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There is no shortage of amazing road trips in British Columbia, and the drive from Vancouver to Whistler MUST make it onto your list! Not only is the drive absolutely gorgeous, but there are so many different things to do along the way. This list is your ultimate road trip guide on what to see and do when you drive from Vancouver to Whistler!
Anyone who has visited Vancouver knows it’s an awesome city, full of things to do and amazing natural beauty everywhere you look. And then there’s Whistler – a world-renowned ski destination made famous during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Well, the road trip between these two destinations is just as amazing as visiting the cities themselves!
This blog will look at some of the most important tips and tricks to make the most of your drive, in addition to all the epic stops along the way. I hope it’s helpful as you begin to plan your trip to this amazing area!
- Vancouver Airport to Whistler
- Vancouver to Whistler by Coach Bus
- Vancouver Airport to Whistler by Express Shuttle
- Private charter bus service from Vancouver to Whistler
- Vancouver to Whistler scenic flight
- 1. Whistler and Sea to Sky Gondola tour
- 2. Whistler day trip by seaplane
- 3. Private tour: Whistler day trip from Vancouver
- 1. Vancouver
- 2. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
- 3. Lions Bay Beach Park
- 4. Tunnel Bluffs Hike
- 5. Porteau Cove
- 6. Furry Creek Golf Course
- 7. Britannia Mine
- 8. Shannon Falls
- 9. Sea to Sky Gondola
- 10. Stawamus Chief
- 11. Squamish
- 12. Squamish Spit
- 13. Alice Lake Provincial Park
- 14. Tantalus Lookout
- 15. Garibaldi Lake
- 16. Brandywine Falls
- 17. The Train Graveyard
- 18. Whistler
- Adara Hotel – Our Top Choice
- Hi Whistler – Budget-friendly Hostel
- The Listel Hotel Whistler – Mid-range Hotel
- Delta Hotels by Marriott Whistler Village Suites – Luxury Hotel
Transport from Vancouver to Whistler
If you do want to stick around in Whistler a little longer (and I don’t blame you!), then there are plenty of other transportation options for you.
I really like booking something in advance so I know exactly how I’m getting to Whistler from Vancouver. These are the best shuttle and bus options, including private transport if you’re traveling in a group or with family.
Vancouver Airport to Whistler
If you are heading to the gorgeous town of Whistler straight from the Vancouver Airport, save yourself the stress of aimlessly trying to find the taxi rank at the airport by booking this shuttle bus service.
Their airport stop is located at the international airport arrivals on Level 2. From here you can put your luggage on board and enjoy a relaxing 3-hour drive to Whistler. They stop off at Squamish on the way and then will take you directly to either Creekside Village or right next to the Whistler Visitor Center.
At only $72 CAD, this is one of the most affordable methods of transport to Whistler from Vancouver Airport. It often sells out during busier times of the year, so make sure to book your travel dates online ASAP.
Vancouver to Whistler by Coach Bus
Save yourself the hassle of renting your own vehicle in Vancouver and get from the city center to either Whistler or Squamish by coach! This service has frequent departure times and leaves from Melville Street in the center of Vancouver.
The coach has onboard WiFi and toilet facilities so if you are traveling as a family you won’t need to make frequent stop-offs for those with small bladders!
For a one-way coach journey, prices start at $58 CAD, with its drop-off locations in Whistler being the Whistler Visitor Center or at Creekside Village. This is a popular way to get to Whistler, so make sure to book your seats on the coach in advance.
Vancouver Airport to Whistler by Express Shuttle
If you would rather opt for a smaller vehicle over a large coach, why not book this express shuttle service from the Vancouver airport to Whistler.
The shuttle goes from Vancouver International Airport Arrivals on Level 2 and will take you through the stunning landscapes for three hours. You’ll travel all the way to Whistler Gateway Loop which is conveniently located right next to the Visitor Center.
The shuttle starts at $93 CAD which includes a baggage allowance of one large piece, one hand luggage, and either a set of skis or a snowboard per person with a $15 CAD charge for any extras. Grab a seat on this hassle-free shuttle by booking online here.
