For those seeking a different sort of Whistler experience, going against the flow definitely has its perks: shoulder-season (roughly from October until Christmas) is a great time to hit the town and trails, wind down, and/or get work done without the flurry of seasonal activity to distract you.
Here is our list of local gems and activities that we recommend for making the most out of your upcoming Whistler visit…
Where to Eat & Drink
Wine-lovers will revel in Alta Bistro’s casual, French-bistro-like atmosphere, which boasts a novella-size menu of wines BTB, also on prominent display around the room. On the food side, expect a seasonal menu showcasing alpine ingredients. At our time of visit, the Squash & Farmhouse Goat Cheese and Rangland Elk Tartare were the stand-outs; however, filling up on the Rye Focaccia (with cannelini bean & roasted garlic puree, harrissa oil and dukkah), and Smoked Olives (with orange, garlic, sherry, thyme, olive oil and spice) off of the Starters & Snacks menu while working your way through the BTG options is an equally satisfying option.
Tucked away in the Creekside Village, this plant-based sourdough bakery, run by husband-and-wife team Ed and Natasha, warrants at least one visit. Think a small but mighty delicious selection of fresh-baked baguettes and loaves, sweet and savoury pastries, plus coffee and a tight selection of pantry goods. Tip: For a satisfying grab-and-go breakfast or lunch option, BReD’s rotating tartines are a must. Trust us. Toppings include Roasted Wild BC Mushrooms, Wala Wala Onions, Cashew, Almond + Red Russian Garlic Cream, Lemon Thyme, to name just one stand out.
*Editor’s note: BReD is currently closed but reopens for business as usual on Friday, November 12th, 2021.
Coast Mountain Brewing is Whistler’s second brewery to set up shop in the Function Junction neighbourhood (circa 2016). The quaint family brewery and tasting room is packed with alpine-inspired accents and quirky touches (case in point: their beer flights are equipped with a magnetic shape identifying system, and the bar is home to a selection of locally made knitted mushroom displays for sale) and is full of laid-back Whistler vibes. A great place to post up at the bar on a rainy afternoon or evening.
Sidle up to the bar at The Cure Lounge inside of Nita Lake Lodge for their daily Happy Hour (2-5pm), and get friendly with the local craft beer selection – it’s where we got our first tastes of both Coast Mountain and The Beer Farmers (Pemberton; more on that later) – and a Truffled Mushroom & Pear Pizza.
What to Do
Art, architecture and the the outdoors will all vie for your attention at the Audain Art Museum. Not only does the gallery contain an impressively high calibre collection of artifacts and fine art, but the building is also a masterpiece in its own right, located amidst an equally spectacular setting. Put aside at least half a day to give all of the elements their due focus.
For a truly unique cultural experience, swing by the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. A collaborative effort between the Sk̲wxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation, Coast Salish) and Líl̓wat7ul (Lil’wat Nation, Interior Salish) Nations, the SLCC was designed to resemble a traditional Longhouse structure. Nip around back to the Pit House to experience another type of traditional earthen dwelling, and then roam the forest paths beyond, where you’ll spot plenty of mushrooms (the pine and chanterelles were out in full force during our visit) and other Indigenous plant species.
Heading in or out of town, be sure to take a detour to check out Nairn Falls. A short 1.5km hike from the highway, the roaring waterfalls and roiling rapids are a terrific sight to behold up-close. Make sure you have your wits about you, though, because the path leading to the Falls is narrow and uneven, and runs alongside a steep, unprotected drop. Navigating the rocks leading to the best view of the Falls also requires being light-footed.
For a change of scenery, the jaunt out to Pemberton to pay a visit to The Beer Farmers Brewing is well worth the approximately 45-minute drive. First and foremost a functioning 500-acre family farm operated by Bruce and Brenda Miller and their five offspring, The Beer Farmers’ organic offerings also include the key ingredients that go into their own line-up of beers, such as the surprisingly quaffable ‘Spud Lite’ Potato Pilsner. It doesn’t get much fresher or more idyllic than this!
Where to Stay
Looking to get some work done and/or wind down while in town? The Nita Lake Lodge provides a tranquil setting and spectacular lake views conducive for productivity or complete relaxation. It’s also home to The Spa and offers direct access to walking and biking trails (bicycles are available for free from the hotel) – perfect for alleviating stress, whatever that means to you. Bonus: the adjoining The Fix Café was also responsible for the best coffee of our recent visit!
Other Places to Check Out
Photos of Fix Café and Alta Bistro courtesy of Tourism Whistler | BReD by Darby Magill and Mirae Campbell