Whistler is a town situated just a 2 hour drive North from Vancouver, nestled at the bottom of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. The area is famed for being one of the largest ski resorts in North America as well as a mecca for adventure!
Summer sees the ski resort transform into a mountain biking paradise with a whole host of summer adventure activities for the adrenaline junkies or visitors looking to enjoy British Columbia’s great outdoors.
Being so close to Vancouver, Whistler is perfect for a weekend or week long getaway. With Vancouver’s International Airport located on popular routes to and from Australasia and Europe, it is also a great opportunity for a stopover. When we flew back from New Zealand to the UK we stopped in Vancouver and had a 10 day holiday in Whistler, and it only cost us an extra $500! If you want tips on how best to do this, let me know in the comments below ( I used to be a travel agent so have all the travel hack secrets).
What can we do in a weekend in Whistler?
Whistler has a huge selection of accommodation options and we were lucky enough to stay at The 4* Crystal Lodge & Suites located right in the heart of Whistler’s village district, with shops, bars, cafes and restaurants right on our doorstep. Being so close to all of the action means you have more time to fill your weekend with activities.
Our Crystal Queen Room had all the modern comforts you’d expect and felt more like an apartment than a hotel room, our huge comfy sofa (which pulls out to make an extra bed) was perfect to kick back with a glass of wine and enjoy a movie night on the flatscreen TV. After we checked in with the friendly hotel staff it was time to relax in our room before we headed out for the evening. The deep soaker tub and a glass of red wine hit the spot. If you are feeling active you can use their Fitness Centre and then relax in the Sauna afterwards.
The hotel also has weekly complimentary hosted receptions between 3.30 – 4.30pm that include BC’s finest Craft Beers, Crystal Cocktails, Signature Wines from Basalt Wine + Salumeria, Gelato or Hot Chocolate with Baileys or Self Serve Iced Tea.
Being just a 2 minute walk from the Gondola Hub it was a perfect base to access all of Whistler’s activities. Mountain Bikers and Skiers will have their Ski’s and Bikes valeted (complementary) and be on the slopes in no time at all. They even have a bike wash with a new Bike Tuning Station so you can mount your bike and rebuild using the tools attached from the comfort of your hotel.
In winter there is a games room for all the big kids and upon check in you receive a Crystal Advantage Card which offers discounts for dining, retail and salons in the village.
Dinner that evening was enjoyed at Basalt Wine + Salumeria which is conveniently accessed directly from The Crystal Lodge as well as from the Village Stroll.
Basalt has a cosy outdoor patio dining area in a fantastic space to watch people go by. Their charcuterie and cheese boards will have you’re inner foodie covered. We enjoyed some dishes from their 3 course prix fixe menu.
Get ready for your tastebuds to start watering because I have listed below what we ate – just because it was so damn delicious I just had to share.
Calamari with Lemon and Chilli Falafel with tahini mint yoghurt to start was just what the doctor ordered followed by a New York Strip Steak and Sumac Roasted Fish with apple caper tomato salsa, cured yam + chickpea hash, swiss chard and butter chicken sauce. For dessert I opted for the Coconut, Lemongrass and Ginger Popsicle with salty roasted peanuts, lemon raspberry kombucha granita and smoked coconut toffee. Phil had the Cheese Board with welsh cheddar, le gruyère classic, house made labneh and fig + caramelized onion jam. Isn’t that enough to make you start drooling.
After a couple of awesome Basalt cocktails and yummy Canadian craft beers we were ready to turn in for the evening so we were rested for our action packed next day!
We start our leisurely morning with breakfast in bed (OJ and pastries from the local market) and relax by the outdoor heated Swimming Pool and Hot Tub which is open 365 days a year. Plush pool towels are provided and it’s the perfect way to relax before our afternoon of adrenaline activities begin.
There are an abundance of adrenaline filled activities to choose from in Whistler and we decided to do the BC RZR Tour from The Adventure Group (TAG). These are 4WD Off Road buggies that will take two people up Cougar Mountain on an adventure of a lifetime. The TAG office is located in Whistler Village and after a short ride in the minibus out to Cougar Mountain, about 20 mins north of Whistler, we arrived at the TAG base camp.
We are introduced to our RZR Guides and supplied with our helmets and goggles. We pair up and get into our RZR’s (there was plenty of time to swap over drivers, so no fighting for the drivers seat haha) excited to see what lay ahead and set off into the Canadian Mountains with our guide.
It was unbelievable what terrain we were able to drive up, over and through in these 4 wheelers. Novice and adventurous drivers alike will have no problems piloting these through anything the Canadian wilds throw at you. Watch out for the big puddles though, you will get wet if you go full speed ahead as demonstrated in the first 10 minutes by a driver on our tour who got very muddy.
We climbed up Cougar Mountain to some fabulous views over the adjoining mountain ranges, great photo opportunities await and plenty of time to experience the old tracks of the mountains. Driving through the Hemlock, Fir and Red Cedar forests you feel like you are a million miles away from civilisation.
Our off road tour lasted approximately 2.5 hours and after that a hot shower was needed. Wear old clothes if you are visiting over the summer months as the terrain is very dry and dusty. Queue hilarious dust beard photos when removing your helmet at the end.
We head back onto the minibus heading for Whistler and say farewell to the base camp…for now! Later that evening we also planned to come back and visit the spectacular Vallea Lumina which is also hosted in the evening by The Adventure Group.
We first saw a video online for Vallea Lumina last year and have wanted to go ever since, they have tours running from sundown via a complementary shuttle from Whistler Village during the summer months.
Once the sun has set and you arrive back at Cougar Mountain the whole place is transformed into an immersive ranger camp complete with campfires and songs set amongst the festoon lanterns and log cabins.
Ranger guides will send you on your way into the dark forest guided by lit walkways – soon after we began we were greeted by the most amazing light shows and visual effects amongst the giant forest.
Sound and lighting effects galore will have you feeling like you stepped straight into an enchanted forest Disney movie and have the magical feels all around. When exploring the sights and wonders of the forest make sure to stop and wait at the installations for their surprises.
Our walk took approximately 1 hour from start to finishing back at the basecamp, where buses are waiting to take you back to Whistler -that is if you are done enjoying the campfires at basecamp of course.
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