The picturesque village of Whistler is home to stunning mountain peaks, scenic lakes and old cedar trees. It has a range of upscale hotels, an outstanding selection of restaurants, spas and a diversity of shops.
During the winter, you can experience world-class skiing and snowboarding. The summer offers incredible hikes to turquoise lakes and glaciers. Whistler’s culture is all about having fun and exploring the great outdoors.
Whistler sits 675 meters above sea level and is found directly at the base of two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb. It has the highest accessible lift run at over 2,000 meters, and the average snowfall is over 11 meters per year!
During the winter holidays, the town creates a winter wonderland complete with festive decorations and entertainment. Although predominantly known as a ski town with the best skiing in North America, there is so much more to do in Whistler besides skiing.
With the myriad of options, the biggest problem visitors often face is choosing which activity to try first. Make sure your camera has sufficient space to capture the countless memories you will make!
How to Get To Whistler
Whistler is located 120km north of Vancouver and is easily reached from downtown Vancouver or Vancouver International Airport by car or bus. The scenic two-hour drive along the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler will be the start of your adventure.
There can be a lot of snow on the highway during the winter months, so be prepared. Winter tires are required on the Sea to Sky Highway from October 1 to March 31.
- Getting to Whistler by Car: The best way to experience Whistler is by car. It will give you the flexibility to explore the areas outside of the Whistler Village. If you need to rent a car, Vancouver has a few pick-up locations. >>Book your Car Rental here
- Getting to Whistler by Bus: You can catch affordable shuttle buses from downtown Vancouver and Vancouver airport straight to the heart of Whistler. Once you arrive at the village, everything you need is within a short distance, and there are plenty of free shuttles to take you around. >>Book your Bus to Whistler here
- Book a Day Trip: You can book a full-day trip to Whistler from Vancouver. The tour includes a stop at the Shannon Falls (the third highest waterfall in British Columbia) and admission to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center. >>Book your Whistler Day Trip from Vancouver here
Best Things to Do in Whistler
Whistler’s impressive variety of activities will ensure everyone has a taste of something they enjoy. You can combine both outdoor and indoor pursuits to find a balance between adventure and relaxation.
Gravity-fed sports that will get your heart pumping include skiing, snowboarding, ziplining, snowmobiling, bungee jumping, heli-skiing and cat-skiing.
Whistler boasts the largest skiable terrain of any resort in North America at 8,171 acres, with more than 200 marked runs and 1170 centimetres (461 inches) of average annual snowfall.
Host to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Whistler is also a home to Olympic-grade venues where you can try out sports such as biathlon, bobsledding, and even skeleton.
Other exciting activities to experience in Whistler are ATV Tours, dog sledding, snowshoeing, whitewater rafting and canoeing.
You can hop on a helicopter or a seaplane for a scenic flight tour, wander through ancient ice caves, or ride on the Guinness World record-holding Peak 2 Peak Gondola. The possibilities are endless.
In this list of 40 things to do in Whistler, we got something for everyone, ensuring you make the most of your adventure. We also include our pick of the best places to stay.
Ski and Snowboard Whistler Blackcomb Mountains
Skiing or snowboarding at the world-renowned Whistler Blackcomb resort is a must-do during your trip to Whistler. The postcard-perfect views and endless stretches of ski runs will keep you fulfilled.
The ski season in Whistler is the longest in North America, running from late November to late May or early June. There are over two hundred marked runs, 16 alpine bowls, three glaciers and lots of terrain for beginners and experienced skiers. To view a map, click here.
If you do not have your skis or a snowboard, rental facilities are available. Whistler is a very busy town during the winter, and if you wish to skip the queues and avoid the long wait, you can reserve your equipment in advance. The ski and snowboard rental package includes delivery and in-house fitting at your accommodation. >>Book your Ski and Snowboard Rental here
Go Ziplining and Soar Through the Air
No matter what time of the year you visit, you can soar through the sky and see Whistler’s magic from the zipline. British Columbia offers some of the best ziplining in the world!
Breathe in the fresh mountain air as you cruise above rivers and the alpine forest, and journey through the forest via suspension bridges and treetop observation platforms.
There are several options to choose from; the zipline adventure lasts approximately 1.5 or 2.5 hours. If you plan to visit during winter, bundle up because it can get very chilly.
The longest zipline is over a kilometre long and 200 meters high. You will reach speeds up to 100 km/hour as you fly through the Cougar Mountain wonderland. Enjoy the spectacular scenery along the way, and you might even see some wildlife. >>Book your Zipline Adventure here
Snowmobile in Whistler’s Backcountry
Treat yourself and your family to an ultimate snowmobile adventure, enjoy the unforgettable mountain views and experience the excitement and freedom of the Canadian backcountry.
Local guide tours range from two to seven hours over various terrain. Do not worry if you have never ridden a snowmobile before; your guide will teach you all the tricks of the trade! All drivers must possess a valid driver’s license.
The tours are suitable for all levels, from gentle family cruising along groomed scenic trails to backcountry ventures in the alpine. Learn how to manoeuvre your snowmobile through the deepest snow or choose to ride on groomed trails.
The most popular snowmobile tour is the Whistler Wilderness Run. During this adventure, you will journey through the winding trails of the Callaghan Valley and ride across forested hillsides and frozen lakes. You will also visit the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics events. >>Book your Snowmobile Adventure Tour here
Snowshoe Through a Winter Wonderland
Snowshoeing has been around for thousands of years and is rooted in Canada’s history. Many First Nations people and settlers used snowshoes for winter travel, which enabled them to walk over knee-deep snow.
