Canada’s premier ski destination, Whistler, is situated at the base of two immense mountains: Whistler and Blackcomb. Together, these formidable peaks constitute the largest winter sports area in North America, and the bustling Whistler Village offers immediate access to some of the finest skiing opportunities.
While Whistler already held international acclaim, hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics with Vancouver, just a convenient 90-minute drive away, further heightened the mountain resort’s reputation as a recreational haven.
With visitors from around the globe seeking skiing and exploration, the village provides a diverse range of tourist accommodations, from condominiums to luxurious hotels. These establishments are scattered along the leisurely Village Stroll, a pedestrian-only pathway lined with numerous enjoyable activities. These include exceptional dining experiences in its numerous restaurants, as well as shopping in boutique stores, art galleries, and gift shops.
Enveloping the village, the rugged region features untamed rivers, teal-blue lakes, endless forests, and volcanic peaks. The primary thoroughfare, Highway 99, also known as the Sea-to-Sky Highway, links the area’s attractions and communities, offering a scenic drive that ranks among Canada’s most spectacular road trips. For more recommendations on places to explore in British Columbia, explore our list of the best places to visit in Whistler, Canada.
1. Whistler Blackcomb
Whistler Mountain (2,182 meters) and Blackcomb Mountain (2,284 meters), the two peaks towering above Whistler Village, offer some of the finest skiing experiences in North America. The Whistler Blackcomb resort boasts a combined skiable terrain of over 3,307 hectares, featuring more than 200 runs accessible via 39 lifts, including new high-capacity gondolas on Blackcomb Mountain and Whistler Mountain.
The extensive offerings make it challenging to cover everything in a single day, prompting many visitors to plan week-long stays on the slopes. With summer skiing available on Blackcomb’s Horstman Glacier, the Whistler Blackcomb resort boasts the lengthiest ski season among all Canadian resorts.
Several hotels provide ski-in access to both mountains, and numerous restaurants and village eateries are conveniently located within walking distance of the gondola base, equipped with ski racks outside and cozy fireplaces inside. Winter enthusiasts can also enjoy snowmobile trips and heli-skiing, while those with kids can experience the thrill of downhill fun at the bubbly™ Tube Park.
In the summer, the mountains attract hikers and mountain bikers who tackle the challenging trails of Whistler Mountain Bike Park. While riding the chairlifts, keep an eye out for bears meandering along the mountain trails in search of berries.
One of the top nighttime activities in Whistler is visiting Vallea Lumina, an enchanting multimedia light show that illuminates sections of the forest around Cougar Mountain.
2. Peak 2 Peak Gondola
The Peak 2 Peak Gondola offers an elevated journey between the two mountains, covering a record-breaking distance of 4.4 kilometers. Despite the remarkable distance, the ride lasts only 11 minutes. On a clear day, the view is exceptional, featuring snow-capped mountains, alpine lakes, and dense coniferous forests. Gazing down to Fitzsimmons Creek is equally awe-inspiring, as the gondola reaches points nearly half a kilometer above the valley floor.
If you’re fortunate, you might experience riding in one of the gondolas with a glass-bottom floor in the middle. These unique gondolas, accounting for only two out of 24, are grey instead of the distinctive red color of the others.
From spring to fall, it’s a key element of the Whistler-Blackcomb sightseeing experience, offering guided alpine walks and numerous photo opportunities. At the peak, loop-hiking trails introduce the alpine terrain, and the new Cloudraker Skywalk, boasting 360-degree views of the incredible Coast Mountain range and Black Tusk, is a must-see. A tea hut is also available for warm-ups, as temperatures can be cooler at higher elevations. In winter, skiers and snowboarders use the Peak 2 Peak gondola to traverse between runs on Blackcomb and Whistler.
