Welcome to Whistler
Welcome to Sea to Sky Country
What could be better than summer in Whistler: afternoons by the lake, hiking in the alpine, a barbecue and drinks on the patio? Less than 90 minutes from Vancouver, with options for dining, shopping, galleries and public art, and outdoor adventure, Whistler is at the top of the list of North American mountain towns as a summer destination.
Whistler is known as a wintertime destination, for its skiing and snowboarding and as the Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics; but for decades, many locals — and an increasing number of visitors —have opined that summer is their favourite time of year in the resort. Given that it is home to a vibrant arts scene, the record-setting Peak 2 Peak Gondola, incomparable golf courses and the world-leading Whistler Mountain Bike Park, an extensive and well-maintained trail network for biking, hiking and running, that is not at all surprising.
The entire Sea to Sky Corridor, in fact — from climbing the Stawamus Chief in the south to paragliding over the breathtaking Pemberton Valley to the north — is a magnet for adrenaline junkies, particularly in the summer. Where else can you get big hits in the bike park, kiteboard at the head of a fjord and go bungee jumping or flying over the forest on one of the world’s longest ziplines, all in the same day? Even if you’re not an adrenaline junkie, there is so much to experience: from four top-ranked golf courses and outdoor summertime concerts to world-class dining and top-flight museums and galleries. It’s all here, just waiting to be enjoyed.
For thousands of years, the Whistler Valley was prime hunting and berry-picking territory for the Squamish and Lil’wat peoples, long before the first European fur trappers, loggers and miners arrived in the late 1800s. In 1914, the same year the Pacific Great Eastern Railway arrived, Myrtle and Alex Philip put the community (then known as Alta Lake) on the tourism map when they opened Rainbow Lodge, a summertime fishing establishment that quickly caught on with visitors from across Canada.
Franz Wilhelmsen and his team of Vancouver partners arrived in 1960, scouting the local mountains for a possible ski resort. Spurred on by the success of the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif., Wilhelmsen and his colleagues envisioned what was then known as London Mountain as the host mountain community for the 1968 Games — a vision finally achieved in 2003, when Vancouver and Whistler were chosen to host the 2010 Games. Vestiges of Whistler’s Olympic legacy are found around town, with several sets of Olympic rings and “Inukshuks” — stylized rock cairns that served as the “welcome” symbol of the Games.
You can experience other Olympic and Paralympic legacies first-hand. Whistler Olympic Plaza, where medal ceremonies occurred during the Games, hosts various events throughout the summer, including a free outdoor summer concert series. At the Whistler Sliding Centre, you can experience the “Rolling Thunder” of the world’s fastest track on a wheeled roller-sled; and at Whistler Olympic Park, you can hike or mountain bike on the trails or try shooting a .22-calibre biathlon rifle at the venue that hosted the Nordic events in 2010. Lovers of great art are gravitating to Whistler in increasing numbers. The Audain Museum, an impressive, 56,000-square-foot gallery, opened in 2016 and features works by renowned Canadian artists including Emily Carr and E.J. Hughes as well as a fine collection of West Coast Native masks. Visitors can also learn about the First Nations peoples and their vibrant cultures at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, or experience many of the world-class art galleries that have long called Whistler home.
Whistler has a dining experience for every palate and budget, with a vast array of restaurants, pubs and nightspots to fuel your summertime adventures or wet your whistle. De-stress from the daily grind or recover from your outdoor adventures at one of Whistler’s renowned spas. Starting this summer, visitors to the high alpine of Whistler Mountain will be able to experience the new, 130-metre-long Peak Suspension Bridge and take in the 360-degree views of the surrounding Coast Mountains on the new, cantilevered viewing platform at the peak’s West Ridge. Downhill mountain bikers will want to scratch their itch for new challenges with the completion of Phase 2 of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park expansion, adding a total of 21 new kilometres (13 miles) of trails to a park that was already second to none.
Whether it is relaxation or thrills you are looking for, there is no shortage of opportunities for summertime enjoyment here.
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