Whistler’s best dog-friendly patios
What does ‘dog-friendly patio’ mean in BC?
Unfortunately (for dogs and their people), ‘dog-friendly patio’ doesn’t mean much in Whistler (or anywhere in British Columbia). Unlike in many places in the States, your dog won’t be able to join you underneath your table – no matter how well-behaved he might be. A BC provincial health code means that animals (excluding service dogs) can’t be anywhere that food or drink is served. I understand the premise, but – with a would-be perfect pub dog – find the blanket regulation endlessly frustrating.
The bad news
So, I take ‘dog-friendly patio’ in Whistler to mean that it’s easy and safe to have your dog tied up to the establishment’s patio perimeter outside, as you sit beside him on the inside. While some bars and restaurants turn a blind eye to a dog who miiiight slowly crawl under a barrier and find himself at your feet (“What?! My dog?! Surely not….”), know that a ‘no dogs’ policy comes from above.
The good news
Much of Whistler’s service staff are from elsewhere (lots of Aussies, Brits and Irish) and many have told us that they madly miss their dogs at home – expect your puppy to get cuddled in medicinal doses.
Dog-friendly Whistler patios in the village
Starting from Summit Lodge (one of my favourite dog-friendly Whistler hotels), and strolling through the village, these are the eight patios that we really love. Unless otherwise noted, the food is good and the beer is cold, with prices typical for Whistler and a super casual dress code.
Summer only – In our experience, BrewHouse only opens its patio in good weather – so you might have little luck trying to tough it out with a patio heater in the shoulder seasons. It’s in a beautiful spot next to Olympic Plaza and does get busy, but lovely staff are always ready to provide a water bowl on hot days for your dog (they’ve even rearranged umbrellas for us – without our asking – to provide Lord Snuzzingthon with shade). There’s often live music as well. It’s a ‘picture-perfect’ patio, so there can be a wait on summer weekends. Lots of window-shopping nearby, no problem.
Where to put your dog? The patio fence at BrewHouse just has posts and some chains/poles across so it’s easy to tuck your dog in tightly beside you. There is high foot traffic here, so it suits ‘been-there-done-that’ dogs who can handle pretty much anything (like a golden eagle walking past).
Strangest moment at BrewHouse? Can’t make this up: watching a man walk past with his pet golden eagle. While other dogs lost their minds, Lord Snuzzington remained blissed out and fast asleep.
Summer and winter – Definitely not your run-of-the-mill patio, Araxi is one of Whistler’s finest restaurants and is renowned in BC for its West Coast cuisine. However, if you like to celebrate the every day (with rosé?), then read on. This is the only spot on the list with a nicer dress code – but only by West Coast standards (where Arc’teryx = nearly wedding appropriate).
Araxi in winter: Araxi’s outdoor bar. At this little outdoor bar you just sit at a counter, facing a window that the bartender inside occasionally opens to serve you. Everyone sitting opposite inside is dressed nicely for dinner – outside, you can be in ski gear (and probably want to be, there’s snow on the ground). Yet as all the food-serving happens from inside, there’s no prohibition about having a dog at your feet. More accurately, no one can see that there’s a dog at your feet. It’s glorious. Such a truly rare treat to not have to choose between dog or rosé. Anyway, you can stop for just a glass of wine and some oysters, or have full dinner. Sit down, truffle popcorn hits the table, and you’re off to your Happy Place.
Winter patio tip: We bring a small fleece travel mat to put on the ground, and put Lord Snuzzington in a winter dog coat. If he gets cold he’s quick to let us know and we head back to our cozy hotel (see Whistler’s best dog-friendly hotels).
Araxi in summer: When the full patio opens in the summer, Araxi’s location makes for the most amazing people-watching. It forms one corner of Whistler village’s busiest foot-traffic intersection. Meaning? Fifty bachelorette parties colliding with fifty bachelor parties on the hour, every hour.
Where to put your dog? In the winter, he can tuck in pretty close to you. In the summer, the patio is designated only by a few small stairs and a few planters. The staff has always helped us to find an outside table with a good spot to stash a dog on the perimeter. Again, this spot will suit an A+ socialised dog – it’s a high-end spot where screaming children (or a barking dog) would raise perfectly groomed eyebrows. While it’s certainly a busy area, you sit a little further back from the fray so your dog can watch with some separation.
