It used to be that people came to Whistler for the snow. The 5,000 plus vertical feet provided one of the best downhill winter adventures anywhere in the world. When Vancouver hosted the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, it was Whistler that hosted most of the downhill events and for perfectly good reasons. Winter sports are fantastic at Whistler.
However, in the years since, Whistler has been changing. Don’t worry, the incredible winter sports, are still, pretty unbelievable. It’s just that people have discovered that Whistler is so much more than winter sports. At first, it was a small few who ventured up, in what used to be called the “Off-season.” These early adopters got to see Whistler as so few people do, without all the people. However, they would have noticed a good number of seasonal restaurants and activities were entirely closed.
Of course, it seems that these early adopters must have mentioned just how great the off-season was to a few of their friends. Those friends likely told some more folks, and in a few short years, Whistler officially has no off-season. Nearly 50 percent of Whistler’s visitors now come when the ski runs are not operating at full speed.
So what exactly do people do in Whistler when there is no fresh powder to be had? Turns out, quite a lot!
This is our list of the top 30 Summer activities in Whistler.
1. PEAK 2 PEAK GONDOLA ($$)
If you’ve ever skied on Whistler or Blackcomb, you have no doubt stopped on your way down to take in the view. From up there, you can see far back into the mountain range, and the sense of awe is almost overwhelming. This may actually be better. The Peak 2 Peak Gondola is just what it sounds like, a gondola that takes you 4.4 kilometres from the peak of Whistler Mountain to the peak of Blackcomb Mountain. In between, you get to take in the entirety of the mountain range expanding beyond. To give you some idea of the magnitude, Peak 2 Peak holds the Guinness Records for both the longest and highest lift in the world.
2. MOUNTAIN TOP SUMMER FEAST ($$$)
If you were thinking the Peak 2 Peak Gondola ride sounds pretty amazing, you might want to consider pairing it with the Mountain Top Summer Feast. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening at the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain you can have an incredible meal at 6,000 feet. Seating is limited, so you will want to book in advance. That said, the Feast price also includes the ride up, access to the alpine hiking trails, and the Peak 2 Peak ride between mountains for that day.
3. WHISTLER MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK ($$$)
Many of Whistler’s summertime early adopters were, in fact, the people who flocked there for the downhill mountain biking. For a lot of years, they did too good a job keeping this closely guarded secret from everyone else. However, the increased number of summer visitors has meant that the bike park has undergone some incredible upgrades. It now features four zones and over 80 kilometres of trail to explore, with paths for the ultra-pro through to the first-time explorer. Working your way through deep tangled roots and volcanic rubble is going to up your game and leave most other tracks wanting. Of course, if you are genuinely a first-timer, the learning centre will get you up to speed and ready to tackle the mountain.
4. BEAR VIEWING TOUR ($$$)
One of the most charming aspects of Whistler is just how emersed you are in a pristine natural wilderness. So it goes without saying that there is some incredible wildlife near town. The Bear Viewing Tour is a fantastic opportunity to get out there and see it with a local expert to help it all make sense. There are currently more than 60 Black Bears and cubs who have made the woods surrounding Whistler their home. You’ll visit bear dens, wander through alpine meadows and old-growth Western Hemlock forests, and learn just how to observe these particular local residents, safely!
5. VALLEY BIKE RENTALS ($$)
So maybe the Mountain Bike Park is more adventurous than you’re looking for, that’s ok. Whistler is beautiful, no matter how you take it in, and one of the best ways is on the over 40 Kilometres of paved bike paths running through the Whistler Valley. It’s perfect for the whole family and makes it easy for you to move between activities, such as playing in the park to swimming in the lake. It really can be days worth of leisurely adventures.
6. ATV TOURS ($$$)
So you’d like to have an off-road adventure, without having to pedal. An ATV Tour may be just what you need! Roll through the Callaghan Valley or climb up Blackcomb Mountain to take in the rarified views. From beginner adventures to experienced explorations, there is a perfect ATV adventure waiting for you.
7. RIVER RAFTING ($$$)
The Whistler area is full of beautiful lakes connected by pristine rivers with incredible rapids. The easiest, and most exciting, way to see them all is by taking a river rafting tour. However, you best be prepared to get soaked. Tours are range in skill level, and packages exist for single riders or large groups. You’ll learn how to paddle your way through a raging river and come out with a family adventure that will be talked about for years to come.
8. SUMMER SIGHTSEE TOURS ($)
If you are looking for something just to get yourself familiarized with the trails, this is just the thing. The Whistler Blackcomb CIBC Mountain Host program provides free sightseeing orientation tours on green and blue hiking trails twice a day. The tours run about 1.5 – 2 hours on either Whistler or Blackcomb mountains and takes you across the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Of course, while the tour is free, you do need to have a 360 Experience ticket or to get up and ride the gondola across.
