My top 20 things to do in Whistler, Canada

I’ve been living in Whistler for almost 8 months now. And despite being here that long, I’ve really only scratched the surface. I’m lucky enough to have my own personal tour guide however. My boyfriend Matt has been living here for 15 years and has shown me some of the less visited/touristy places. Here are some of my favourite places that I’ve visited so far. I’ve split this into Winter and Summer activities, as they really do depend on the season.

Whistler has lots to offer year round, as a non-skier, this list is great for both skiers and non-skiers. I did take a few skiing lessons on the Mountain when I had my ski pass, and I’d highly recommend taking some as snow school were fantastic.

Winter/Autumn (Fall)

I must admit I’m not a huge fan of winter, I hoped Whistler would change my mind. And it did, the snow was great. It was a winter wonderland, a truly magical place unlike anywhere I’ve been before. Here are some of my favourite activities this past winter.

1)Tubing

The Whistler Coca-Cola tube park is located on Blackcomb and really good for groups or families. On rainy days they will close some of the lanes, mostly the ones where you can go down as a group. But if you can go on a good snow day it is so much fun! There are also smaller tubes and lanes for little people.

2) The Peak to Peak Gondola

The Peak to Peak Gondola connects Whistler Mountain’s Roundhouse Lodge to Blackcomb’s Rendezvous Lodge. It holds the Guinness World Record for:

  • World’s longest unsupported span for a lift of this kind at 3.024km/1.88miles
  • World’s highest lift of its kind at 436m/1,427ft above the valley floor.

The Peak to Peak gives you a 360 degree view. Several of the gondolas even have a glass bottom, meaning you can view the mountain below you. Pretty rad, no?

3) Snowmobiling!

Snowmobiling was one of the funnest things I did this past winter. I was lucky enough to go on a 3 hour snowmobile tour with a friend through Canadian Wilderness Adventures. There are two options for this, single or double riders. We did the double and I think it was much more fun with two people on one snowmobile. Our guide was fantastic, she took us to some frozen over lakes where we had to snowmobile down some rather big drops. It was scary, but so so much fun! I have never screamed so much in my life. I’d highly recommend a tour through this company. They take you through the Callaghan Valley and will pick you up and drop you off at Skiers Plaza or a hotel location.

Alternatively, if you have a boyfriend with a snowmobile he can take you for free *wink wink* Although Matt’s snowmobile was much bigger for me and far more powerful. Hence flying off of it. Be careful out there!

4) Hike to the Train Wreck

The Whistler Train Wreck is one of the more famous places to visit. This can be done during Winter or Summer, depending on the snow fall. I did this in early winter before the snow came. The train wreck displays lots of local graffiti. There are several different train cars surrounding this area, some in worse condition than others. A great place to hike and mountain bike during the summer months too.

5) Eagle Watching in Brackendale

Heading south into Squamish, a 35 minute drive from Whistler, is the town of Brackendale: The winter home of the Bald Eagle. I visited here in the winter and if you’re in the area this is a really cool place to see. In the winter months, Bald eagles flock to this area of BC.  You can spot many of these amazing birds in the Eagle run section.

6) Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre

The Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre can be visited all year round. On the day I visited it was a heavy snow day. The inside of the museum has a very calming atmosphere, when coupled with soft snowflakes outside it’s a pretty magical experience.

The town of Whistler is situated where the native territories of Squamish nation and Lil’Wat nation overlap. Both cultures very similar but different from each other, came together to build this centre to educate people on first nations culture. I find Native American/First nations history very interesting and thoroughly enjoyed my time here. We joined a free guided tour through the museum, which started with our guides singing a native song for us. We also learned about the different meanings of totem poles. A very insightful visit and highly recommended.

7) Apres!

If you’re visiting a ski resort town and not joining in the apres, you’re doing it wrong! Here are some of Whistler’s most popular apres:

Merlins – Located at the base of Blackcomb mountain, Merlins is the home of endless apres.

Longhorns – one of the more popular places for Apres as Longhorns is located right at the base of the Whistler Gondola

Swedish Apres @ Cinnamon Bear – The Swedish Apres happens every Tuesday. Located inside the Hilton Hotel at the Cinnamon Bear.

Monster Energy Apres @ GLC – The Monster Energy Apres at the GLC (Garibaldi Lift Company) happens once every month, so make sure you check your calendar ad check it out! They have drinks special and a DJ booth on the patio, this event gets full pretty quickly and you do get a stamp for leaving/re-entering.

Summer/Spring

My favourite! Who doesn’t love summer? Here are my favourite things to do in the spring and summer months in Whistler

Visit a Waterfall

So far this season I’ve visited a grand total of… six waterfalls. That doesn’t sound like that many but I feel like I’ve seen way more.

8) Brandywine Falls

Brandywine is one of the more famous waterfalls around Whistler. The falls can be visited quite easily during summer, it freezes over in the winter but is just as pretty. There is a viewing deck from the top which gets you some pretty good views. Or if like me that’s just not good enough, you can always opt to hike your way down to the falls. It’s not too difficult once you find your way. We walked around the forest for a while before finding the trail.

