As I wrote about in my post about our trip to Whistler, this was a grand destination for a family vacation. We’re typically allergic to any vacation that includes the word “resort”—I’m not sure why, maybe it conjures images of manufactured fun, hostage meal time situations, and lukewarm buffets. In any case, we decided this spring break to give this kind of vacation a whirl.
Partly because it was the one of the few viable options for reliable spring skiing. Partly because since I dabble in skiing more than ski in the strictest sense of the word, we wanted to go someplace where I could entertain myself on my own, without a car. Plus, we needed the flights to be budget-friendly, what with this around-the-world-trip coming up.
Whistler fit the bill.
The one part that was a little disappointing was that the village itself felt a little more like Disney and a little less like a “village”. After the week we spent in Moena, Italy (see Il Bel Centro, for a complete report), my bar is probably a bit high for charming alpine villages. An outdoor mall doesn’t cut it, no matter how meandering and charming that mall is.
But it was fun, especially at the end of the day when all the outdoor patios were full of people flush from the slopes, raising a glass of bubbly to have with their poutine. There is a casual, happy vibe that permeates the surroundings, along with the textured rhythm of an endless cascade of accents—English, New Zealand, Australian, French, Eastern European. Parsing them became a fun mealtime activity.
All of our meals were surprisingly fantastic, but for eating out, I especially recommend:
Pure Bread: More pastries than this small town girl is used to seeing, and all of them knock your socks off fantastic. Of special note: The creme brulee bun, the lemon and lavender pound cake, the zucchini and bacon muffin, and the raspberry-rhubarb pastry. If that seems like a lot of knowledge, I should add that we went there every single day.
Another great sweet treat is ice cream—if the weather is as warm as it was when we were there—at Cow’s Creamery. Not too sweet, fun flavors, a total hit!
When I had the kids to myself, we went to a charming restaurant for crepes, Crepe Montagne. I mention it because it also has fondue and raclette, and there’s nothing like mountain snow to make one crave melting cheese. If you want some adventure with your gruyere and you have money to burn, there’s a fondue restaurant you have to snowmobile to (or alternatively take a snowcat). It’s over $200 USD/person, so we didn’t try it. Instead we got some poutine at Beacon’s. Which looked like frozen fries, but tasted scrummy.
For dining in Blackcomb (or “upper village”) we enjoyed Milestones for its excellent black garlic Caesar with grilled salmon (vegetables! a treat!) and lobster bisque, and Merlin’s Bar and Grill for its hopping vibe and singable tunes. Both restaurants offer some variant of “epic nachos” which they say feed four, but we took the leftovers home for a second round, so I’d say closer to eight.
Ohyama Ramen had phenomenal ramen at a great price, though it was the restaurant design that was truly special. It felt like you were sitting outside in old Japan. There were two different rooms, with two different moods, so make sure you at least peep into whichever room you’re not in. There’s a Japanese market attached if you are interested.
If you are in the mood for pizza, we heard that Creekbread is fantastic. We didn’t go because it would have meant either a car ride or Keith could have taken the kids while they were skiing, but they always wound up on the top of a mountain at lunchtime. We had a great meal at Pizzeria Antico. It was one of those days where we had ice cream before dinner, so it was perfect to split a couple of salads and pizzas. There is a fun vibe and the pizzas are deliciously wood fired.
The taxi driver who drove me to Scandinave Spa (see earlier post on details and on why you should go) told me that Rimrock is a fantastic restaurant, but we liked the whole “not using our car all week” thing. Though I suppose we could have taken a cab. He was a super nice fellow. He even gave me a coupon for the spa! Which, by the way, wound up costing me about $60 USD for several hours of outdoor bliss.
There are loads more activities for non-skiers, including dogsledding (but the dogsledding in Quebec has ruined me, I never want to do it anywhere else), cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and other snow sports. There are helicopter rides to walk inside ice caves, there’s a peak-to-peak gondola that spans between Blackcomb and Whistler mountain (the gondola is free with your lift ticket, or you can pay to ride it). And don’t forget about the Squamish Lil’ Wat Cultural Centre to learn about how Whistler is the joining of two separate Native American nations. There’s an art museum in Whistler that’s also supposed to be really good, though I didn’t have time to go. Next time!