Dining and Leisure Alternatives in Canada’s Top Ski Destination

Even if skiing isn’t your top priority, there’s still plenty to do in Whistler, British Columbia

Just because Whistler, British Columbia, was home to the 2010 Olympic Games, doesn’t mean there isn’t more to this place than skiing.

It’s not that I don’t own skis. The moment I expressed interest in the sport, my dad went out and bought me a pair. I was 16 years old and I think he harbored guilt from my first foray on a mountain when I was 5. Not understanding that his frilly-dress-wearing, book-loving, pansy of an only child preferred reading Madeline to mountains, he was frustrated to find out that putting my skis into a V and pushing me down a bunny hill didn’t help. With tears in my eyes, I swore not to go back on a mountain for another 10 years. Not one to back down on my promises, it took me 11.

I pretended for the next 10 years that I was into the sport. I’ve gone on spring break ski trips and ski dates. I’ve bought the trendiest snow bunny paraphernalia and I’ve played the part of active Vancouverite.

But now, at age 27, my mortality is just as visceral as it was at age 5 and I’ve finally come to terms with what my father (and subsequently, boyfriends) cannot; I don’t like skiing.

Living just an hour and a half away from Canada’s top ski destination, I’ve had many opportunities to perfect my "pendant ski" (during, as opposed to après, or after) activities, and I assure you that during this spring ski season in Whistler, British Columbia, home of the 2010 Olympic Games, there is plenty to keep those who prefer bubbly to bunny hills, occupied. 

If it's a proper meal and not a party you're after, make reservations at Araxi, made famous on Hell's Kitchen and consistently voted the best restaurant in Whistler. If you need to replenish your iron supplies, Hy's Steakhouse, a Canadian institution, is your destination. Don't leave without sampling at least eight orders of their cheese toast.  

Surprisingly, Spa Scandinave Whistler is the perfect spot to get a rosy, outdoor glow on your cheeks. Nestled in the mountains, this Finnish bathhouse boasts a eucalyptus steam room, cedar sauna, two hot pools, and two ice-cold plunging pools. Restorative and deeply relaxing, a day in the spa is cheaper than your physical therapist appointment after a fall on the slopes. Be sure to grab a bowl of whatever Bearfoot Bistro's soup-of-the-day is at the café and cross your fingers that it's their decadent mushroom.

Canada’s local designers are making names for themselves all over Manhattan at the moment. Aritzia’s flagship store in SoHo is always bustling and Lululemon’s free yoga classes in Bryant Park this summer looked more like cult worship with hundreds of attendees than a store promotion. Spend a day perusing these shops and others in Whistler Village and bring back more than a sprained ankle.

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Après Skiing:
My dad was wrong when he said the best part of skiing is the feeling of taking off your ski boots at the end of the day. That’s the second-best part. The number one best part of spending a day on the slopes is immediately downing a glass of chardonnay in celebration of not ending up in a coma. Skip the ski boots, and head straight to Longhorn Saloon and Grill or Garibaldi Lift Company an hour early to save your party’s table. These spots aren’t exactly known for their culinary cuisine, but the après ski scene will almost make you wish you spent the day actually skiing. Almost.