9. WHISTLER MUSEUM (FREE)
If you want to learn about the history of the Whistler area, from the pioneers to the creation of the Whistler Blackcomb resort to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the Whistler Museum is extraordinary. Be sure to check out their extensive artifact and photography collections. They also do great historical walking tours of the Whistler Village every day in June, July, and August. Possibly the best part, it’s all completely free, although Pay-What-You-Can Donations are appreciated.
10. WHISTLER FARMER’S MARKET ($)
The Whistler Farmer’s Market is worth a trip. No matter, if you’re staying in an Airbnb and need to stock up on groceries, or just wanting to take in the music and feel the local community vibes. Every Sunday from 11 – 4 PM, Wednesdays from 2 – 7 PM and Holiday Saturdays from 11 – 4 PM (June 30, August 4, September 1 and October 6). Local producers from the area will tempt you with fantastic produce and coffee and wines. You’ll leave happy and feeling like a local.
11. LAKES & BEACHES (FREE)
As a result of Whistler’s pedigree as a top-notch Ski resort, the lakes and beaches are often overlooked. Truth be told, Whistler has some incredible beaches, with kayak rentals, beach volleyball courts, picnic table, BBQs, kids areas, concession stands, and even an off-leash area for dogs. All summer long, it’s some of the best swimming, in the cleanest lakes, anywhere.
12. ZIPTREK ECOTOURS ($$)
A place like Whistler has to have zip lines! In fact, they have quite a few of them, and they are some of the best in the world. Not only a thrilling ride but a ride with a view, high up over the forests that surround Whistler Mountain. Of course, if you want the view without the zipping, Zipytrec has a series of treetop trails that are perfect for a leisurely walk like no other.
13. 4X4 TOURS ($$$)
Climbing deep into the Callaghan Valley and over the hills of Blackcomb, these Jeep tours take you to some of the most scenic places in the Whistler area. Safe and fun for the whole family, you will want to make sure you bring your camera and an assortment of lenses to capture some breathtaking photos.
14. HELI YOGA ($$$$)
Yes, you read that right. It all starts a flight to the remote Beverley lake on the backside of Rainbow mountain. When you land, you will see a sizeable flat shoreline next to the shimmering blue waters where your yoga class will be. Next, the yoga instructor will guide you through 60 minutes of poses and invite you to really breathe it all in. After class, there is still another 30 minutes until your chopper takes you back, plenty of time for photos and dipping your toes in the fresh glacier water.
15. GLACIER SKIING & RIDING ($$)
Admittedly, this is not for everyone, but if you are an advanced skier or snowboarder, riding the Horstman Glacier is a definite bucket list item. There is nothing quite like strapping on your skis and working on your tan at the same time. What’s more, when you’re finished, you can cool off in one of the nearby lakes. It’s a brilliant twist on a winter favourite.
16. SCANDINAVE SPA ($$)
You find yourself in one of the most beautiful places in the entire world, how about you do nothing at all. Lounge about in the pools, book a massage and embrace the silence of a hammock nap amongst the trees. The Scandinave Spa is the perfect place to let all your cares float away as you rejuvenate in the fresh mountain air. There are spas, and then there is this spa.
17. GOLF ($$$)
Whistler has four championship golf courses. If you’re looking to work on your game this summer, why wouldn’t you do it here? Consider that, Whistler Golf Club was Arnold Palmer’s first Canadian designed course. Nicklaus North is the only golf course in the world to bear the name of its legendary designer. And, the Chateau Whistler Golf Club features 400 feet of elevation change. Of course, that’s just the first three on the list. Many golfers will tell you that the southern states have become the place to golf throughout the winter months. However, Whistler is quickly becoming the Summer destination to hit the links, no matter what city you call home.
It stands to reason that Whistler’s pristine wilderness and fresh glacier lakes would provide some of the best fishing found anywhere. Charter yourself a guide or get yourself a licence and spend your early morning hours, with bait on your hook, all on your own. Throughout the summer, you can expect Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden, Steelhead, and Cutthroat Trout in good supply.
19. WHISTLER SLIDING CENTRE ($- $$)
Of course, Bobsleigh is a summer activity, sort of. Summer Bobsleigh runs daily from June 28 to September 1, 2019 plus on select bonus weekends in June and September! The only difference is in the summer, wheels are required. One of the legacies of the 2010 Olympic Games, the Whistler Sliding Centre will make you wish you were competing yourself. Adult passes are $99, but youths age 12 – 18 slide for free.
