Whistler Winter: 21+ Fun Things To Do with Kids
I love Whistler resort’s Euro-village streets, where you can walk with kids from hotel door to bookstore in just a few snowy steps. Whistler’s joyful, community-minded atmosphere means it seems like there’s always a film festival, children’s art fest or apres-ski happening. Nowhere else is it easy to ski, snowshoe, skate, and swim within just a few miles without retrieving your car.
Whistler-Blackcomb is a British Columbia ski resort that’s an accessible, playful, family-friendly town. After you’ve scored a hotel room or AirBnB stay, what can you do with kids in Whistler in winter?
What To Do with Kids in Whistler: Outdoor Sports in Winter
1. Go tubing. Coast on giant inner tubes down the BUBLY Tube Park‘s snow. Best for parents of older preschoolers and up, as you must be at least 3 years old to ride here.
2. Go cross-country skiing. Slip along kilometers of cross-country groomed paths at Lost Lake Park, when in season; pick up your toddler-friendly chariot carrier at Cross Country Connection or another in-town shop. Even very young children can snowshoe or ski for short distances, and Cross Country will be able to suggest good ski paths and destinations.
3. Go downhill skiing. Sign the kids up for ski or snowboard camps or drop-in lessons or childcare (for ages between 18 months and 48 months; WHISTLER CHILDCARE NOT OPERATING IN 2022). Pre-enrollment, check the kids’ ability charts online to ensure they’re in the right class. Don’t miss the “Magic Castle,” tree fort, or children’s play areas on the mountain if you’re going alone.
4. Ice skate. Chill out on the ice skating rink at the Olympic Plaza, accommodating 150 skaters at a time.
5. Go sledding or tobogganing. Take toddlers and little ones (under 5) to the sled hill at Whistler Olympic Plaza. Bonus: Even if no snow has fallen lately, a snow machine blows piles of fresh flakes. Alternate: Tobogganing at Whistler Olympic Park.
6. Try a new winter sport. With bravado-filled teens, in particular, families can try winter ziplining through old-growth forests, 160-foot bungee jumps (ack, but I’m scared of heights…), or taking the “world’s fastest ice track in the world,” with the bobsleigh or skeleton at Whistler Sliding Center.
7. Go snowshoeing. Put on your warmest clothes (remember: kids move very, very slowly) and strap on your rental or owned snowshoes for a winter walk through ancient trees, watching for wildlife. Snowshoe tours take place throughout winter (some with dinner served, too), but you can also get snowshoe trail maps for a self-guided walk—just ask at Whistler Visitor Centre.
What to Do with Kids in Whistler in Winter: Outdoor Fun
1. Find the hidden mysteries. Orient yourself to Whistler using Whistler Tourism’s Winter Scavenger hunt. Find the inukshuk, totem poles, mama and baby bear sculpture, art mural and more.
2. Attend an outdoor show. Wow even hard-to-impress teens at the Fire and Ice Show, which runs from December through March. Snowboards dive through fiery hoops and acrobats juggle flaming torches; do not try this at home.
3. Go for a gondola ride. Hold on tight and coast from Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb Mountain in a glass-bottom gondola on Peak 2 Peak. Even if you don’t ski, a trip in a gondola up Whistler, on Peak 2 Peak, and back down Blackcomb is a heart-pounding adventure. Don’t forget to stop for a cup of hot chocolate and watch the skiers slide by.
4. Play on a snowy playground. Kids love the swings, slides and ramps at Whistler Inclusive Playground at Whistler Olympic Plaza. It’s a 13,000-square-foot outdoor play area with innovative spinning disks, swings and carved structures, and one of the PNW’s most aesthetically appealing playgrounds. If it’s cold? Just bundle up and grab a coffee because your kids want to play here.
5. Try a tour. Numerous outfitters take visitors on tours for every age and interest. With teens, you can try luxury snow-cat tours + dinner or skiing, go ice fishing, a winter zipline tour, or other tours that mix adrenaline with upscale first-time experiences. With younger children, you can go more mellow—ride behind arctic dogs while dogsledding, or spot bald eagles on a river float.
