It’s another gorgeous summer in Whistler, British Columbia! I’ve just returned from spending a couple of weeks enjoying everything it has to offer and I can’t wait to go back. I’ve probably been to Whistler more than hundred times over the last 15 years, in winter and summer. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is filled with breathtaking mountains and crystal blue rivers and lakes. Nature, wildlife and outdoor sports beckon you whenever you step outside your door. And yet, there are several internationally renowned restaurants serving sophisticated dishes, much of it locally sourced. There are fantastic beaches and spas when you are feeling lazy, and four champion golf courses when you feel up to the challenge. There is something for everyone.
In this blog, I am going to list ten of my favourite Whistler summer activities. Some of them are free, and some of them are not. However, all of them are reasonably priced and I would do them all again tomorrow, if I could. They are each suitable for kids or adults and are not listed in any particular order. If they have made the list, they are simply one of my favourites.
Whistler Summer Activities
1. White Water Rafting
I took my 12 and 13 year old kids white water rafting with Canadian Outback Rafting Company out in Squamish, British Columbia this past trip. Squamish is one hour north of Vancouver and 4o minutes south of Whistler. Basically, it is in the middle of the two. We drove ourselves, but the company offers transportation for those who do not have a car.
We did the three hour Family-Friendly Cheakamus Splash and it was spectacular. The rapids were level 1 and 2, perfect for our first time rafting. We were surrounded by mountains, eagles, and forests. It was an exciting and fun way to spend the morning. The trip cost approximately $100 CAD for adults and $70 CAD for each of my children.
2. Treetop Adventure Course
The Treetop Adventure Course offered by the Adventure Group is an amazing way to spend a few hours of your day in the Whistler summer. This multi-level multi-challenging course takes place in the trees of Cougar Mountain on the outskirts of Whistler. The challenges start easy and mere feet off the ground, and then gradually get more difficult and higher as the course progresses. Everyone is harnessed so that slips and falls are safe. There is a child’s course for children younger than 13 years old and/or less than 5’11” (with their hands straight in the air). The cost ranges from $29 – $59 CAD and transportation to and from the course is included in the cost of the excursion.
The full course is difficult. You need to have good core strength and not be afraid of heights. I ,and my 12 and 13 year old children, tried the full course this summer. My kids were not able to finish the course – they did not have the core strength to do so – but made it two-thirds of the way through and spent 3 hours having a lot of fun trying. There is no time limit for finishing the course.
3. “Backyard Barbecue” at Four Seasons Hotel
Every Thursday during the Whistler summer, the Four Seasons Hotel hosts the “Backyard Barbecue” from 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Situated on the patio outside its restaurant Sidecut, the Hotel offers a buffet filled with an unbelievable assortment of barbecued meats, fish, and seafood, together with delicious salads, sides and of course, dessert. Live music and activities for children are also on hand. At $34.00 CAD for adults, and deep discounts for children, there really isn’t a better deal in town for the quality and quantity of food, or the atmosphere.
4. Bobsleigh Run
The Whistler Sliding Centre offers the opportunity to ride a real bobsleigh with wheels on the actual 2010 Olympic bobsleigh course. This course is still deemed to be the fastest course in the world, and as such, a trained pilot drives the bobsleigh with you and three others down the track. Included in this package is a discussion from experts on how the bobsleigh course is created and maintained during the winter months, and a tour of the facility that includes a walk along the race track.
I took my 12 and 13 year old children on this course this summer. The lecture and tour of the track was fascinating. The ride on the bobsleigh was both exciting and terrifying! You can reach up to 90 km/h in certain spots on the track. It was certainly weird knowing that you are on this crazy ride that does not have safeguards like a roller coaster or other carnival rides. You are at the mercy of the abilities of a human being who is piloting the bobsleigh. Having said that, you start the ride 1/3 of the way down the track to reduce the speed and complexities of the track, and all drivers on hand have a long history of successful provincial, national and international competitions.
You must be a minimum of 12 years old to ride the bobsleigh. Each adult costs $99 CAD with one youth free per adult. Each youth after that cost $49.50 CAD. Whistler Sliding Centre is a 100% not for profit organization. Every dollar spent there goes back to help train athletes from all over the world.
5. Rainbow or Alpha Lake Park
There are dozens of parks, playgrounds and picnic areas in Whistler. However, my two favourite ones during the Whistler summer is Rainbow Park and Alpha Lake Park. Neither are close to the Village.
Rainbow Park is on the far side of Alta lake. There is a beach and large grassy area for blankets, or for playing frisbee or soccer. A couple of docks are available a short swim from shore. There are three beach volleyball courts and normally, you can count on a game or two going while there. Whether it’s kicking a ball around, playing frisbee or volleyball, people are normally very friendly and are happy to have you join in if you ask.
Alpha Lake Park is near Nita Lake Lodge at Creekside. It is on Alpha Lake below beautiful mountains. There is a large playground for children, a small beach and a dock to swim out to. There are free tennis and basketball courts at this park as well.
