Best of Both Worlds in British Columbia
A hip city and a cool resort with world-class skiing make for a perfect getaway.
The Vancouver waterfront skyline.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
About 80 miles apart, Vancouver and Whistler are connected by the aptly named, and quite scenic, Sea-to-Sky Highway, a route that gets ambitious visitors from city to slope in less than 2 hours. It’s the best of both worlds—you can ski powder runs at the largest resort in North America by day and make it back in time for a farm-to-table dinner.
When the Whistler and Blackcomb ski areas merged, in 1997, they formed a massive resort that gets more than 38 feet of snow a year and has 8,000 skiable acres, including 16 alpine bowls, more than 200 marked runs and 3 glaciers. The breathtaking views from the Peak-2-Peak gondola alone are worth the price of admission. Once you get out on the mountain, 37 lifts accommodate every level of skier, from beginner to black-diamond thrill seeker. Sequestered in British Columbia’s rugged Coast Mountains, the area is a haven for heli-skiers, too. Book a 3-to-6-run package through Whistler Heli-Skiing, which includes lunch in the backcountry at 7,500 feet.
DON’T GO HUNGRY
Whistler has become quite the food town, thanks to several new outposts opened by notable Vancouver chefs. If you’re sticking around to dabble in the après-ski scene, sign up for a restaurant crawl with Whistler Tasting Tours, which leads junkets to the village’s more heralded spots as well as under-the-radar haunts.
If you’d rather get back to sea level, the Rocky Mountaineer train chugs along a picturesque route through Howe Sound and Cheakamus Canyon. Make your way to the historic Gastown neighborhood, which has become the ZIP code of choice for foodies. Grab a communal-table seat at the Alibi Room, across the railroad tracks near Vancouver Harbor, and order free-range chicken wings, locally sourced pork-belly sandwiches and a pint of one of the 50 beers on tap. Down the street, master barman Shaun Layton experiments with fresh fruits and vegetables at trendy L’Abattoir, housed in the city’s first jail. Try the avocado gimlet with rosemary-infused gin at the bar, then head to the exposed-brick dining room for chef Lee Cooper’s French-influenced dishes (barbecued octopus, pan-fried veal sweetbreads, wild mushroom fricassee with poached egg). For something easier on the wallet, Chinatown’s Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie has been a hit with locals since it opened. Those who brave the queue spilling out the front door are rewarded with a profusion of inventive Asian small plates. Don’t miss the prawn-and-chive dumplings and sticky-rice cakes.
Whistler Blackcomb: 1.604.967.8950; whistlerblackcomb.com
Whistler Heli-Skiing: 1.888.435.4754; whistlerheliskiing.com
Whistler Tasting Tours: 1.604.902.8687; whistlertastingtours.com
Rocky Mountaineer: 1.877.460.3200; rockymountaineer.com
Alibi Room: 157 Alexander St.; 1.604.623.3383; alibi.ca
L’Abattoir: 217 Carrall St.; 1.604.568.1701; labattoir.ca
Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie: 163 Keefer St.; 1.604.688.0876; bao-bei.ca
* Information is subject to change and RCI is not responsible for any inaccuracies or for updating any changes to information provided.