Whistler, British Columbia is famous for it’s world-renowned ski resort. Naturally people come to Whistler for the snow, but the summer months bring around just as many fun activities. In fact I think the summer is better (perhaps cause I suck at skiing!) but Whistler is beautiful all-year round. If you’re wondering what the best things to do in Whistler in summer are, here’s a comprehensive list to plan your trip.
I moved to Whistler over three years ago and currently call it my permanent home, so I get a lot of time to explore not just the well-known places but also some little local gems. If you’re spending 2 weeks in Whistler or just stopping by on a road trip, you’ll find plenty to see and do.
If your lost for ideas, you’re sure to find something in this list that’ll interest you, there really is something for everyone!
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1. Crankworx Festival
Crankworx is a mountain bike festival that comes to Whistler every summer. Even if you’re not into Mountain Biking, there’s still some events that might interest you, and to make things even more awesome, free! The deep summer photo challenge brings out all the locals into Skiers Plaza or if you only have time to see one event, make it the Red Bull Joyride!
2. Watch Free Concerts At Olympic Plaza
Another event that rolls around every year and is totally free to attend is the Summer Nights Concert Series. Local bands play on the Olympic Plaza stage starting from 7:00pm.
3. Go Beyond The Snow Walls
Early summer on Whistler Backcomb brings around the giant snow walls. Exactly what they sound like, the leftover snow from winter gets piled high into giant snow walls. You can find them along the Pika’s Traverse trail on Whistler Mountain. Hurry because they don’t hang around for long!
4. Paddle Boarding
One of the best ways to cool of on a hot day in Whistler is by spending it on the lake paddle boarding. Paddle boards are available to rent at backroads Whistler at Lakeside Park on Alta Lake. If you have your own, then you can take your pick of Lakes! Check out Backroads Whistler for rentals.
5. Hop In A Canoe or Kayak & Explore Alta Lake
If paddle boarding isn’t for you, canoes and kayaks are also available to rent via backroads Whistler. You can opt to take a canoeing tour of the River of Golden Dreams or simply paddle your way around Alta Lake soaking in the sun. Check out Backroads Whistler for all rentals.
5. Try Your First Caesar
Could there be a more Canadian drink? Caesar’s are so popular here in whistler that every year there is a Caesar Battle to see who can create the best! What is a Caesar though? Imagine a Bloody Mary but more flamboyant. While most Caesars will come topped with a stick of celery, you’ll find everything from bacon to hamburger sliders adorning this cocktail.
7. Float Down The River Of Golden Dreams
Take a canoeing tour along the River of Golden Dreams or buy your own inflatable boat and take a journey down the river. If your boat doesn’t live to see the end of the river, please make sure you dispose of it appropriately!
8. Hike To Rainbow Falls
The Rainbow Falls hike is a relatively easy and family friendly hike in Whistler. Since it’s a little off the beaten path and not on the main tourist stretch it’s popular with locals. The hike there and back will take you approximately 1 hour.
9. Hike To Nairn Falls
Since we’re on the subject of waterfalls, Nairn Falls Provincial Park is another great hiking option for beginners and families. Nairn Falls is located north of Whistler. The hike there and back takes approximately 1.5 hours.
10. Whistler Olympic Park & Alexander Falls
In the summer months Whistler Olympic Park offers the opportunity to experience a true Olympic Biathlon along with several hiking trails and e-bike rentals.
Make sure you stop by Alexander Falls on the way into Whistler Olympic Park, the viewpoint is stunning during the summer!
11. Spot Some Of The Furry Locals
While driving and walking around Whistler, you may stumble upon some of the furrier residents. Seeing a bear in the wild is a bucket list item when coming to Canada. There’s no guarantee that you’ll see them but in the summer the chances are high. I’ve stumbled upon them in my backyard, the golf course and along the road while driving. They’ve also snuck up on me at times – despite their huge size, bears are actually very quiet!
As long as you are “bear smart” and don’t get too close to them they are generally okay. We watched Bjorn the bear near our house one afternoon for what seemed like ages. He was just happy to be sitting in the shade eating grass. He literally did not stop eating – what a cutie!
12. Spot Wildflowers While Hiking In The Alpine
The High-Note Trail on Whistler Mountain is probably the most popular hike in the alpine. This is an easy to moderate hike and is not to be missed. I’ve witnessed what I can only describe as the most breath-taking views I’ve ever seen on this trail. The High-Note Trail will take you to the famous lookout point over Cheakamus Lake. In the summer months the glacier run-off from the mountain peaks turns the lakes a turquoise blue.
While most of the hikes in Whistler will be free, this does require a sightseeing day pass – but you won’t get views like this anywhere else in Whistler.
