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Top 10 things to do in Whistler
Read time: 8 mins
Primarily renowned as a world-class winter sports destination, the vibrant resort town of Whistler is also home to some of British Columbia’s most exciting summertime activities and experiences. From hiking, biking and off-roading along rugged backcountry trails, to golfing, zip-lining, scenic helicopter tours and thrilling wildlife encounters, Whistler is a true year-round outdoor playground. Whether you’ve come for the adrenaline-fuelled adventure, the outstanding scenery, or simply to take it easy, enjoy some fine cuisine and indulge in a spot of luxury, Whistler has something to offer everyone all year-long.
Dine at 6,000 ft
What: Whilst Whistler is predominantly known for its legendary outdoor activities, it is also fast evolving into a favourite foodie destination. In and around the resort you’ll find no less than 200 dining establishments, offering everything from fine dining to organic farm-to-table fare, quality pub grub to quick grab and go delights. Enjoy skilfully-crafted gourmet dishes at world-class Araxi, fresh West Coast cuisine at Red Door Bistro, or simply head to one of Whistler’s many popular patios to soak up the sun, scenery and atmosphere and indulge in delicious brews and overflowing nacho platters. What’s more, Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, themselves, are home to dozens of excellent eateries, providing the perfect excuse to refuel from your mountain adventures with fine food and spectacular views.
Highlight: For the quintessential Whistler foodie experience, there’s perhaps nothing better than a mountain-top BBQ buffet dinner at 6,000 ft. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings throughout the summer, you can ride up Whistler Village Gondola to the Roundhouse Lodge to join in with the festivities. Marvel at the jaw dropping scenery as you tuck into a delicious grilled meat or seafood feast accompanied by sumptuous sides, salads and desserts. With great drinks, live music and a stunning sunset thrown in, it’s the ultimate Whistler dining experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
Further reading: Top 10 restaurants in Whistler
Join a bear viewing tour
What: Whistler is home to a diverse array of wildlife, from red-tailed hawks to coyote, coastal mountain deer to west hoary marmots. But nothing beats catching sight of a majestic black bear, perhaps the most iconic creature to grace Whistler’s slopes. The area is home to over 60 black bears and opportunities abound for spotting and observing these majestic animals in their natural habitat. As you’re riding the gondolas keep an eye out below and you may catch glimpse of a bear ambling along a trail or trampling through bushes foraging for berries. Black bears are also regularly seen sharing the greens with golfers at Whistler’s renowned golf courses. If you want a guaranteed sighting and the chance to get up close and learn a little more, join the experts for a highly recommended bear viewing eco-tour.
Highlight: During a Whistler bear tour, you’ll travel about the mountains visiting viewing areas, feeding sites, daybeds and dens for a chance to observe the bears in the wild, all from the comfort and safety of a 4x4. As you traverse the area’s old-growth forests, alpine meadows and waterways, expert guides will provide enlightening commentary on the bears’ biology and behaviours and insight into Whistler’s landscapes, ecology and conservation initiatives more generally. If you’re really lucky, you may stumble across a mother bear and her frolicking cubs. This is one of the most popular summertime activities in Whistler, a fantastic way to discover the area and great fun for the whole family. Just don’t forget to bring your camera!
Discover your inner-Nicklaus
What: Whistler is one of North America’s premier golfing destinations, home to not just one, but four world-class signature championship courses. Each one is designed by an internationally-acclaimed architect, featuring impeccable greens and fairways, stunning mountain views, state-of-the-art practice facilities and a welcoming club house for relaxation and entertainment post-round. For the ultimate golfing vacation, book a stay at Chateau Whistler Golf Club, which offers an array of attractive packages especially tailored to golfers. Meanwhile, the courses at Whistler Golf Club, Nicklaus North and Big Sky in Pemberton offer similarly impressive conditions, settings and facilities. All in all, if you’re looking for the perfect combination of challenging and rewarding play, it’s hard to imagine a more spectacular place to hit the green.
Highlight: Put your skills to the test at Whistler’s Nicklaus North Golf Club, home to one of the finest courses on the continent, designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus himself. The par 71, 18-hole course stretches almost 7,000 yards encompassing bent grass greens, white sand bunkers and a dramatic backdrop of snow-capped peaks and towering fir trees. An added bonus, Nicklaus North is also home to one of Whistler’s most enticing après spots, Table Nineteen Lakeside Eatery, which features an elegant dining room, exquisite menu and expansive patio area overlooking the beautiful glacier-fed Green lake.