Since the mid-1800s, snowshoeing has become a popular sports activity. It is easy to learn and provides excellent low-impact cardio exercise.
One of the best places to go snowshoeing in Whistler is Whistler Olympic Park, the Nordic venue of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. There are more than 30 kilometres of maintained snowshoe trails, 15 of which are dog-friendly, so bring your pup along!
The daily admission will provide you with access to the combined trail system of Whistler Olympic Park and Callaghan Country. Our favourite adventure inside the park was discovering the frozen Alexander Falls.
The most popular tour inside the Callaghan Valley is The Medicine Trail, which goes deep into a special old Growth forest. This guided tour will introduce you to some Eastern and Western philosophies of tree medicine.
You will learn the area’s history and sample healing teas brewed from the plants that grow along the Medicine Trail. >>Book your Medicine Trail Snowshoe Tour here
Lost Lake Park
Another popular place for snowshoeing in Whistler is Lost Lake Park, located only steps away from Whistler’s Village. The park has multiple trails ranging from beginner to advanced. We suggest the Nature Trail Loop, which weaves in and out of the forest and leads to Lost Lake. >>Book your Snowshoe Tour here
Take an ATV Tour and Explore the Backcountry
Venture off-road and explore the best of Whistler’s backcountry on a guided ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) tour. You will drive on various mountain trails, forest roads, and bush trails, stop at lookout points and enjoy incredible views of Whistler, Blackcomb and Black Tusk.
Experience a thrilling journey deep into the coastal region of British Columbia and explore the backcountry trails of the Brandywine Valley. Keep a lookout for wildlife, including deer, bears and eagles.
You will be provided with helmets, goggles and full rain gear. Drivers must be at least 19 years old and have a full, valid driver’s license. >>Book your ATV Adventure Tour here
The Whistler region is a hiker’s paradise with snow-capped mountains, glacier-fed lakes and lush west coast rainforest. The hiking season is from June to September, but many trails are accessible 12 months of the year.
In the winter, that means snowshoes! Make sure to check the trail conditions before you go and know where the avalanche areas are.
The Alpine Trails on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are accessible from July. They range from easy to difficult. You will need to take the gondola unless you want to hike up the trail. Our favourite hike in the alpine is The High Note Trail, which offers spectacular views of Cheakamus Lake.
Garibaldi Provincial Park
The Garibaldi Provincial Park is located a 15-30 minutes drive from Whistler (depending on where you go) and has numerous amazing hikes. One of the most popular is the Panorama Ridge Trail, which is 28.3 km long and offers stunning views of Garibaldi Lake and snow-capped mountains.
If you enjoy multiday trips, you can hike up to the Garibaldi Lake campground and spend a night or two. Hike the Panorama Ridge one day and the Black Tusk the next day.
Wedgemount Lake is another fantastic hike inside Garibaldi Park. It is steep and challenging but worth all the effort! You will be rewarded with unbelievable views of Wedgemount Lake and a massive Wedgemount Glacier.
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park
Joffre Lakes hike is located north of Whistler, past Pemberton. The trail passes by three beautiful lakes, and the third lake offers stunning views of the magnificent Matier Glacier. It is a 10.9-kilometre hike and is easier compared to Panorama Ridge and Wedgemount Lake.
Easy Hikes Around Whistler
If you are looking for an easy hike, the Lost Lake trail is located a short distance from Whistler Village and has minimal elevation. Another easy trail we recommend is a hike to the Brandywine Falls. If you like extending your hike, you can walk to the Bungee Bridge and back.
Go Cross-Country Skiing
Whistler is a cross-country skiing paradise with stunning mountain views, majestic old-growth forest and Olympic-rate trails. Bring your skis or hop on a pair of rentals and experience a variety of courses at your own pace.
An extensive network of cross-country ski trails includes novice trails, scenic lookouts, picnic shelters, and heart-pumping climbs deep into the coastal forest.
Lost Lake Park
Lost Lake Park is located steps from Whistler Village. It features more than 25 kilometres of groomed cross-country ski trails with incredible views of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains and surrounding vistas. You can experience the magic of night in the evenings while skiing 4-kilometre loops around the Lost Lake Trail.
Callaghan Valley is a short drive south of Whistler, and it consists of two separate cross-country ski areas: Whistler Olympic Park and Ski Callaghan. Your daily admission will provide access to both locations with over 120km of trails, of which 30 kilometres are dog-friendly.
With each visit, you will be able to travel through new terrain and experience the diverse, stunning scenery, the natural beauty of the Callaghan Valley and the spectacular Coast Mountains of British Columbia.
If you are up for a challenge, you can ski out to an authentic high-elevation backcountry lodge for lunch and then return. You can also stay overnight and enjoy a Finnish-style sauna.
Explore Whistler Village
The Whistler Village is beautiful all year round but becomes truly magical during the winter when the snow descends and thousands of twinkling lights decorate its streets.
Whistler is home to a range of upscale hotels and an outstanding selection of restaurants. When you get cold, you can warm up by one of the firepits situated in various locations.
If you enjoy shopping, there are tons of outdoor stores, ski shops and boutiques. Many of them are along the Village Stroll between the Olympic Plaza and Whistler Gondola. There are also two supermarkets that carry fresh produce.
