Best Things To Do in Whistler
Whistler was made for powder hounds and outdoor enthusiasts. Skiers and snowboarders can carve Whistler Blackcomb, while adrenaline junkies get their heart rates up at the Whistler Sliding Centre. Meanwhile, history buffs and bookworms can enlighten themselves at the Whistler Public Library or the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre. Whistler is also a popular summertime spot, with plenty of water sports activities at Lost Lake Park and hiking opportunities at locales like Whistler Train Wreck and Brandywine Falls Provincial Park. Plus, Whistler was the home for many events in the 2010 Winter Olympics, and travelers can tour the Olympic Park and Whistler Olympic Plaza in Whistler Village.
Updated December 20, 2017
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In Whistler, this is the main event. Hordes of skiers and snowboarders flock to Whistler Blackcomb every year and for good reason – its slopes stretch across more than 8,100 acres of 200-plus trails, offer terrain to accommodate all skill levels and see an annual average snowfall of around 40 feet. Stunt-lovers can practice tricks on the ramps and half pipes in any of the five terrain parks, while less-experienced skiers can glide down one of the 7-mile-long trails that wind across the mountains, which are not as steep as the mountains' more challenging runs.
But this resort isn't only for skiers and boarders. Other wintertime activities visitors can check out include snowshoeing, tubing, snowmobiling, dog sledding and zip lining. Meanwhile, summer visitors can go biking and hiking or try whitewater rafting or canoeing on the surrounding rapids, lakes and rivers. And be sure to wind down and relax after a day full of activity with an après-ski drink. You'll find plenty of drink and food specials at the bars and restaurants around town.
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Part of what makes Whistler such a popular place to visit is the sense of community – and Whistler Village is where it all comes together. Located at the foot of Whistler Blackcomb and home to dozens of lodging choices, the village is a place where visitors and locals alike come to meet and mingle. Pedestrians can saunter along the Village Stroll, which is lined with ski and snowboard shops, or pop in to one of the many restaurants and bars in the area. Another main draw of Whistler Village is Whistler Olympic Plaza, where Olympic and Paralympic mementos sit on display and a playground and art installations pay tribute to the 2010 Winter Games. During the winter, the plaza makes way for an outdoor public ice skating rink; during the summer, the area plays host to a free outdoor concert series.
No matter the season, the Whistler Village calendar is full of activities that captivate everyone. Past visitors were especially impressed with the village's plaza, adding that its relaxed atmosphere makes it a great place to people-watch or have a picnic during the warmer months.
- #3View all PhotosfreeValley Trail#3 in Whistler0.2 miles to city centerHiking, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.2 miles to city centerHiking, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
If you're interested in exploring your surroundings but don't want to trek to Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, consider visiting the Valley Trail. This paved, pedestrian-only pathway stretches more than 25 miles. Its convenient location by the Sea-to-Sky Highway makes it easy to reach from Whistler Village, but its lake views and easy-to-traverse boardwalk are what woo active travelers who want to hike, run, bike or rollerblade during the warmer months. Some sections of the trail are also open in winter for fat biking (or mountain biking on snow) and cross-country skiing.
Past visitors appreciated this trail's mostly flat terrain and variety of routes, adding that the northeastern section to Green Lake is especially beautiful. However, a few travelers got lost while on the Valley Trail, so you may want to download Tourism Whistler's Whistler Hiking and Biking Map or pick one up from the visitor center or your hotel before visiting. Also, remember to stick to the right side of the path and watch for bears, which occasionally cross the trail.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Whistler0.8 miles to city centerSightseeing, Sports, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.8 miles to city centerSightseeing, Sports, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Situated on Whistler Blackcomb near Whistler Village, the Whistler Sliding Centre is home to the 2010 Winter Olympics' bobsled, luge and skeleton tracks. Entry to this Olympic venue is free, but if you've got some extra cash and you're an adrenaline junkie, you should try a bobsled or skeleton ride. A ride on the course is sure to get your blood pumping on a chilly winter day. The 4,757-foot-long track with a nearly 500-foot vertical drop whisks you around 10 icy curves and reaches speeds of up to 78 mph, making the Whistler track the fastest in the world.
Recent visitors enjoyed zipping down the attraction's track in a bobsled. However, a few were disappointed with the high fees for this experience, even though one child receives a discounted rate with each paying adult. Many also appreciated the center's friendly, informative guides and drivers.
- #5View all PhotosfreeLost Lake Park#5 in Whistler1.1 miles to city centerHiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1.1 miles to city centerHiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Just northeast of Whistler Village, Lost Lake Park is an ideal spot for those looking for nearby cross-country skiing in the winter or hiking trails and a beach in the summer. The 525-acre park features 15 miles of trails for Nordic skiers and snowshoers to explore while admiring Whistler Blackcomb in the distance. Warm weather enthusiasts can throw on their bathing suits and pack a cooler with some brews and burgers to grill on one of the on-site barbecues. Canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are available for rent at nearby Lakeside Park, and the sandy beach and calm lake offer plenty of opportunities for fun in the sun. Nearly 62 miles of hiking and bike trails are also open to the public during the summer months.
