Last week I wrote an accommodation primer for planning a trip to Whistler with kids. It seemed natural to follow-up with 5 reasons to choose Whistler for your family ski trip. My kids learned to ski at Snoqualmie near our home in Seattle. As they were taking weekly lessons there we used a trip to Whistler as a high point of the ski season and a reward for their efforts. Why? Read on…
There’s an interactive version of this map here.
1. Whistler with Kids: The Mountains
Size. Terrain. Vertical Feet. Skiable area. These are all terms you’d think more suited to a professional skier than a grade-schooler, but even at eight BigB was able to rattle of Whistler’s impressive statistics. At over 8,100 acres of skiable area on the two mountains Whistler is larger than all the other resorts in North America by far. Even a little kid can appreciate the scale by looking at the terrain map. If you have numbers-crazy boys like mine memorizing the facts became a game in itself. The benefit when visiting Whistler with kids? There is no way your child can get bored here. They can play on the snow, roll in the snow, slide on the snow, ski, ride, ride the gondola, and test themselves on Olympic-standard downhill runs and kid-sized terrain parks. Enough said.
2. Whistler with Kids: Ski Runs for Everyone
A big mountain does not a good family ski resort make. There needs to be a good distribution of runs in each skill level. There needs to be opportunities for kids to try out a tree run safely and barrel down a steep with enough room for you to keep close by in case they wipe out. Whistler’s distribution of beginner, intermediate and expert runs is 20-55-25, Blackcomb’s is 15-55-30. Even from the top there’s a choice between easy green, wide, sweeping blues or sharp, straight black runs down the mountain. When you’re at Whistler with your kids it’s easy to accommodate a daredevil kid or a cautious skier and still have plenty of fun.
3. Whistler with Kids: Mountain Features Made for Kids
Yes, that’s a house-sized tree fort, on the mountain. On Whistler mountain actually. Blackcomb has a magic castle. Even the runs into these are kid-sized – or so they always seemed to me. The view across the valley from in front of the tree fort on a clear day makes you feel like the world is laid out at your feet. Not that your kids will notice mind you, they’ll be too busy climbing and sliding, taking a break from the hard work of skiing to just play in this made-for-kids mountain feature.
4. Whistler with Kids: Food, Glorious Food
If your kids are like mine, they’ll spend their ski day alternating between skiing and eating – with likely at least one badly-timed bathroom break. One of my favorite things about skiing on Whistler with kids is the profusion of food choices on the mountains themselves. I ski with pockets stuffed with granola bars, trail mix and chocolate, but they need real food to keep them going too. The resort charge option on Whistler’s lift tickets means that my kids, now a little older, can be independent about choosing and buying their own food.
5. Whistler with kids: The Peak to Peak Gondola
When the Peak to Peak gondola in 2009 opened I swore I’d wait “a few years” before riding on it. My kids had other ideas. We rode it every day, multiple times a day that season. Another one to chalk up on my list of the things you do with kids. And really, my kids were right. On a clear day the views from the gondola are straight from a picture postcard. You have to admire the engineering and, at 11mins start to finish, you have to admit that it’s a faster way to cross from one mountain to the other than downloading and uploading.
You don’t even have to be a skier or boarder to enjoy this panoramic gondola ride which is particularly good to know for anyone visiting Whistler with very young kids. Make a day of it: ride the Whistler gondola up for lunch at the Roundhouse, take the Peak-to-Peak across to Blackcomb for hot chocolate and stop at the sliding center on your way back down the mountain.
That’s it, there’s my 5 great reasons why Whistler is my pick for families. If you have any questions about this resort, or skiing in kids generally, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer your question, ok?
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Thanks for the tips on ski holidays with kids. I might just have to pinch a few of your ideas for my own site!
Thanks for the tips! Been wanting to plan a trip with some friends and our kids (Kindergarten & 3rd Grade).
Could you recommend any specific “kid friendly” lodges or resorts?
Hi, we’ve decided on whistler for the end of 2013. Will have 2 x 6yo’s and a 3yo (daredevil). Suggestions for lessons, ski-school etc. We’re from Australia so our kids only get to ski once a year. Planning to come for 3 weeks so looking for some real progress from the older ones. Appreciate any advice! Thanks.