public Library to browse the stacks or the great magazine selection, or catch a children’s story time with the Children’s librarian.
13. Puzzle ‘til your puzzler is sore at Escape! Whistler. This is a real-life gaming experience where you work as a team to escape from different scenarios by solving puzzles and riddles. There are four themed rooms to choose from, and an adult must accompany the kids. It’s actually a lot of fun as a family activity.
Things to do in Whistler in Winter
The Whistler ski area is the largest in Canada. Whistler in winter is all about ski season and snowsports. There’s skiing, riding, tubing, skating, cross-country, even bobsleighing down the 2010 Winter Olympics run. As a perennial top ski resort in North America year after year, the mountains of Whistler Blackcomb do winter like nowhere else.
In terms of getting to the runs, the Whistler Express Gondola gets you up to the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain in 20 minutes. On the Blackcomb side, the Blackcomb Gondola in the Upper Village offers one continuous warm ride up the mountain to the Rendezvous Lodge.
From either side, you have access to Whistler Blackcomb’s 200 runs, 17 alpine bowls, and 4 glaciers. There’s more than 8,170 acres of skiable terrain. Are you excited yet?
Whistler Lift Tickets
There are many ways to access Whistler Blackcomb Mountains in winter or summer. Many locals get season passes to access unlimited skiing opportunities at the resort. When Vail Resorts purchased Whistler Blackcomb, it allowed for season pass holders to be automatically enrolled in the Epic Pass Club, which offers benefits and perks through the Epic Pass family of 65 resorts around the world.
For less frequent visitors, EDGE Cards can be a good options. They’re available for pre-purchase open or restricted (non-peak) 10, 5 and 2 day periods. You can purchase day tickets at Guest Relations at the base of each mountain (including Creekside), or book online 7+ or 14+ days in advance to get the best deal.
Got kids? Save money. The Epic SchoolKids Whistler Blackcomb Pack is a FREE program for Canadian and Washington State Kindergartners through grade 5 that provides five days of free skiing and riding at Whistler Blackcomb. No purchase necessary but register early for this program.
The Epic SchoolKids Whistler Blackcomb Pack also includes one free first-timer ski or ride lesson with equipment rental. Restrictions apply. Book early.
14. Sign the kids up for Whistler Kids Ski School. Whistler ski school offers ski and snowboard lessons for kids 3 and up. The ski school has its’ own beginner learning area on Whistler Mountain, with catered lunch for all-day lessons.
The school offers experienced ski instructors and programs for all ages and ski abilities. You can choose one day private lessons, or a week’s worth of group Adventure Camps. The School also has a Flaik GPS system to keep track of every child on the mountain. This is great peace of mind for parents.
And if you need to brush up your skiing or boarding skills, this is the place.
Important: Book your Whistler Kids ski school lessons as soon as you confirm your holiday. Skiing and riding lessons at Whistler Kids fill up incredibly fast every season. Do not expect to show up at the ski school and drop off your child for lessons. Remember – Book lessons as soon as you book your holiday!
15. If your kids are too young for the slopes or need minding, sign them up for daycare.
16. Link your inner tubes or fly solo at the Coca-Cola Tube Park. There are seven lanes of icy fun at this fabulous snow tubing playground. The lanes are 1,000 m long, and smaller kids (3 and above) can enter the shorter kids-only lane halfway down a run.
Families can link up their tubes and fly down the runs together in a family-friendly adrenalin rush. Be warned, there may be screams… of delight.
17. Enjoy the serious rush of adrenaline with SuperFly Ziplines. The views of snowcapped Cougar Mountain are purely stunning as you reach speeds of nearly 100 km (60 miles) on your tandem zipline.
18. Take a break and play Wii in the Nintendo Gaming Lounge. There are two lounges, one on Blackcomb and the other on Whistler Mountain.
19. Careen down the Olympic bobsleigh run at the Whistler Sliding Centre. With a trained bobsleigh pilot at the ‘wheel’, the sleigh can reach speeds of up to 125 kilometers per hour. This experience is suitable for older teens.
20. Catch Whistler’s best skiers and riders hit a big air jump through a blazing ring of fire at the Fire and Ice Show every Sunday night. Even your jaded teens will be impressed.
