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Spring Break in Whistler, B.C.

Enjoy spring winter sports at one of the top mountain resorts in North America

CIBC Mountain Hosts give free tours for both skiers and nonskiers. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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Whistler is a scenic five-hour drive north of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, with the last hour-and-a-half spent on the dramatic Sea to Sky Highway. If you are driving on a sunny day, allow a little more time to make stops along the way. One must-see is Shannon Falls Provincial Park. It is conveniently located right off Hwy. 99 near Squamish. Heading north on Hwy. 99, there are five kiosks that have cultural and historic information about the area and make good photo stops.

April marks the change of seasons in Whistler, and lodging prices drop after Easter weekend. You'll find long days with lots of sunshine and nice spring snow, which is a great skiing combination. Après-ski is a big deal in Whistler; it is that time when you are done skiing and enjoy a few brews or cocktails and snacks. It takes on a more serious level in the spring with many venues offering patios to enjoy the sun with live music. Whistler-Blackcomb is offering a lodging special through April 30, which has $20 vouchers for après-ski. Visit whistlerblackcomb.com.

Some of my favorite things about Whistler are the great volunteers that man the visitor kiosks in the village and the super-fun tour guides that give you insider tips on free sightseeing tours. Don't miss the new off-ski CIBC Mountain Host program. The two-hour tour includes a visit to both Whistler and Blackcomb mountain tops and a trip across the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. (Sightsee ticket is required for gondola ride and can be purchased near tour start). Meet your tour guide at the base of the Whistler Village Gondola by the sightseeing sign at 11:15 a.m.; tours depart at 11:30 a.m. This was one of the highlights of my visit. The tour had visitors from all over the world, and the group was small enough that we interacted well with each other, which enhanced the experience. For short video clips of the tour, visit @wanderandwords on Instagram.

For a unique adventure, take a short drive to Function Junction, which is about 15 minutes from Whistler Village. This is where the locals hang out. Whistler Brewing Company and Coast Mountain Brewing are part of the British Columbia Ale Trail. For a truly out-of-the-box experience, make a reservation at Forged Axe Throwing. Think darts with axes. Reservations are essential; it has become so popular that it now has a competitive league. There is something deeply satisfying about flinging an axe and hearing that thunk when it hits the wooden target. The high-energy hosts run you through a training period, then you play a variety of games during your hourlong session. Children must be at least 10 years old to participate. For more info, visit www.ForgedAXE.ca.

Want to know how an extreme environment enhances the flavor of vodka while minimizing the alcohol burn? Check out the Ketel One Ice Room, which is part of the Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler Village. The ice room is the world's coldest vodka tasting room at a frigid -25 F.  After donning Canada Goose, Arctic-ready parkas, you head into the room with your host. Taste four vodkas of your choice from a choice of 50 from around the globe. The host is very knowledgeable and the cold really does cut the burn and enhance the flavor.  Insider tip: Make sure to try the same type of Stoli vodka that went into space with Russian cosmonauts. Visit bearfootbistro.com.

There are tons of great places to eat andstay in Whistler. The village gives you the best access to everything from shops and museums to restaurants and lodging. As you move further out from the village, lodging prices drop, but I feel the village premium is worth the convenience of walking out your door to most of the activities Whistler has to offer.

For more information, visit whistler.com.

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