There’s no denying that Whistler Blackcomb is best known for its unrivaled slopes, but that’s not all there is to it. In fact, there’s plenty to do in this lively Canadian mountain town before winter officially starts. An easy two-hour drive from Vancouver along the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway, Whistler has lots of first-rate lodging options, including Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Four Seasons Resort Whistler, so it’s time to plan your autumn trip. Here’s our list of the best ways to have fun this fall in Whistler:
1. Soak and spa, Scandinavian-style. Soaking in the outdoor baths at Whistler’s Scandinave Spa is lovely any time, but it’s especially sweet when you can step out of the crisp fall air and into the refreshing hydrotherapy pools. At this Scandinavian-style spa, start by warming up in the wood-burning Finnish sauna, eucalyptus steam bath or one of the hot tubs. Then plunge yourself into a cold pool or under a chilled Nordic waterfall. Relax in the solarium, in a hammock or out on the deck — and repeat. It’s bracing, to be sure, but feels great, too. To amp up the relaxation, add a Swedish, deep-tissue or hot-stone massage.
2. Take a treetop trek. Here’s a rare chance to tiptoe through the treetops. During the 90-minute Whistler TreeTrek Canopy Walk, follow a network of bridges suspended among the trees on Blackcomb Mountain. As you swing and sway across the bridges and look out over the forest and valley below, a guide introduces you to the area’s ecology and to some of Whistler’s sustainability initiatives. You’re in a true old growth forest here; the oldest trees are around 800 years old.
The highest of the eight viewing platforms rises nearly 200 feet above the forest floor. But if you’re after a more adventurous way to explore, Whistler Ziptrek, which runs the TreeTrek walks, also operates a network of zip lines that will whiz you along the mountainside.
3. Explore First Nations culture. The Whistler region encompasses the traditional territories of two First Nations communities, who collaborated on the creation of a thoroughly modern aboriginal cultural center and museum. At the Squamish-Líl’Wat Cultural Centre, the staff welcomes you with a traditional song and a short film about the Squamish and Lil’wat way of life. Watch demonstrations of cedar weaving or other First Nations crafts and browse among the totem poles, hand-carved canoes and other artifacts. Take a break with a snack of bannock, a biscuit-like First Nations bread, which is sold in the center’s café.
4. Eat, drink, then eat and drink some more. Foodies from far and wide flock to Whistler for Cornucopia, the town’s lavish 11-day food and drink event that showcases regional chefs, breweries, wineries and other purveyors of sips and sups. The hottest tickets include the multicourse Araxi Big Guns wine dinner at Araxi Restaurant (November 8) and CRUSH, the wine-tasting gala that takes place over two nights (November 8-9) and is famous for its bacchanalian after-parties. Plenty of dinners, seminars, tastings and other events are on the schedule, so don’t limit yourself to the big bashes. This year’s Cornucopia festivities run from November 7 to 17, and popular events do sell out — buy your tickets now.
5. See it on the big screen. Whistler’s movie scene may not have the glamour of Cannes or even Toronto, but the town does get stars in its eyes during the annual Whistler Film Festival. The festival screens nearly 90 original films with an emphasis on Canadian productions and includes special award categories for documentaries and for movies focusing on mountain culture. Cas & Dylan, directed by Vancouver-born Jason Priestley and starring Richard Dreyfuss and Tatiana Maslany, will open this year’s event, which runs December 4 to 8. There also will be a Celebrity Challenge ski race, and if you’re ready to schuss down the mountain yourself, the trails will be open for early season skiing.
Photos Courtesy of iStock-Ginevre and Four Seasons