13. Cheakamus Lake Trail
Since you’ve seen Cheakamus Lake from the top why not see it from the bottom? The Cheakamus Lake trail is relatively flat and easy. You’ll need a vehicle to access the parking lot, preferably a 4×4. Essentially, you gain lots of elevation, but the car does most of it!
14. World Class Golf Courses
While I’ve never been into golf (and therefore never played in Whistler) it’s fair to say that Whistler is home to some of the best. If you’re looking to play golf during your stay to Whistler head to the Whistler Golf Course, Fairmont Golf Course or for something a little quieter why not head north to Big Sky Golf Course in Pemberton!
15. Frolf… Frolf? Short for Frisbee Golf!
Grab a couple of frisbees and head to the Frolf courses at Lost Lake Park. There are 27 holes in total and to complete all 27 takes between 2-4 hours.
16. Channel Your Inner Lumberjack
No trip to Canada is complete without throwing an axe. Yes you read that right, head to Forged Axe Throwing in Function Junction for some of the funnest times in Whistler. This was way more fun than expected and the staff are all super friendly too!
16. Bar Hop In Function Junction
After chucking some axes it’s time to hit up Whistler’s craft brewery scene. Whistler Brewing and Coast Mountain brewing can both be found in the Function Junction neighbourhood of Whistler. Both breweries are super popular with the locals in summer and the patios’s fill up fast so make sure you head here early! (Trust me, no one will judge you if you start drinking at noon)
17. Catch The Latest Flicks
Head to Imagine Cinemas Village 8 to catch the latest blockbuster movie. Even better on select days of the week Three Below offers a dinner + movie night for $23. That’s a steal!
18. Sample Whistlers Freshest Produce
The Whistler Farmers Market runs from May through to October and is open twice a week. Located in the Upper Village Whistler FarmersMarket features everything from local produce from the sea to sky to local artwork and live entertainment.
19. Meet Whistler’s Oldest Residents
The Ancient Cedars Trail is an easy hiking trail located on Cougar Mountain, just north of Alpine. This hiking trail is great for beginners and leads you into a grove of Cedar Trees, in fact they are the oldest living trees in Whistler!
If you decide to head out to the Ancient Cedars, make sure you bring plenty of strong bug spray. The area is a breeding ground for mosquitoes!
20. Wander Through A Ghost Town
Discover a part of Whistler’s history at Parkhurst Ghost Town. Parkhurst was previously a logging town that was eventually abandoned in the 1950’s. You’ll find wooden homes, burnt out cars and household remnants scattered throughout this ghost town.
21. Whistler’s Train Wreck
The Train Wreck is a favourite among locals and a great way to spend an afternoon any time of the year. These freight cars derailed way back in 1956 and were placed here not long after. This is the only place is Whistler where Graffiti is legal – so you’ll never see the same train twice!
22. Explore The Backcountry By ATV
One of the most exciting activities in Whistler is an ATV or RZR tour. Go it alone on an ATV or bring a friend and ride RZR. Tours are available at select times during the day.
23. Ride The Sasquatch
The Sasquatch is the longest zip line in Canada and the USA, spanning 2km, it connects the mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb. The total journey time takes approximately 1.5 hours.
24. Find A Magical Forest On Cougar Mountain
The Adventure Groups newest attraction, Vallea Lumina, takes you on a journey through a magical forest. This projection light show can be found in the wilderness of Cougar Mountain.
25. Relax In A Mountain Oasis At Scandinave Spa
Relax in the Norwegian style hydrotherapy pools at the Scandinave Spa. A cycle is recommended of 3 minutes in the hot pools and 30 seconds in the cold pools, followed by relaxing in one of the many solariums, hammocks or outdoor lounge areas. The perfect way to end a day of hiking and soothe sore muscles.
26. Cool Off At The Ketel One Vodka Ice Tasting Room
The Ketel One Ice Room is the world’s coldest vodka tasting room and located inside the Bearfoot Bistro. For $45 each you’ll get to sample some of the world’s most weird and wonderful vodkas. Everything from Iceland’s hot spring distilled vodka to chocolate dessert vodkas!
27. Bungee Jump From 160 Feet Above The Forest
Whistler Bungee is the place to head for all adrenaline junkies! Whistler Bungee sits 160 feet high and sits over the Cheakamus river.
28. Witness An Aerial View Of The Mountains
Appreciate the beauty of Whistler’s lakes and glaciers by taking a seaplane/floatplane tour. Tours are available from 20 minute scenic rides up to 2 hours!
29. Walk Or Bike The Valley Trail
The valley trail is a collection of walking and biking routes that intertwine all over Whistler. During the summer the valley trail is great for biking and summer walks, they’ll take you through Lost Lake, to Green Lake and all the way back to Alta Lake.
