Whistler, British Columbia, is one of Canada’s most popular resorts. Most people come for the skiing and snowboarding in the winter but when the snow melts, the fun doesn’t stop. If you find yourself looking for things to do in Whistler in the summer, look no further.
I spent two summers living in the resort where I worked as a Lift Operator, or ‘Lifty’ as we’re affectionately known. There’s so much more to Whistler than too many Aussies and those crowded powder days – from bear spotting to lounging by its many (beautiful) lakes – but the best ideas for what to do when visiting a new place come from the locals! So I’ve put together a list of 50 things to do in Whistler in the summer months.
You might like: Read more about my time working as a Lift Operator in Whistler
- Downhill biking
Whistler is known for its summer biking season. People travel from all over the world to get their adrenaline pumping in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. There are 70 trails split across four mountain zones and there’s something for all abilities. Just don’t fall off your bike and cut your arm open like I did and she’ll be right, as the local ‘Whistralians’ say!
- Hike your little legs off
If you’re looking for things to do in Whistler in the summer that are free, hiking can’t be beat. The resort is a great base for some incredible day hikes as well as longer multi-day hikes. Whistler Blackcomb mountains alone have over 50km of hiking trails – try the Heart Burner on Blackcomb mountain (it sounds gruelling, and it is!) or the High Note Trail on Whistler mountain. Or try a new walk being added this summer by The Adventure Group (TAG) and Monument Factory. Vallea Lumina is a 1.5km light-up night walk through Cougar Mountain. The forest will be “brought to life” through lighting, sound and special effects.
- Sightsee on the PEAK 2 PEAK
The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola is pretty impressive and jumping on for a ride is something everyone should do when in Whistler. The Guinness Book of World Records-breaking gondola travels 4.4km in only 11 minutes, taking you from Whistler mountain over to neighbouring Blackcomb mountain. It’s also the world’s longest unsupported lift of its kind.
- Spot bears
Whistler is unique in that the locals and Black Bears live amongst one another. It’s pretty special to be able to see a black bear – and some times cubs – up close most days. They’re such amazing animals. You can also go on guided wildlife photography tours. Just please make sure you’re Bear Aware! Unfortunately too many tourists, and locals, endanger the bears’ lives each year by being ignorant and negligent. See the tips below to help keep the bears alive. Occasionally Grizzly Bears may wander through Whistler’s mountains and backcountry. Grizzlies are much bigger, more aggressive and should be handled differently.
- Drink your weight in beer
That’s right, Whistler has not one, but THREE breweries! The two main breweries are actually in the Function Junction neighbourhood just outside Whistler Village. Whistler Brewing Company claims to be an “originator in the BC craft brewing movement” so it’s definitely worth a visit. They also do great food and tours of the tap room every Tuesday + Saturday. Just around the corner, you can grab another flight of beer at Coast Mountain Brewing. This one is much smaller and newer – it only opened in 2016. It’s already got a great reputation with the locals though, and is my preferred brewery. It’s also got a great sun terrace – new in 2017 – perfect for, well, summer! Back in the main Village, High Mountain Brewing Co, or Brewhouse, is recognized more as a restaurant and bar. They do brew onsite though, and there’s plenty to choose from.
- Escape reality
OK, so it’s not reality but you do need to escape from Whistler’s Escape Rooms. A relatively new concept, escape rooms are exactly what they sound like. Choose from 4 different rooms – from pirate themed to secluded snow cabin. It’s great fun and definitely tests your brain. It’s also a great option for those rare rainy summer days.
- Bungee Jumping
Keep the adrenaline pumping and jump from a a bridge for a perfect view of the glacier-fed Cheakamus River below. It’s small in the world of bungee jumping at 160ft (50m) but it’s still got enough height to induce fear tears. Whistler Bungee has a perfect safety record though, so don’t be a chicken and go have some fun! Every jumper gets a free t-shirt too. Winning!
- Sea plane adventures
Take to the skies to see Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and surrounding glaciers, lakes and forest with a sea plane tour with Harbour Air. I haven’t done one in Whistler, but I did receive a Vancouver sea plane tour as a birthday present and it was one of the most spectacular experiences I’ve ever had! And I don’t use that word lightly!
