30 EPIC Things to do in Whistler, BC, Canada (all year round!)
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Whistler is one of the most popular places to visit in Canada. In this travel guide, we show you all the best things to do in Whistler to make your trip amazing including must-know info before you go!
Whistler – it’s known as a winter paradise with world-class skiing and winter sports.
But that’s not all Whistler is good for. In fact, there are tons of amazing things to do in Whistler all year round! Skiing and snowboarding are only just the very beginning.
We spent over a week in Whistler recently enjoying the sunshine, drinking cocktails at bars, and of course, exploring all the region has to offer. And we quickly realized that Whistler is a vibrant town that has a lot more to offer visitors than what most may initially think.
Here are the best things to do in Whistler, Canada including both summer and winter activities to keep you busy all year round!
30 BEST Things to do in Whistler, Canada
1. Relax lakeside
There are three main lakes around Whistler all within walking distance from town. Green Lake, Alta Lake, and my favorite, Lost Lake are accessible via easy walking trails through the surrounding pine forest.
I personally visited them all and loved each one for their own unique reason.
Lost Lake: On a sunny day, Lost Lake becomes the best place in town to relax on the beach and have a swim. It’s also the closest to Whistler and on a hot day, it’s the perfect place to spend the day!
Green Lake: Green Lake is much larger than the others. From the opposite side of the lake across from Whistler, you get stunning views of the mountains. It’s not as popular to swim here though and it is the furthest from town.
Alta Lake: I loved Alta Lake because it was very quiet and peaceful. With that said, it’s not as well connected to town via the many trails, and much of the lakefront property is privately owned.
Truthfully though, if you’re visiting Whistler then checking out one (or all three!) lakes is definitely one of the best activities you can do in Whistler! And in the winter, you might not want to hang at the beach, but going for a snowy walk around an ice-covered lake is winter magic!
If you want to visit all of the lakes as well as many of the other best attractions in Whistler then this half-day Whistler sightseeing tour is perfect!
2. Hike to Joffre Lakes
If you know me then you would know that I love stunning alpine lakes (almost more than traveling itself!) Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to visit many blue lakes situated high up in the mountains. With that said, Joffre Lakes just outside of Whistler is one of the best I’ve ever seen!
Just picture stunning mountain peaks, a glacier, turquoise lakes, and a beautiful pine forest. Yep, I know what you’re thinking… where do I sign up!
It’s easily one of the most popular hiking trails in all of British Columbia and the main trail leads to not one, but three lakes – the lower, middle, and upper lake. They’re all stunning, but my personal favorite is the middle lake.
The hike to the furthest lake (the upper lake) took me around 2 hours and is 3.5 km long. The trail is steep almost the entire way and it’s recommended you allow 3 hours to hike up according to the signs on the trail. The hike back down is quicker as it is all downhill.
Important: At the start of the trail, there is a large car parking lot and another one a minute down the highway. These may seem large but they often fill up before lunchtime. My recommendation is to arrive before 9 am to start the hike. This way you can easily get parking as well as avoid the bulk of the crowds.
Honestly, I can’t recommend the Joffre Lakes hike enough. The trail is one of the best things to do in Whistler. If you do only one hike in Whistler, make it Joffre Lakes!
3. Ride the world’s longest gondola
You may have taken a ride on a gondola before, but I can guarantee you haven’t ridden one as long as the Peak 2 Peak Gondola in Whistler.
This HUGE gondola holds the world record for not only the longest gondola but also the highest and longest unsupported span of any lift in the world.
That’s three world records all in one!
Regardless of the fun ride up, it’s more about the views from the top! Once you reach the top you can head off and explore. Some of the best things to do at the top are:
1. Walk the Skybridge – The Skybridge is the main attraction and entry is included in your ticket price. For those afraid of heights, you may want to skip this, but if you can stomach the bridge, you can walk out to a beautiful viewpoint.
