Our Ages & Stages section this month is a special Northwest family travel round-up by Lora Shinn, the author of ParentMap’s newest book, Northwest Kid Trips. We asked Lora for her expert opinion on local travel fun with kids, and she delivered! Read on for great ways to play — without getting on a plane — at Northwest Kid Trips.
The world’s just been to Whistler; now, the once-again quaint ski town is just waiting for your arrival. Here’s a short how-to for getting the most out of a family trip to Whistler.
Coca-Cola Tube Park
(open December–April only)
Base II Zone on Blackcomb Mountain; 800-766-0449
The Excalibur gondola whisks you from the village to this awesome park. Ride on superhuge tubes down lanes of varying difficulty, then warm up at the Fire Pit with hot chocolate. A nice choice for all-family fun. Adults/$16; youth (13–18)/$12; children (newborn–12)/$10 for one hour; discount for second hour. Open December 13–April 26, weekdays, noon–6 p.m.; weekends, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
The Core Kids Zone
4010 Whistler Way; 604-905-7625
Looking for an indoor location to blow off steam? The Core Kids Zone has a multilevel, mesh-enclosed Yeti Land Play Zone, with slides, ladders and foam padding for younger kids. Older kids can climb on The Core’s rock walls. Baby-sitting available. Prices are very fluid, depending upon season, baby-sitting options and availability; call first to make sure it fits your budget. Open Monday–Friday, 6 a.m.–10 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m.–9 p.m.
Cross Country Connection
Next to Lost Lake ticket booth, by Day Skier Lot 5 off Lorimer Road; 604-905-0071
While Whistler emphasizes downhill skiing, cross-country skiing is sometimes even better for small kids. Toddlers can ride in a Pulk sled or a converted Chariot Carrier, and baby can take in the views from a backpack-style carrier while you snowshoe. Cross Country Connection offers lessons, treks, trail info, maps and those cool Chariot Carriers. Lost Lake passes: adults/$18; children (older than 6)/$9; family/$36. Ski rentals range $12–$40/day; snowshoes, $12–$20. Open daily 9 a.m.–6 p.m. during winter and summer; 10 a.m.–5 p.m. in fall and spring.
Meadow Park Sports Centre
8625 Highway 99; 604-935-7529
A short five- to ten-minute drive from Whistler, the huge center offers a lazy whirlpool, a vortex, spouting bears, a slide, hot tubs and lanes for swimming laps. For a cool alternative, try the ice-skating rink. Finding the current month’s online schedule can be a little tricky; it’s easiest to call directly and ask when family swim times are available. Adults/$7.25; youth (13–18)/$4.50; children (4–12)/$3.75; family/$14.50. Open daily, 6 a.m.–10 p.m.
Beet Root Café
#129–4340 Lorimer Road; 604-932-1163
It’s a little restaurant known for generous portions, a devoted following and affordable options. For breakfast, try the popular Belgian waffles with pure maple syrup, or an eggs Benny with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Pick up a chocolate-apricot cookie for après-ski (or -hike) in the hotel. Open daily, 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
#116–4368 Main Street; 604-905-4444
Crêpes aren’t particularly special, right? These crêpes beg to differ — they’re presented with flair and flavor. Sit on one of the honey-colored benches and order something off the extensive kids’ menu— like the Scoubidou, a crêpe with cheese and tomato. To pass the time, choose an Asterix or Garfield book (in French) from the restaurant’s shelf. Open daily, off-season: 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m. During winter (high season): 8 a.m.–10:30 p.m.
#121–4368 Main Street; 604-905-0400
Try Pasta Lupino, a locally owned alternative Italian restaurant serving no-nonsense pasta and sauce. You can pick up your order, then cook it in your room’s kitchenette. Open daily, 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
#105–4359 Main Street; 604-932-2043
Once you’ve run low on toys, head here to find Playmobil, Legos, cars, trains and plenty of activity books. Prices are surprisingly reasonable for a tourist destination, perhaps because the store is owned by four local moms. You’ll find some good deals, a surprise in such a well-heeled destination. Open Sunday–Thursday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.–7 p.m.
4205 Village Square; 604-932-5557
Armchair Books has a great selection of local books detailing the hikes, wildlife and history of the Whistler area. But the real reason to head into this well-read shop is to pick up a copy of the Kids Guide to Whistler, a cute little bag of Whistler-centric fun, created by Kerry MacLeod. It contains an activity and fact book, plus a big wooden pencil; it’s a great take-home souvenir for kids up to age 10 or so. Open daily, 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
The Great Glass Elevator Candy Shoppe
#115–4350 Lorimer Road; 604-935-1076
A sugary wonderland sure to please, even if Mr. Wonka himself isn’t on the premises. Fill a bag with candy from bins, pick up a British chocolate bar or choose from Scandinavian sweets. Whether the kids want chewy or crunchy, sour or salty (yes, salty!), this sugar shop offers something to suit. Open Sunday–Thursday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.
For deep, deep discounts on exclusive hotels and resorts, use this Web site’s “Suite Secrets,” available through the site’s “Accommodations Search.” As with Priceline, you won’t know the name of the place beforehand. Using Suite Secrets, we’ve stayed at the Westin and the Pan Pacific — gorgeous hotels at great rates.