The Village Stroll is a pedestrian-only walkway located in Whistler Village. Along the stroll, you will come across Whistler Olympic Plaza, where many concerts and performances are organized in the summertime. During wintertime, it is transformed into an outdoor ice skating rink.
If you want to discover the top sights in the Whistler area, we recommend booking a sightseeing tour. You will learn about the local community and stop at scenic spots like Green Lake Lookout and Lost Lake.
The tour also includes a visit to Whistler Blackcomb and Olympic Village, and there is an optional stop at Whistler Brewing Company. >>Book your Whistler Sightseeing Tour here
You can take a Fine Dining Tour and taste local cuisine from award-winning chefs in the evening. The excursion includes four food courses as well as a wine-tasting lesson. You will learn the centuries-old French tradition of sabrage, where a sword is used to open a champagne bottle. >>Book a Fine Dining Dinner Tour here
The Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is located along the Sea to Sky Highway, just 17km south of Whistler. The main attraction inside the park is the Brandywine Falls, which tumbles 70 m straight down into a massive canyon.
- Distance: 1.3 km
- Estimated Time: 25 minutes
- Elevation Gain: 56 m
Reaching the waterfall is an easy 10-15 minute walk on flat terrain. There are a couple of viewing platforms. The second lookout offers marvellous views of Daisy Lake and the surrounding mountains.
As an alternative, you can hike or bike from the park to the Whistler Bungee Bridge, and if you arrive at the right time, you may see someone make the jump.
It is an easy 5.8-km out-and-back trail with some scenic views along the way. On average, it takes about one and a half hours to complete.
Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is also a fantastic place for a picnic. The picnic area is near the parking lot, set back in some trees and a grass field.
The park gates are closed during the winter; however, some people park at the entrance. Just be aware that you might get towed away. Alternatively, you can drive to Whistler Bungee and hike from there.
Relax at the Scandinave Spa
Do you need a serene escape this holiday season? The Scandinave Spa offers traditional Scandinavian baths and massages and will help you find peace of mind and body. It is an excellent place for relaxing tired muscles after a strenuous outdoor adventure or workout.
Scandinave Spa is located just a few minutes north of Whistler Village, on the edge of the spruce-cedar forest next to Lost Lake Park. It is home to hot baths, stimulating cold features, saunas, steam rooms and multiple relaxation areas.
We spent one afternoon inside the spa on a rainy, cold winter day. Our plan was to go snowshoeing, but the weather was awful; spa day was perfect.
The Scandinave Spa provides the benefits of hydrotherapy, with a three-part cycle of hot, cold, relax, and repeat that increases blood circulation, detoxifies, and releases endorphins.
The origins of hydrotherapy have a long history of soothing sore or inflamed muscles and joints, rehabilitating injured limbs, relieving headaches, promoting relaxation and stimulating the immune system.
Take a Helicopter Tour Over Pristine Landscapes
Make your trip to Whistler extra memorable and admire British Columbia’s spectacular natural beauty from the air. Take a helicopter tour over the rugged landscape of the Coast Mountains, soar high over rolling alpine meadows and admire stunning waterfalls cascading through the countryside.
You will fly over the Whistler and Blackcomb mountain peaks and marvel at the ancient glaciers and stunning ice formations. Glide over the untouched mountains of Garibaldi Provincial Park, which is home to the volcanic Black Tusk mountain.
You will experience a complimentary 15-minute glacier landing on Rainbow Mountain if the weather permits. The helicopter tours run year-round. >>Book your Whistler Helicopter Tour here
Try Ice Fishing
You can go fishing any month of the year in Whistler, but ice fishing during winter is a unique experience to remember.
Your local guide will meet you at your accommodation and take you to one of three lakes in the Whistler area; they are a short drive from the main Whistler Village. He will provide you with insulated winter boots and a fishing rod and tackle.
Watch as your guide drills into the ice, then cast your line and try your luck at catching a rainbow trout. Listen to stories, learn about ice fishing and admire the scenery. >>Book your Fishing Adventure here
Visit Alexander Falls
The impressive Alexander Falls is located in the Callaghan Valley, near the Whistler Olympic Park, where the 2010 Olympic Nordic events took place. The waterfall drops 53 meters (173 feet) down a cliff in three steps.
- Distance: 3 km
- Estimated Time: 1.5-2 hours
- Elevation Gain: 120 m
Winter is the only time you can get right to the base of the falls. There is a lovely snowshoe trail that will take you deep inside a beautiful Western Hemlock forest and ultimately lead you down to the bottom of Alexander Falls. If you are lucky, you might see the waterfall entirely or partially frozen.
You will need to purchase a ticket from the Callaghan admission gate when you arrive. Admission will also provide you with joint access to the snowshoe trails of the Whistler Olympic Park. Snowshoe rentals are available if you do not own or have your snowshoes with you.
During the rest of the year, you can view the waterfall from a viewing platform located right next to the parking lot. You can also enjoy a picnic in the area and listen to the crashing sound of the falls while you eat. Several picnic tables are located in forested clearings that were once used as campsites.
Blackcomb Glacier Safari
Between May and November, you can venture off-road in a jeep from Whistler Valley. Get a healthy dose of adrenaline as you drive close to the Blackcomb Glacier and take in stunning views of the Hortsman Glacier, Whistler Village and Coast Mountain Range.