2. Walk the snow walls – This is such a cool activity I’ve included it on this list below.
3. Lakeside Loop – This short but beautiful hiking trail leads to Blackcomb Lake. Here enjoy a picnic and the stunning color of the lake!
The Peak 2 Peak Gondola isn’t one of the best activities in Whistler for no reason, so you won’t want to miss this one!
Hot tip: In the summer months, the Peak 2 Peak Gondola is open for sightseeing. In the winter though, it’s open for skiing and snowboarding – so be sure to read the next activity in the blog and get your lift passes!
4. Hit the slopes!
I know this one probably comes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways – hitting the slopes is absolutely one of the best things to do in Whistler! Blackcomb Moutain is Whistler’s winter pride and joy with over 200 different runs, 3,307 hectares (8,171 acres) of terrain, and 36 different lifts this is one place you want to check out!
These statistics might sound daunting especially for a beginner, but the truth is they have great beginner runs too and offer lessons. The fact that Blackcomb ski resort really suits everyone makes it one of the busiest ski fields in Canada seeing over 2 million visitors annually.
My personal favorite thing about Blackcomb is that the lifts start right from Whitler Village. That means that you can walk straight out of your hotel, to a coffee shop, and then onto the ski lift all in one breath. It’s so easy and convenient!
The Whistler ski season typically runs from November to March and various passes are available including single-day passes, multi-day passes, and season passes.
If you need rental gear you can book that in advance online to avoid the hassle the morning of.
5. Rent a bike and explore
Mountain biking is easily one of the best activities to do in Whistler. We rented bikes for a few hours and explored some of the lakes around Whistler – and it was awesome!
What makes this activity so popular is the fact that the bike trails around Whistler can just about get you anywhere. It only takes a few hours to explore most of the closer trails to town and take a scenic ride around.
Don’t worry about finding the perfect route for you either. The rental companies have maps and can give you great advice on where to go depending on what you want to see.
We rented our bikes from Summit Sport right in town. They had really good mountain bikes for riding around town and are very reasonably priced at $14-20 CAD per hour or $55 for the day.
6. Go whitewater rafting
Who doesn’t love whitewater rafting? In summer so this activity is a no-brainer – especially on a hot day.
In Whistler, the whitewater rafting is done on the Cheakamus River a short drive from Whistler. The rapids on this river range from level 2 to 5 depending on the tour you choose to do.
If you’re traveling with kids then picking the tour with levels 2 to 3 are best, but if you’re a seasoned veteran like myself (or just consider yourself a little crazy) be sure to pick the level 5 rapid tour.
Like almost all the tours mentioned in this blog, whitewater rafting does book up in summer especially on weekends. You can choose and book your white water rafting tour in advance and the best part? It costs as little as $105 per person!
7. Go snowmobiling
This another one of those winter adventures in Whistler you really can’t miss! Snowmobiling is exciting, but it is also very scenic and on a snowmobile, you can cover lots of ground easily allowing you to see a ton of landscapes.
Snowmobiling in Whistler is best done on a guided tour. This way even if you’ve never snowmobiled before, your guide can teach you and ensure safety. Guides also know the best routes and provide top of the line equipment.
This snowmobiling tour is an awesome option at 3-hours long with impeccable reviews. I do have to admit though, snowmobile tours aren’t cheap ($200+ CAD), but if you can find the room in your budget then I wouldn’t skip this Whistler adventure!
8. Visit a museum
Not every day in Whistler is going to be a bluebird day. So, it’s best to have a back-up plan in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Luckily, there are a few museums in Whistler you can visit to hide from the rain all while learning lots about history, art, and culture!
There are three main museums in Whistler and they are the Audain Art Museum, Whistler Museum, and the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center. All offer different exhibitions and touch on different subjects.
The Whistler Museum is by donation but the others have an $18 admission fee for adults.
Be sure to read up on them all and choose the one you like most. Alternatively, you can just visit them all!
9. Wander the “Train Graveyard”
Whistler is home to some pretty unique things to do and one that surprised me the most was the Train Graveyard.
