Skiing with Kids in Whistler, British Columbia

Whistler was already well-known prior to its debut as a co-host for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, but that event really brought the world’s focus onto this relatively small village, two hours north of Vancouver. If you’ve never been, you might wonder, what’s the draw? The number one mountain resort in North America seems to have it all: natural beauty, mountains, fantastic ski terrain, fine dining, shopping, spas, and 5-star hotels. Whistler consistently ranks among the world’s best ski resorts and has developed into a four season destination for skiing, golfing, biking and other outdoor activities. There are so many reasons to go skiing with kids in Whistler, British Columbia. Here’s what you need to know before you go.

Skiing and Beyond with Kids in Whistler, British Columbia

The Curious Travel Mama and kids ready to ski and ride

Whistler Village

Somehow, Whistler manages to retain its quirky charm as a small village, even during its busiest season—winter. The heart of Whistler is its pedestrian-only Village, where you’ll find hotels, shopping and restaurants all in close proximity to the base of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. The Village is a great place to people watch while enjoying après-ski at the Garibaldi Lift Company, or tasting Beavertails at Zog’s Dogs.

In addition to many ski and sporting good stores, there are boutiques and shops like Lululemon, the Body Shop and the Gap, that will appeal to those who enjoy shopping as sport.

Whistler is a truly family-friendly getaway that your kids may not wish to leave. There are many hotels and condos with pools, hot tubs, full kitchens, and laundry amenities, as well as local babysitting and family services that rent baby gear, such as toys, high chairs and cribs, that can be installed before you arrive.

Skiing and Beyond with Kids in Whistler, British Columbia - Whistler Village

Whistler Village

The Vibe

Walking around Whistler Village, my tween remarked about the sense of busyness, of feeling ‘the vibe.’ There are visitors from all over the world in Whistler; young and old, families, the well-off rubbing shoulders with ski bums, and it makes for a fascinating mix of its own mini United Nations of sorts. You’ll hear ten different languages just walking from one part of the Village to the other, one of the key differences from many other ski resorts we’ve visited. Whistler is down to earth, yet very cosmopolitan at the same time.

Skiing and Beyond with Kids in Whistler - Site of the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics

Whistler hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics

Skiing and Snowboarding for Kids

The Whistler Kids Ski School offers every level of ski and snowboard instruction for children 3 years and up. The Whistler Kids Training Centre on Whistler Mountain features a large skills zone and beginner learning area, as well as catering facilities serving lunch for all-day lessons. The Ski School uses the Flaik GPS system to ensure kids’ safety by making their location known at all times.

Skiing and Beyond with Kids in Whistler, British Columbia - Flaik GPS system

Flaik GPS system tracks children’s whereabouts on the mountain for safety and parents’ peace of mind

For the 2012-2013 season, Whistler introduced a new “Family Certified” program. The Family Certified icon is displayed on ski runs, in stores, on Whistler Blackcomb’s website, and in Whistler Blackcomb food and beverage locations to indicate kid-friendly areas, products and services. New signage has also been added to on-mountain ski/snowboard areas to better mark children and beginner-friendly terrain. A helpful touch.

Skiing and Beyond with Kids in Whistler, British Columbia - Coca-Cola tubing hill

Excited to slide down the Coca-Cola Tube Park hills

Beyond the Ski Slopes

The Magic Castle on Blackcomb, and the Tree Fort and Enchanted Forest on Whistler, offer a break from skiing or riding, and children the chance to explore the on-mountain playgrounds.

In addition to skiing, snowboarding, and ice-skating, the Coca Cola Tube Park on Blackcomb offers more snow play adventure with 1,000 feet of sliding fun on six lanes with varying degrees of speed and height. (Note: Don’t do what I did and start with the steepest run!)

Skiing and Beyond with Kids in Whistler - Coca-Cola Tube Park

Coca-Cola Tube Park

The Food

It’s true that skiing makes you hungry. Luckily, Whistler has restaurants and cafes to cater to every taste and budget. From pizzas to fine French dining, you can find something tasty within close distance of any hotel. Some of our family favorites include the 21 Steps Kitchen & Bar, Caramba Restaurante, Pasta Lupino, Crepe Montagne, and Sushi Village. These are all local, family-friendly restaurants with kids menus and helpful staff. If you’re looking to hire a local sitter and enjoy a couple’s night out, dinner at Araxi’s or the Bearfoot Bistro would be unforgettable.

Skiing and Beyond with Kids in Whistler, British Columbia - Garibaldi Mountains

Beautiful view of the Garibaldi Mountains

Whistler Blackcomb Mountains

The mountain operations of Whistler and Blackcomb merged in 1998 to form the biggest ski resort in North America, and one of the largest in the world. With an epic average annual snowfall of 39 feet and mild coastal temperatures, the two mountains have great appeal to skiing enthusiasts.

Whistler Blackcomb has over 200 marked runs, seven terrain parks, 8,171 acres of ski-able terrain and 26 ski lifts, plus the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola (opened in 2008 and spanning 1.88 miles, it connects both mountain summits via an 11-minute ride). You can ski Whistler Blackcomb for a week and still not have skied every run.

Have you gone skiing with kids in Whistler, or are you planning a ski holiday? Share your comments or questions below!

A note from The Curious Travel Mama: Thanks to Tourism Whistler and Whistler Blackcomb for hosting our stay. As always, all opinions and views are honest and my own.

All photos by Claudia Laroye.

About Claudia Laroye, The Curious Travel Mama

Claudia Laroye lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two sons (ages 14 and 16). She started travelling at a very young age, and has never stopped. She’s had the fortune of visiting more than 15 countries on three continents, and has also lived abroad in Sweden. Claudia is passionate about family travel and about educating children through the travel experience. Claudia is the author of the travelling mom blog - the modern mom’s guide to travel sanity with your family. She has contributed to Tourism Vancouver’s Inside Vancouver blog, VancouverMom.ca, other travel sites on the web, and in print; BCAA's Westworld, the Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, and WestCoast Families magazine. She has been interviewed on CBC Radio and CBC Television as an expert on family travel. Claudia loves chocolate, guacamole, and is ever curious. Connect with Claudia on Twitter as @travelling_mom or Instagram as @thetravellingmom.

Comments

  1. I have only been to Whistler once and it was in the fall while my husband attended a conference. I loved Whistler Village!! Can’t wait to get back there with my kids!

  2. I am so jealous of all of your ski adventures this winter, Claudia! I NEED to plan a ski trip with my family next year…for sure.

  3. Thanks Lisa and Colleen – you are both overdue a visit for some ski fun! Whistler is truly a great all-around, family-friendly ski resort. Wish we could could go there every weekend (to hear my kids tell it, we haven’t skied nearly enough this season!).

  4. Farrah Ritter, The Nomadic Travel Mama says:

    I really and truly wonder if we will ever be a ski family and go on these kinds of trips??? They look so much fun! I don’t really like winter and snow though, so I think that may be a problem.

  5. Great report on Whistler. Makes a person want to be a kid again. Everyone should try to make these adventures part of their kids’ lives.

  6. Thanks for the comments Farah and Ellen. Skiing as a family has been a great adventure, and fun for all of us – worth the learning aches and pains along the way!

  7. i think that those gps trackers are pure genius. what a GREAT place!

  8. Thanks for the comment, Wandering. The peace of mind that those GPS trackers provide is GOLD to parents & instructors alike!

  9. Whistler seems to be a prety nice place for your skiing habits. And i have to admit that gps idea is really fantastic. They’ve donequite the job over there :)

  10. Indeed they have, John. Thanks for the comment!

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