Your driver will navigate the winding trails as you travel from Whistler Valley up Blackcomb Mountain. He will take you to all the best spots for photos and introduce you to the area. The tour lasts for approximately two hours and is a lot of fun. >>Book your Blackcomb Glacier Safari here
Heli-Skiing and Snowboarding
If you want to experience the backcountry powder skiing and snowboarding you have seen in those wintertime adventure films, Whistler is the perfect place. Ninety percent of heli-skiing in the world happens in British Columbia.
Whistler Heli-Skiing consists of 432,000 acres of classic, big mountain terrain that every skier or snowboarder must experience at least once in a lifetime! The heli-skiing area is more than 50 times the size of the Whistler Blackcomb ski area and includes 475 runs and 173 glaciers.
The most popular months to heli-ski in Whistler are February and March because the snow and weather conditions are generally most reliable at this time of the year. December and January often see frequent snowstorms.
During your venture, you will enjoy a thrilling helicopter ride with stunning mountain views and ski on the many glaciers in the area. The tours include avalanche safety equipment and a certified guide. >>Book your Heli-Skiing Adventure here
Are you looking to get away from the crowds and immerse yourself into Whistler’s backcountry? There are no lifts and lines, only bowls, glaciers, forests and wide-open powder runs.
Take a tour, and your local guide will show you all the most thrilling descents and spectacular views of the coastal mountains that most skiers never see. Dress warmly for a long day outside.
Some tours do not require a backcountry experience, but you will need your gear and avalanche safety equipment. If you do not have your own, you can rent in Whistler. >>Book your Backcountry Skiing Adventure here
Ice Climb a Frozen Waterfall
Whistler is one of the best places in Canada to go ice climbing. Explore areas you never knew existed and experience the thrill of ice climbing as you move up a frozen waterfall using ice axes and crampons.
The climbing site is located on Blackcomb Mountain, and you must be at least an intermediate skier or snowboarder to access it. December to February are usually the best months for ice climbing in Whistler.
If you are a beginner or a first-time climber, your tour guide will introduce you to ice climbing at a smaller, easier wall. If you are more experienced, he will guide you to some epic climbs matching your ability.
You will be provided with Ice climbing equipment. Locations and date availabilities depend on weather and temperatures. >>Book your Ice Climbing Experience here
Add some adrenaline to your vacation and try water rafting while admiring Whistler’s stunning mountains, deep valleys, and pristine rivers.
You can choose from Class 2 or 3 float along the Green River to more intense rapids on the Elaho and Squamish River if you are an experienced rider. Paddle hard or hold on and enjoy the ride while certified guides navigate you safely through the rapids.
Green River is conveniently located just a few minutes north of Whistler Village. This local river offers spectacular scenery surrounded by snow-capped mountains and endless fun bouncy rapids.
The Class 3-4 Squamish and Elaho (EE-la-ho) rivers allow you to experience challenging rapids and some of British Columbia’s most breathtaking scenery.
Complimentary wetsuits, jackets, helmets, life jackets, and booties are provided to keep you comfortable, rain or shine. Wear a bathing suit or swim shorts under the wetsuit. Bring a towel and a dry set of clothes to change into after the trip. >>Book your Whitewater Rafting Experience here
Glacier Sightseeing by Floatplane
Hop into a seaplane and enjoy breathtaking views over Canada’s rugged mountainscape, glaciers, waterfalls and shimmering lakes. British Columbia is world-renowned for its awe-inspiring natural beauty, and there is no better way to experience it than by seeing it from high above.
You will board a floatplane at Green Lake, located just a 5-min drive from downtown Whistler.
Get a bird’s-eye view of massive glaciers, soaring mountains and volcanic formations from the air. Marvel at the turquoise glacial waters of Garibaldi Lake and the incredible landscapes beneath you.
The second option is to take a Flightseeing Tour with Alpine Lake Landing. You will cruise up to a sandy beach, explore the lakeside and indulge in a deli-style picnic lunch. >>Book your Glacier Sightseeing Experience by Floatplane here
Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola
Experience B.C’s stunning mountain landscapes via the Guinness World Record-Breaking Peak 2 Peak Gondola. The gondola broke a world record for the longest unsupported lift span at 3,024 kilometres (1.88 miles) and an elevation of 436 metres (1,430 feet).
Ascend either the Whistler or Blackcomb gondola, cross over on the 4.4 kilometres long Peak 2 Peak Gondola and descend back to the valley without riding the same journey twice.
Once in the alpine, you can dine in one of the many full-service, mountain-top restaurants featuring west coast cuisine while enjoying splendid views. You can also check out the Peak 2 Peak Viewing Gallery in the Whistler Mountain terminal to learn how it was built.
During the summer, the gondola provides easy access to more than 50 kilometres of spectacular hiking trails and countless scenic vistas and viewpoints.
From late June to mid-September, the 360 Experience pass will allow you access the Whistler’s Peak Chair, where the Cloudraker Skybridge is located.
This suspension bridge spans 130 meters (425 feet) high above Whistler Bowl. There is also the Raven’s Eye Cliff Walk that extends from the West Ridge and hangs 12.5 meters (41 feet) above the Whistler Bowl. >>Book your Whistler Sky Walk here
Tip: You can book a day tour to Whistler from Vancouver. It provides round-trip Deluxe coach transportation along the famous Sea-to-Sky Highway, with onboard commentary.
The tour operates regularly, and it also includes a ticket for the Peak 2 Peak Gondola plus a guided tour of Whistler Village and a stop at Shannon Falls. >>Book your Whistler & Peak 2 Peak Gondola Tour from Vancouver here
Would you like to try rock climbing but do not have any experience? No problem! The ‘Via Ferrata’ tour will help you climb up Whistler Mountain while using safety cables and metal rungs.
