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?

Hopping across the border: Two days in Seattle

I finally made it to Seattle!

After putting it on my 2017 goals, I managed to make a quick trip across the border to the rainy state of Washington. I made it to Seattle!

I spent my two days off road tripping down to Washington State with four friends. With only two days to play with we made a simple itinerary, ticking off Seattle’s most popular tourist spots. We hired a car and left early morning, the drive down was actually quite relaxing, with some awesome views along the way.

There is only one place in Whistler to hire a car from – Avis at the Cascade Lodge. We arrived before they opened and were the first to get our car. Yay!

Before leaving to get the car, I nearly forgot my passport – oops! I did however, forget my IEC visa, which was fine but you really should staple or always keep it in your passport (which I have since done) because you will need it to re-enter the country.

Once we were on the road we stopped in Squamish for a coffee at Tim’s, I also got a donut and bagel. Me eating became the theme of this trip.

It didn’t take us long to reach the border, the longest part of our journey was trying to get through Vancouver. Once we reached the border, we were asked for passports and then had to park up and go get our visas from inside the building. This took a while, but it was a relatively smooth process and costed $4 each.

Border crossing selfie

We were then back on the road. Washington is beautiful, lots of mountains and trees on the way over. I could tell we were getting close when the first radio station we put on had Nirvana playing. One of my favourite songs too. The drive in total took us 6 hours and we arrived just after 3pm.

Checked into the Travelodge by the Space Needle on 6th Avenue. This was a very basic hotel but fine for one night and a very comfy bed!

Once at the hotel we dropped off our bags and went exploring! Downtown is approximately 15 minutes walk from where we stayed. And it was a nice walk too. Lots off cool little coffee shops and cafes along the way.

Naturally our first stop was the Public Market at Pike Place. I was pretty stoked to see this. It quickly became my favourite part of Seattle. Why? Because there was food vendor after food vendor!

Pike Place Market

This little piggy went to Pike Place market

The Original

I got in some touristy snaps of the world’s first Starbucks, as an avid Starbucks lover and basic white girl this was pretty cool to see.

Then it hit me. The smell of cinnamon and everything yummy. I stood there sniffing and asking where it was coming from. This was the start of my downfall. I spotted it, a piroshsky shop. The only time I have ever heard of a piroshsky shop was in Orange is the new black when Red mentions she owns one. I was amazed, everything looked SO good! I ended up choosing a cinnamon twist and a raspberry and white chocolate piroshsky.

What is a Piroshsky you ask? It’s a Russian pastry/bun that’s filled with either sweet of savoury fillings. I was in here for a while. Everything looked SO good. The place I went to was called “Piroshsky Piroshsky” and since googling, I’ve found they’re very famous, and now deliver. Oh, to live in Seattle!

Piroshky Piroshky. Cinnamon goodness

Along this little stretch of shops we popped our heads in and out trying free samples. Cheese, olive oil, jams, truffle oils, pesto, greek yoghurt. This place has everything.

After my piroshsky binge, I then purchased a raspberry and white chocolate individual cheese cake. This was just amazing. I did save this for my pre-bedtime snack though, just as a disclaimer!

Mmmm cheesecake!

We finished up at the market and headed to the gum wall to make our mark. I have no idea who came up with this idea, and it’s a little bit gross but I kinda love it.

Here’s a snippet from Wikipedia to give you an idea of it’s origins “The wall is by the box office for the Market Theater, and the tradition began around 1993 when patrons of Unexpected Productions’ Seattle Theatresports stuck gum to the wall and placed coins in the gum blobs. Theater workers scraped the gum away twice, but eventually gave up after market officials deemed the gum wall a tourist attraction around 1999. Some people created small works of art out of gum.”

Making my mark in Seattle

It was around 5:30/6pm now so we decided to go get some drinks as most places had happy hour until 7pm. We discussed going to the Hard Rock Cafe when a local woman overheard and suggested we go to a locals place by the post alley called The Alibi Room. We tried, it was packed, and a 30 minute wait. So back to HRC we went. Keen to get a drink, but alas, it wasn’t to be. In Washington state it’s the law that you have to have a passport as I.D. We did end up going back to the Alibi Room, this time with passports in tow. I ordered their Irish coffee. But it was probably one of the worst things I’ve tasted. I’ll stick to beer next time.

Dinner tonight was at the crab pot along the waterfront. This was an incredible experience. Especially if you like seafood like me. They place a long piece of paper along your table, then throw down a mix of crab legs, mussels, clams, shrimp, corn & potatoes. You’re given a wooden block, a fork and wooden hammer. Then your free to bash away. This was such a fun experience. I loved wearing the bib, it was great. The food itself was really fresh and the crab just tasted so good.

Before

And after!

We ended the nights with drinks and a slow walk back to the hotel via a hotdog van.

Seattle at night

Day Two

Day 2 consisted of making our way straight to the Space Needle. About a 5 minute walk from our hotel, we managed to get an entry time of 10:30 – 11am. The views from u here were really nice, despite the wind and rain. You get a 360 view of the whole city, right out into the pacific.

Space Needle admission prices are $22 for general adult admission.

Right next to the Space Needle is the museum of pop culture, which actually looked really cool. We only browsed the outside and lobby. This museum isn’t free and we didn’t have time to do this but if I were to return to Seattle, this is something I’d love to see for sure.

Next up, was the monorail. I was having a bit of a Disney moment at this point. The Space Needle and monorail just reminded me of Disneyland so much! As well as Epcot, a lot of Disney attractions were designed in the 60s during the space age. the monorail was around $2 for one way and was pretty cool ride. We were like big kids sitting at the front so we could “drive”

Monoraaaaaiiiil…

We departed the monorail and my first stop had to be H&M. For an emergency pair of jeans. The night before, my jeans had ripped open and every time I sat down it kept getting bigger and bigger. I had to walk around the whole day with my jeans ripped on the butt cheek, luckily I was wearing a relatively long coat!

Too much good stuff

On the way to H&M we passed a square with several food trucks and having seen what everyone else was eating we just had to try something. Two of the girls got fish and chips – and this looked like GOOD fish and chips. I opted for the middle eastern food truck and went with a chicken gyro. And it was good. SO good. The food trucks were very popular with the locals too. I’m assuming this happens every Friday, but I’ve not been able to find any information online. So if you’re in Seattle on a Friday, check out this place.

Once in H&M I found my emergency pair of jeans, popped into some other stores. Forever 21, hell yes! Refused to buy anything because my Canadian dollars wouldn’t stretch (Just like my jeans) and we made our way back down to Pike Place market.

Pike Place at night

Here’s where I bought… More food! I couldn’t leave Seattle without trying the Baklava. It was my treat for on the way home. Well, one of them anyway. My roomate bought some fancy olive oil that she’ll probably never use. We stopped and got some last minute souvenirs – starbucks city mugs anyone? Then started the 5/6 hour journey back home to Whistler. On the way to the Canadian/US boarder we stopped at an outlet mall. It was glorious. I wish there was something similar near Vancouver. I only bought a few things, that will save me money in the long term (isn;t that what every girl says?) On the way back it rained. And rained. But it was kind of nice. We arrived back in Whistler at a very early 11pm.

I really enjoyed my short time in Seattle, and would love to explore Washington state a bit more in the future. Thats state number 7 ticked off the bucket list!