This unique attraction is a graveyard of train carriages that derailed back in the 1950s. In order to get the train tracks open as fast as possible after the derailment, they moved the carriages off the tracks and left them in the forest nearby.
That was some 50 years ago and well, they’re still there today!
Nowadays, the trains are covered in graffiti and murals which makes wandering around them a very cool thing to do in Whistler and one I personally enjoyed.
On the way to the trains, you’ll also pass a beautiful suspension bridge that crosses the Cheakamus River. There are a total of 7 carriages to explore with 5 being just after the suspension bridge and the other two and little further on.
The official trail to the graveyard starts on Jane Lakes Road near the Whistler Olympic Village. The trail to the trains takes around 30 minutes each way and is a very easy hike.
If you have a car and want a shorter hike then you can also reach the trains from a small carpark just off the Sea to Sky highway. This trail is a little less maintained but only takes about 10 minutes to reach the trains.
You can find the location of both the trails and the parking lot to start the trail on Google Maps.
10. Explore Whistler by floatplane
There’s no better way to explore Whistler than from the sky. It’s beautiful, exciting, and sometimes a little scary, but one thing is for sure, it’s unforgettable.
In Whistler, you have an even more unique way to explore the skies and that’s via floatplane. On a floatplane, the lakes will become your airport in what I would call one of the most unique experiences I have had to date.
Taking off in the water was the scariest because you honestly feel like you’re not going fast enough as you slowly run out of lake! Once we were in the air though I was just in awe at the surrounding landscapes and loved every minute of it.
Although fun, scenic flights around Whistler are not cheap. You can get the 30-minute scenic flight around Whistler we did for around $200 and if you can afford a little more you can even add in an alpine lake landing and lunch for around $400.
Although it’s not the cheapest tour in Whistler, it’s certainly an exciting one and one I recommend if you can afford it.
You can book your Whistler scenic flight in advance and save the worry of it booking out!
11. Hike to Garibaldi Lake
Garibaldi Lake is one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in Canada. But despite its natural beauty, it remains rather unvisited compared to other lakes in Canada. The reason?
It’s the grueling 5.6 miles (9km) hike to the lake and 2,950 feet (900 m) gain in elevation that keeps people away. This is enough to turn most away, but for those willing to tackle the tough incline, the reward at the top is worth every sore muscle!
Once at Garibaldi Lake you can head off onto two other trails to viewpoints. They are the Blacktusk and Panorama Ridge lookout. Both are another 5.5km and 7km further and both incline more than 500m so it’s best to only tackle these if you consider yourself fit.
To make it easier though, you can spend the night camping at Garibaldi Lake. The campsite at the lake has over 50 campsites, toilets, and cooking shelters. Campsites are $13 a person per night and need to be booked online prior to arrival.
If you’re having trouble booking you can ask the Squamish visitor center to book it for you (as we did!)
The trail starts around 30 minutes outside of Whistler around halfway between Squamish and Whistler. There is a large carpark that has just been upgraded to help deal with the larger numbers of hikers on the weekends.
12. Ride the longest zipline in North America
Ziplining is super fun but to be honest, after completing the Gibbon Ziplining Experience in Laos (2 days of 30 Ziplines some over 1km long) I hadn’t come across another zipline worth doing that would top that. That is until I came across the zipline in Whistler.
Whistler is home to the longest Zipline in North America at over 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) long! More than double the length of the longest zipline in Laos! For me, going ziplining in Whistler is a no-brainer for anyone wanting to add a little (or a lot) of excitement to their visit to Whistler!
This ziplining experience starts at $140 CAD per person and can even be down in certain snow conditions.
You can skip the lines and book your Zipline with Ziptreck Eco Tours online in advance!
13. Visit Brandywine Waterfall
Brandywine Falls is a must-visit either on your way to or from Whistler. It’s located just on the outskirts of Whistler about a 15-minute drive from the village towards Vancouver.