For both lakes, bring a picnic as there isn’t food for sale. If you can, go to Home Hardware at Function Junction beforehand and purchase an air mattress to float on or a dingy to row about the lake.
6. Sitting on the Patio of the Nita Lake Lodge or Nicklaus North Golf Course
There are two spectacular patios in Whistler. My favourite is at Nita Lake Lodge at Creekside. This patio offers both shade and sunshine, depending on your needs. It overlooks Nita Lake and Rainbow Mountain, allowing you to bask in the beautiful Whistler summer. Nita Lake Lodge provides lounge or formal dining menus with sensational food and drink. On most nights, there is either live music or a DJ, creating a relaxing atmosphere for the evening. Heat lamps and blankets are available for cooler nights.
Table Nineteen Lakeside Eatery at Nicklaus North Golf Course is also beautiful. You overlook Emerald Lake and Cougar Mountain, and can watch the float planes take off and land. The food and drink menu is casual, yet delicious.
7. Tennis Drills or Social Mixer at Whistler Racquet Club
Whistler Racquet Club is a tennis facility walking distance from Whistler Village. It has several outside and inside tennis courts. The Club offers many different programs for adults and children alike. There are regular daily drop in social mixers and drill sessions for all levels from between $12.50 and $25.00. They will even include a tennis racquet at no extra cost for those that need one. It is easy to register online for the sessions. I have done dozens of drills and joined countless more social mixers. The pros are excellent and you get to meet and play with lots of locals as well as people visiting from all over the world.
8. Riding the Ski lifts and the Peak to Peak Gondola
The vertical height of Whistler Mountain is 1530 metre or 5020 feet, and 1565 metre or 5133 feet to the top of Blackcomb Mountain. There are several ski lifts and gondolas from Blackcomb and Whistler Village that are equipped for pedestrians during the Whistler summer and you can take a series of them to reach the top of either mountain.
At the top, there is the Peak to Peak Gondola. This is a world record holding gondola that connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. It is the longest free span between ropeway towers at 3.03 kilometres or 1.88 miles and has the highest point above the ground at 436 metres or 1,430 feet. A highlight of every trip up the mountain is to take a ride or two across the Peak to Peak Gondola. The views are magnificent. For an extra thrill, wait for one of the gondolas with the glass bottoms. If you purchase tickets a couple of days in advance, the cost ranges from $27.00 CAD – $54.00 CAD for a day pass.
The scenery on the way up or down the ski lifts and gondolas, and across the Peak to Peak Gondola is breathtaking. It is common to spot bears on the mountains at certain times during the Whistler summer while you ride the lifts. No matter how hot the village feels before you ascend the lifts, make sure you take a warm jacket for the rides on the lifts, and for walking around on top of the mountains.
9. Walking or Hiking the Trails
There are many walking and hiking trails all over Whistler. Several of them are easy and relatively flat for those that want to experience Whistler’s natural wonders, without committing to day long hikes or requiring special equipment. An easy one to access and enjoy is the Lost Lake Loop. You can effortlessly walk along the Valley Trail from the town to the Loop, and you can choose from a relatively flat loop, or go into some of the trails off the Loop into the lower parts of the mountain.
For more adventurous hikers, I would recommend heading up to the top of Blackcomb Mountain to go on one of the hikes up there. There are several that are a little more demanding than the Lost Lake Loop, but yet are still reasonable for the moderately fit person. I consider myself one of those people. The views on top of the mountain are incredibly special. Depending on the time of year, you can witness thousands of wildflowers as you head into the mountains, away from the lifts. You can also see some of the spectacular ski runs that make Whistler a world renowned ski resort.
10. “5 After 5” at the Whistler Golf Club
Whistler Golf Club is a championship golf club in the centre of Whistler which is surrounded by mountains and forests. It offers many great reasonably priced programs for both adults and children during the Whistler summer. For example, one junior player plays for free with one paying adult.
One of my favourite programs is the “5 After 5”. After 5:30 pm each day, an adult can play 5 holes of golf for $25.00 CAD. One junior can play for free. If you need to rent golf clubs and a cart, that amount increases to $49.00 CAD for the adult.
If you are not sure about taking on a full 18 holes of a spectacular championship golf course, or you question your or your children’s abilities to deal with a professional golf course, then this is the right option for you. I have done this a number of times with my children and have been able to try a few holes and experience the natural beauty of Whistler, without stressing about the cost or our abilities.
I have only scratched the surface of what is available to do, see and eat during a Whistler summer. The 10 listed here are my favourites, but there is so much more that I do and want to do when I go to Whistler. I guess more blogs will have to follow!
Many of these activities are accessible along the Valley Trail. This trail is a car-free and paved trail that connects all of Whistler. It is 40 km long and during the Whistler summer, you can find people walking, running, cycling, or rollerblading on it. My favourite is to bike on the trail. There are several spots in the Village where you can rent a bike. There is also excellent public transportation and taxis available.
I hope that one day you can enjoy a Whistler summer! If you have already been, what is your favourite thing to do?
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