Further reading: Whistler, Canada's number one golfing destination
Relax in the lap of luxury
What: Whistler isn’t all about outdoor adventure and adrenaline-fuelled mayhem. After a long day in the mountains, there’s nothing like retiring to a soothing spa to rejuvenate the body, calm the mind and restore energy. Whether it’s a relaxing swim in a hot pool or a heavenly massage, Whistler offers some pretty enticing options for those simply looking to take it easy. Head to Vida Spa at the Fairmont Chateau and indulge in their cleansing Ayuverdic Swedana treatment, or treat yourself to a blissful Thai Stem massage at Avello Spa & Health Club. If you’re looking for the ultimate in luxury, choose from a wide variety of spa packages which include experiences such as personalised treatments, massages and pedicures, along with access to swimming pools, hot tubs, steam rooms, yoga rooms and more.
Highlight: If you’re looking for some reprieve away from Whistler’s hustle and bustle, you can’t do much better than spending the day at the renowned Scandinave Spa. Situated amid the beautiful forested hillsides surrounding Lost Lake, just north of the Village, it provides the ultimate outdoor spa experience. Based around restorative hydrotherapy, there are numerous pools, baths, showers, waterfalls and steam rooms to enjoy. Cycle between hot and cold, soak in calming waters and admiring the stunning natural vistas. Combine with a 60-minute Swedish massage and you’ll leave feeling refreshed, invigorated and ready for your next adventure.
Fun for all the family
What: Throughout the summer, the Whistler Blackcomb Family Adventure Zone is a guaranteed way to amuse the kids and keep the whole family entertained for hours. The amusement park is situated at the base of Blackcomb Mountain in the Upper Village and opens daily between mid-June and September. There are over a dozen fun-filled facilities, rides and experiences on offer, including some that parents can enjoy as well. These include a Mario-themed mini golf course, a balloon slide and bouncy castle, a huge freefall airbag, along with an exhilarating “Kiss The Sky” bungee trampoline that lets you jump and flip up to 25 feet into the air. Throw in go-karts, batting cages, mazes, rope swings and even a Spin Cycle Human Gyroscope, and you’ll keep the kids engrossed and thrilled all day long. Purchasing an Adventure Zone Pass will give you access to all these activities and more at excellent value.
Highlight: The Adventure Zone’s most popular ride is the thrilling Westcoaster Slide, a 315 metre luge-style track that winds all the way down Blackcomb Mountain. Kids under 8 ride with an adult and you’ll have an individual kart with a hand brake to control your speed. The Westcoaster is a guaranteed crowd pleaser that the whole family can enjoy together.
Enjoy the 360 Experience
What: The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola is the world’s longest and highest chairlift, linking Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains and providing panoramic views of snow-covered peaks and forested valleys far below. It provides access to a number of fantastic experiences between May and October, and reopens again in November in time for snow sports and the winter sightseeing season. Best of all, the ride up is only the start of your mountain adventure. At the top, you’ll gain access to over 50km of high alpine hiking and running trails, plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting and the chance to admire Whistler’s famous wild flowers in bloom for a brief but spectacular period in July. There’s also a Snow Play Zone to explore in early summer, numerous panoramic viewpoints, interpretive walks, guided tours and an alpine theatre, along with plenty of memorable mountain-top eateries.
Highlight: The great value of a PEAK 2 PEAK 360 Experience ticket makes this one of Whistler’s most highly rated summertime activity. Whilst a day ticket will grant you a single upload on the day, the PEAK 2 PEAK pass provides unlimited access throughout the entire summer, providing you with all the freedom and flexibility to go up and down the mountain as often as you like. What’s more, there are a host of fantastic offers attached to the pass, including exclusive lodging deals and attractive discounts on various activities and dining experiences.
Further reading: Enjoy a "360 Experience" in Whistler
See Whistler Blackcomb from the air
What: For views to top any other, take to the air in a helicopter tour and witness a panoramic bird’s eye perspective over the beauty of Whistler and its surrounding area. Blackcomb Helicopters offers year-round aerial sightseeing excursions in top range touring helicopters with experienced and informative pilots. There are plenty of heli-adventures on offer, from a spectacular introductory flight over Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, to a more extensive tour of the region taking in the beauty of the Cheakamus Glacier, Black Tusk and the wilds of Garibaldi Provincial Park. There are also custom tours available, where you can have the helicopter to yourself, plan a unique route, or tailor a trip around a special occasion.
