I’ve never been the type to go on active trips. You won’t find me hiking mountains, surfing or canoeing from campsite to campsite. But I usually like to do stuff when I travel – whether that’s exploring temples, going on a free walking tour or taking a local cooking class.
But sometimes I just want to do nothing!
And Whistler, BC just so happens to be the perfect place for me to do that. I’ve been to Whistler before, and it’s just a couple of hours from home, so I don’t feel pressured to pack my itinerary full. Plus, Whistler is expensive and we didn’t rent a car, so this trip leant itself to a pretty lazy schedule. Lastly, we were in Whistler to celebrate my birthday, and I was very happy to do that with take-out and a dip in the hot tub.
In case you want to have a slightly more exciting time, check out my lazy, budget guide to Whistler. You won’t find expensive ski routes or biking trails on that itinerary but Whistler still has plenty to offer for those of us non-athletes on a budget.
But if you’re in the mood to do nothing in Whistle, here’s how it’s done!
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Hang out at the hotel
Of course, one of the best ways to do nothing on a trip is to stay at the hotel. I know many travellers who say you should spend as little time in the hotel as possible and not to waste your money on accommodation, since you’re only there to sleep. I take a different approach. Of course, I don’t want to spend two days in Rome lying in bed instead of checking out the Colosseum and Vatican City, but I also want to feel relaxed and comfortable when I come back after a day of exploring.
Especially when your trip is all about doing nothing, the right hotel really helps to set the tone. We stayed at the Adara Hotel in Whistler and it was perfect. It wasn’t too expensive, but it wasn’t a cheap hotel either. It was perfectly located in the heart of the Whistler Village, without being too loud.
Best of all, the Adara Hotel was a great hotel for hanging out. Our room was HUGE with a big king bed, chaise lounge and lots of space. We ate a few meals in bed and enjoyed watching movies (hint: pack an HDMI cord and your laptop so you can watch movies on the hotel’s TV screen. Some hotels will provide an HDMI cable if you forget yours.) There was also a swimming pool and hot tub, which we enjoyed after we checked in.
Read in the park
I love reading and the perfect, relaxing vacation for me involves lots of time to read. Reading at home in bed or on the couch is one thing but getting to read while on the train to a new destination or in a beautiful park is always so much better.
While walking through the Village, we stumbled upon Florence Petersen Park. This park was so cute, complete with a trail through the woods, picnic tables, lounge chairs and a water feature. Best of all, it was really quiet. We sat there for about an hour and maybe saw 20 people during that time. It was the perfect place to take a reading break in Whistler.
And if you forget your book, Florence Petersen Park is right behind a library!
Take a break in front of the Olympic rings
Need a break from all of that doing nothing? Grab a spot in front of one of Whistler’s most iconic monuments, the Olympic rings.
The Olympic rings are situated at the far end of the Village, which is already a bit quieter than the main street. After you take your obligatory photo with the rings, you can brush up on your Olympic history by reading the plaques nearby. Then, head down to the large grassy area for a well-deserved break. This is another great spot for reading, having a picnic or playing with your dog. They also hold events and activities here, like early morning yoga.
This side of the Village also has an amazing kids’ playground, very clean public bathrooms and one of my favourite snack spots (coming up later!).
Stroll through the Village
One of my favourite things to do in Whistler is stroll through the Whistler Village. Is it overpriced? Absolutely. Is it crowded? Often. But is it stupidly charming? 100%.
The shopping and food options are pretty expensive, but it’s still so fun to browse. As much as I am a city person, I love the idea of living in a little cobblestone street village with all your shops a 10-minute walk from your door. Walking through the Whistler Village makes me feel like I’m living that small town life, albeit on a much bigger budget.
It’s a great place to stroll, browse the shops and people watch. There are lots of benches and chairs around the village, as well as water stations and public bathrooms, so you have everything you need.
Stop for a snack
Some people come to Whistler to ski. I come to Whistler for Cows.
