Whistler, a few hours north of Vancouver, has become a pretty popular spot to visit in British Columbia…. and not just for the skiing.
On our most recent trip to Vancouver, where we ate our way through Gastown And Granville Island, gorged at Salvio Volpe (the BEST restaurant in British Columbia) and headed to the top of Grouse Mountain – we decided to take a little time out of the city and jetted over to Whistler.
At first thoughts, I was unsure about visiting Whistler in summer. I’d mainly heard of it as a Winter Destination and one I’d always wanted to ski in. Although the slopes wouldn’t be snowcapped, I wasn’t going to let my preconceptions about it being a Winter destination stop me.
During our stay in the Shangri-La (Vancouver) we found out that the hotel actually organises trips to Whistler by sea-plane no less. Being a total plane geek (no apologies made) I jumped at the chance to fly over British Columbia and spend some time in Whistler.
Take a look at some of the very best things you can do in Whistler.
1.) Glide down the slopes
Okay, so skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing (and the like) need a little introduction when it comes to Whistler. If you’re visiting in the winter season, make sure to test your skills on some of the epic slopes that have made this town famous. There is a whole range of slopes for every ability so you’re guaranteed to find the right ones for you.
If you’re just starting out, you can also book yourself in for some lessons to build your confidence. Get ready to swish your way down the slopes!
2.) Kayaking the river of golden dreams
Kayaking is possibly one of my favourite experiences to have in Whistler, where you can head down the River of Golden Dreams over the course of a few hours, We booked this through Canadian Wilderness.
Now, be warned, the locals fondly call this the ‘river of broken marriages’… apparently, this river is was once a place where people would come to consummate their marriage (or so we were told).
It’s a really fun experience, though, I don’t rate my kayaking skills at all! I was terrible – I can’t even remember how many times I steered us paddled us right into the bushes. Ha!
If you’re in Whistler, you have to make a stop to see some of their most famous residents, the black bears. All in their natural habitat. You can join a Bear Safari or a Bear Viewing & Ecology Tour that takes you relatively close to the bears without ever disturbing them. This is totally the best way to see them – totally free and completely wild. Tours usually stop during the winter months (when the bears hibernate).
4.) Float-Plane over the glaciers
Now, this is the most definitely one experience I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. Travelling from Vancouver to Whistler is easy, with it taking a few hours in the car or around 30-minutes or so by float plane. We decided on the float plane, which took us on the most incredible sightseeing tour of the glaciers, mountain ranges and coastline. It’s one of those experiences you’ll likely remember for a long time.
Be warned though, spaces are limited and they can fill up quickly.
There are literally miles of trails that criss-cross this stunning region of British Columbia. Remember to pack your walking shoes, Depending on the conditions and the time of year you visit, you can either head on an alpine hike or a glacial hike that’ll take you all around the Blackcomb Mountains and the wider Whistler area. Lots of the established trails can be joined from the Village Gondola.
If you want to visit one of the regions most dramatic waterfalls, Brandywine Falls is about 7 miles south of Whistler and a perfect place to hike, especially to the base of the falls. In the winter months, head out on the Vally Trail which is maintained throughout the year.
6.) Mountain bike down the slopes
After the snow melts and summer reappears, the slopes in and around Whistler change from a skiing haven to a mountain bikers dream. Best of all, some of the lifts continue to operate and are equipped to carry bikes in the summer. It’s a great way to head to the very top of the mountains and zoom back down to the town.
7.) Perfect your axe throwing skills
If the weather takes a turn for the worse, or you just want to show off your axe throwing skills, you should pop over to Forged Axe Throwing in Whistler itself. The guys here will help perfect your aim, learn the best technique and try a sport that’s pretty unique. You can book your time, here.
8.) Gorge at Bar Oso
For a tasty bite to eat, stop off at some of Whistler’s best restaurants. One of our favourites was Bar Oso that conjures up some tasty Spanish-inspired cocktails and tummy rumbling tapas dishes. Even if you don’t go for food, make sure to pop in for an afternoon cocktail (the prices are pretty reasonable too). You won’t be disappointed.
9.) See the views
If you want some of the best views of the region, you have to head on a Peak 2 Peak Gondola ride. Now, you can book online a save a little money or rock up on the day itself (just be prepared for some small queues if you just turn up. Make sure to plan your visit to coincide when the Gondola is running (at certain times of the year it’s limited).
If you’re up for it, wait for one of the glass-bottomed gondolas!
10.) Catch some Fish
Now, I’m personally not a keen fisher, but if you’re itching to get out to catch some lunch – consider booking yourself in for a fishing tour where you’ll learn from guides no matter what your experience level is. You’ll get the opportunity to catch trout and salmon which live in the rivers here.
Prices depend on the length of time you want to fish.
11.) Explore the Audain Art Museum
If you’re looking to explore the regions culture and beautiful art, pop into the Audain Art Museum which showcases some of the very best First Peoples artwork and artefacts from the province. The Museum itself has permanent and temporary exhibitions, so you’re always guaranteed a new experience. Admission costs are around $20CAD and free for anyone under 16 years of age.