It’s an easy 5-minute walk to the falls and once there you’ll be amazed at not only the waterfall but also the stunning valley lookout.
This is such a short trip but a great easy activity to do in Whistler.
14. Indulge at Roger’s Chocolates
What started as a one-man operation out the back of a grocery store in Victoria is now one of the best chocolate shops in all of Canada! Luckily, you can find Roger’s Chocolate shop right on the main street in Whistler.
And the best part is they often offer free samples!
My personal favorites are their truffles and maple-flavored chocolates. You can buy bars, gift boxes (great for souvenirs), or even chocolates by weight. No matter what you choose, I promise you’ll be impressed!
15. Hike the Ancient Cedar Trail
If you’re looking for a short but beautiful trail with amazing views then the Ancient Cedar Trail is perfect. This short 5km round trip only takes around 2 hours to complete at an easy pace.
The path is a hike in, hike back trail that leads to a beautiful viewpoint (pictured above), and just past that viewpoint is the Ancient Cedar Forest. This is one of the few areas left that weren’t logged and quite rare nowadays.
The trail starts just north of Whistler at the end of Sixteen Mile Creek Forrest Service road up Cougar Mountain. The road to the trailhead is unpaved but almost all vehicles should be able to make it up without trouble in the summer.
16. Enjoy a beer at Whistler Brewery
If you love craft beer as much as I do then you simply must visit Whistler Brewing Co. This small craft brewery makes a selection of tasty beers and they are all very well priced!
A 20-ounce beer costs $7 and there is a huge range to choose from. You can also get takeaway growlers or six-packs of beer to take with you.
We also had lunch at the brewery and shared the “as big as your face nachos”. This dish really is huge and it’s certainly a lot bigger than your face.
The brewery is located to the south of Whistler. Although a little out of town, this is a great Whistler activity rain, hail, or shine!
17. Kayak the River of Golden Dreams
What could sound better than kayaking the River of Golden Dreams? This very unique kayaking tour in Whistler is really relaxing. On the trip, you can enjoy nature from a kayak or canoe.
The self-guided tour travels between two of Whistler’s biggest lakes starting at Alta Lake. From here, you’ll head off down the river mouth while floating along casually paddling in the currents. Along the way, you’ll see geese, navigate past beaver dams, and enjoy overhanging greenery and stunning views.
The end of the tour finishes in Green Lake where you’re picked up and taken back to Whistler. It’s a great tour that’ll cost you about $120 CAD!
You can book your kayaking tour down the River of Golden Dreams in advance online or even find out more information!
18. Go snowshoeing
I have mentioned lots of hikes on this blog, and that’s because hiking is definitely one of the best ways to enjoy Whistler. However, in the winter months, the snow can make hiking a lot more challenging – that is unless you have snowshoes!
Snowshoeing is a popular winter activity all around Canada. Not only is it kind of a novelty if you’ve never snowshoed before, but it is also a practical way to conquer a hiking trail that is covered in snow.
In Whistler, you can either rent snowshoes from ski rental shops like Whistler Sport Legacies or join a guided snowshoeing tour. Shoe rentals will cost you about $16 CAD per day, where a tour will be upwards of $100.
19. The Chief and Sea to Sky Gondola
I wasn’t sure whether to include this on my list because it is a little bit far from Whistler, but I honestly loved it so much I just had to include it! The Sea to Sky Gondola is actually 40 minutes from Whistler in the town of Squamish and sits next to the Chief hiking trail.
Both the Chief and the Sea to Sky Gondola give you fantastic views of the Howe Sound.
I loved the Chief as it’s an amazing hike and a good place to warm your legs up for some much harder hikes around Whistler. The hike takes around 3 hours to complete there and back and finishes on top of the Stawamus Chief. There are three peaks to climb but completing peak one is all I did and it was enough.
I also loved the Sea to Sky Gondola and it actually takes you much higher than the Chief trail. From the top of the gondola, you can explore a few other trails and enjoy stunning views.
