Whistler is best known as a wintertime destination, renowned for its skiing and snowboarding and as the Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. That fact is impossible to dispute, as it consistently ranks as North America’s top-ranked winter resort. But for decades, the consensus among many locals was that summer was their favourite time of year; and when you look at the opportunities for outdoor recreation — in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, on the resort community’s world-class trail network, along the lakes, in the coastal rainforest and in the alpine — that’s not at all surprising.
Whistler locals and visitors have been obsessed with skiing for half a century, ever since the first lifts opened in 1966. Since those early days, the town’s repertoire of winter sports and activities has expanded enormously. Tubing is a wonderful place to start, as the whole family can enjoy whizzing down the hill on inflatable tubes. Simply head up to Whistler Blackcomb’s Coca-Cola Tube Park, located at the Base II Zone on Blackcomb Mountain. It’s easily accessed from the Village at no cost via the Excalibur Gondola. Be sure to wear warm winter clothing, and for your comfort, a pair of goggles.
Nestled in a fertile, verdant valley tightly surrounded by incredible mountain peaks, the community of Pemberton is a hidden gem in the heart of the Coast Mountains. Located just 25 minutes north of Whistler, Pemberton (known to locals as Spud Valley) enjoys a slightly warmer and sunnier climate. Offering favourable weather and a large span of level ground, the valley has become a prime agricultural zone.
Located between Vancouver and Whistler on the scenic Sea to Sky Highway, Squamish is a top-rated destination. In 2015, the New York Times tabbed it as one of the “52 Places to Go” that year, and if you look at its surroundings, it is easy to see why. For starters, there is the stunning scenery, punctuated by the jaw- dropping granite monolith Stawamus Chief that looms over the town and the iconic peak of 2,678-metre (8,787-foot) Mount Garibaldi to the north. The community of almost 20,000 lies at the northern end of Howe Sound, one of North America’s southernmost fjords.
Vancouver may be one of the most walkable cities in the world — a stroll or cycle along the Seawall should be on every tourist’s to-do list — but even its most devoted fan would have to admit that its attractions are scenic, not architectural. We admire the horizon, the mountains, the ocean, but not so much an uninspired foreground of utilitarian concrete boxes and high-density glass towers. Happily, in recent years the city has upped its game to give nature a run for her money.