Feel the thrill of climbing a steep mountain face while still being secured, minimizing any risk if you happen to lose your grip. Your guide will provide a safe and enjoyable alpine experience for you and your group.
You will take the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, and at the top of the gondola, your guide will outfit you with a harness and helmet. The adventure will continue with hiking for 30-45 minutes across the base of a glacier. There will be a small scrambling section before you begin the climb.
Halfway up the climb, you will stop for water, snacks and photos. Then you will continue climbing until you reach the mountain summit at 2160 meters (7,087 feet). Enjoy the spectacular views of Whistler’s mountains and valleys. >>Book your Whistler Via Ferrata Tour here
Go Snow Tubing
If you feel tired after days of skiing, it is time for some amusement. Whistler Blackcomb’s Tube Park has been operating since 2005, and it offers the perfect snow tubing adventure for all ages.
We had so much fun sliding down the hill! This activity will put a smile on your face, and you will feel like a kid once again. We managed to fit four rides in one hour. It was minus 15 Celsius outside, so one hour was enough for us.
The Bubly Tube Park includes seven sliding lanes, six of which are around 300 meters (1000 feet) long. The minimum sliding age is three, and the minimum height is 36 inches (91 centimetres). There is a “kids only” lane halfway up the conveyor for those under the minimum adult lane height requirement.
You will slide down the curving lanes, then ride on the magic carpet lift back to the top. The lanes are rated green, blue and black based on the run’s steepness. You can slide on your own or join tubes together, and for extra fun, you can ask the staff to give you a spin.
Make sure you dress in warm winter clothing, including base layers, full snow gear or waterproof pants, a winter jacket and warm shoes/boots with a good grip. Helmets are recommended for the little ones.
Directions and Parking
To access the Tube Park by vehicle, drive up to Parking Lot 8; there is free parking. You can also access the park via a ride on the Excalibur Gondola from Whistler Village to the mid-station.
The gondola is open at the same hours as the Tube Park. When you are at the mid-station, cross the ski run towards Lot 7 and proceed up the side of the run on the walkway to the Tube Park pathway entrance. It is well marked and lit during evening operations.
The best time to visit the Tube Park is on weekdays; the lineups can be very long on weekends. In the evenings, the park is lit for night tubing. You can purchase your tickets at the tube park or online; they are available in 1 and 2-hour formats.
Let the team of eager, specially-bred Arctic sled dogs pull you across the snow-covered landscape. Undoubtedly, this is a truly Canadian experience.
The dog sled became the primary means of transportation and communication in subarctic communities around the world centuries ago. Dogs helped deliver everything from mail, food, firewood, and equipment to gold and other required supplies to and from remote towns and camps.
The use of dogs and dog harnesses for transport by Native people dates back to around 1980 B.C. It is believed that the native and Inuit people of Northern Canada invented this mode of transportation to aid in delivering necessary supplies.
The tours last 2 to 2.5 hours and are not inexpensive, but are exciting and memorable. Make sure to book in advance because it books up quickly, especially over the Christmas holidays.
First, you will learn how to harness the dogs and the basics of handling a sled. There will be plenty of time to get to know the dogs before you head out on a ride through the old-growth forest of the Callaghan Valley. Settle into the cozy sled and watch these amazing dogs do what they love, which is running.
Ascent a Glacier
If you enjoy hiking or do not have a lot of hiking experience, you can try this fun winter adventure. You will be provided with glacier equipment, and hiking boots are available if needed.
In the beginning, you will take the Whistler Gondola, and from there, you will hike to the base of a glacier at a moderate pace. Your guide will teach you about mountaineering and the basic techniques of ascending a glacier.
Snap photos of the beautiful alpine surroundings and enjoy the stunning views of mountains and valleys. Depending on the date of the tour, you might be able to slide down the glacier. Alternatively, you will hike back down. >>Book your Glacier Ascent Experience here
Relax Inside the Keyhole Hot Springs
The Keyhole (also known as Pebble Creek) Hot Springs are located around 100 kilometres from Whistler. They sit near Mount Meager and about a kilometre downstream from the beautiful Keyhole Falls.
- Distance: 3.9 km
- Estimated Time: 70 minutes
- Elevation Gain: 146 m
The springs emerge from the ground next to the Lillooet River, which is fed by various glaciers. The colour changes with the seasons, but it is mostly deep milky turquoise.
Try to get there early to avoid crowds. The hot springs consist of three small pools built out of rocks and mortar. The top pool is the hottest, and the lower pool sometimes mixes with the cold river, depending on the water levels.
Keep in mind the Keyhole Hot Springs are closed annually from April 1st to November 15th to support the recovery of the local Grizzly bear population. To reach the hot springs in the winter, be prepared to drive on some serious snowy roads because the Lillooet River FSR is not plowed daily.
Wander Through Ancient Ice Caves in the Depths of a Glacier
If you are looking for an adventure of a lifetime, this tour should be on your list. You will explore 12,000 – 20,000 old ice caves in the depths of an ancient glacier and be transported on a journey through the ice ages.
On this 4.5-5 hour adventure trip, you will take a scenic helicopter flight into the Coast Mountains to an ancient volcano. You will discover cavernous steam vents deep in the glacier and experience a world unlike any other.
Your highly-trained guide will lead you through aqua blue ice chambers, multiple tunnels of crystalline formations and impressive vaulted ceilings of ancient ice caves. You will see icicles stretching from floor to ceiling like columns.
