Winter in Whistler

23 October 2016

I may not be one for resolutions, but I'm all for capping off the year and welcoming a new one with a long weekend trip to a new destination. So, last year, we packed up and drove north to Canada.

With about 185 miles behind us, we finally arrived at our VRBO cabin in Squamish. It's a small city on the Sea to Sky Highway that's just 40 minutes shy of Whistler. This was our home base for the weekend. The city itself boasts a beautiful backdrop of the snowcapped Canadian Coast mountains and was the perfect setting to send off 2015 and welcome the new year. I realize I'm nearly a year late in writing this, but maybe it'll give you a little inspiration for your winter travels, eh? I can only hope.

Winter in Whistler | Brave Little Cheesehead at bravelittlecheesehead.com

Holly and I grew up with a ski resort in our backyards, literally. We had season passes almost every winter, and our school took students directly to the slopes almost every weeknight to keep kids busy. We grew to love both skiing and snowboarding. But having moved away from the midwest's tiny [mostly] manmade hills, I've learned the beastly chairlifts over actual mountains make my stomach turn. With a fear of heights, my snowboarding has been limited while I've lived in the Pacific Northwest and it's a shame, given how many great places there are to board around here and how much I always loved boarding as a kid. Our trip to Whistler was no exception. Again, I steered clear of the chairlifts and checked out the area without skis or a board in tow.

Winter in Whistler | Brave Little Cheesehead at bravelittlecheesehead.com

COFFEE, CAFES & $5 EATS
Camp + Lifestyle Coffee Co. | Truth be told, I visited this place out of interest for its interior design. But the coffee was top-notch, too. I love minimalist decor and so I wanted to see this place for myself. I ordered up my standard double shot and cozied up in the loft before heading into the village.

Purebread | Down the road from Camp + Lifestyle Coffee Co. and Whistler Brewing Co. is this delicious little bakery that makes just about anything you can imagine. We loaded up on a few loaves of warm bread and a couple pastries to send us off the next morning.

Zephyr Cafe | Recommended by friends who frequently visit Whistler in the winter, we stopped off one morning at Zephyr Cafe to grab a healthy bite to eat. This is a go-to spot if you're vegetarian or vegan, or just looking for a light, but filling, breakfast.

El Furniture Warehouse | By far the best find in Whistler village's expensive dining scene is El Furniture Warehouse. Everything on the menu is no more than $5--from sliders to poutine to salads and sides. We fueled up here, and it was worth every penny.

The Whistler Tea House | My one recommendation from this great find: Feel Better Tea. It's floral and herbal and absolutely divine; the perfect cup of tea for a winter morning in Whistler.

Whistler Brewing Co. & The Howe Sound Brewing Co. | There are few destinations we visit that don't have a brewery or two worth visiting. The former of these two, located in Function Junction, only offers drinks (and brewery tours) but the latter is a full restaurant with some damn-good beer and cheese soup. My picks? Bear Paw Honey lager from Whistler Brewing Co. and the Whitecap Wheat from Howe Sound.

Winter in Whistler | Brave Little Cheesehead at bravelittlecheesehead.com

THE WHISTLER TRAIN WRECK
Of all the things on my list to do in Whistler, the quick trek to the train wreck came in at No. 1. It's not exactly easy to find accurate information online, mostly because you have to cross active train tracks in order to find the wreckage. With good reason, local police are concerned about the volume of foot traffic crossing the tracks. That said, it's becoming more and more challenging to find up-to-date information on how to find the train wreck, since most sites are trying to deter visitors from searching for it. Rather, locals will often point you in the direction of a map/sign behind the Olive Market in Function Junction. Now, some sites, like the Whistler Haitus, states a new trail was created in July 2016 to reduce the dangers of traveling to the wreckage and prevents destruction to the land.

Overall, it's a quick hike, maybe 4 km roundtrip. We started out directly behind the Olive Market after grabbing a few drinks at Whistler Brewing Co. We walked through the woods alongside the river until crossing a field on the left and walking between two slightly painted rocks, then continuing into a wooded area and under the main roadway tunnel. We kept walking alongside the river around a bend until we heard another group ahead of us call out that they'd found one of the cars. When we arrived, a few guys had set up some ramps on the cars using plywood. They were jumping their bikes from train car to train car, doing some ridiculous tricks and filming the whole thing.

A few decades ago, in the '50s, a train got jammed carrying lumber. A few folks went out to try and get it off the tracks, but they didn't have the manpower, and then their schedule got derailed and, over time, the cars were just left in the woods. Since then, it's become a preservation of local art and history.

Winter in Whistler | Brave Little Cheesehead at bravelittlecheesehead.com

DOWNHILL SKIING at BLACKCOMB or CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING at ELFIN LAKES
Although I didn't ski or snowboard while we were in Whistler, most of our group did and they loved it. I wish I had more courage to ride the lifts or, more terrifying to me, the gondolas. But what I truly wish we would've made more time to do is cross-country ski around Elfin Lakes. Having looked on Instagram and a few other travel sites, we missed out on something really beautiful. Another few hot spots in the area for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing are Garibaldi Lake and Alice Lake, and a walk out to Shannon Falls or Brandywine Falls would be worth the trips, too.

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