Best moments at Araxi: Befriending tables next to us over shared dog-love or mutual enjoyment of the aforementioned Bride Wars spectacle.
Quasi dog-friendly – I add The Beacon as a dog-friendly patio because it has good food and friendly staff, but it is trickier to enjoy with a dog. The patio is raised above street level, with a stone wall surrounding it, so you can’t keep your dog beside you. There is a tie-up area for dogs at the entrance and we tried it once when able to get the closest possible table (in full vision, about 5-10 feet away). Lord Snuzzington is full-Velcro and that distance from us was his screaming limit. Any waiting dog receives tons of attention from (possibly well-hydrated) patrons coming and going, so this spot only suits a fully bomb-proof dog who’s okay with kids, men in hats, all dogs – the works. For me, non-stop eye contact from a dog asking “WHYYYYY DID YOU LEAVE MEEEEEE” means that we now enjoy The Beacon only on dog-less Whistler trips.
By the same measure, add pretty much any other Whistler patio not listed here to the “might work for your dog/might not” category. If you and your dog are happier than me and mine about distance/separation/strangers, you have many more patio choices.
Summer and winter – Just below Pan Pacific Mountainside, Dubh Linn Gate is really popular and it’s often hard to find a seat inside. Lucky for you, it’s seat-yourself and few people want to be where the party’s not: on the edge, outside. As at Araxi, there’s no fence. Instead, steps form the patio/real world separation, so it’s easy to keep your dog right beside you. We enjoyed Dubh Linn Gate outside all winter this year – just keep your ski/snow stuff on, and let the heaters do the rest. More than the other dog-friendly patios described so far, Dubh Linn Gate is an easier spot for a more timid dog because (at least at the first few tables by the patio entrance), walls shield you from the outside world.
Summer and winter – Major caveat: Longhorn Saloon is Whistler’s most popular patio and often hosts big parties. On a busy day, or when DJs are playing, it’s probably way too much for a dog to handle. However, Whistler can be slow to wake up on the weekend, and the Longhorn does great cheap-and-cheerful greasy spoon brunch. Likewise, you might find a quiet afternoon. At night, especially in cold weather, the party moves inside – leaving a superb patio with beautiful views for you and your dog to enjoy outside.
Where to put your dog? The Longhorn’s patio has a wide, low wall around its perimeter with bar-seating above. You can often find a quiet spot along the side or, when the village is totally deserted, plant your doggie right out front and enjoy the mountain view together. The wall is pretty wide, so it’s possible to stash your dog on top of it if you want to keep him out of the way.
Best Longhorn moment: Trying my very first Caesar (a Canadian hangover concoction made with clam juice … bleh) and watching Lord Snuzzington try to figure out snow plows.
Summer (and maybe winter?) – If your dog needs space and quiet, FireRock Lounge is your most dog-friendly patio in Whistler. It’s attached to The Westin, so expect hotel prices but in an away-from-the-fray environment. As it’s tucked in a side entrance to the hotel, it’s very quiet and people come and go across a wide plaza – no fear of stepped-on tails.
Where to put your dog? A wrought iron fence has lots of ‘gaps for dog heads’, so choose your spot and apply dog-to-fence accordingly.
Dog-friendly patios in Whistler’s upper village
Summer and winter – I LOVE Merlins. The staff is hilarious. The nacho portions would fill a bath tub. The mountain views are amazing – and might include bears. (One request: better cider!!!). Upper Village tends to be a lot quieter than Whistler village proper, with a more relaxed vibe.
Where to put your dog? Wide railings make for easy side-by-side dog/human logistics. If you get a table at the back, note that a small wooded area is popular with chipmunks!
Summer and winter – HandleBar is a great little spot opposite Fairmont Chateau Whistler (dog-friendly). As with FireRock and Merlins, there’s little passing foot-traffic and it’s really easy to sit right next to your dog (see photo at the top). To redefine animal cruelty, watch his face as you eat a plate of currywurst (fries + sausage + curry = OMG). HandleBar is cash-only (but there’s a nearby ATM with no fees). A super friendly little spot where you’re bound to make some friends. Especially if you come with a cute dog. (If not, eat your feelings … that there’s a pretzel with Nutella).
Top photo credit: Destination BC/Albert Normandin. Hotel links contain affiliates.