This town in British Columbia's Coast Mountainsnamed for the squeak of the local marmotshas encouraged sweat, endorphins, and hedonism since the mid-'60s, when the first ski lifts went up on Whistler Mountain. Blackcomb, the twin peak on the other side of Fitzsimmons Creek, opened in 1980. Whistler's pedestrian village broke ground at the same time. The prototypical ski village, it's walkable even when traveling from one end to another in heavy plastic ski boots, and the faux-European architecture maximizes sunlight and views of the verdant Coast Mountains. Plenty of cozy storefront boutiques balance out bigger retailers such as Gap.
Now inhabited by 10,000 full-time residents, Whistler swells to 50,000 during winter weekends, when the streets resound with Canadian and American locutions ("eh" and "dude!") as well as a cacophony of Aussie, German, Japanese, and Scandinavian accents.
WHEN TO GO
WhistlerBlackcomb's regular ski season runs from late November to early Junewhen Blackcomb Glacier opens for summer skiing until July 31. Go in mid-December or mid-January to enjoy smaller crowds and Whistler's dependable early-season snow (the holidays, predictably, are packed). July hosts the Crankworx Freeride Mountain Bike Festival, while August welcomes the Whistler Music & Arts Festival. Both July and August average 80-degree highs and 52-degree lows.
HOW TO GET THERE
Whistler is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Vancouver International Airport along Highway 99, known as the Sea to Sky Highway. From May to October, you can also take a train for $160 U.S. round-trip, with views of scenic, island-studded Howe Sound thrown in as a bonus (604-606-8460; www.whistlermountaineer.com). A cheaper year-round alternative is the Perimeter Bus, which charges $125 round-trip (877-317-7788; www.perimeterbus.com). Once you've arrived, cars are unnecessary: Free shuttle buses take visitors anywhere their feet can't get them.
The Whistler Activity and Information Centre is located at the convention center near Village Square (877-991-9988; www.tourismwhistler.com).View Canada Factsheet