Private charter bus service from Vancouver to Whistler
If you’re traveling to Whistler from Vancouver in a group or as a family, this private bus service is the way to go. Not only does it save you the hassle of trying to navigate around public transport routes, but it also saves you the cost of renting your own vehicle.
As it’s a private shuttle, you can arrange for it to pick you up in Vancouver and drop you off in Whistler, wherever is more convenient for you. It is also ideal if you have extra luggage or skis that you might have to pay an additional fee for on a coach.
The shuttle cost is $499 CAD with a maximum of four people, which is pretty affordable when you consider that on other methods of transport, you will have to pay per head. You can book this private charter online here!
Vancouver to Whistler scenic flight
Travel to Whistler from Vancouver in style aboard this scenic flight! For only $221 CAD, you can skip out on all the on-road time and see the beautiful landscapes from a bird’s eye view!
Meet at Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre at 8:30 am, hop on your seaplane, and enjoy 40 minutes in the air before landing at Whistler’s Green Lake where you can take the free shuttle into Whistler Village.
If you have heaps of luggage and ski equipment, this might not be the transport method for you but they do allow a guaranteed 25 lbs with an additional 25 lbs at no extra cost, providing they have the space.
Book a spot on this scenic flight to Whistler online here!
Related Read: Keep the BC highlights going and make the trip out to Vancouver Island by either going from Vancouver to Tofino or Vancouver to Victoria!
Tours to Whistler from Vancouver
1. Whistler and Sea to Sky Gondola tour
This group tour of Whistler is the perfect day trip from Vancouver! Meet at Canada Place and hop on your tour bus ready to ride along the Sea to Sky Highway where you can see, you guessed it, sea-to-sky views and incredible sights with every turn!
The first stop-off on the tour is at Shannon Falls Park where you can stretch your legs and walk through the towering rainforest along the boardwalk to the base of Shannon Falls.
Hop back on the bus and enjoy the ride to the Sea to Sky Gondola where you’ll witness mesmerizing views over Howe Sound and the coastal rainforest below before arriving at Summit Lodge. Visiting the Sea to Sky Gondola is one of my favorite parts! From here you will have time to explore, go for a quick hike or even walk over the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge (a must).
The gondola is only a short ride from Whistler where you can enjoy some free time in Whistler village. You will not be short on things to do in Whistler as it has so much to offer, all year around! With three hours of free time to explore everything Whistler has to offer, it is a great taster and we are positive you will leave wanting to book a week-long vacation there!
You can expect this tour to take roughly 10 hours from start to finish, costing around $199 CAD per person. With an enthusiastic tour guide the whole way along and so much to see and do, we think this is an ideal day trip from Vancouver, suitable for the whole family!
Make sure you book this Whistler and gondola tour online here before your trip!
2. Whistler day trip by seaplane
The journey between Vancouver and Whistler is absolutely stunning no matter your method of travel, but the incredible lakes and mountainous regions are really best seen from the air!
Seaplanes are exactly what they sound like – a small plane that is able to land and take off from the water. If you haven’t had the pleasure of going on one before, you really should!
This tour combines a beautiful seaplane ride, with a day trip to Whistler from Vancouver! Not only do you save on travel time than if you went by road, but you also get to enjoy the unbeatable views along the way.
Just meet at the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre in the morning and enjoy your 35-minute flight and land at Green Lake in Whistler. From here you can either hop on the free shuttle into the village or make use of the free bike rental and make your own way there. This tour is only offered from May-September, so it’s a great way to take in all of Whistler’s best summer activities!
You then have until 6:40 pm to enjoy all Whistler has to offer before you need to be back at the seaplane terminal to fly back to Vancouver.
This tour starts at $473 CAD and can’t be completed in bad weather. This is why we really like booking the seaplane flight with Viator because you can cancel up to 24 hours in advance if the weather looks dicey. But don’t worry if your trip does get canceled due to weather you can transfer to a different day!
While we did find taking off from the water scary at first, once you are in the air, all the fear goes away and it truly was one of our favorite tours we did! We loved it so much, we also did a sightseeing seaplane tour from Vancouver!
If you’re interested in traveling in style to Whistler and getting epic scenery along the way, make sure you book a seat on this seaplane flight here.