You can also have lunch or even join the Via Ferrata climbing tour up there. There is actually a tour that includes Via Ferrata Climbing and Gondola pass!
I recommend doing both the Chief and Sea to Sky Gondola, but if you only have time for one then just ask yourself if you feel like hiking up or spending the $45 on the gondola.
This gondola and hike is also only about an hour’s drive from Vancouver. This makes it one of the best things to do in Vancouver too!
20. Test your skills at axe throwing
Axe throwing was something I never thought about doing before coming to Canada. To be honest, though, I didn’t even know it was a thing to do! But as it turns out, it’s super popular and there are actually places all over Canada to do it.
Let me tell you though, it’s super fun and the hour we had booked went by so fast! As a first-timer, it took a few throws to get the hang of it but after that, we were keeping scores and getting super competitive.
If you’re wondering what it’s like, Daniel put it best “it’s like bowling but way more dangerous”. This is true but with the safety rules and training, it’s actually super safe and there’s nothing to worry about!
I highly recommend giving this activity a try in Whistler or at least once while you’re in Canada! You can book your Whistler axe throwing ahead of time here at no extra cost!
21. Stuff your face at Purebread
Move over Tim Hortons, there’s a better bakery in town – Purebread! Purebread is a Canadian company with only 5 locations (3 in Vancouver and 2 in Whistler.) These guys have made a name for themselves by having the best, you guessed it, bread and pastries!
Purebread on Mainstreet in Whistler is often so busy that a line-up forms out the door. If this doesn’t tell you how delicious this place is then I’m not sure what will!
Try their Zucchini lime carrot cake, or flourless chocolate cake, or anything really, it’s all good. They also offer savory breakfast items and freshly brewed coffee.
You can find Purebread on Mainstreet or at Function Junction in Whistler.
22. Eat a pizza slice that’s as big as your head
If you haven’t filled up on Purebread already then you’re in for another treat in Whistler. Avalanche Pizza is Whistler’s go-to pizza shop for massive pizza slices! Here, you can choose from a variety of pizzas on offer and get one massive slice for only $3.50, for that price you really can’t go wrong!
Avalanche Pizza is most popular for their to-go pizza slices, however, they do sell full pizzas too and offer delivery. The shop is located right on Mainstreet in Whistler, you can’t miss it.
23. Rest your legs on an e-bike tour around Whistler
Whistler seems flat…that is until you decide to bike around the many trails in the area. To make it easier you can actually do an E-bike tour around Whistler instead. On the E-bike you won’t have to work nearly as hard as on a normal bike and you’ll be able to glide up the hills with ease!
E-bike tours go for around three hours and cover much of the greater Whistler area including the three major lakes, all three golf courses, a real bear den, and lots more. On the tour, you cover 27km!
Tours are $115 CAD and include a guide! You can book your tour here in advance!
24. Explore the snow walls on Blackcomb Mountain
It’s summer and outside temperatures are almost 30 degrees Celcius, but did you know you that you can still check out the snow walls for most of the summer?
Once the winter season wraps up, Blackcomb Mountain opens for sightseeing and at the top of the gondola is the famous snow walls that tower over the access road on the mountain.
Depending on the year, these can tower some 40 feet high! With that said, they do get smaller as the days go by so this activity is best suited to late spring or early summer. When we visited they were only a fraction of the size they can be.
As mentioned above, you’ll need to take the gondola up Blackcomb Mountain to reach them but from there it’s only a short hike to the snow walls!
25. Go downhill mountain biking
Winter is for snowboarding, and summer is for downhill mountain biking! In fact, some of Canada’s best downhill mountain biking events are held in Whistler thanks to the long, and varied trails.
Now I’m not going to lie, Dan and I don’t downhill mountain bike. The last we were in Whistler though there was a huge mountain biking event, and the town was packed full of people itching to ride. It sure was an indication that this is one popular sport in Whistler for both visitors and locals.
If you don’t have your own bike and safety equipment then you can rent it in town from one of the many bike rental shops. A 1-day lift ticket will run you $80 CAD, with discounted rates for multiple days.
