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When you hear the name Whistler, skiing and snowboarding probably comes to mind first, but North America’s most popular ski resort has more to offer than just endless slopes. I had the chance to experience the famous place myself after having just returned from the very different Marmot Basin in Jasper a week earlier and while I really loved the skiing experience, a bazillion articles detailing just how awesome it is have already been written. So instead, I’m going to tell you a bit more about some of the more unusual experiences I’ve had there.
Zip-Line through the Rainforest at Twilight
Zip-lining is immensely popular these days and I think most travelers have had the chance to race across the treetops in one location or another by now. But have you ever zapped through a winter wonderland upside down and in almost pitch black darkness? While Ziptrek Ecotours offers several zip-lining adventures, the Twilight Tour is by far my favourite. In the late afternoon, you meet at the headquarters just next to the gondolas in Whistler, where you meet your guides and get equipped with a sturdy harness, a helmet and a headlamp. Then you get taken up the mountain and the fun begins. As it continually gets darker, you soar above the old growth rainforest and Fitzsimmons Creek with at first only the setting sun, and afterwards twinkling lights strung along the platforms and your headlamp illuminating the scene. To top it off, the guides also show you how to zipline upside down to get a look at the stars from an entirely different perspective. Make sure to dress warmly and bring heavy gloves!
Attend the Fire and Ice Show
The Fire and Ice Show is a weekly event taking place every Sunday evening at the village base between the Whistler and Blackcomb Gondolas. Jugglers spin fire and Whistler’s most talented skiers and snowboarders jump through a blazing hoop while fireworks go off in the background. Enough said, right?
Go Vodka Tasting in -32°C
Whistler offers amazing cuisine throughout the village ranging from BC’s famous sushi or pub grub to fine dining. For something that makes the whole grabbing dinner thing not just a satisfactory journey for your tastebuds, but also a unique winter experience, I suggest you head to the Bearfoot Bistro. Apart from offering some seriously divine food, the Bearfoot Bistro is also home to the coldest Vodka tasting room in the world: the Belvedere Ice Room. According to our guide, -32°C is the ideal temperature for sampling these complex spirits and spirits there are en masse. Some of the finest Vodkas from around the world line the room and I actually did enjoy the alcohol icy cold way more than usual. Yes, it is freezing in there, but don’t worry about bringing your winter gear, as the venue equips everyone with cozy polar jackets that would keep anyone toasty even in an Antarctic winter.
Head to the Nintendo Terrain Parks
After cruising all over the pristine slopes all morning and most of the afternoon, I decided to head to one of the five Nintendo Terrain Parks for some fast-paced action photography. The Nintendo Terrain Park, as the name might already suggest, is all fun and games with over 100 jumps, rails and half-pipes set up for the brave among us. You can either join in and attempt some jumps yourself, or watch from the sidelines as boarders and skiers alike demonstrate insane tricks and flips.
Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola
Whistler’s ski slopes stretch out over not one, but two mountain peaks covering over 8100 acres of terrain. Connecting those two mountains is the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, a record braking tri-cable gondola making the journey between the Roundhouse Lodge on the Whistler side and the Rendezvous Restaurant on the Blackcomb side. It holds the record for the longest free span between towers, which is a bit over 3 kilometers as well as the highest off the ground point at 436 meters. The views over the forested valley from the gondolas, some of which are equipped with a glass floor, are incredible and there is some added adrenaline when you realize that you only pass four towers on the 11 minute ride.
Treat yourself to a Nordic Spa and Silence at the Scandinave Spa
Hot tubs and spas? Been there, done that. But then there’s the Spa Scandinave which offers all that and more with a twist. After a fun filled and exhausting day on the slopes, you can treat yourself to their nordic saunas, steam rooms, outdoor pools and massaging waterfalls – in complete silence. That’s right, talking and even whispering is forbidden and you are forced to communicate with your friends, family or spouse with looks and hand signals only. It’s a bit strange at first, but I bet it will be one of the most relaxing experiences you’ll have in your life. The atmosphere in the pools located between spruce and cedar trees is completely serene, with snow flakes falling in between wisps of steam and only the sound of trickling water reaching your ears. There are no annoying conversations and loud groups, plus there’s free tea and plush towels – this is how spa’s are supposed to be! And sorry, no pictures allowed there so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
Make sure to go skiing or snowboarding at least two days in Whistler to see it all, but if you have some extra time, don’t miss out on all the other awesome activity the area offers.