Travel Whistler

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Although it is not officially winter for a few more weeks, December 21 to be exact, it sure feels like it in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle recently got its first snowfall on November 29 and the weather continues to be chilly. Early snowfalls have helped the festive holiday atmosphere come faster to the northwest, and while we hope they are not the only ones we see in the lowlands, you can never be too sure in this area that is famously hard to predict. However, the good news is that snow has also been falling on the mountains, allowing Whistler to start the season early on November 22 and the cooler weather permitting Grouse Mountain to open on November 15. This way, even if there is not more lowland snow here in the Pacific Northwest, you can head to either mountain and participate in snow filled activities to help get you in the holiday spirit.

Snowmobiling on Whistler

Snowmobiling on Whistler

Whistler Blackcomb

Featuring two side by side mountains with 8,100 acres of groomed terrain, there is more area to explore at Whistler Blackcomb than any other resort in North America. In fact, there are over 200 hundred trails at Whistler, ensuring that even if you visit more than once you will not run out of things to do. The mountains’ 5,280 feet elevation feet elevation allow for abundant amounts of regular snowfall, with an average annual snowfall of 38.2 feet. As such, Whistler really is a paradise for skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.

However, your adventures don’t have end with the traditional wintertime activities. Take a ride on the wilder side and feel the wind in your hair as you cruise through the Callaghan Valley on a snowmobile. A fun activity for beginning snowmobilers and families, on this trip you will get to take in scenic views of the backcountry as you travel to the historic NorthAir Goldmine. For a more romantic take on snowmobiling, enjoy Mountain Top Fondue via Snowcat or Snowmobile. Choose to travel by snowcat or snowmobile to Crystal Hut on top of Blackcomb Mountain, where you will be treated to a candle-lit fondue dinner accompanied by wine and a fresh baked fruit pie. Be sure to take in the great views and live entertainment, you really will feel like you are on top of the world.

Mountain Top Fondue at Crystal Hut

Mountain Top Fondue at Crystal Hut

If you start to miss your four-legged friend from home while you are away, there is no better way to get in some furry cuddles while exploring the snow than on the Trapper’s Run Dogsled Tour. A professional musher will teach you how to harness, stage and command the dogs as they lead you through the Callaghan Valley– you will even learn some history from your guide along the way.

Snowcat on Blackcomb

Snowcat on Blackcomb

The nice thing about Whistler Village is that it really is its own unique community, and provides plenty of options for fun once you are off the slopes. Pick up some new gear while shopping, relax at the spa or spend a night on the town (Whistler has some of the best nightlife around) visiting the local bars and clubs. Likewise, if you work up an appetite skiing or snowboarding grab some delicious cuisine from one of the 200 restaurants. New this year is Garbo’s Grill, which will be serving up burgers and breakfast sandwiches. Finally, before you leave Whistler Blackcomb make sure you make at least one trip between the two mountains on the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. This gondola is the World’s longest continuous lift system and the highest lift of its kind, proving an experience and views you won’t find anywhere else.

Grouse Mountain

Like Whistler, Grouse Mountain as a variety of year round activities, but with an average of 102 inches of snowfall per year, this 4,039 foot mountain is also well known for its wintertime options. One of the things that make Grouse Mountain different from other resorts is that you can purchase lift tickets for night skiing, which, for instance, is not offered at Whistler. While skiing and snowboarding in the dark may sound scary to some, it is an experience of its own, as the lift ride up and landscape can seem completely different in the dark. The other advantage to night skiing is it gives you more time to get a last few runs in or provides the option of breaking for dinner and then skiing again once you have refueled.

Snowboarding on Grouse Mountain

Snowboarding on Grouse Mountain

In addition to night skiing, there are a ton of festive activities at Grouse Mountain during their Peak of Christmas celebration. The festivities run until December 24, providing fun things to do for every age. Kids can “elf” themselves by creating a special elf hat, determine if they are elf sized, see what they would look like as an elf and take a picture of themselves as an elf. There are also opportunities to visit with Santa and learn about his reindeer Dancer and Prancer. More adventurous visitors can take in the beautiful scenery while skating or riding through the winter wonderland on a sleigh. After a busy day, relax by watching a classic Christmas movie on the big-screen at the Theatre in the Sky.