20. THE BLACKCOMB ASCENT TRAILS ($)
Some days just require a walk through nature to clear your mind and reconnect with what’s important. The Blackcomb Ascent Trails are three interconnected uphill hiking trails. They wander along beautiful old growth coastal rain forest terrain from the valley bottom to the Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb Mountain. All told it’s a total of 6.2 kilometres walking up to an elevation of 1,200 metres. Access is free for 360 and Bike Passholders all season. If you don’t have a pass, the price is as low as $15 for a hike to the top of the Blackcomb gondola mid-station.
21. AXE THROWING ($)
Probably exactly what you’re thinking. Large wooden target and axes made for throwing. It’s like darts, only way cooler! This one is perfect with friend or family, and you’re likely going to need several rematches. The trained staff walk you through all the safety do’s and don’ts of timber sports, so it’s suitable for anyone over 10.
22. DISC GOLF (FREE, But you have to bring your own discs)
There are two Disc Golf courses in Whistler, and both are free to use. The Whistler disc golf course is located in Spruce Grove underneath the power lines at the back of Lost Lake Park (right near Nicklaus North Golf Course). It’s made up of 27 holes consisting of 18 baskets and nine tonal poles. There is also the much smaller Kadenwood Disc Golf Course, which has come to be known as Whistler’s ‘secret disc golf course.’ It’s located halfway up the hill to the Kadenwood development in Bayshores. Kadenwood is a much less involved course with only ten tonal poles, but still a lot of fun and a good challenge. You can pop into Whistler Village Sports if you need to purchase a set of Discs.
23. BUNGEE JUMPING ($$$)
If this is something you need to do, Whistler is the place to do it! Located just 15 min south of Whistler Village over the river surrounded by trees. There has never been a more beautiful spot to drop. Whistler Bungee has a perfect safety record and amazingly operates all year round. They also have options to go tandem, if you need additional moral support. Fully accessible, Whistler Bungee even does Wheelchair Bungee!
24. HIKE TO THE TRAIN WRECK (FREE)
A location shrowded in mystery and part of the lore of Whistler going back almost 70 years. The Whistler Train wreck started as part of the struggle to settle the area and has now become a has become a fantastic, almost hidden, art exhibit. About an hour journey from the Village, this hike is suitable for all levels of hiker. It’s also an incredible Instagram backdrop if your teenagers need any convincing. To learn more about the history of the Wreck click here. For the trial, guide click here.
25. CRAFT BEER ($-$$)
If you love beer, then Whistler is not going to disappoint. The Function Junction area of town, a former industrial neighbourhood has developed a reputation as the place to go for beer aficionados and those who just simply want a cold one. Whistler Brewing is the mainstay of the area, but more brewers like Coast Mountain Brewing are popping up all the time.
26. GIBBONS BEER FESTIVAL
While technically in September, we’re pretty sure it still qualifies as a summer activity. The Gibbons Beer Festival is for the Craft Beer lover who wants to go to the next level. Or of course, those who find themselves in town from September 10 to the 15 and are looking for something fun to get upto. This year’s festival will feature over 70 breweries with more than 140 beers and ciders.
27. SQUAMISH LIL’WAT CULTURAL CENTRE ($)
Learn about the Indigenous roots of the area with a trip to this incredible First Nations Museum. While you’re there, shop for beautiful handmade gifts or find an incredible piece of art to take home. A short walk from the Village this is a perfect spot to bring the whole family and really get an understanding of the history of Whistler.
28. CRANKWORX FESTIVAL ($$$)
From August 9 to 19 the Crankworx Festival comes to town, and the whole area goes crazy for mountain biking. This festival was born in Whistler in 2004 and has since spawned another in Europe and one in New Zealand. If you have an extreme love of Mountain biking, this is where you need to be. If you’re new to the sport, this is the best place to start.
29. BEARFOOT BISTRO, KETEL ONE ICE ROOM ($$)
Did you know that vodka was meant to be experienced in the cold? It makes sense, considering where all the best Vodkas in the world hail from. The Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler is home to Canada’s only permanent sub-zero vodka room. Wrapped in Arctic Expedition parkas, you will be warm and cozy as you sample four different vodkas. Their vodka expert will explain the intricacies of distillation how the cold environment actually enhances the flavour while minimizing the overall alcohol burn. It’s the perfect way to get out of the summer heat for a bit.
30. CHECK OUT THE OUTDOOR SUMMER CONCERT SERIES (FREE)
From Broken Social Scene to Buffy Sainte-Marie to The Family Stone, this promises to be a great night out. Whether classical music, rock, or jazz, the Whistler Olympic Plaza is free outdoor music all summer long! Bring a blanket, dancing shoes, and the whole family for an evening of live entertainment. There is also a free bike valet, not to mention, free transit available for all Saturday concerts.