Is Whistler worth adding to your summer itinerary? In a word – yes. Let me tell you why.
Only two hours from Vancouver, Whistler is both an essential and easy day trip. To get there, follow the Sea to Sky Highway, which begins at sea-level and slowly winds upwards through the towering Coastal Mountains and lush old-growth forests while offering jaw-dropping views of Howe Sound along the way. If you have time, stop at Shannon Falls just off the highway. A short, 10-minute walk from the parking lot leads you to a beautiful view of the third highest waterfall in British Columbia.
The Village Stroll
After parking, begin your adventure at the Olympic Plaza. Snap a photo at the famous Olympic rings, then follow the path over the small bridge and into the village.
What better way to stretch the legs after a long drive than shopping? The village offers many local boutiques and some of the most unique retail collectives in the country. Whether you have a proclivity for action sports gear, trendy fashion, or one-of-a-kind souvenirs, you can find it all along the village stroll.
Don’t worry, I’d never forgotten about coffee. There is a multitude of Australians that work in Whistler each year – so many that the town is playfully nicknamed “Whistralia”. And of course, a lot of Aussies means a lot of great coffee! Stop for a cup, or a handheld treat at Moguls or Mount Currie Coffee Co. along your stroll.
Peak 2 Peak Gondola
So, you’ve seen Whistler from the ground…but what about seeing it from the sky? Whether winter or summer, if there’s one thing you must do in Whistler it is the Peak to Peak Gondola. The gondola is Guinness World Record-breaking for the longest and highest lift, connecting Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. The ride offers awe-inspiring views of BC’s volcanic mountain ranges and stunning coastal rainforests. At the top, walk the Cloudraker Skybridge – a 130m suspension bridge spanning the Whistler bowl – or take in a 360-degree view of Whistler Peak from the Raven’s Eye Cliff Walk. If you enjoy your food with a side of striking mountain views, eat lunch or grab a coffee at the Roundhouse Lodge before heading back down the mountain.
Beyond the Village
If winter in Whistler is all about skiing, then summer is all about biking. After the snow has melted, the normally snow-covered runs turn into steep, gravity-fed mountain-biking terrain. Stay and watch adrenaline junkies plummet down the trails, or… Rent a bike in town and explore the areas surrounding the village which are laced with paths for walking or biking. Be sure to stop by Lost Lake – a popular local watering hole – for a refreshing dip! You can also access Lost Lake from the Village by taking the free, number eight shuttle. The shuttle runs every fifteen minutes from the gondola transit exchange.
After a busy day of exploring the mountains and village of Whistler, you’re probably hungry. For a fun dining experience, try Bearfoot Bistro: it has a sabering room for Champagne, and the Ketel One Ice Room, the coldest vodka tasting room in the world. Brrrr. Feeling French? Try Crepe Montagne, which offers both sweet and savoury crepes perfect not just for breakfast. Need a quick Canadian bite? If you haven’t tried poutine yet, now is your chance. Located near the gondola, Zogs serves up a mean plate of mouth-watering fries, cheese and gravy. (Hey, we never said it’d be healthy, we said it’d be worth it.)
I Scream You Scream
Eating ice cream every day is one of the unwritten rules of vacation. Don’t forget to stop by COWS ice cream for a sweet end to your day. For an extra Canadian treat, load up your homemade waffle cone with a scoop of Cownadian Maple (maple ice cream with maple swirls and maple cookie chunks…oh my!)
So, What are You Waiting for?
Winter or summer, Whistler is not called the “Valley of Dreams” for nothing. Even without the snow, it is a must-see destination. Whether you’re looking for nature, adventures, shopping, or straight-up spectacular views – Whistler has it all.
Photos courtesy of ©Lisanne Smeele, Tourism Whistler/Justa Jeskova