Exploring Grouse Mountain

Exploring Grouse Mountain

Whether you end up visiting Whistler Blackcomb or Grouse Mountain, you are sure to get your snow fix this holiday season. However, if you decide you do want more time in the snow or are not able to get up to the mountains both Whistler and Grouse Mountain are typically open for skiing until mid-April, which provides you with plenty of time to enjoy the slopes.

Victoria Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat in front of Victoria Clipper
Photo: Victoria Dragon Boat Festival Society

August is one of the months in the Pacific Northwest where you can usually count on nice weather and for those looking to make the most of the end of summer, there are plenty of options to keep you busy until the start of the school year and the return to cooler temperatures.

The Seattle Opera is performing its last cycle of “The Ring” under Speight Jenkins, retiring after 30 years working to make the Seattle Opera a Wagnerian center. In Victoria, the Dragon Boat Festival is a race and festival many enjoy every year. Labor Day weekend has many options this year including Bumbershoot music festival in Seattle, Art in the Pearl in Portland, and is a great weekend to head up to Victoria where you can take in the Vancouver Island Blues Bash and the Victoria Classic Boat Festival. For fans of the outdoors, Whistler has several mountain bike and racing events.

Here is our rundown of Things to Do in August:





San Juan Island:


Seafair Pirates Landing / Photo: Joel Telling Creative Commons Licensed via flickr

Seafair Pirates Landing / Photo: Joel Telling Creative Commons Licensed via flickr

July is kicking off summer with sun and warm weather and is going to be a great month to be outside in the Pacific Northwest. In Victoria, events include Rock the Shores, the Chinatown Night Market, Victoria Ska Fest and Northwest Deuce Days. In Seattle, Seafair is in full swing including the Pirates Landing and the Torchlight Parade or try Bite of Seattle to get a taste of Seattle dining. In Vancouver, visit the Shipyards Night Market or the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. In Portland, have fun with the Waterfront Blues Festival and the Oregon Brewers Festival or take in one of the Portland Festival Symphony’s Concerts in the Park. In Whistler, visit for the Whistler Longboard Festival or Believe Freedom Festival. In the San Juans, visit Friday Harbor for the Lavender Festival or Summer Arts Fair.

Victoria Things to Do:

Read on for Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Whistler and San Juan Island events Read the rest of this entry »

The official first day of fall does not come until September 22, so there is plenty of time left to squeeze in a little extra summer fun especially with this spectacular streak of dry weather we have been experiencing in much of the Pacific Northwest. We say seize the moment and enjoy one (or many) of  the great festivals and events happening in the Northwest this September. Which one are you most excited about?

Fremont Oktoberfest

Fremont Oktoberfest / Photo: Creative Commons Licensed by flickr user sonyaseattle


Victoria Overnight Summer Special: Seattle to Victoria overnight packages start at $128 pp/do for stays in September. Package includes round trip Clipper, overnight in a 4-star Victoria, BC hotel and all taxes.


Break out your sunglasses, summer is finally coming to the Pacific Northwest! The sun usually comes out right after the July 4th holiday which means all the best outdoor festivals and events in the Pacific Northwest are scheduled for July, August and early September. Here is a round up of can’t miss July events in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, the San Juan Islands, Victoria and Whistler:

International Fountain Seattle Center

Seattle Center in Summer


Theatre Under the Stars (July 8-August 18 on alternating nights)

Vancouver Folk Music Festival (July 13-15)

Celebration of Light (July 28, August 1, August 4)


Seattle Chamber Music Festival (July 2-29)

Seattle International Beerfest (July 6-8)

Wine Rocks 2012 (July 11)

West Seattle Garden Tour (July 15)

Bite of Seattle (July 20-22)