26. Relax at Whistler Olympic Plaza
You’ll recognize this park by the huge Olympic rings! It is located at the end of the main walking street in Whistler and features a large grassy area, a playground, and is surrounded by shops and restaurants. Often there is live music or performances on the stage and people set up chairs or picnics in the grass.
This park was created to remember Whistler’s involvement in the 2010 Olympics.
Of course, don’t forget to get a cheesy tourist pic posing in front of the rings too!
27. Wander the “Whistler Stroll”
The “Whistler Stroll” is the main walking street in Whistler. Personally, I love just wandering around aimlessly here as it is so relaxed, yet vibrant. The walking street is always full of people and surrounded by boutique shops, restaurant patios, and a seemingly endless number of cafes.
There is also often live music and street performers scattered throughout the stroll with the most popular time being weekends. Events also frequently take place here and when Dan and I were in Whistler in 2019, we managed to catch the annual Canada Day Parade!
Wandering the Whistler Stroll is one of those typical “must-do” activities in Whistler, and even if you don’t plan on it, you’ll likely find yourself here at one stage or another.
28. Visit the Whistler Farmers Market
If you happen to be visiting Whistler on a Sunday between the months of July and October then you’re in luck! The Whistler Farmers Market operates every Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm showcasing the best homemade and freshly grown items the area has to offer.
When I was last there they had a selection of fresh fruits and veggies, handmade crafts and clothing, and a huge selection of food trucks! To me, this is the perfect place to visit for your Sunday lunch or even just for an afternoon snack!
You can find out more information about the market in Whistler including vendors and the location on their website.
29. Treetop Canopy walk
I love treetop walks especially since I was lucky enough to do the Capilano Treetop walk in Vancouver!
The Tree Top Canopy Walk in Whistler is no different. This is a beautiful way to explore the pine forests near Blackcomb Mountain. On the walk, you are up to 200 ft. (61m) from the ground!
On the tour, your guide will explain lots about the forest and there are also lots of interpretive signage along the way. The tour runs for around 2 hours and only costs $60 CAD per person. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Whistler!
You can book the tour online ahead of time!
30. Eat at the $5.95 Restaurant and Pub
Who says that Whistler is expensive?! Okay, well it might be for a lot of things, but this little gem of a restaurant proves you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a nice sit-down meal in Whistler Village.
El Furniture Warehouse is a restaurant and pub that’s menu is entirely made up of $5.95 items! You can get a sandwich with fries for $5.95, poutine, chicken, fish strips, nachos, all of your typical pub food, and more for $5.95 each.
Also, the food is delicious. I had their grilled cheese sandwich (with brie and cranberries) at least one three different occasions when I was in Whistler last.
While this may not necessarily be a typical “thing to do in Whistler”, I do think it’s important to mention for those traveling on a budget. You can easily go to El Furniture and spend less than $20 per person on a meal, drink, tax, and tip.
Where to Stay in Whistler, BC
For those travelers on a budget, the Hi Whistler is one of the only budget options. Although a hostel, the place is very clean and comfortable and they also have private rooms. A great place to meet travelers and enjoy your time in Whistler.
The Listel Hotel Whistler
The Listel Hotel is a beautiful place to stay in the heart of Whistler. I still consider it a budget option for Whistler but the hotel has lots of luxuries including a spa, restaurant, and bar.
You can check availability on Booking.com
Delta Hotels by Marriott Whistler Village Suites
For a luxury hotel in the heart of Whistler, the Whistler Village Suites is my top choice. For Whistler, it’s still a great value hotel and has a swimming pool, bar, fitness center, and restaurant. The rooms a very nice and for groups they have 2 bedroom apartments.
You can check availability on Booking.com
Before you go…
Thanks so much for taking the time to read our guide to the best things to do in Whistler. If you found this blog helpful then be sure to check out all our Canada blogs here or check out these related articles below!
October 21, 2020