Celebrate both the Winter Olympics and WinterPride in Vancouver and Whistler
LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Blue Water Cafe, Vancouver, BlueWaterCafe.net.
Bacchus, Vancouver, WedgewoodHotel.com.
Womyn’s Ware, Vancouver, WomynsWare.com.
Dusty’s Bar & BBQ and Garibaldi Lift Co.,
Tourism Vancouver, TourismVancouver.com.
Tourism Whistler, Whistler.com.
Whistler WinterPride, GayWhistler.com.
British Columbia’s star city, Vancouver, and its most famous ski town, Whistler, are hosting the Winter Olympics next month, and from a LGBT perspective, the event will be unprecedented. For the first time, there will be a LGBT pavilion (called PRIDE House) set up throughout the games in both cities. Furthermore, the day after the Olympics close, always gay-friendly Whistler kicks off its 18th WinterPride gay ski week. It’s a very exciting time to experience these wonderfully progressive and dramatically scenic destinations.
One of the world’s most stunning cities, Vancouver is an outdoorsman’s paradise. Its glimmering, postmodern center anchors a peninsula jutting into the Strait of Georgia. From almost anywhere on this peninsula, you’re within walking distance of Stanley Park and the ultra-gay Davie Village district along Davie Street. Winter visitors to Vancouver will find plenty to keep them busy.
The West End, which abuts downtown, is the city’s main gay commercial and residential sector. You’ll find most of the gay nightlife and social scene along a roughly eight-block stretch of Davie Village; it doesn’t disappoint.
Davie Village is a terrific neighborhood for eating and barhopping. Bin 941 exemplifies the growing popularity of tapas restaurants in Vancouver. You can sample inventive Pacific Northwestern cuisine at the Raincity Grill. The campy and affordable Hamburger Mary’s is a fun, late-night bet for diner fare. Grab an espresso nearby at gay-popular Delany’s or at Melriches, which is around the corner from the queer book and gift shop, Little Sisters.
Davie Street’s most popular gay bars are Celebrities and the Odyssey, which draw young, stylish crowds. The Odyssey has a festive patio and a great dance floor. Other drinking spots include the piano cabaret Oasis, leather-Levi pub Pumpjack, martini lounge 1181, gay sports bar Score and the tri-level cruise bar Numbers.
Several blocks south you’ll find Yaletown, where dozens of early 20th century warehouses have been converted into chic restaurants, galleries and shops. Here you can catch a water taxi to Granville Island, a former shipping and processing center for the city’s logging industry that’s morphed into a mammoth public market with many galleries and artists’ studios.
Whistler is home to one of the world’s largest ski areas, the Twin Mountains of Blackcomb and Whistler. During the Olympics, only about five percent of resort’s ski runs will be in use for competitions, meaning this is an excellent time to ski the rest of the mountain. Starting March 1, thousands of participants will attend WinterPride, which has as many activities for non-skiers as for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts: cooking classes, zip-lining tours and parties.
You’ll find several superb restaurants in this upscale resort, where most of the dining, shopping and lodging is set around an attractive central village. Don’t miss the chic champagne bar and eatery Bearfoot Bistro; romantic, gay-friendly dining options include the elegant Wine Room at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler resort and the farm-to-table-inspired cuisine of Araxi.
Monk’s Grill and Dusty’s Bar and BBQ are great gay-friendly hangouts and in the resort’s Creekside village. For nightly revelry and some hot people watching, drop by Garibaldi Life Co. for its huge fireplaces and expansive patios facing the mountain. The GLC is steps from the Whistler Village Gondola. After a day tackling the resort’s internationally acclaimed ski runs, this is the perfect place to finish the day.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 15, 2010.