Famous for runs like Rider’s Revenge and Yard Sale—the term used to describe the trail of skis, poles, and gloves a skier or snowboarder leaves on the hill after a major wipeout—Whistler Blackcomb is set to open for the 2016-17 season. While powder hounds are ready to play in the snow, the town of Whistler offers plenty to keep visitors just as happy off the slopes. Here are a few suggestions for a weekend getaway to remember.
4 p.m. After you’ve checked in at your hotel, hit happy hour at Bar Oso. The cozy lounge specializes in Spanish-influenced small plates as well as cured-charcuterie boards, among other items. Order up an artisanal-gin and tonic or peach sangria to sip alongside your chilled prawn skewered with quail egg and lime or octopus “Jorge”-style, named after executive chef Jorge Muñoz Santos, with a confit of potatoes, paprika, and garlic.
Those seeking a beer-centred kickoff to the weekend can say cheers at Coast Mountain Brewing. Located in the Function Junction neighbourhood, Whistler’s newest craft brewery makes several small batches, like Sunbreak Saison and its signature IPA, Surveyor.
6 p.m. Dinner at one of the mountain town’s renowned restaurants. If you’re looking to splurge, Araxi Restaurant and Oyster Bar, Rimrock Café, and Bearfoot Bistro are long-standing favourites. Those looking for cultural cuisine done right will want to check out Sushi Village Japanese Cuisine (try the sake margaritas), Mexican Corner (where you can find arroz a la tumbada, a robust, spicy, Mexican version of paella), or Il Caminetto di Umberto.
8 p.m. Bar Hop, a guided party tour that takes place Fridays and Saturdays, leaves the Longhorn Saloon and Grill and includes stops at four other venues. Or find live music at various spots around town, including the Crystal Lounge, Mallard Lounge in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, and Tapley’s Neighbourhood Pub.
8 a.m. Breakfast at Portobello Market and Fresh Bakery, with its breakfast bowls and freshly baked bread and pastries, or Wild Wood Pacific Bistro, where you can order a Sampler Benedict with three different types of Bennies.
9:30 a.m. Visit to Audain Art Museum. Opened last year, the building itself is striking, the unconventional structure elevated off the ground, tucked among towering trees. Inside is a permanent collection of about 200 works, including several First Nations masks, paintings, and pieces by such B.C. legends as Emily Carr, E. J. Hughes, Gordon Smith, Jack Shadbolt, Jeff Wall, and Dana Claxton.
During Intersections: Contemporary Artist Films (until February 6), one of two current temporary exhibitions, the museum will transform traditional white-cube gallery spaces into a series of projection rooms, giving visitors the chance to experience the presented experimental and contemporary films and videos in new ways. Curated by Darrin Martens—chief curator of Montreal’s Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art—the exhibit has a subfocus on work from China, Mexico, and Canada’s First Nations.
From Geisha to Diva: The Kimono of Ichimaru (until January 9), meanwhile, organized by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, provides a rare glimpse into the lives of geisha, professional entertainers and hostesses who were trained in traditional Japanese arts for the enjoyment of wealthy men. The exhibition shines a light on the role these women played in the conservation of the country’s costumes, music, song, and dance.
12:30 p.m. Refuel with a casual lunch at Splitz Grill (terrific veggie burgers) or Tacos La Cantina.
1:30 p.m. Sample seasonal events like Arts Whistler’s Holiday Market (November 26 and 27) at the Whistler Conference Centre. Formerly Bizarre Bazaar, it features work by more than 100 Sea-to-Sky artisans as well as live music and a food court. Highlights include landscapes by Whistler visual artist Chili Thom and jewellery made with sterling silver and gem-cut stones by Lillooet-based Ageros Jewellery. New this year is spirits tasting with Pemberton Distillery, a certified-organic spot that makes Pemberton-potato vodka, gin, absinthe, whisky, brandy, schnapps, and liqueurs.
You could also catch a matinee during the Whistler Film Festival (November 30 to December 4).
Alternatively, visit the Nordic-inspired Scandinave Spa, which is known for its Finnish sauna, eucalyptus steam room, and outdoor hot and cold pools and waterfalls set in what is said to be a silent environment. If you prefer to sweat in other ways, go for a power walk, snowshoe, or cross-country ski around Lost Lake or take in a drop-in fitness, yoga, or climbing class at the Core.
5 p.m. Kick back at HandleBar Café and Après, which opened earlier this year at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. On tap are regional craft beers to pair with German-beer-garden-inspired food like hot pretzels and currywurst.
8 p.m. Dinner at Stonesedge Kitchen for wholesome comfort food such as hearty venison and veggie bowls and dishes like bone-in pork chop with cherry jam, or at 21 Steps Kitchen and Bar, which has small plates like fried goat cheese and big plates like B.C. rockfish.
11 p.m. Nightcap at Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub, with more than 20 single-malt Scotches on offer, or on the heated terrace at the Four Seasons Resort’s Sidecut Modern Steak and Bar.
10 a.m. Brunch at Elements Urban Tapas Parlour (consider the Haida Gwaii Dungeness crab frittata) or go casual in Creekside with breakfast poutine at the Southside Diner.
12 p.m. Take Tourism Whistler’s art-gallery walk, a self-guided tour that features stops at Black Tusk Art Gallery, the Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, Gallery Row at the Hilton Hotel, Whistler Village Art Gallery, Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, and other spaces.
Or shop your way through the village, seeking out locals’ favourites like 3 Singing Birds, which carries clothing and lifestyle items from small design companies around the globe, and 122 West, for unique décor, gifts, and furniture.
3 p.m. Pick up coffee and treats to go for the drive home. Purebread, which got its start in Whistler and has two locations there (and one in Vancouver), is a must for anyone with a sweet tooth; try the salted caramel bar. Or hit Olives Community Market, a great organic grocery store and café in Function Junction.