9) Nairn Falls

Located north of Whistler in Pemberton is Nairn Falls Provincial Park. The hike into here is really easy and there is a viewing platform here. I’m sure there is a way to hike beyond the viewing deck boundary but on this occasion I wasn’t prepared to try it. There is also some great places to hike down to the river on the way to the falls.

10) Alexander Falls

Located in the Callaghan Valley, just before you get to Whistler Olympic Park is Alexander Falls. To get here is really easy and there is no walk to get to the actual falls. It’s right at the doorstep of the parking lot. Great for days when you want to see a waterfall but don’t fancy the hiking!

11) Shannon Falls

Another one located in Squamish. This area is really good for recreational activities. The Shannon Falls Provincial Park has several hiking trails and places to stop and have a picnic. A really beautiful area. You can also access the trail for the Stawamus Chief trail as well as the Sea to Sky gondola. Just up the road from here is also Alice Lake.

12) Rainbow Falls

This little waterfall isn’t as impressive as some of the others. But if you’re hiking up to rainbow lake or in the area and want an easy hike, this is a neat little place to see.

13) Miscellaneous

You’ll find that you sometimes come across waterfalls while hiking to other places. While hiking through the Whistler Interpretive Forest a few weeks back, we came across this small waterfall (Yes, this is a small one) Apparently is has adopted the name “balls falls” by kayakers.

This is a tiny waterfall we found while hiking this past week to the Ancient Cedars. It’s tiny, but just as beautiful.

14) Sea to Sky Gondola

The Sea to Sky Gondola is located in Squamish. I was lucky enough to do this for free, having been given a Vancouver tourism passport through my employer (thanks Four Seasons!) I’d waited months and months to do this, If you’re thinking of going up, make sure you get that good blue sky. At $41.95 per person, I wouldn’t want to waste such a good view on a cloudy day. Whistler gets some amazing bluebird days during the winter, so whatever season you’re visiting you’ll get a breathtaking view. The viewing decks as you arrive at the top overlook the amazing fjord that is howe sound. A similar view can be found at the top of the chief.

Once at the top of the Gondola they have a mountain-top restaurant and gift shop, several hiking trails and a suspension bridge. We took the easiest route which was the panorama trail. Along this trail you’ll find a variety of lookouts, one featuring Olsen falls.

15) Hike to the ghost town of Parkhurst

Last month I hiked to the ghost town of Parkhurst, previously a small logging town that was abandoned in the 1950’s. In order to get here there is more than one trail. The trail that we took was along the railway tracks on the backside of green lake. Most of the houses in this area have now unfortunately fallen down. But there is one house that still stands with a few old trucks and cars. A pretty surreal place to be.

16) Hiking the Ancient Cedars Trail

Before setting off on this hiking trail, I will recommend bringing one thing. BUG SPRAY. I’m currently sat typing this while scratching every inch of my body. The hike into the actual Cedars was fine, but once in, it was mosquito heaven (AKA hell). We passed some hikers leaving the trail who asked if we had insect repellent, after replying with a no, they both hand me a tree branch and tell me I’ll need it. I trusted their judgement and yes, it did actually help. Still got eaten alive, but less so I imagine. Getting to see the the biggest and oldest trees in whistler was still a great experience and one I’d recommended.

17) Audain Art Museum

A great place to visit, rain or shine, is the Audain Art Museum. Located in the heart of Whistler, this museum houses lots of native art and exhibitions. I was recently here for the opening reception of the Chili Thom Experience. Chili Thom was a renowned local artist in Whistler who recently passed away. As a lover of surreal art, I think his artwork captures the essence of Whistler and mountain life. I first heard of him shortly after I arrived in Whistler. Some of his work is still on Display in places like Sushi Village. If you are in Whistler while this exhibition is running I’d recommend checking it out.

18) Spot a Black Bear!

During the spring time the bears of Whistler start waking up, and during the summer you’re very likely to see one. Just recently I spotted Bjorn the Black Bear while he was outside a block of apartments eating. It was crazy to think how close we were to him. I think this fella is due to be relocated as he is too accustomed to people now. Whistler offers several bear watching tours.

I managed to see these three guys on the road up to Olympic park.

19) Fairmont Fridays

Fairmont Fridays happens every Friday in The Mallard Lounge at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. From 5:30pm to 6:30pm they have a happy hour with free appetisers. As well as deals on wine, beer and half price cocktails. Try the Sangria! This runs year-round so no matter which time of year you visit be sure to check it out.

20) Visit the City/See a hockey Game

Take a day trip and visit the city of Vancouver. A 1 hour 40 minute bus ride from Whistler, you can get a return trip for $35 through Epic Rides.

Enjoy Canada’s favourite sport and watch the Canucks play at Rogers Arena. Located near to Yale Town, and China Town there are some interesting neighbourhoods to discover.

Have you visited Whistler yet? What are your favourite things to do here?

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