Whistler checks the boxes for many different types of travelers and one of my favorite wintertime destinations for families. If you’re looking for adventure, the skiing and hiking are some of the best with plenty of kid-friendly trails. If you prefer to rest and relax, you’ll find that cozy lodge atmosphere where everyone can enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. And if you’re wondering if delicious kid-approved food exists in the middle of nowhere, I can promise you it does!
Whistler is a full service ski town, which means that you can find hotels, ski amenities, and restaurants all within walking distance -- a much appreciated added bonus when little kids are along for the ride. If you’re a winter person looking for a new ski destination, make sure Whistler moves to the top of your list! This Whistler with kids winter guide has you completely covered for where to sleep, eat, and play, featuring plenty of suggestions to plan out an epic winter vacation with your family.
For your Planning Purposes
Getting there: Vancouver International Airport is 2 hours away. There are rental car services located at the airport (outside the main terminal), or you can take the Whistler shuttle.
Getting around: I recommend renting your own car, especially if you’re traveling with kids and have to install car seats. A rental car is also a good option if you plan to do a few hikes outside main Whistler Village, or any other exploring. However, if you plan to just ski, explore the town, and stay local, you probably won’t need a car. Many of the hotels run their own shuttle services – inquire before booking.
When to visit: High season for skiing runs December-March. Whistler has one of the longest ski seasons of any destination in North America, and has an annual average snowfall of 458 inches!
What to do in Whistler with Kids
Highlights if you're in a hurry!
- Skiing Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains: If you’ve trekked all the way to Whistler, it’s time to hit the slopes with your family! As a former Utah native, I can confidently say that Whistler and Blackcomb mountains are true skiing. With over 8,100 acres of skiable terrain, including 7 bowls and 4 glaciers, you won’t feel crowded and you’ll have plenty of fresh snow to enjoy all to yourself. Sunset Boulevard is a great choice for beginners, and Rock N Roll, Overbite, and Lakeside Bowl are exhilarating runs for more adventurous skiers.
- Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola: Whistler skiing includes access to 2 stunning mountains: Blackcomb and Whistler. The two peaks each include numerous ski trails, and you can easily spend one whole day on each mountain. However, you’ll most likely end up on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola at some point, for the fastest access to each mountain. Even non-skiers are welcome aboard! If you have a toddler with you (i.e. not skiing yet), I absolutely recommend taking them on this “ride.” It’s a fun way to get even the littlest kids enjoying the mountain views. Note: a special lift pass is required, and make sure to check the weather conditions on the mountain ahead of time.
- Hike or Snoeshoe the Trainwreck Trail: This is a phenomenal family hike! You can find more details here, but don’t miss this one! It begins with a fairytale stroll through wintery woods, and ends with an exhilarating (and safe) walk across a suspension bridge -- all leading to the clearing where abandoned train cars sit quietly in their final resting place. The train cars derailed years ago, and are now completely covered in graffiti, making for quite an unexpected sight in the woods.
- Explore Whistler Village: Whistler Village is everything you’ve envisioned when thinking about the perfect ski town – snow covered streets lined with shops, and warm, inviting restaurants filled with hot drinks, food, and fondue. The best part – it’s a ski-in town, which means you can hop right off your skis at the base of Whistler Mountain and immediately grab some apres-ski drinks and hot chocolate for the little ones. They even have a playground and sledding area for kids.
Luxury Accomodations in Whistler
- Fairmont Chateau - I’m a forever fan of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. I’ve returned to this property 3 times! They have it all — close proximity to the slopes, delicious food, a lively apres-ski lounge, heated pool, outdoor sauna, relaxing spa, and very comfortable beds. However, they also know how to cater to families and make your trip convenient and fun! This is a ski in/ski out resort. Everything you could need is right there — ski rentals, breakfast to go, some small boutiques, hot chocolate and cookies at the bottom of the slopes, and any baby equipment you may need for your stay. Our favorite apres-ski family activity was swimming in the indoor/outdoor heated pool.
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I Also Considered These Hotels & Rentals
- Four Seasons Resort and Residences at Whistler - Located at the base of Blackcomb mountain, you’re right next to the ski-action! The Four Seasons has their own ski concierge service, an outdoor heated pool, and some of the largest room/suite/residence options for families.
- Westin Whistler - Nested right in Whistler Village, you have the best of both worlds when it comes to location – you’re steps away from the town, but also next to a chairlift to get your day started. Westin Whistler has upscale amenities, an indoor/outdoor pool, and fireplaces in each room.
