Whistler is a world-class ski hill and for good reason. The combination of Whistler and Blackcomb offers an obscene amount of skiable terrain. It is right in my backyard, less than 3 hours by car from my house (and just over 2 hours by car from Vancouver to Whistler). But when it comes to taking kids on the ski hill, it can be daunting. We have skied the magic chair on Blackcomb for a few years, but this year was the first year that I would be taking the kids on the whole ski hill.
Yes, there was a moment of panic as I took these three eager boys up the gondola by myself, “What have I got myself into?” definitely came to mind. I hope that by the time you get to the end of this post, you feel confident about pulling it off, because the 4 of us did, and you can too!
Manage Your Expectations on the Ski Hill
This is ALWAYS my first piece of advice when it comes to traveling with kids. If you have a certain idea on the way things are supposed to go you are almost always going to be disappointed. I read facebook forums all the time with parents pleading for help on trying to relax on vacation with their kids. To be honest, there is no “mom” time or “dad” time when it comes to family travel. I like to refer it to parenting in paradise.
With that being said, when it comes to skiing at Whistler for the first time, if you have little ones, you can put them in ski school for the day so you can hit the slopes while they learn the basics. We decided to spend a few years skiing the magic chair until they were confident and could handle skiing a run without a break. My boys are now 11 and 9 and this is the first year we did the whole hill. As a single mom, my eleven-year-old had to wait longer than he needed to, but I was not interested in pushing my 9-year-old and having the day go sideways, for all of us.
Have a Plan if Someone Gets Separated.
I had a moment of panic, I will admit, when I loaded three kids onto the gondola myself and suddenly realized that Whistler Blackcomb is a HUGE mountain, full of places to get lost (unlike our little magic chair where there is one way down and one base!). We chose to ski on Blackcomb (because I have more experience there), but Blackcomb has 2 bases so even if we got separated for some reason, we had a meeting point. I cant remember what it was now, but it was one that we all knew, and if someone ended up at the wrong base, my kids are old enough to ask for help! (And can also phone me if they find an adult with a phone!)
Thankfully this did not happen as all three kids were about the same ski level and would ski ahead and wait. No one was keen to take off and thankfully no one at the back fell out of sight of the one in the front! There is definitely advantages to having older kids when you tackle the mountain! If you have an adventurous five-year-old, make sure you have a plan to make sure you are not seperated!
Plan for Breaks
Whistler is a big ski hill. You spend most of the day skiing, not waiting in lines. With that being said, kids energy levels are not always the same as ours. Sometimes they want to go go go and other times they will want a break. Pack some snacks for moments when you are on the chair lift or gondola and plan for a warm-up hot chocolate, lunch, or at least a break at some point.
Choose the Right Kind of Runs for Kids
A tip for young kids is to choose runs wisely. Their skis are short so the flat areas can get them caught up and stuck. But on the other end, some blue runs can be quite steep! We took the Blackcomb Gondola to the top (there are two stations). Head out to the right and you can get on Expressway and then Easy Out. Then follow the Green Line and you will end up at the Magic Chair’s Yellow Brick Road and then back to Blackcomb Daylodge.
You Can take a look at the Ski Hill Map here
Choose Accommodation Wisely
Choose a hotel in the village. I mean it. Yes, AirBNBs sound great, but the majority of the cabins/townhouses/houses in Whistler are not within walking distance of the Village. With that being said, you can find lots of condos near Blackcomb base. I have put together a list of my favorite family hotels in Whistler to consider when you plan your trip. Most are condo-style (many hotels in Whistler offer kitchen amenities) making them perfect for families.
My kids like to ski, but they love the village vibe. Staying in the village means we can walk to restaurants, the grocery store, the sledding hills, the skating rink in Whistler,
Put Pooltime in the Schedule
Plan for some pool time. My kids love the pools and yes they are open and heated in the winter. There are many hotels with pools in Whistler, but the Cascade Lodge is where we stay most of the time! It has underground parking, kitchen units, one of the best pools, and is within walking distance to the grocery store and the ice rink!
Lindsay Nieminen hails from Vancouver, Canada and shares her love of travel on this website. She is passionate about showing others that they should not put off traveling the world just because they have young children or are single parents. She aims to encourage them to seek out adventure, whether it is at home or abroad by providing information on how just about everywhere can be a destination to explore as a family.