The glaciologists monitor the ice to ensure the caves are safe to access. Some of the tours offer a luxurious five-course meal in the heart of the ice cave.
Go Bobsledding or Try Skeleton at Whistler Sliding Centre
Do you want to feel like an Olympian? Hop into a four-person bobsled steered by a trained pilot and take a ride down the world’s fastest ice track reaching a speed of 125 km/hr. Or, if you are brave, try the skeleton and fly head-first down the track on your own, clocking speeds of up to 100 km/hr.
The Bobsleigh and Skeleton are among the most unique activities you can try in Whistler. And you do not need any previous experience.
Your guide will provide you with helmets and will assist you. The control tower will announce your name on the big speakers and give your sled the green light. And you are off! In the end, you will receive a diploma with a photo.
The Whistler Sliding Centre was constructed for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and is the only sliding place in Canada open to the public. It is situated on the side of Blackcomb Mountain. >>Book your Bobsleigh Experience here >>Book your Skeleton Experience here
Canoe the River of Golden Dreams
Take a trip back in time and canoe or kayak through the Whistler Valley on the River of Golden Dreams (officially Alta Creek). Long before roads and highways were built, the original inhabitants used waterways as their primary method of transportation in this area.
Your journey will begin at Alta Lake and continue through the Whistler wetlands, down a scenic glacial river and finally out into magnificent Green Lake.
While you paddle, enjoy the picturesque surroundings, local wildlife and stunning mountain backdrop and become one with nature. The river is alive with fish and critters such as beaver and mink, and occasionally one can spot bears playing in the water.
The river is relatively shallow (changes with the seasons) and is slow-moving, but you need to watch out for the corners. >>Book your Golden Dreams Canoe Experience here
The Vallea Lumina is located 10 minutes north of Whistler Village inside a dense forest of Cougar Mountain. It is a magical multi-media night walk through old-growth trees under the stars. You will be surrounded by coloured lights, enchanting sounds and brilliant projections.
Vallea Lumina is open during both winter and summer months, and it operates even when it rains and snows. Be sure to dress for the weather with warm waterproof layers if necessary. We recommend insulated winter boots, a warm jacket and gloves, and a scarf during the winter.
Before entering the enchanted forest, you can treat yourself to some tasty marshmallows and hot chocolates at the base. There is complimentary parking.
Scenic Sleigh Ride
When your legs are tired after a long day of skiing or snowshoeing, take a break and enjoy some quiet time on your vacation.
Snuggle under a cozy blanket and listen to the sound of jingle bells as you glide smoothly across the snow on a traditional horse-drawn sleight. During the evening, you will discover the magic of Blackcomb Mountain and view the amazing night lights of Whistler Village.
Sleights move on metal bottom runners and are pulled by a team of strong, beautiful horses. Private tours also include a short stop at a cozy rustic cabin where you can warm up by a wood fire and sip on hot chocolate.
Sleigh season starts at the end of November and runs until the end of March, depending on snow conditions.
Watch the Alpenglow
Alpenglow is an atmospheric optical phenomenon which makes mountains appear to glow in a light pink or red hue. It occurs just before the sunset or just after the sunrise and is most visible on higher elevations and peaks opposite the sun.
Mountains are a requirement to see the Alpenglow, and that is why Whistler is a great place to observe this magical display of nature. It is best seen on a clear day when the clouds are minimal.
Winter and early spring are good times when the mountains are still covered in snow. It is worth getting up early or staying outside late enough to witness the beautiful light and take some stunning photos.
The word Alpenglow is originally derived from the German word Alpenglühen to describe this extraordinary occurrence seen in the Alps.
The Rainbow Falls are not as impressive as the Brandywine or Alexander Falls; they are relatively small. If you have visited these two waterfalls already, Rainbow Falls is a great place to explore.
- Distance: 2.1 km
- Estimated Time: 45 minutes
- Elevation Gain: 124 m
Located near Whistler, the Rainbow Falls are a short and easy hike uphill along the Twenty-One Mile Creek. The trail can be slippery, and some sections have lots of tree roots, so we recommend wearing proper hiking shoes.
If you are visiting during wintertime, bring microspikes, and if there is a lot of new snow, you might need to wear snowshoes.
When the creek is low, you can get down to the creek bed and walk to the base of the falls; the trail is quite steep.
The trailhead for the falls is marked as Rainbow Trail. You can also hike to the popular Rainbow Lake from here. We should note that grizzly bears have been spotted in this area, so be aware.
Go Ice Skating
What could be more magical than ice skating outdoors? Check out the skating rink at the Whistler Olympic Plaza or try skating on one of the local lakes. If you do not have your skates, rentals are available.
Skating in the heart of Whistler Village with stunning mountain views will be great fun for the whole family. Each winter, part of the Whistler Olympic Plaza is transformed into an outdoor ice rink. The ice ring is especially charming at night when the nearby trees are lit up with thousands of twinkling, festive lights.
The Olympic Plaza was the location of the medal ceremonies for Whistler events during the 2010 Games. It includes one of Whistler’s most photographed spots: the Olympic Rings. Here you can also find several coffee and dessert cafes, a large playground for children and lots of benches to sit on.
When the conditions are right, you can go skating on one of the local lakes. While many people in Canada love skating on frozen lakes, you should take precautions. The recommended ice thickness is 15 cm for walking or skating alone and 20 cm for group skating or games.