- Whislter Airbnb Luxe - The Airbnb Luxe brand allows you to rent luxury accommodations with the convenience of concierge services. You can rent spacious high-end homes with amenities like housekeeping, grocery delivery, babysitting, private chefs, and restaurant/spa concierge.
Hotels for an Adults-Only Escape
- Nita Lake Lodge - This mountain retreat has spacious suites with huge king sized beds and cozy in-room fireplaces. It’s a perfect romantic get-away option, as it is more secluded. It’s not within walking distance of the slopes, but it has gorgeous views of Nita Lake.
The Most Delicious Family Friendly Restaurants in Whistler
In Whistler/Whistler village
- Araxi Restaurant and Oyster Bar- Tonight you’ll be eating a meal you won’t forget! Dinner at Araxi means you’ll be in the hands of James Beard Nominated Chef James Walt. His farm to table creations have earned his restaurant Best Restaurant in Whistler, by Vancouver Magazine. And if that wasn’t enough, Araxi is also famous for its apres-ski scene, serving up delicious oysters and the ooziest, yummiest cheese fondue in town. They don’t take reservations for fondue happy hour, but if you’re hoping to stay for dinner, you’ll need a reservation.
- Rimrock Cafe - Pulling into the parking lot of Rimrock Cafe, the restaurant feels like a local secret. You won't find this one in the main town – it's a short drive away, and it’s worth the extra effort. Rimrock is another farm to table restaurant that speicalizes in meat/seasfood courses. It’s quirky, fun, and delicious. Reservations are a must!
- The Wildflower - If you’re dreaming about a ski vacation starting off with a killer breakfast, then head here before you hit the slopes. The buffet is one of the most delicious and luxurious ones I’ve ever seen, and the a la carte menu is just as good. Your biggest problem dining here is that your eyes WILL be bigger than your stomach.
- Mallard Lounge - Mallard lounge is my favorite apres-ski spot in town. Think: crackling fires, delicious hot cocoa, and live music. It’s an energetic atmosphere, but never feels too crowded.
- Creekbread - Here you'll find wood fired pizza with creative twists…like pizza with pinapple and…rosemary. The scene is fun and the pizza really hits the spot.
- Alta Bistro- You’re going to get some creative combos at Alta Bistro. It's farm to table, with a dash of the ocean and something else too. Yet, somehow, it all comes together in a delicious melody of flavors.
- Bar OSO - The owners of Araxi opened this Spanish style tapas restaurant a few years ago, and it’s one the most popular places in town. They are best known for their montaditos, which are small bites of bread.
- Peaked Pies - Peaked Pies is an Australian bakery featuring sweet and savory authentic pies.
- Crepe Montage - Crepe Montage serves up savory and sweet French style crepes that will satisfy breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert cravings. The lines are worth it. Walk-ins only and no reservations.
- Purebread- This shop is a local favorite featuring some of the best baked goods. A must try: the lavender early gray scones.
Resturants on the Mountain
- Crystal Hut- This spot is known for its warm, delicious waffles. If you're one to hit the slopes first thing in the morning, you can make a stop here for a quick breakfast before you head back into the powder.
- Christine’s - If you’d like to have some fine(r) dining while skiing, then make a reservation at Christine’s to enjoy Pacific classic dishes and refreshing drinks. You’ll refuel on food as you take in the panoramic mountain views.
Tips for Traveling to Whistler
- Embrace the rhythm of a ski vacation: Ski lifts open at 8:30am and close around 3:30pm. The day pretty much goes like this: eat an early breakfast, ski for a few hours, stop for a quick lunch (I’m not that quick), complete a few more ski runs, enjoy apres-ski drinks or swimming, eat an early dinner (you’ll be tired), go for one last hot tub run (maybe), and finally sleep.
- You can save a lot of money traveling to a Canadian ski resort: The American dollar is stronger than the Canadian dollar, so if you are traveling from the U.S., your money will go further here!
- Rent the baby gear: I’m always researching the best baby travel gear to take on a trip, but sometimes it may be a better plan to rent some gadgets instead of bringing what you own. We used Baby’s on the Go so that we could use a snow friendly stroller (a must). They also provided us with hiking gear, and toys.
That's a Wrap
I’ve traveled to Whistler three times, so I think it's safe to say it's one of my favorite destinations. Whether you have your eye on it as a family vacation, friends getaway, or romantic time away, it will not disappoint. I’m looking forward to returning when Claire is older and ready to ski! I’m also hoping to visit in the summer or fall.
I hope this article has inspired your own winter getaway to Whistler with kids. If you have any questions, or your own travel tips, please leave them in the comments below. Also, don't forget to sign up for the monthly newsletter, packed with travel tips, upcoming news, and access to FREE destination itineraries.
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