Many previous visitors recommend taking a walk around Lost Lake to soak up the charming scenery. If you'd rather bike around the property, you'll have the option of renting bicycles on-site. Remember, parking here is not permitted between late June and early September, so you'll need to use the park's free shuttle service, which departs multiple times per day. Should you decide to visit in the winter, you'll need to drive. It's easy to get disoriented finding this park, so plan on bringing a map.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Whistler9.2 miles to city centerHiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND9.2 miles to city centerHiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Although Whistler is best known for its ski slopes, once the weather warms up, this winter sports haven offers multiple opportunities to get outdoors and explore nature. And one of the area's best places to hike is Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, which sits roughly 10 miles southwest of central Whistler. This park, which is named after its 230-foot waterfall, features multiple trails, including a family-friendly path and one that is a prime spot for seeing red-tailed frogs (a local threatened species). Some trails can also be used for mountain biking or snowshoeing during the winter months.
Recent visitors loved Brandywine Falls Provincial Park's hiking trails and highly recommend trekking the easier Brandywine Falls Trail for "spectacular" views of the falls. But remember to bring plenty of water with you since there are no water fountains or vendors inside the park. To make the most of your time in the region, several travelers suggest stopping at the park – which sits along the Sea-to-Sky Highway, a route that connects Whistler Village to Vancouver – on your way to central Whistler.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Whistler5.1 miles to city centerHiking, Recreation, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND5.1 miles to city centerHiking, Recreation, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
One of Whistler's most unique hiking areas is Whistler Train Wreck. As its name implies, this nearly 3-mile-long trail is best known for its train cars, which were moved to the site in 1956 after falling off a nearby track. Local artists have since decorated the cars with colorful graffiti. The path also crosses a suspension bridge and offers views of the Cheakamus River.
Although a few previous travelers had trouble locating the trailhead (the unmarked access point by the gravel parking lot near Jane Lakes Road), many said it's a "cool" attraction that's worth seeing. Some visitors also suggest bringing your camera, while others recommend packing a picnic lunch to enjoy on-site.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Whistler0.4 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.4 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
This cultural center pays tribute to the region's two First Nations native tribes, the Squamish and Lil'wat nations. Through artwork and interactive exhibits, the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre is meant to represent the melting pot of the two tribal cultures. Upon entering, visitors are greeted with a song, escorted around the site on a free guided tour and invited to watch a film highlighting the First Nations history and their territory surrounding the cultural center. You'll even be encouraged to immerse yourself in the culture by making traditional crafts. What's more, on-site ambassadors, who are part of the Squamish or Lil'wat nations, will regale you with captivating stories about the legends, ceremonies and songs of their people.
Most past visitors had positive things to say about this unique Whistler offering, noting the knowledgeable guides and enlightening displays. Many also raved about the on-site coffee shop and said visiting the gift shop is a must.
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Pack a picnic and head to Alexander Falls if you want to admire Mother Nature in all her glory. This 141-foot-tall natural landmark northwest of Whistler (about a 15-mile drive from Whistler Village) is a majestic sight. Those looking to relax and drink in the environment can take a seat on one of the picnic tables peppered around the observation deck, while hikers can enjoy the lush forest and massive rock formations on the surrounding Callaghan Valley trails.
Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for animals – many recent visitors commented on the abundance of wildlife that roams nearby, mostly black bears and grizzly bears. (Remember to keep a safe distance from wild animals at all times.) And with all the flora and fauna you'll find here, don't forget your camera – you'll want to snap a photo as the water cascades down several tiers of charcoal-colored rocks.
- #10View all Photos#10 in Whistler0.2 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.2 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
For a dose of culture, consider checking out the Audain Art Museum. This art museum, which opened in 2016, features nearly 200 works of British Columbian art, including First Nations masks and pieces by artists like Emily Carr and E.J. Hughes.Temporary exhibits about everything from Mexican modernists to geishas are also occasionally offered.
According to previous travelers, the Audain Art Museum is an "interesting" and "fabulous" museum. Many were especially impressed with the property's First Nations and Carr collections. The building's small size makes it easy to peruse the museum's exhibits, but for additional insight about the displayed items, several visitors recommend downloading the free Audain Art Museum smartphone app (available in the iTunes App Store) or joining one of the complimentary, hour-long guided tours offered during museum hours.
- #11View all Photos#11 in Whistler0.1 miles to city centerSightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.1 miles to city centerSightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Fashioned like a wilderness mountain lodge, the Whistler Public Library building fits in perfectly in this ski town. The 12,000-square-foot facility sits between the largest park in Whistler Village and the town's popular pedestrian walkway, the Village Stroll. The library houses more than 49,000 items, ranging from classic fiction and nonfiction works and best-selling books to audiobooks and movies. The venue welcomes more than 250,000 visitors a year thanks to its location and availability to tourists and permanent and seasonal residents. Its Reading Room floods with sunlight and offers ample space to cozy up with a good book. The Whistler library also plays host to a slew of events, such as film screenings, toddler story time, guest lectures and writing workshops.
Recent visitors raved about the varied materials and amenities available here, as well as the property's helpful staff. Families were especially impressed with the library's free kids activities and recommend visiting on a rainy day or when you're wanting a break from the area's ski slopes.
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