The Summer Side of Whistler
Summertime in Whistler serves up an embarrassment of riches: endless exciting activities; an abundance of freshly picked, locally grown fare; multiple freshwater lakes ideal for dock diving and paddling; alpine hikes amongst wildflowers and wildlife; and entertaining outdoor concerts and shows. Can you really have too much of a good thing? In a word — yes. If you schedule your holiday too compactly, it’s possible you’ll come away feeling like you haven’t had a real break.
Our suggestion? Combat the curse of busyness by scheduling some strategic “timeouts” in between the fun-fuelled adventures. You’re bound to enjoy your summer days and nights in Whistler much more when you’re well rested and aren’t racing from one activity to the next. The good news is, most summer activities take place outdoors, which offer a natural balm to your soul and an antidote for too much screen time. Consider a breathtaking ride on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola; an educational tour to view Whistler’s black bears; a thrilling zipline or enlightening tree-top ecotour; or exploring one of the area’s waterways via kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard or whitewater raft. The valley’s extensive trail network combined with Whistler Blackcomb’s alpine trails offer hiking and mountain biking possibilities for those of all abilities.
While you’re here, pause to appreciate the sights of our neighbouring communities in the Sea to Sky Corridor — Squamish to the south and Pemberton to the north. For incredible sweeping coastal views of Howe Sound, Shannon Falls and the Stawamus Chief, ride the Sea to Sky Gondola. Spend the day hiking, taking in the spectacular vistas from the three viewing platforms or enjoy a snack and freshly brewed tea at the Co-Pilot Café. Pemberton is a bucolic town well known for its seed potato industry, set at the foot of majestic, 2,591-metre (8,500-foot) Mount Currie. Its Old West charm, unique cafés and outdoor recreation make it well worth a visit. Special stops include Nairn Falls, One Mile Lake and Pemberton’s scenic, yet challenging golf courses.
If you’re a golf aficionado, sign up for 18 holes at one of Whistler’s or Pemberton’s courses, and admire the views of pristine lakes and the towering peaks of Whistler’s “other mountains”: Armchair, Wedge, Rainbow and Sproatt. The four championship courses were designed by international players Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Arnold Palmer and Robert Cupp, respectively, to challenge your abilities against Whistler’s natural water features and terrain. Whistler also has a full calendar of high-energy activities and sporting events to test your physical abilities and jump-start the adrenaline.
But don’t forget to balance out the buzz of pushing your limits. Plan to sleep in one morning. Chill out on a patio with a craft beer. Enjoy a massage or watch a sunset. By mixing it up, you’ll be ready to completely launch yourself into every adventure.
Downhill mountain biking on Whistler Mountain is summer’s gravity-fed answer to winter’s need for speed. The latest technology in downhill bikes, protective armour, and starter-level trails makes it possible for everyone to give it a try. And you don’t have to be able to ride a bike to enjoy Crankworx, a 10-day mountain bike festival with some of the most extreme riding on the planet. Throughout the summer Whistler hosts a variety of popular events that embrace its mountainous terrain, such as the rolling North Face Whistler Half Marathon, wet and wild Tough Mudder and Tough Mudder Half, the phenomenally challenging Subaru Ironman Canada, the uphill climb of the RBC GranFondo Whistler cycling race, and the steepest 400-metre running race in the world — the Red Bull 400, which sends competitors up the Olympic ski jump in the Callaghan Valley.
By planning, you save time having to think about what to do or book during your vacation and leave more time for relaxing. Be sure to consider dates for the Whistler Presents Concert Series, which showcases live bands and orchestral music at Whistler Olympic Plaza. Pack a picnic and lounge on the lush lawn of the plaza. For an exceptional weekend for the whole family, don’t miss the Whistler Children’s Festival, packed with hands-on art workshops, music, theatre and dance.
One of the most pleasurable ways to slow down in summer is to linger over a delectable meal and take the time to really taste your food. Many of Whistler’s chefs pride themselves on sourcing produce and meat from local farms, seafood from Pacific coastal waters, and artisanal foodie favourites such as gelato, kettle corn, roasted coffee, cordials, craft beer, wine and vodka from local producers. Stroll the Whistler Farmers Market in the Upper Village, and you’ll find a cornucopia of fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods and tasty treats, as well as one-of-a-kind gifts handcrafted by local artisans.
It’s not too early to start thinking about summer. With a bit of research and organization in advance, you’ll be able to book all your exciting highlight activities, and plan for those quiet moments of peace and rest that are so vital to fully enjoying your stay. Breathe in, take a slow breath out: Summer’s only a few months away.