Après-everything in Whistler
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Whistler is often ranked among the world’s top skiing destinations, but it’s a year-round outdoor adventurer’s paradise, with its mountains easily accessed from the main village. To go along with that long list of recreational activities, is what may also be one of the world’s best après scenes. The town has an entire village dedicated to good times after a day of play, with everything from world-renowned restaurants and upscale nightclubs to casual beer patios, happening bars and laid-back pubs.
Whether you’re looking to relax and let loose after a long hike, mountain biking those steep trails, playing a round or two of golf or something else, you’ll find numerous options for doing just that.
Feed your hunger pangs
When those hunger pangs hit hard, look forward to choosing from a wide range of cuisine and outstanding restaurants in Whistler. For a high-end experience you won’t soon forget, the Rim Rock Café & Oyster Bar bills itself as “Whistler’s Place for Fish and Game,” and it delivers in a big way, not only serving up oysters fresh from the sea, but all sorts of other fresh seafood from mussels to salmon as well as delectable meats, including grilled steaks and roast lamb. Pair a dish with some 320 wines from around the world and follow it up with one of the heavenly desserts like sticky toffee pudding.
If it’s delicious but healthy fare you’re looking for, Creekbread is known for its nutritious, organic dishes that go far beyond your typical salad offerings. Nearly everything is made in-house, or sourced locally. While salad is on the menu, pizza is the speciality, like the signature Whistler Community Creekbread baked in a wood-fired handmade clay oven. For cheap but tasty slices, just $2 a pop, head to Fat Tony’s Pizza, a local favourite.
Dusty’s was the first official après bar in Whistler, opened over a half-century ago in 1965 – since then, it’s often been named for serving some of the best food in Whistler with a BBQ-focused menu. Its ribs and wings are especially raved about – and, from 3 p.m. on, most days live music is hosted too.
If you’re looking to sample some of the best of Whistler’s brews, and perhaps enjoy some tasty pub grub, you’ll have plenty of options too. Sipping a pint or two in the sunshine on one of the outdoor patios is an especially popular thing to do – Merlin’s Bar & Grill not only boasts the largest outdoor patio, but it’s a spot where you can dance the night away to DJs or live music too, making it ideal if you want to plant those sore muscles in one spot for a while. It’s tagline, “home of the endless après,” is not just a marketing gimmick. In addition to imbibing and dancing, the drink menu offers weekly après specials along with a feast of classic cuisine made with local ingredients.
Just past Merlin’s is Fitzsimmons Pub, a place where you’ll find a good selection of ales and pitchers of beer that are cheaper than most along with old school board games and an especially friendly atmosphere.
Dubh Linn Gate also hosts an impressive patio along with a menu focused on authentic Irish fare. There are over 25 draught beers to choose from, including Irish favourites and B.C. local brews, as well as more than 20 whiskies, 20 single malt scotches, outstanding après cocktails and frequent live music for listening while sipping too. If you’re hungry, try the Steak and Guinness Pie. Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar & Grill, known for its martini and tapas menus, sits just above the Whistler Gondola building, which means you can enjoy sipping cocktails or pints while watching the mountain bikers ride down the mountain.
The Longhorn Saloon and Grill, at the bottom of Whistler Mountain for over a quarter-century, is the iconic spot for après, a cold brew on a warm day, with a patio filled with colourful umbrellas and incredible views, lots of tasty après snacks and excellent specials, like Friday Weekend Wine’d Up and Mimosa Monday.
Upscale bars and lounges
If a sophisticated atmosphere is what you had in mind for pre-dinner drinks, you may want to head to Fifty Two 80. Named for the vertical on Blackcomb Mountain and hosted at the Four Seasons Resort, it’s the perfect elegant après hangout and the place to indulge in a martini or two. The Mallard Lounge, hosted at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, is also ideal for elegant après, boasting mountain views and a cosy log fire along with a fabulous array of signature drinks and cocktails as well as live music.
Like vodka? In the Ketel One Vodka Ice Room at Bearfoot Bistro, you can choose from 50 vodkas from across the globe, including vodka distilled from hemp seeds. This is the coldest vodka tasting room on Earth, and Canada’s only sub-zero vodka room. While temperatures are kept to a rather chilly 25 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, you’ll get a Canada goose-down parka to ward off the chill while tasting and learning about the fascinating process of distillation and filtration, and how it affects the flavour profile of the finished product from a vodka expert.
Bar Oso is ideal for wine enthusiasts who want to enjoy a relaxed evening with vino and light bites. It not only has an outstanding wine list, but creative gin and tonics, and a great mix of modern and classic cocktails, along with a wide range of Spanish-influenced tapas, small plates and house-made charcuterie. The Araxi desserts are to-die-for, including the delectable Valrhona chocolate tarts.
In Whistler Village, some bars and cafes have afternoon happy hours in the late afternoon with discounted drinks and food. By checking the ads in the Whistler Pique or Whistler Question, you can usually discover a number of great deals.
Part of Crystal Lodge in the heart of Whistler Village, Crystal Lounge is known for its budget-friendly prices and comfortable atmosphere. Look forward to some great daily specials on drinks and wings, as well as outstanding happy hours, offered between 4 and 6 p.m. and again from 10 p.m. to closing each night. It also hosts a wide range of events, including live music, karaoke contests, standup comedy and open mic nights.
Cure Lounge and Patio may be a good choice too, with special happy hour après deals from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day, including discounts on red and white wine, cocktails, and a range of brews, including IPAs and lagers. Patio bites are also available for happy hour, including sea salt edamame, hoisin pork ribs, poutine and parmesan fries.
There is no shortage of clubs in Whistler for drinking and dancing the night away. In fact, the nightlife is rather impressive, with six nightclubs, along with multiple lounges, bars and pubs that are all within walking distance. Occasionally, you can even catch big-name bands and DJs, who often come here to enjoy a break from the city and play a more intimate gig. The style here is casual too – no worries about teetering around the dance floor with sky-high heels, as that’s just not done. Wild is, however, with plenty of costume and themed parties hosted throughout the year, but feel free to don a wig and the craziest outfit you have, if the mood strikes.
Whistler is all about relaxed fun at places like Garfinkel’s, which tends to draw a young – think 20's and 30's – crowd. This local favourite is synonymous with weekly big après parties. Here, Monday night is all about house music, and by Thursday, things really pick up, bringing the chance to mingle with locals on locals’ night. Friday is champagne night, while Saturday is the busiest dance night of the week and Sunday is the day for some hair of the dog and more party tunes.
Whistler clubs are always lively on the weekends, including popular spots like Maxx Fish and Tommy Africa’s, where you can dance to top 40 hits and hip hop until 2.am. These venues are so popular you may want to look for the back entrance to avoid the long lines. Buffalo Bills has a massive dance floor and an electric energy that makes it a must-experience, while Moe Joe’s, with its psychedelic décor, lasers, unicorns and glow sticks, is often voted the No. 1 nightclub in Whistler. It hosts a huge dance floor, free pool all night long and especially luxurious VIP booths. If you’re here on a Sunday, you can catch Fidel Ca$h Flow and his army of top DJs spin the best in party and house anthems.
Experience the best of the Canadian great outdoors in Whistler with these recommended tours & stays
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Aava Whistler Hotel
Tantalus Resort Lodge, Whistler
Experience Whistler Tailor-made Itinerary (5 nights)
Self-Drive Great Parks of the West (13 nights)
Panoramic Canadian Rockies Escorted Tour (11 nights)