3. Mountain Biking & Other Sports in Whistler
Mountain biking stands out as one of the most popular summer sports in Whistler Village, with countless bikers in protective gear heading up the slopes by chairlift to Whistler Mountain Bike Park. However, the region offers various other adrenaline-fueled activities. Taking a zipline tour ranks among the most thrilling excursions, where zipliners reach highway speeds while soaring across forested valleys.
Another high-speed option is the Whistler Sliding Centre bobsleigh and skeleton track. Originally built for the Olympics, the center is open for self-guided tours. Local thrills extend to bungee jumping above the Cheakamus River, tearing along logging trails on off-road vehicles, and navigating the high river waters during the spring melt. For those seeking an intense adventure, a full-day ice climbing tour is available, involving strapping on crampons and ascending a frozen waterfall.
Whistler isn’t solely about high-intensity fun; it also offers a more serene and calming pastime like fly fishing. The rivers in and around Whistler are among the best in the province for catching rainbow trout, bull, and cutthroat trout. Half-day guided tours can get you onto the water and provide instructions on the art of casting.
4. Hiking & Climbing
British Columbia is celebrated for its extensive network of hiking trails, and Whistler is no exception. The trails encompass easy nature walks around Lost Lake to challenging mountain climbs with varying elevations. Whistler Mountain serves as a hub for a well-established network of hikes, with gondolas transporting hikers above the tree line, offering particularly enchanting trails during the alpine wildflower season.
Adjacent to the mountains is the largely unexplored terrain of Garibaldi Provincial Park. Five trailhead areas provide access to the provincial park from different points between Squamish and north of Whistler. Notable trails include day hikes to Garibaldi Lake, Cheakamus Lake, and Wedge mount Lake.
The park is also home to Black Tusk, a formidable volcanic rock pinnacle towering 2,319 meters above sea level. A favorite among climbers, it’s easily visible from the Sea-to-Sky Highway. For those with the stamina, Black Tusk can be reached via a challenging 26-kilometer hiking trail (round trip). This trail demands caution, involving a significant vertical ascent, and the final stretch is characterized by slippery shale.
In close proximity to Garibaldi (along the way), you’ll find Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, offering a splendid photo opportunity with its remarkable 70-meter-tall waterfall. An additional highlight for this day trip is the “Train Wreck,” featuring a cluster of abandoned 1950s boxcars accessible via an easy trail that includes a captivating suspension bridge over the Cheakamus River.
Northeast of Whistler, Pemberton becomes the subsequent destination along Highway 99. This settlement presents a plethora of outdoor activities, ranging from golfing and mountain biking in summer to heli-skiing and snowmobiling in winter.
The vicinity surrounding the town remains largely uninhabited, characterized by glacier-fed lakes and mountains enveloping the valleys. One Mile Lake Park, featuring a trail well-loved by locals for its swimming opportunities, is easily navigable and can be completed in under an hour.
For an effortless road trip stop, visit Nairn Falls Provincial Park, where the Green River cascades into a sequence of thunderous waterfalls. Additionally, the picturesque Joffre Lake Provincial Park is worth exploring to capture the mesmerizing teal hue of the lakes.
6. Whistler Olympic Park
Constructed for the 2010 Winter Games, Whistler Olympic Park currently provides convenient access to winter cross-country skiing trails. The distinctive ski jumps remain fixtures at the facility, along with a set of Olympic rings. During the winter season, Nordic skiers navigate the groomed trails, while snowshoers follow the path leading to Alexander Falls and other scenic viewpoints.
Various interactive tour options are offered, some of which incorporate elements of sports such as biathlons (rifle shooting), mountain biking, and guided hiking tours.
7. Audain Art Museum
One of the most recent cultural attractions in Whistler, the exquisitely designed Audain Art Museum, clad in wood, opened in 2016 and quickly gained popularity among tourists and locals alike. With a focus on British Columbian art and artists from the late 1700s onwards, the museum’s permanent collection is truly impressive.