21. Strap on some snowshoes or skis for cross country skiing and head to Lost Lake Park, just a few minutes’ walk from Whistler Village. Everyone can snowshoe, even the wee ones. If you need rentals, check out Cross Country Connection at the Lost Lake PassivHaus.
22. Look for the yellow “Family Certified” or Whistler Kids logos on places and spaces that are designated family-friendly, from restaurants to on-mountain runs and secret spots, like the Magic Castle and Tree Fort.
23. The Family Après event takes place every Monday and Wednesday evening from December until end of March at Whistler Olympic Plaza. Kids can enjoy Canadian-themed activities and entertainment. This adds to the already popular outdoor skating rink available at Whistler Olympic Plaza.
24. Take a twirl and ice skate at the Whistler Olympic Plaza rink. The plaza is easy to find, look for the five Olympic rings, which are also a great photo spot. This outdoor rink is open daily and has a skate rental shop if you didn’t bring yours from home.
Things to do Whistler in Summer
The list of Whistler summer activities is long and may surprise you. Summer in Whistler has become as strong a season as the busy winter time. From hiking on trails to biking down mountains, paddling to swimming in mountain lakes, summer is a great time to visit Whistler.
25. Go into the light at Vallea Lumina. This multi-media experience is like a magical night in the woods north of Whistler village. Lights, sounds and music casts spells and tell stories in the sky and on the trees and streams near Cougar Mountain. Wear sturdy shoes and prepare for some stairs and inclines.
26. Get ready for breathtaking views on the Cloudraker Skybridge. Part of the Peak2Peak 360 Experience, the suspension bridge is located right beside the top station of Peak Chair on Whistler Mountain and spans 130m to West Ridge. Visitors can also access the Raven’s Eye Cliff Walk viewing platform from the bridge on the West Ridge Lookout. Enjoy those 360 views from the Peak!
Tip: Upload from Creekside (and take advantage of free day parking)
27. Head into the woods across from Function Junction and hike to the most colourful set of ruins you’ll ever see, at Whistler Train Wreck. This scenic one-hour walk and bridge crossing leads to the site of several abandoned box cars that went off the rails in the 1950s.
The rail cars have since been used as rad mountain bike stunt jump-offs, and as colourful, graffiti-covered Instagram backgrounds. It’s a lovely walk and neat place to visit. Go early to avoid the crowds and photo bombers.
28. Graze your way through the local produce stands at the Whistler Farmer’s Market. Located in the Upper Village, there’s no better place to learn and taste local products, baked goods (cherry hand pies!), and even sample local distillers gin and vodka than at this open-air weekend market.
29. Bounce on a bungee trampoline, drive a mini-car or even ride a horse at Whistler Blackcomb’s Family Adventure Zone. Located at the base of Backcomb Mountain gondola in the Upper Village.
30. Work that inner core and learn to Stand-Up Paddleboard on Alta Lake. This is a great workout on a calm lake – with some pretty killer mountain views – and my kids were certainly better at it than I was!
31. Celebrate childhood at the Whistler Children’s Festival in July. Located in the Olympic Plaza, the Festival packs music, hand-on arts and crafts activities, dance and theatre into three full days of fun.
32. Take a walk or bike around Lost Lake in the village. The Lake loop is mostly flat and off-road stroller-friendly, and can end in the village or at the small beach where swimming is open in summer. Explore the many other trails in town.
33. Take a family canoe trip along the River of Golden Dreams. The river is officially known as Alta Creek and connects Alta to Green Lake. This is a very scenic, five-kilometer canoe or kayak trip that can be done DIY style or with a guide.
34. Rip it up and go mountain biking on Whistler Mountain. Kids as young as 3 years old can take lessons or do summer camps while teens and adults careen down the steep and bumpy mountain trails.
35. Whistler kicks off its summer season every May long weekend with GO Fest Whistler the Great Outdoors Festival. This family-friendly party includes arts and cultural activites, as well as sporting events like mountain biking, canoe races, yoga classes, and lots and lots of music.
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Photo Credits: Mike Crane, Justa Juskova, Amy McDiarmid, Claudia Laroye, Tourism Whistler
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