- Get back to basics
There are so many options for camping in and around Whistler, as well as further afield. For easy access campsites try Cat Lake, Nairn Falls Provincial Park, Stawamus Chief and Lillooet Lake. For hike-in campsites try Wedgemount, Garibaldi Lake and Rainbow Lake.
- Float down the river
As soon as the snow’s melted and the sun’s shining, locals race to Walmart or the Village hardware store to grab an Explorer 300 floaty. Jump in your floaty down the River of Golden Dreams with friends, some tunes, a few bevies and maybe even a picnic, if you can guarantee you won’t fall in before you reach the end. You can also do guided canoeing and kayaking tours but going alone it so much more fun. This one is definitely a local’s secret so, you’re welcome!
- Relax with a massage
Who doesn’t love a good massage?! Some of the best available are at the The Spa at Nita Lake Lodge in Creekside Village, Aviva Wellness Massage and Spa + Whistler Day Spa.
- Fly between the two mountains
Ziptrek’s Sasquatch zipline is North America’s longest and fastest. Taking you from Blackcomb Mountain over to Whistler Mountain in just 90 seconds, the views are incredible and it’s an experience unlike any other. Usually best to leave your sunnies at home for this one though.
- Mountain-top BBQ feast
Summer time is for BBQ’s and Whistler Mountain does them better than any other ski resort (this is a massive assumption, but whatever, they’re amazing). Every weekend, you can ride the Gondola up to the top of Whistler Mountain in time for a BBQ buffet at sunset. That’s right, I said BBQ. And buffet. At sunset!
- Outdoor cinema
A fairly new village activity, the outdoor cinema from Whistler Film Festival can be added to the list of free things to do in Whistler. It shows some pretty great classics in Creekside Village – this year includes Aussie favourite ‘The Castle’ and ‘Wayne’s World’. Party on!
- Ice Room
Grab a drink at Ketel One Ice Room at Barefoot Bistro if you think you’re cool enough. (Ha, see what I did there?!) At -32C (-25F) it’s the world’s coldest vodka tasting room and the only permanent sub-zero vodka room in Canada.
- Train Wreck Hike
Exactly what it says…a hike to a train wreck. Starting at Function Junction, the short hike takes you through the forest, across train tracks and along the Cheakamus River to the wreckage of seven carriages which were derailed several decades ago and have been graffitied by local artists to give outdoor art a new meaning.
Another Function Junction activity, Bounce is an indoor trampoline centre. Great for rainy days or for even practising your park jumps, it’s not just for kids and I promise you won’t get strange looks for turning up without any.
- Ice Skating
Who said ice skating is just for winter? Skate indoors year-round at Meadow Park Sports Centre.
- Volleyball at Rainbow
Rainbow Park at Alta Lake is one of the most popular with locals in the summer months. As well as going for a dip, you can get competitive on the beach volleyball courts.
- Scandinave Spa
Take some time to relax at the Scandinave Spa just outside Whistler Village. Think multiple steam rooms, a yoga room, saunas, hot jacuzzis and plunge pools as well as massages and facials with pretty mountains as the backdrop.
- Tough Mudder
Fitness fans can get their heart rate pumping with a Tough Mudder race if you’re in town at the right time.
- Night out
If there’s one thing Whistler ski resort does well, it’s a night out! You wouldn’t think it but there are some pretty great underground clubs to party at – my faves are Moe Joe’s, Buffalo Bills and Garfinkel’s.
- Ghost Town
Take a hike to an old logging town, first set up in the early 1920s. Many loggers lived there over the years but it was abandoned in 1966 after the logging industry slowed down and it’s now Parkhurst Ghost Town.
- Spot Whisky Jacks
If you’re a bird lover looking for things to do in Whistler, head out on the hunt for friendly Grey Jay birds, or Whisky Jacks. Winter and summer is full of them looking to say hello and begging for a photo!
Try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding on one of Whistler many lakes – Alta, Lost, Green, Alpha or Nita Lake. If you’re feeling brave you could also try SUP yoga.
- Golf it up
Golf lovers can play a round or two at one of three gold courses in Whistler – Whistler Golf Course, Nicklaus North Golf Course or Fairmont Chateau Golf Course. Bear sightings are common on these golf courses too.
- Wanderlust Yoga Fest
Every year the Wanderlust Yoga Festival comes to Whistler for a few days of health and wellness workshops, biking, yoga and climbing guides and live music.