If you prefer skating indoors, head to the rink at the Meadow Park Sports Centre, a few minutes drive from town. Skating is available year-round, and the Sports Centre also provides rentals and lessons.
Go Rock Climbing
The Sea to Sky Corridor from Squamish to Whistler is famous for rock climbing and bouldering. Quality rock routes are abundant for all abilities. A vast selection of climbs are nestled in a unique old-growth forest with incredible vistas of the glacier-capped Tantalus Mountains.
Do you want to climb but are not sure how to do it? Whether you are a novice or an experienced climber, you can book a half-day tour with a professional guide who will introduce you and your group to the local rock climbing crags.
You can choose from a wide variety of climbs, from easy up to very challenging routes; the excursion can be tailored to fit your skill level. If you are an experienced climber, you will be introduced to the best climbing areas where you can fine-tune and develop your climbing.
Rock climbing equipment and a professional certified guide are provided. >>Book your Rock Climbing Experience here
If you prefer the indoors, you can visit The Core fitness gym; it has an impressive 5500-square-foot indoor rock climbing wall. Here you can find your challenges, from easy kid-friendly routes to crack climbing, steep overhangs or tricky slab climbing.
Try Axe Throwing
It is cold and wet outside, and you want to have some fun? Axe throwing is a fantastic adventure that will turn you into an ultimate Canadian lumberjack. Challenge yourself, acquire a new skill, and laugh with friends and fellow ace throwers.
During this 1-hour experience, you will learn the basics of safety, one-handed throws and two-handed throws. You will feel confident after a short training session. Afterwards, your coach will run a series of games and competitions with your group.
This activity is also suited for families. Children must be at least 10 years old to participate, but all ages are welcome to watch. For safety reasons, you must wear closed-toed shoes. >>Book your Axe Throwing Guided Experience here
Watch the Fire and Ice Show
Whistler’s Fire and Ice show is a free event held every Sunday night in Skier’s Plaza in the main village. You will witness the best skiers and snowboarders spinning and jumping through a blazing fire ring while fireworks light up the sky. The atmosphere is electric.
You can also watch the show while you dine on the outdoor patio at the Garibaldi Lift Company, which has outdoor heaters and blankets to keep you warm.
Go Bungee Jumping
Whistler Bungee is the most extreme activity you can experience in the area, and it is not for the faint of heart. You will be jumping 50 metres (160 feet) off a bridge over the glacial-fed Cheakamus River in the Whistler Valley.
The bungee bridge is located in a natural canyon surrounded by old-growth forest and offers scenic views of the Black Tusk Mountain in the distance. In the winter, the river freezes and the surrounding cliffs are covered in ice and snow.
If you come with a group, the viewing platform at the site allows everyone to watch each other leap. Whistler Bungee has been open since 2002 and has a perfect safety record.
Audain Art Museum
The Audain Art Museum is nestled in a serene forested location, steps away from the Whisler Olympic Plaza. It is beautiful from both the inside and the outside.
The museum is privately owned, and it shares a unique and evolving collection of both historical and contemporary works and temporary special international exhibitions. The permanent collection will take you through a visual journey of art history from coastal British Columbia, from the 18th century to the present day.
The museum is also home to the world’s finest collections of Northwest Coast First Nations masks. Purchase tickets ahead of time to avoid line-ups. >>Buy your Audain Art Museum Ticket here
Visit the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is located across from the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Resort in the Upper Village. It is the first centre of its kind in Canada, found in the shared, traditional territories of the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation.
Admission includes access to the galleries and exhibits throughout the main level (Great Hall) and mezzanine. There are live demonstrations of weaving, carving, and cedar prepping. You can also join an hourly guided tour experience which is offered daily.
Cultural Ambassadors from both the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations share unique stories which uncover the meaning behind their traditions, legends, songs and ceremonies.
The hourly guided tour includes a traditional hand drum welcome song, fifteen-minute film, exhibit tour, and cedar-rope bracelet-making activity. You can finish your visit with lunch at the Thunderbird Cafe, an Indigenous-inspired eatery.
Catch a Glimpse of Northern Lights
The closer you are to the North Magnetic Pole, the better your chances of being able to admire the northern lights. Generally, the aurora appears a few hours after sunset, when the sky is clear and usually becomes more intense around midnight.
The best time of year to see the northern lights is between October and March. You can admire them on most clear nights. Avoid locations near cities or other sources of light pollution. You also want to avoid a full moon and overcast skies.
Northern Lights in Southern BC
That said, during periods of intense solar activity, the northern lights can be seen in more southerly parts of Canada, such as the Sea to Sky Highway near Squamish and Whistler and the Sunshine Coast around Sechelt. Keep an eye on the Astronomy North and Aurora Forecast websites. Be sure to bundle up because it gets cold at night!
Just off the Sea To Sky Highway in Squamish, Porteau Cove Provincial Park is a secluded beach area away from the city that is perfect for viewing the northern lights. However, this location does have opening and closing hours, so it is not always accessible.
In October 2021, the northern lights were seen at the Elfin Lakes early morning at 6:30 am and at the Panorama Ridge. See photos here.
You can check the position of the auroral oval in real-time here. The size of a visible Aurora will be bigger than what is shown on this map because the map gives the overhead location of the aurora.
Northern Lights Live Streaming
If you want to see the aurora borealis from the comfort of your home, you can! Go to the AuroraMax observatory page. The camera turns on automatically as soon as the Sun sets in Yellowknife during the aurora season, from August to May. You can also follow AuroraMax on Twitter or Facebook to receive aurora alerts.