Notable features include The Dance Screen, a large cedar-carved work by artist James Hart, and pieces from renowned Canadian artists such as Emily Carr and E.J. Hughes. The museum also showcases significant First Nation art, including various historic masks.
In addition to hosting regular traveling exhibits, the facility conducts lectures, and educational programs for both children and adults, as well as cultural events and activities. Another worthwhile visit is the Maury Young Arts Centre, which houses a community gallery displaying works by local artists, some of which are available for purchase.
Situated northeast of Whistler, Pemberton is the subsequent destination along Highway 99. The town offers a plethora of outdoor activities, ranging from golfing and mountain biking in summer to heli-skiing and snowmobiling in winter.
The surrounding area is predominantly uninhabited, characterized by glacier-fed lakes and mountains enveloping the valleys. One Mile Lake Park features an easily navigable trail popular among locals for its swimming opportunities, achievable in under an hour.
For a convenient road trip stop, Nairn Falls Provincial Park showcases the Green River cascading into a series of thunderous waterfalls. Additionally, the picturesque Joffre Lake Provincial Park is worth exploring to capture the teal hue of the lakes.
9. Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre
Whistler’s Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC), a striking and contemporary First Nations Museum, showcases a collection of carvings, weavings, and narratives that provide insights into the history and culture of the local Squamish and Lil’wat peoples. Both nations consider Whistler part of their traditional territory, having inhabited, and thrived on this land for generations beyond memory. The on-site café offers an intriguing menu featuring First Nations-inspired dishes, and the gift shop features handmade souvenirs.
One of the premier nighttime activities for Whistler visitors is to partake in the museum’s captivating First Nations Feast and Performance experiences, held every Tuesday and Sunday evening. The event begins with traditional indigenous dishes, followed by a performance by local cultural ambassadors (reservations recommended).
10. Lost Lake
Lost Lake remains a versatile destination throughout the year, offering activities such as mountain biking, hiking, and birdwatching in the summer, as well as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. Trails extend from the shoreline, providing opportunities for visitors to venture into the tranquil forests abundant with British Columbia wildlife. The small lake includes a beach area and tends to be bustling on warm summer days, with the convenience of a shuttle from the village.
For additional sandy, freshwater beaches near Whistler, consider exploring Alpha Lake and Alta Lake.
11. Cloudraker Skybridge
Located at the highest point on Whistler Mountain, near the summit of the Peak Chairlift, you’ll find the Cloudraker Skybridge. This newly introduced attraction arguably offers some of the most stunning views in all of British Columbia. Operating exclusively in the summer, this metal-framed bridge spans 130 meters across a vast chasm, connecting Whistler Peak to West Ridge.
At the pinnacle of West Ridge, the Raven’s Eye deck delivers uninterrupted vistas of Black Tusk in Garibaldi Provincial Park, Whistler Village, Blackcomb Mountain, and the Coast Mountain range. The ascent on the Peak Chair is equally exhilarating as it steeply climbs over various sections at considerable heights.
Participants must be at least one meter tall and possess a reasonable level of fitness to navigate the 0.6-kilometer walk on a gravel pathway with an elevation gain/loss of 63 meters.
Q: Is Whistler only a winter destination?
A: No, Whistler offers year-round attractions, including summer outdoor activities and cultural events.
Q: Are there beginner-friendly trails for mountain biking?
A: Yes, Whistler has a variety of biking trails suitable for all skill levels, including beginners.
Q: Can I visit Whistler with my family?
A: Absolutely! Whistler has family-friendly attractions and events, making it a perfect destination for all ages.
Q: Are there guided tours available for the Whistler Train Wreck?
A: Yes, guided tours are available, providing insights into the history and art surrounding the Train Wreck.
Q: What makes Whistler Olympic Plaza a must-visit?
A: Whistler Olympic Plaza is a legacy site from the 2010 Winter Olympics, offering events, entertainment, and a vibrant atmosphere for visitors.