Highlight: Combine a thrilling aerial tour over Whistler with a half or full day of glacier exploration. Following the flight, the helicopter will land right beside the mesmerising 12,000-year-old Rainbow Glacier. Spend a few hours exploring the icy terrain with an experienced guide who will lead you through the remote backcountry, past incredible ice formations, glacial melt and jaw-dropping mountain scenery. No prior experience is necessary and all the glacial gear you’ll need is included, along with a hearty and delicious lunch.
Ride the mountain
What: Home to one of the world’s biggest and best mountain bike parks, Whistler attracts legions of pumped-up riders eager to hit the slopes every summer. The Whistler Mountain Bike Park encompasses over 70 exhilarating gravity-fuelled downhill trails. Whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned rider looking for the next big challenge, there’s something to suit all tastes and abilities, whether it’s a mellow green trail, an advanced technical descent or a gruelling long-distance route. As an added bonus, there are plenty more kilometres of cross-country single-track trails to explore outside the Bike Park, winding along the Valley floor, past lakeshores, temperate rainforest and into the rugged backcountry. Throw in a fantastic array of seasonal biking events and festivals, such as the world-renowned Crankworx, and it’s easy to see why Whistler is one of the world’s great mountain biking meccas.
Highlight: If you’re visiting the Bike Park for the first time, it can be hard to know where to start. Head to the Orientation Centre where the friendly guides and instructors will point you in the right direction, offering information on bike equipment, trails and riding technique. The Bike Park is divided into four distinct mountain zones: Fitzsimmons, Garbanzo, Creekside and Peak Zones, each home to an array of thrilling freeride and technical trails graded from easy to expert level. Beginners should start in the Fitzsimmons Zone and all bikers can make use of the handy Trail Progression Scale to work their way up through faster and harder routes. The pinnacle of Whistler biking is the high alpine “Top of the World” trail, involving a challenging yet thrilling 4,900ft vertical with stunning mountain views thrown in.
Further reading: Exhilarating biking adventures in Whistler
Experience thrills on 4 wheels
What: For those looking for a truly heart-pounding adventure, there’s nothing like taking to 4 wheels in an exploration of Whistler and Blackcomb’s rugged backcountry. Join a fully guided off-road vehicle tour around Whistler, Blackcomb and Cougar Mountains, either in a side by side UTV vehicle, RZR or via jeep. From the comfort of your vehicle, you’ll roar through dust and mud, hurtle over boulders and hillocks and cruise along rugged single track trails at exhilarating speeds. Keep an eye out for some of Whistler’s iconic wildlife along the way and take in the breath-taking mountain and lakeside scenery during stops at some of Whistler’s most spectacular viewpoints.
Highlight: The Adventure Group offer unmissable RZR adventures around the wilds of Whistler’s backcountry. These offer the perfect blend of adrenaline-fuelled adventure, combined with plenty of time to power down and take in the incredible beauty of the natural destinations. Full instruction is provided, along with helmets and googles, and there are even photographers on hand to help capture the excitement!
Enjoy a high-wire adventure
What: Those with a head for heights won’t want to miss the chance to marvel at Whistler’s stunning landscapes from heights of up to 180 feet whilst hurtling down zip-lines at breakneck speeds. The ever-popular Ziptrek Ecotours offers thrill seekers memorable ecology-based aerial adventures, with tours designed for all ages and abilities. These include exploring ground-based trails, navigating suspension bridges, admiring amazing views from treetop platforms and riding several zip-lines across the beautiful forested valley of Fitzsimmons Creek. One line stretches 2,000ft, dropping over 20-storeys and reaching speeds of well over 100km per hour! Friendly and informative guides will lead you through the course, ensuring you remain and feel safe at all times and offering plenty of educational insight into the impressive surrounding old-growth forest.
Highlight: The Sasquatch™ Tour is the undisputed ultimate zip lining experience in Whistler, if not the entire country. The line stretches a huge distance of over 2 kilometres, spanning Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. It features truly mind-blowing vistas of the surrounding peaks and the forested valley over 600ft below and is one any thrill seeker won’t want to miss.