Bellevue ARTSfair (July 27-29)

Sequim Lavender Farm Faire Day Trip (July 20-22)


Waterfront Blues Festival (July 4-8)

Oregon Lavender Festival (July 14-15)

Portland International Beerfest (July 20-22)

Mountain Bike Oregon 2012 (July 20-22 and August 17-19)

Cathedral Park Jazz Festival (July 20-22)

Oregon Brewers Festival (July 26-29)

San Juan Islands:

Splash of Summer Color Weekend and San Juan Island Lavender Fest (July 21-22)

Victoria, BC:

Victoria Skafest (July 10-14)

Taste Victoria (July 19-22)

International Buskers Festival (July 20-29)

Whistler, BC:

ArtWalk (July 5)

Celebration of Arts Weekend (July 6-8)

BC Bike Race (July 7)

Whistler Longboard Festival (July 12-15)

Whistler Children’s Art Festival (July 14-15)

Charlie’s Angels All Women’s Bike Race (July 27-28)

Function Junction Block PARTy (July 27)

BioBlitz (July 28-29)

To book a summer getaway to any of these fabulous destinations, visit or call 800-888-2535

Whistler is one of my favorite places I have ever been to. So far, I’ve been their twice and the second time was as awesome as the first. This means I am very excited to let you know that Clipper Vacations is selling Whistler two day lift tickets this year in addition to our Whistler Overnight Packages. If you don’t know very much about Whistler, let me tell you a few of the things that I love about it.

Whistler Peak 2 Peak

Photo: Duncan Rawlinson/Icon Photography School

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It’s called the Pacific Rim, this wild west furthest-most point of British Columbia in Canada – gazing to sea from my little Zodiac while out on a whale watching tour, the next land mass is… Japan!

I was wrapped up warm and dry, as I shared the bay with 4 or 5 large grey whales spouting and diving in the water around me, hardly making a ripple in the water at all. Calm and quiet, gentle giants, unaware that their presence was making momentous memories that I would cherish far into my dotage!

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All aboard! Sit back and relax on a 3 ½ hour rail journey between Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia. You’ll experience stunning scenery around every corner including Stanley Park, Howe Sound, Shannon Falls, Mount Garibaldi (soaring 8,786 feet above sea level), Cheakamus Canyon and Brandywine Falls (a spectacular 230-foot cascade framed by stately Douglas fir).

Traveling northbound from Vancouver to Whistler, you leave in the morning and enjoy breakfast at your seat as well as complimentary non-alcoholic beverages. Traveling southbound, you leave in the early afternoon and enjoy a light meal. All meals are prepared fresh by the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. While you can do this trip in one day, we highly recommend spending a night in Whistler or Vancouver to experience these great destinations.
Sea to Sky train

Rocky Mountaineer offers two levels of service on the Whistler Sea to Sky train: Classic and Dome. Both levels of service provide assigned seating, breakfast (out of Vancouver), a light afternoon meal (out of Whistler), access to the Heritage Observation Car and commentary by knowledgeable onboard attendants. The difference is that Dome Service offers views through full-length dome windows and Classic offers views from picture windows. Both are spectacular. Dome service allows you to have complimentary beverages including wine and beer, while the Classic service offers complimentary non-alcoholic beverages.

Rocky Mountaineer was named in National Geographic’s Journeys of a Lifetime as one of the World’s Greatest Trips and also voted by the Society of American Travel Writers as the Best Train Experience in the World.

Book your Sea to Sky adventure today!

If you have lived in the Northwest for a while it is probably no surprise to you that local areas have made the New York Times, top 41 places to visit in 2011. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had wanted to include Mt. Rainier and Seattle, WA, but that just wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the world, would it?

Time and again I can’t help myself but to write about how diverse and often breathtaking the Northwest is.  This winter the mornings have been cold on the water front. On my way  into the Clipper office there are mornings when the sky is so clear that when I gaze across  the Puget Sound I get to see snow covered peaks of the Olympic mountain range. It never fails to make me appreciate where I live and work.