- On yer bike
Rent a bike, pack a picnic and bike the Whistler Valley Trail, 40km of paved trail connecting all of Whistler’s villages and lakes. Don’t forget to pack a camera too because the chances of spotting a bear on the trail will be pretty high.
- Chase waterfalls
Forget what TLC told you and do go chasing waterfalls. There are so many beautiful waterfalls to choose from in the area – try Brandywine, Nairn or Alexander, Rainbow or Shannon.
- Catch a box office movie
A small but great cinema, Whistler Village 8 Cinema shows all the latest films and on Tuesdays it’s only $ 7! Local’s tip: grab dinner or a drink at Three Below next door!
- Lunch at Christines
For lunch with a view head up Blackcomb Mountain to Christine’s. Panoramic views, a patio and yummy food. Pricey but worth it.
- Get to the chopper
Sightsee like a boss and jump on a helicopter for a ride over the Sea to Sky and its incredible backcountry. Make a day of it with lunch at Christine’s before or after.
- Tree Top Tours
Become a kid again and swing through BC’s coastal rainforest and between ancient cedar trees on Cougar Mountain with a Tree Top Adventure Tour.
- Take a dip
One of the must-do things to do in Whistler in the summer is to cool off with a swim in one of the village’s many lakes – Alta, Lost, Alpha, Nita or Green.
- Climb some rock
For you adrenaline junkies, head outdoors for some serious rock climbing. There’s lots of options in Whistler backcountry for the serious climbers, or easier guided tours.
- White water rafting
Ride the melted waters of the surrounding mountains down Cheakamus, Green or Squamish Rivers.
- Frisbee Golf
Yes, you did read that right. Whistler has frisbee golf! Need I say more!?
- Spend your last six bucks
Splash the cash at El Furniture Warehouse (‘El Furny’s) where all food is $5.95.
- Play some pool
For free pool head to locals hangout, Crystal Lounge. It’s also the cheapest place in town for tasty chicken wings – just $35c errr day.
- Shoot guns
Not your average activity but for something a little different head to the Gun Range just outside Whistler Village, if you’re into that sort of thing.
- Divulge at Purebread
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, check out Purebread while you’re in town. They do the best cakes and pastries and tasty sandwiches, breads and toasties. Seriously, to die for. There’s also one in Function Junction.
- Audain Art Museum
A fairly new addition to Whistler Village, the Audain Art Museum showcases art from British Columbia from the 18th Century to present day.
- Peruse Whistler Farmers Market
Every Sunday and Wednesday the market features locally produced food, arts and crafts. The popcorn is absolutely awesome!
- Whistler Museum
Learn about the history of the ski resort and village with a trip to Whistler Museum. Entry by donation.
- Axe Throwing
Does it get any more Canadian than axe throwing!? Located next door to Coast Mountain Brewery (some say stupid, I say genius!), Forged Axe Throwing is all about mixing fun and fear. Once you get the hang of it, you won’t be able to stop.
- Lil’ Wat Cultural Centre
Learn more about the history and culture of the Squamish and Lil’wat Nation at the SLCC – “where rivers, mountains and people meet”.
- Irish jig the night away
Head to the popular Dubh Linn Gate Pub for a pint of Guiness and some live Irish tunes. The food is also pretty great and there’s a good-sized patio out front for people watching as the sun goes down.
- Whistler Animals Galore (WAG)
Do your bit for Whistler Animal Shelter and drop-in to volunteer for the day – walk a dog or play with the cats to give back.
For incredible fine dining at an award-winning restaurant, head to Araxi Restaurant + Oyster Bar. If you’re visiting Whistler in early or late summer, you may be able to get a good deal so keep an eye out.
- See the ice walls
This one is dependent on the time of year that you visit because the ice walls – the metres of snow from the winter season – are only there until they melt, obviously. A hiking path is carved on Whistler Mountain to walk through. Usually open May-June.
- Downhill biking
So there you have it, 50 things to do in Whistler in the summer. It really is one of the most diverse and amazing places to visit in British Columbia, and in Canada. Living there for two years gave me such a great appreciation of nature and exploring the great outdoors and it was all these things and more which makes leaving the Whistler bubble so hard to do.
Whether you’re visiting Whistler for a day, a long weekend or moving there to start your own Working Holiday Visa, I guarantee you won’t be bored.
Have you visited or lived there? Share some of your favourite things to do in Whistler below.
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