Where to Stay in Whistler
Whistler is home to hotels in all sizes, styles, and budgets to suit everyone’s needs. The prices in winter are typically lower than in summer, but Whistler is an expensive town so expect to pay a little more.
It is best to book your accommodation as far in advance as possible. This will not just guarantee availability, but it may save you some of your hard-earned money too.
- Fairmont Chateau Whistler: Situated next to Blackcomb Mountain and 600 meters from the Whistler Village, Fairmont Chateau has a perfect position. After a long day of activities, you can enjoy a variety of hot tubs, sauna, eucalyptus steam room or a massage at the Vida Spa. You can also take a yoga or aqua fir class. Fairmont Chateau has many restaurants, from casual fare to fine dining. >>See prices and availability for Fairmont Chateau
- Four Seasons Resort Whistler: Located in Whistler’s Upper Village. The resort offers a complimentary shuttle to Whistler Village and Whistler Mountain during the ski season. Besides comfy accommodation, you can enjoy a hot tub, heated outdoor pool and a spa. The rooms are gorgeous, and the staff is exceptionally nice and accommodating. >>See prices and availability for Four Seasons Resort
- Sundial Hotel: Excellent Location; the Sundial Hotel is situated just a one-minute walk away from Whistler Blackcomb Gondola and right at the base of the Whistler Bike Park. It features a rooftop hot tub, gas fireplace and a full kitchen in all suites. The bathrooms have heated slate flooring and soaker bathtubs. >>See prices and availability for Sundial Hotel
- First Tracks Lodge: Located at the base of the beautiful Whistler Mountain and a short walk from the Creekside Express Gondola. The lodge features a 4-season outdoor pool, two hot tubs and a gym. Each suite has a well-equipped kitchen and a gas fireplace. Rooms are clean and spacious, and beds are incredibly comfortable. >>See prices and availability for First Tracks Lodge
- Pangea Pod Hotel: Conveniently located in the heart of Whistler and within 200 m of the Whistler and Blackcomb gondolas. There is a common ski and bike storage area. The pods have good soundproofing, but you might need earplugs if a loud snorer is next to your pod. The Pangea Pod Hotel is an excellent choice if you are travelling alone. >>See prices and availability for Pangea Pod Hotel
- Whistler Village Inn & Suites: Excellent location, the Blackcomb Excalibur Gondola is just two minutes’ walk away. The hotel features a heated, year-round outdoor pool, a restaurant and a fitness centre. A hot tub and a dry sauna are available. Some of the suites include a kitchen. >>See prices and availability for Whistler Village Inn & Suites
Where to Eat in Whistler
There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy Whistler’s culinary offerings. The region has taken up a reputation for its farm-to-table dining, owing to the surrounding farmland with its fresh produce. Following is our pick of the best places to eat in Whistler.
- Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar: One of Whistler’s best fine dining spots with creative flavours, aromas and textures.
- Il Caminetto: High-end Italian restaurant with generous servings of pasta, risotto, and other Italian classics. All of their pasta is freshly made daily.
- Alta Bistro: Classic French cuisine with a seasonal alpine influence. One of the best fine dining experiences in Whistler Village.
- Bearfoot Bistro: Known for its mouth-watering cuisine, extensive 20,000-bottle underground wine cellar and the world’s coldest vodka tasting room.
- Red Door Bistro: Hidden gem nestled away in Creekside neighbourhood. The food is rich and comforting, made with local ingredients.
- Rimrock Cafe: Known for their fresh Pacific Northwest seafood dishes. Chalet-style interiors with elegant ambiance.
- Creek Bread: Delicious thin-crust pizzas loaded with local and seasonal ingredients, cooked in a wood-fired hand-built clay oven.
- Crepe Montagne: You will love this place whether you are into sweet or savoury crepes. It is one of the best breakfast spots around.
- Caramba: Pizza and Mediterranean dishes. Caramba’s two sourdough starters are from a 100-year-old grape leaf from “somewhere in Europe.”
- Elements: Located in the Summit Lodge Hotel. The best brunch spot in town with many vegetarian options. Their food is fresh and locally sourced.
- Pizzeria Antico: Artisan wood-fired pizzas, pasta, salads and other Italian fares. The setting is open and rustic, and they have a small outdoor patio.
- Purebread: One of the most popular spots in Whistler for savoury and sweet baked goods. You will never want to leave this place.
- Peaked Pies: Their authentic Australian pies are incredibly delicious. You can choose from a variety of sweet and savoury options.
- La Cantina: Authentic Mexican fares. Made-to-order tacos, burritos and quesadillas. Fast and friendly service.
Plan Your Trip to Whistler
- Travel Insurance: Do not forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury, theft or a cancelled trip. World Nomads offers excellent coverage and competitive rates.
- Accommodation: Our favourite hotel search engine is Booking.com. They offer savings on hotels, apartments, resorts and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide.
- Experiences: Make your trip memorable and try out a new activity. You can find some of the best tours at Get Your Guide and Viator.
- Car Rentals: Rental Cars and Discover Cars are excellent sites for comparing car prices and finding great deals.
- Flights: Skyscanner is our favourite search engine for finding the best deals on airline tickets.
Read More Travel Guides
We hope you enjoyed our guide on Best Things to Do in Whistler. Let us know in the comments below. Here are a few of our favourite articles to inspire your travels around the Sea to Sky Corridor.
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