What did make the top 41 you ask? The San Juan Islands, the Olympic National Park & Whistler.

San Juan Islands

The great thing about San Juan Islands is that you don’t have to go very far to feel like you are really getting away. Starting in May 2011 you can depart directly from Seattle aboard the Clipper to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island. You can take advantage of an all inclusive package to stay in Friday Harbor. If you want more time to explore the islands it is easy to add additional nights before heading back to Seattle. Check availability


  • Souvenir Explorer Guidebook to the San Juan Islands
  • San Juan Islands Hotel/pier transfers
  • Round trip Victoria Clipper cruise between Seattle and Friday Harbor
  • Overnight hotel on San Juan Island
  • 2 1/2 Hour Whale Watching & Sealife Search

Photo by, Lea Brookes

Olympic National Forest

So much to see, so little time. I have spent days and days hiking, camping and staying at hotels in the Olympic National Forest and I have still not seen all that there is to see. I am an avid skier and I just learned that you can ski at Hurricane Ridge for $27/day. It is an aggressive slope, mostly black and double black diamond, but even if you would rather chill in the lodge the view has to be breathtaking on a clear day.  If you are new to the area or just want an easy way to travel the area you should view travel options.


  • 1 night stay at Red Lion Port Angeles
  • 1 night stay at Kalaloch Lodge
  • 1 night stay at Lake Quinault Lodge


Whistler is a skiers, snowboarders, and mountain bikers heaven on earth. We make it incredibly easy for you to get up to Whistler for a ski vacation. You can choose from five of Whistler’s fabulous hotels, including The Fairmont Château Whistler, The Whistler Pinnacle hotel, The Listel Hotel Whistler, Delta Whistler Village Suites and Nita Lake Lodge. Check  rates and availability


  • Two nights’ accommodation in Whistler
  • Round trip motorcoach between Vancouver and Whistler
  • Round trip Amtrak Cascades between Seattle and Vancouver
  • All applicable taxes

Opening day at Whistler, Blackcomb is today, November 19th!

I recently took a trip to Whistler for a quick weekend getaway.  Just a 4 ½ hour drive from Seattle and you can be in a place I refer to as “magical”.  There is something special about this world class resort north of Vancouver.  Perhaps it is the journey there along the gorgeous Sea-to-Sky highway.  I have been on that drive many times, but there is always a new discovery.  This time, I saw part of a mountain that must have been hidden by a cloud during my other trips.  My first thought was, “is that new?”  Of course it isn’t, but I do not remember ever seeing that tall, majestic peak before.

Another new discovery on this trip was a hidden gem called the Grilled Fromage in Squamish.  To find it, you will have to bypass the typical rest stops and turn off the highway to Cleveland Avenue which looks like a quaint main street in a small town.  This grilled cheese diner is located on 38134 Cleveland Avenue and is self proclaimed as the “Cheesiest Place on Earth”.  What a find this was!!  Not only is the concept amazing, but the diner itself has so much character with all of the 80’s memorabilia on the walls.  One wall is dedicated to the menu which was a bit overwhelming.  Trying to decide which sandwich to choose from was tough considering there are approximately 50 choices.   I almost caved and got the “Missionary” (basic grilled cheese), but decided to be a bit more adventurous and went with the Guinness flavored cheddar with bacon.  No chips or fries as a side at this joint….every sandwich comes with cheetos!!!  It is definitely worth the short detour on your way up to Whistler, on the way back….or both.  The owner said that they are looking to possibly open another one in Vancouver.  Look out burgers…..the grilled cheese is taking over!

Since it was in between seasons when I was there, the village was quiet, but won’t be for long.  Pretty soon, the resort will be bustling with skiers and snowboarders anxious to get on the slopes and enjoy this extraordinary place. It is fun any time of the year, but there is something special about winter time with the sight of countless twinkling lights on the trees, the smell of snow and of course the taste of nachos after a full day of skiing that make me want to head north again and again!

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