#1: Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia

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adventure guide: whistler

Twenty years ago, Whistler and its little cluster of ramshackle A-frames didn't merit even a blip on the global tourism radar. Today? Well, if you haven't yet been there, you've at least heard the tales: Two huge mountains. A gluttonous amount of terrain for every level of skier. A breathtaking, lake-dotted coastal valley. And the resort's famed centerpiece: a lively, nouvelle-Alpine pedestrian village that many visitors think is what they've actually come to see. Whistler/Blackcomb is no longer a mere resort destination: It's North America's premier 21st-century Ski City.

But we skiers remember the real reason we're here: more than 7,000 acres of inbounds terrain. Newcomers find Blackcomb's fall-line layout easier to grasp, plus it's got kick-ass bump runs (Davies Dervish), roomy corduroy cruisers (Springboard or Ridge Runner), a hit-filled terrain park, rolling powder fields (in 7th Heaven), and the pièce de résistance, Blackcomb Glacier.

Longtime locals stick to Whistler Mountain's spacious Alpine basins (like Sun, Harmony, Glacier, and Whistler Bowls), the adrenaline-churning technical steeps in between, and -- in the unlikely event of boredom -- Whistler's coveted midmountain stash of powder-choked trees.

The only things missing in this city are guaranteed sunshine, a decent movie theater, and sparsely populated pistes.

Play: A dozen teeming après-ski bars, underground bowling, and 80-plus places to dine (from the classy Rim Rock to good old KFC). A famously devilish, DJ-driven nightlife will get you partying like you haven't done in years.

Stay: The range of stylish lodging includes the new Westin (with Avello, a state-of-the-art spa), the world-class Chateau Whistler, and the all-suite Summit Lodge.

Save the Date: The megaparty known as the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival takes place Apr. 12-21.

800-766-0449; www.whistler-blackcomb.com