Cows is Whistler’s beloved ice cream shop. This place is almost always lined up and delivers every time. What I love about Cows is they have so many incredible flavours. I’m a weirdo who loves chocolate ice creams, but not boring plain chocolate or anything with nuts or salted caramel. At most ice cream shops, that usually leaves me with 1-2 options. But at Cows, there are at least a dozen chocolate-based ice creams that fit the bill.
Trust me, get yourself some Cows. And grab some Moo Chips (chocolate covered chips) for the ride home!
After Cows, you’ll want to visit my other favourite snack spot in the Village, Purebread. As the name suggests, Purebread is all about the carbs. It’s a bakery with a mouthwatering display of delicious scones, muffins, cookies, cakes, loafs and more. Everything tastes amazing and there are so many options to choose from!
I highly recommend the scones – the white chocolate raspberry was my favourite!
You had your ice cream at Cows and your baked good at Purebread, but you’re still hungry. No worries! The Whistler Village has an incredible assortment of restaurants to keep you satiated.
Unfortunately, Whistler is not a cheap place to eat. There are some less expensive restaurants, as well as chains like Tim Hortons of Subway, where you can eat cheaper, but most meals will cost you more. And there’s no shortage of fine dining restaurants if you really want to splurge. I have my eye on Araxi and Bar Oso for our next trip!
But on this trip, I think we did a good job of eating well without totally breaking the bank. Here are some of my top recommendations.
- Caramba: The prosciutto pizza was delicious!
- Crepe Montagne: Delicious crepes. A great choice for breakfast!
- Hunter Gather: Don’t make the mistake of ordering the chicken wings like I did. Stick to the BBQ; Colin’s brisket and potatoes were awesome.
- Quattro: For my birthday we had an Italian feast from Quattro and it was so yummy. We especially loved the seafood linguine with a very generous portion of seafood.
Tips for a fun, budget weekend in Whistler
Ready to have a fun weekend in Whistler on a budget? Whether you want to do next to nothing like we did or fill your Whistler itinerary, here are my top tips:
- Stay in the Village: If you want to be in the heart of the action, spend the extra money to stay in the Whistler Village. It’s so nice to be able to walk to everything and have all of the restaurants, shops and parks on your doorstep. It’s great to be able to come back to your hotel room at any time when you need a break.
- Save money by hitting the grocery store and booking a hotel with a kitchen: Whistler Village has two main grocery stores and you can find even more affordable grocery stores if you shop outside the Village before you arrive. Book a hotel with a kitchen if you want to cook your own meals. Or, if a kitchen isn’t possible, find a room with a microwave and mini fridge, like ours at Adara Hotel. It was super convenient to be able to bring back leftovers and heat them up.
- Look into taking the bus: On previous trips to Whistler, we’ve owned a car. This time, we thought we’d have to rent one. But renting a car can really add up, especially when you factor in paying for gas and parking. Since we were staying in the Village where everything is walkable, we didn’t need a car in Whistler. So, we took the bus! It leaves right from downtown (about a 15 minute walk from our house) and the bus we booked, Whistler Rides, is pet-friendly. It was super convenient, affordable (about $20 per person, per way), and relatively comfortable and fast (except for traffic on the way back, but that would have been the same in a car).
- Visit in the off-season: I’ve been to Whistler a handful of times and almost always in the off-season (i.e. when it’s too warm to ski). Since I’m not a skier, I don’t need to pay premium prices to be up at Whistler in the winter. I’m very happy to go in the spring or summer and enjoy the nice weather, while taking advantage of off-season deals.
- Bring your pet: Whistler is extremely dog-friendly! Most of the hotels allow dogs, there’s lots of outdoor dining and the whole Village is set up for dogs. There are green spaces all over, free poop bag dispensers, and many restaurants happily bring out water bowls for your furry friends. There are also lots of trails, parks and lakes nearby for your dog to explore.
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