5 REASONS TO STAY LONGER IN WHISTLER THIS SUMMER
GET TRAVEL TIPS FROM TOURISM WHISTLER
By Dee Raffo
Whistler has a reputation as a high-adrenaline, bucket-list-checking, fast-paced place and it is; but it’s more than that. The yin to Whistler’s yang is about appreciating a whole morning spent drifting down a river, hiking with multiple stops to breathe in the surrounding beauty, and sitting still for sunsets that turn the sky into unbelievable colours before the stars take over.
You might have heard of the term slow travel, which is exactly what it sounds like; it’s about relaxing the pace at which you vacation. Instead of packing in activities and must-dos while you’re here in Whistler, we invite you to take your thumb off the throttle, stay longer and go deeper into what you love about the mountains this summer.
1. Make a Connection
Connecting with the locals is another way to feel more a part of Whistler’s mountain culture. For example, you might try a locally made beer at one of Whistler’s bars and restaurants and then take it a step further by heading down to Function Junction to explore the brewery where it’s made.
Or, if you love the local art on display at the Whistler Farmers’ Market you could see if any of the artists or artisans offer workshops, or have home studios that you can visit, like Cheryl (weaver) and Vincent Massey (potter). Arts Whistler, our local arts council, is another place to find information on local arts-based events.
Indigenous people have lived and travelled through the Whistler Valley for millennia and you can connect with their culture and living history by visiting the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre; trying their cuisine at the Thunderbird Cafe and looking out for the work of Indigenous artists represented in our public art program as you travel throughout Whistler Valley.
2. Learn Something New
Guided tours and coached sessions are another way to dig deeper in Whistler and can be personally rewarding. Sure you can hike and bike by yourself, but would you know which medicinal plants in the area are used for healing by Indigenous people or what makes the strange, claw-like markings on a tree?
If you love natural history, consider going on a guided tour of the River of Golden Dreams. Not only will the guide help you with your j-stroke, point out beaver dams and explain the abundant flora and fauna, but they’ll tell you how it was the connection to water and fishing that actually started tourism in Whistler. If you’re an animal lover, then a bear viewing tour with Whistler Photo Safaris will give you another layer of understanding and appreciation for one of Canada’s most iconic animals–the black bear. And if you want to learn from a culture that’s inhabited this area for hundreds of years, take a wander on the Salish Stroll with an ambassador from Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.
Whistler is a biking Mecca, and so naturally, we have some of the best riders and coaches right in town. Maybe you’ve never been to a bike park before or ridden on an XC trail, or perhaps you’re ready to level up to gain more confidence and tackle harder terrain–Whistler’s the place. Whistler Blackcomb offers lessons, as does ZEP Mountain Bike Camps, Whistler Eco Tours and the female-focused Sweet Skills Mountain Bike Coaching and Trek Dirt Series Mountain Bike Camps.
Mountain Skills Academy and Adventures offer introductory rock-climbing courses in Whistler during the summer, so if this is a sport you think you might like to have a go at why not build your Whistler vacation around that goal. We also have four championship golf courses, which offer private coaching sessions and camps. So, if you’re looking to improve on your swing why not do it in the mountains where we have incredible views, moderate temperatures and designer greens?
3. Explore Deeper
Consider choosing an area of Whistler you haven’t been to and really exploring it. I’ve been in Whistler for 15 years and I still find myself turned around in the weaving trails of Lost Lake Park. The area can be exhilarating on a cross-country bike ride, make for a challenging trail run, a leisurely walk with wanders out onto its floating docks, a peaceful picnic by the lake or splashy fun with the kids in tow. The Whistler Museum has recently added an additional layer of information to Lost Lake’s Nature Trail with QR codes that you can scan to find out information on the trees, wildlife and surrounding area. One park–many days of fun!
How many days do you think it takes to explore two gigantic, ancient mountains? Many. Whistler Blackcomb’s alpine trails take you to pristine lakes, wildflower meadows and viewpoints of the Coast Mountains range that will take your breath away.
There are 50 kilometres of trail to explore, but we’d suggest breaking that up a bit. If you like a challenge then you could opt for the Ascent Trail on Blackcomb Mountain, which goes from the bottom of the mountain to the Rendezvous Lodge (6.1 kilometres with a total elevation gain of 1,200 metres).
For your next hiking adventure, you could make it all high alpine on the High Note Trail, a 9.4-kilometre loop from Top of the World Summit to the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain. Hit the lakes on your day off and then it’s time to tackle Blackcomb Mountain’s Decker Loop, which takes you into Garibaldi Provincial Park, a 7.1-kilometre loop that gives you incredible views of the Overlord Glacier and Decker Tarn (glacial lake). Again, a deeper look into one of Whistler’s most iconic summer experiences reveals more to explore.
4. Time for R&R
Mornings at the lakes are peaceful times. Whether you like to meditate, sink a paddle into still waters or read a book on a floating dock, it’s a calming way to start the day, taking that feeling into whatever you do next.
You can spend a whole day at one of Whistler’s lakeside parks; building up the courage to take a dip, gathering picnic choices from local shops, and reading surrounded by stunning, snow-capped peaks. It sounds simple, but a lot of people don’t give themselves the time to just sit back and take it all in.
Other ways to relax and rejuvenate in Whistler:
• Wake up early for a sunrise paddleboard
• Spend at least three hours doing hydrotherapy at the Scandinave Spa
• Visit one of Whistler’s spas for some bodywork
• Do some forest bathing on the Ancient Cedars Trail
• Stay out late at the park to see the sunset
Pro-tip: Whistler’s parks can get very busy, especially at the weekends. Consider visiting mid-week, or at off-peak times like first thing in the morning and in the evening. There is paid parking (the money goes right back into paying for more transit to reduce congestion and pollution), so we’d suggest biking, walking, or taking the bus to the parks.
5. Enjoy the journey
Instead of just choosing the quickest way to get from A to B, consider the journey itself. Whistler has a 46-kilometre, car-free Valley Trail system that weaves its way around parks, lakes and neighbourhoods. Exploring slowly means you might spot something you’ve never seen before like a hidden trail to a beautiful cove of trees, a charging waterfall, or public art piece.
Don’t worry about time, just unleash your curiosity and see where the unbeaten path takes you!
Bonus: Support the Canadian Tourism Industry and Local Whistler Businesses
Whistler is home to hundreds of small businesses and supporting them is easy–buy local. Get your picnic from Whistler’s selection of bakeries and cafes, grab take-out from your favourite Whistler restaurant, if you need a new pair of running shoes go in and speak to retailers who live and breathe exploring mountain trails. If you see a piece of artwork in a gallery or on the wall of a local cafe take note of the artist’s name and contact them. Got a birthday, anniversary or milestone coming up? Pop into Whistler’s gift stores for something unique and memorable from your time away.
Check out our Whistler tours or Flight & Hotel packages
to get started on planning your trip.This post was written by Dee Raffo, a contributor for The Whistler Insider, powered by Tourism Whistler. For more exclusive Whistler content, visit their website.