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Cheap Right Now gives a snapshot of a cheap weekend getaway each month.

Whistler, British Columbia is a real-life winter wonderland, and what better place to visit during the most magical time of the year. The resort area near the town, which is north of Vancouver, covers nearly 8,000 acres over Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. It’s the largest ski area in North America, gets nearly 40 feet of snow a year and is still tingling with some of the energy the 2010 Winter Olympic athletes left in the mountains. But traveling this time of year can be tough, what with the pockets growing so shallow after all that Christmas spending, and ski trips have some expensive fixed costs that can’t be avoided (i.e. lift tickets). We’re here to keep your time off the slopes down to earth and affordable in Whistler in December.


Vancouver International Airport

Vancouver International Airport. Photo: JamesZ_Flickr – Flickr

Plane, train or automobile — A trip to Whistler is much more feasible as a weekend getaway for those on the West Coast, as it’s only about a five-hour drive from Seattle. For the rest of us, plane is the most efficient way to get there. Fly into Vancouver International Airport and take the 2.5-hour scenic drive to Whistler. The Pacific Coach Line (which has Wifi) offers frequent daily transport from the airport to the resort, but it costs $72 per adult, and must be booked in advance. If you bring travel companions, it would be more economical to rent a car.


Whistler car rental

Renting a car is probably your best and most affordable transportation option for Whistler. Photo: kcxd – Flickr

Cheap local transit — The hub of Whistler is a compact village ripe with chalet-style lodges, and most of it is walkable. For longer distances, rely on the BC Transit system, which connects the valleys and villages near the ski resort and allows skiers another route to a new slope. One ride is $2.50, and day passes go for $7. Also, make sure you don’t forget about that car you rented. It could beyour route to beautiful vistas.


Coffee. Photo: waferboard – Flickr 

Energize your day — Carb up before you hit the slopes with a ham and egg breakfast panini and cup of joe at Mount Currie Coffee Company. Prices vary, but whatever breakfast delicacy you decide to indulge in, it won’t put you behind on your budget before the day is even in full swing.


Snowshoeing in Whistler

Snowshoeing outside of Whistler. Photo: pfly – Flickr.

Strap on your snowshoes — There are hundreds of miles of trails in the mountains surrounding Whistler, many of which are traversable even in the winter by snowshoe. The Sea to Sky Trail is a great placeto start. It stretches 20 miles through Whistler, from Lost Lake Park north of the village to Green Lake, and is wide and easily navigable via snowshoe or ski. If you’re feeling ambitious, extend your expedition — the whole trail runs more than 111 miles from D’Arcy to Squamish.


Burger and Fries

Burger and fries. Photo: Maya83 – Flickr

Taste the valueEl Furniture Warehouse, or El Furny, as it’s so fondly referred to, offers all meals for only $4.95. All day, every day. They use ingredients sourced as locally as possible to create dishes that are sure to make your altitude-adjusting stomach growl—think everything from green apple and quinoa salad to braised beef dip sandwich au jus. You can also warm up with their alcoholic hot beverages.


Brandywine Falls near Whistler

Brandywine Falls before the freeze. Photo:Matt Swern – Flickr.

Fathom the falls — Head to Brandywine Falls Provincial Park just outside the city. The parking lot is closed during the winter, but snowplows create a makeshift lot nearby. It’s about a 20-minute snowshoe trip to the majestic falls, where you’ll watch the water plunge into hole carved out of the frozen pond below. Keep going to the Bungee Bridge if you have the energy. If you don’t have snowshoes, check out the path anyway and see if someone has already packed it down enough to walk on.


Whistler Olympic Park

The Olympic spirit is still alive and well in Whistler. Photo: Jon Wick – Flickr

Follow the paths of Olympians — Visit Whistler Olympic Park, where one-third of the medals awarded in the 2010 games were won. There is plenty to do at the park, but watch the hours, it closes at 4:30 p.m. most days. The park offers  tobogganing, skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and more. $25 will get you a shuttle ride from Whistler village to the park and a snowshoeing excursion.

Whistler mountain views

Check out the vistas surrounding Whistler. Photo: chispita_666 – Flickr

Utilize your rental car — If you ended up renting a car for this trip, take advantage of it. There are too many beautiful vistas in the area to even comprehend, so pile in and go.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, Food & drink, FREE!, Holidays, Seasonal, Sports, Tips & advice

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