6. Stroll on a lit-night tour. Winter Vallea Luminea is an expensive but otherworldly experience as you pass through a forest and snow-covered ground lit by hundreds of tiny, twinkling lights. Sells out on weekends and other hot dates, and some tours include transportation. Children 5 and under are free, and youth tickets are around $5 less than adult tickets.
Winter Whistler Activities with Kids: Indoor Fun Activities
1. Go for a swim. Hold your breath and jump into the lazy river at Meadow Park Sports Centre, which boasts a slide, a six-lane lap pool, a vortex and hot tubs for mom and dad. If your Whistler resort hotel doesn’t have a fantastic kid-friendly pool (or that pool is just too darn cold), head here. Not feeling like swimming? There’s also an indoor skating rink with disco nights…
2. Let the kids climb the walls. You can do so at Whistler Core, which offers rock-climbing classes for big kids, evening climb sessions, and at times, evening climb/dinner childcare options and fun Whistler summer camps. The climbing gym is very well suited for teens, with affordable drop-in learn-to-climb classes.
3. Try an escape room. The Pirate Ship at Escape! Whistler is rumored to be among the best for families with younger children. Find buried treasure after escaping the pirate ship’s jail.
4. Attend a storytime. If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands with your toddler at Whistler Public library storytime, or just sit and snuggle up with a good book.
5. Learn to weave. You can do so on special days at Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre; this culturally rich museum is great to introduce older kids to the First Peoples of the area. The hands-on crafting demonstrations and opportunities are relaxing and informational.
6. Play Wii. Check it out at the Nintendo Gaming Lounges on Blackcomb Mountain.
Whistler Activities with Kids in Winter: Indoor Shopping & Food
1. Buy a puzzle. Pick out a trinket, activity book or board game at Whoola Toys, a Whistler mom-owned toy store packed from floor to ceiling with great, eclectic choices. It’s a good place to pick out a special in-hotel play set or cool hand-held toy for the drive home.
2. Load up on novels. Browse the paperbacks and picture books at Armchair Books, which has an extremely well-stocked children’s section with classic titles, graphic novels and YA books for teens.
3. Get mountain food. Go for crepes, hot chocolate, fondue or another family-friendly Whistler meal, and compare and contrast kids’ menus before choosing which restaurant to visit for lunch or dinner.
4. Buy candy. Fill your bag with candy at the Great Glass Elevator Candy Shoppe, which offers enough bins of jellybeans, chocolates and sweet ‘n’ sours to scare a dentist. Yum.
FAQ About Whistler with Kids in Winter
Is Whistler good for families?
Yes, Whistler is great for families. Whistler offers a wide variety of outdoor and indoor activities for all ages and is a pedestrian (and baby-stroller) friendly busy town where you won’t encounter cars. With kids in winter, ensure you’ve brought plenty of winter layers, including waterproof shoes or boots. The town does a pretty good job of keeping sidewalks clear, but sometimes you need to navigate big puddles or icy patches.
What are the best Whistler hotels for families?
I wouldn’t say there are “best” hotels, but there are better options to look for. This is what I seek out as a parent:
- Rooms with full kitchens: Eating every meal out in Whistler gets very expensive, very fast. Stop at the Costco in Vancouver, BC, before heading up, and load up on all the snacks and quick meals you might need.
- Rooms that don’t face the town squares: These can get noisy at night, particularly on the weekends. Loud bar music, drunk 19-year-olds on holiday from the U.S., and so on. You can imagine. Fun for them, not fun for you, trying to put your baby to sleep.
- Hotels known for being for families, not partiers: See above.
- Accommodations near the pedestrian core: While I like other areas around Whistler, such as Blackcomb, I prefer being close to the action—so I can park the car and avoid moving it for the next few days. Airbnb has a nice variety of options. I also like being near the grocery store for last-minute items.