30. Ride The Peak 2 Peak
The Peak 2 Peak gondola is great to ride any time of year. This once guinness world-record holder connects the peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. At a length of 1.88 miles and at 436m high it is the world’s highest lift of it’s kind. The Peak 2 Peak offers unparalleled views of the valley.
31. White Water Rafting
Ride the waves and rivers of the winter snow run off – whitewater rafting in Whistler is the perfect way to get your adrenaline pumping. There are a few rivers and tours to choose from, take your pick from the Cheakamus River, Green River and Squamish River.
32. Patio Hop
Summer in Whistler means day drinking on one of Whistler’s many patios and taking in the amazing views. Some of my favourite patio’s are Beacon Pub, Black’s Pub, Basalt Wine & Salemeria, Nita Lake Lodge and the Nicklaus North Table Nineteen patio at Green Lake!
33. Walk Across Whistler Glacier On The Sky Raker Bridge
The Sky Raker suspension bridge is a relatively new addition to Whistler mountain, this was added in 2018 and sits on top of Whistler Peak. While I have a fear of heights, the Sky Raker bridge was pretty sturdy! Some of the best views of Whistler town and the mountains can be found walking across this bridge.
34. Brandywine Falls Provincial Park
You’ll pass Brandywine Falls Provincial Park on your way into Whistler. This is a popular spot for locals both during summer and winter. The parking lot is only open seasonally, which means limited parking for when the gate is closed. During the summer season parking is usually okay to find. There are several viewing platforms upon entering the park, but if you’re feeling brave you can try hiking the unofficial trail to the bottom of the falls.
35. Explore Garibaldi Provincial Park
Garibaldi Provincial Park is one of BC’s most stunning Provincial Parks. There are several incredible hikes within Garibaldi Provincial Park, including Garibaldi Lake, Panorama Ridge and the Black Tusk among many others. Some hikes are intermediate while others will be for more advanced hikers. Most hikes within Garibaldi can be done in a day but camping is also available if you’d like to stretch it over a few days.
36. Head North & Hike Joffre Lakes
About 2 hours north of Whistler is the incredible Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. There are three bright turquoise lakes that make up Joffre Lakes. The hike to the third lake and back is an average of 6 hours. This has become of of the most popular hikes in BC so getting there early is a must since the parking lot fills up super fast!
37. Whistler Blackcomb Bike Park
During the summer the mountains transform in Whistler Bike Park, one of the best in North America. People flock to Whistler every year to experience the bike park. If you’ve never mountain biked, why not consider taking a lesson!
38. Experience A Fine Dining Restaurant
Whistler is home to some of the most incredible fine dining restaurants. Head to Araxi, Il Caminetto, Sidecut, Bearfoot Bistro or The Rim Rock Cafe. If you only have time for one – make it the Rim Rock! The best restaurant in Whistler – trust me I know, I’ve eaten almost everywhere. Alternatively, you can always opt to take a Whistler tasting tour and get the best of everything!
39. Audain Art Museum
Get your art fix at Whistlers Audain Art Museum. The building that houses this wonderful gallery is a work of art itself. The Audain Art Museum features some of the best local cultural artwork, along with works from artists like Emily Carr and Chili Thom. You’ll also find seasonal exhibits here, I recently attended an exhibition on Pop Art which showcased a range of artists like the famous Andy Warhol to local First Nations artists.
40. Squamish Lil Wat Cultural Centre
Learn about the native history of Whistler at the Squamish Lil Wat Cultural Centre. This museum was the joint idea of the Squamish and Lil Wat First Nations. The town of Whistler is where the territories of Lil Wat and Squamish nations overlap, so the museum was erected to celebrate the cultures of both tribes.
There are an abundance of things to do here in Whistler. Whistler is so much more than just skiing and mountain biking. Hopefully this list has given you some ideas to plan your vacation!
Where To Stay In Whistler in Summer
Nita Lake Lodge is one of the newest properties in Whistler, opening back in 2008. This rustic lodge is one of the best places to stay in Whistler in summer because it sits directly on Nita Lake – not only is this Whistler’s only lake front hotel, they offer free rentals for canoes and paddle boards when you stay here! The Cure Lounge & Patio offers a happy hour between 2pm and 4pm and the onsite fix cafe is the perfect place for all your coffee and snack needs!
How To Get To Whistler
Drive: The best way to get to Whistler is to drive. To get to Whistler from Vancouver, you’ll want to take the Sea to Sky Highway – one of the most scenic routes in British Columbia!
Shuttle/Bus: The Epic Rides bus leaves from downtown Vancouver and runs several times per day to Whistler for $35 return. The Skylynx and Whistler Connection shuttle buses both leave from Vancouver international airport and cost approximately $55
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