Whistler is most famous for skiing, but it really is a four-season, international resort. The entire region from Vancouver through Squamish and into Whistler is family friendly, and though the resort is heavily sports-oriented, there are plenty of cultural activities on offer too.
Aside from bars and nightclubs, kids are welcome in most restaurants, and many hotels have family-friendly pools. The area is easily walkable and, as with everywhere in Western Canada, safety concerns revolve more around wild animals and the natural environment than the risk from other people.
The mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb are massive and can be skied and boarded year-round – even on a glacier in the summer. This seems the logical activity at the resort, but it really is the single biggest attraction. The resort has ski schools for all levels, but given the general costs of staying and playing in Whistler, it may be worth learning the basics of the sport in order to explore more of the mountains.
Arguably the best cable-car experience in North America, the Peak 2 Peak Gondola connects Blackcomb Mountain to Whistler Mountain, with some the cable cars offering glass floors. At the highest point the cable lifts you 1,400 feet (436m) above the valley. The ride includes gondolas and chair lifts up and down the mountains and allows plenty of time for hiking. Make sure to take a photo at the famous Inukshuk statue atop Whistler.
No skill or equipment required, the tube park on Blackcomb Mountain is family oriented and offers all the excitement of downhill sliding. Typical of the resort, the Whistler Tube Park is well designed with a “magic carpet” moving floor, which transports participants to different chutes. When descending, try to spin as much as possible!
From newborn to age five, there are several day care services available in the village. Day care standards are high, with legal requirements for ratios of children to carers, and the village area is fun for children of all ages. Childminding offers parents the opportunity to ski, golf, bike or just play while knowing the little ones are safe and happy.
The Whistler outdoor skating rink is located on Olympic Plaza. Skating is as much a Canadian activity as skiing and helmets are free. Located right in the village and lit in the evening, this is a fun activity that fits in nicely after skiing when the kids need to burn off a little more energy.
Summer on the mountains is about biking. Whistler Mountain Bike Park is designed for kids from 3-12 years, and lessons are available in the kids’ area, which offers a controlled and supervised environment. The bike park has everything from bikes to helmets and pads, and trails are clearly marked. As skills improve, the mountains open riders up to expert and extreme runs.