3. Private tour: Whistler day trip from Vancouver
Take away all the hassle of organizing your own trip to Whistler and book this private day tour from Vancouver. We understand that large group tours aren’t for everyone and sometimes you just want to go solo or enjoy the trip as a family, so a private shuttle tour with a guide is the way to go!
You will be picked up from your hotel or the port by your guide and they will take you right through Stanley Park and along the Sea to Sky Highway where you can sit back and absorb the breathtaking landscapes.
The first stop is Shannon Falls where you can stretch your legs and stroll along to the viewing platform watching the water cascading down the cliff front.
Shannon Falls is only a short drive away from Whistler where you will have four hours to explore at your own leisure! Your guide will be able to recommend some spots but we would personally recommend going for a bike ride, enjoying a beer at Whistler Brewing Company, or relaxing at one of Whistler’s beautiful lakes!
There are tons of spots in Whistler to grab a bite to eat so make sure you enjoy a nice dinner out before riding back to Vancouver in your shuttle.
You can book your private tour online here starting from $416 CAD. It can accommodate up to 14 people per booking and runs for around 10 hours.
This makes the perfect day trip to Whistler, so book your private tour today!
About the Drive from Vancouver to Whistler
The drive from Vancouver to Whistler is epic. There’s no other way to describe it! It’s such a beautiful area and you’ll love every moment of it.
To get to Whistler, you’ll exit the city of Vancouver and drive north along the scenic Highway 99 – also called the Sea to Sky Highway. There’s no mystery of why it’s called that… It offers views of the sea and sky all the way along! The Sea to Sky Highway is world-famous and gained international attention after major improvements were made to the route during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The route is about 120 kilometers (74.6 miles) long and would take about two hours to drive if you go straight through. Doing this, however, would be a big mistake! There are just so many amazing places to see along that way that you’ll definitely want to stop and visit.
You could easily stretch this road trip into a full-day experience or even take a few days, stopping overnight along the way. Whichever you choose, take your time and enjoy the ride!
The BEST Stops when Driving from Vancouver to Whistler
It’s likely that Vancouver will be your starting point before jumping into a road trip up to Whistler. There are so many awesome things to do in Vancouver that you’ll want to spend a few days here! You can see our complete round-up of things to do in Vancouver, but these are some highlights:
Some of the other most popular things to do in Vancouver include:
- Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge – just a 20-minute drive from Vancouver city center, this area is not only home to the huge bridge which is 137 meters long (450 feet) and hangs 70 meters (230 feet) above the Capilano River but there are also various hiking trails here too. As well as that, there’s a treetop walk and a glass floor lookout! Tickets cost $69 CAD per adult.
- Walk or bike the seawall at Stanley Park: This 12 km (7.5 mi) paved path goes all the way around Stanley Park, the iconic urban park in downtown Vancouver. Biking is a super fun way to see all the sites and explore! This is my top activity you should really prioritize even if you only have one day to spend in Vancouver. If you don’t feel like figuring out bike rentals and navigating around yourself you can even join a Stanley Park tour. This small group Stanley Park Bike Tour includes a guide who will be there to give you information on the different sights and areas.
- Go Whale Watching – By far one of Vancouver’s top activities! From out on the open water, you’ll have to opportunity to spot various types of whales, including Humpback whales and, my favorite, Orcas. But besides whales, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot other wildlife, including seabirds, seals, and otters. You can expect to pay about $226 CAD for this half-day whale watching tour that includes tea and coffee as well as expert naturalists to teach you all about the whales and area.
- Visit Grouse Mountain – for the best views of Vancouver catch a cable car the 1,200 meters (3.900 feet) up Grouse Mountain or if you’re keen for a workout complete the ‘Grouse Grind’ to reach the top, this involves climbing up over 2,800 steps! It’s an especially popular activity with local Vancouverites, some even do this as their daily workout! The views from the top of Vancouver CBD and the Howe Sound are well worth the climb. In fact, this is one of the best hikes in Vancouver. If you want to catch the cable car to the top instead you can buy your tickets here.
- Check out Granville Island: Though it’s not really an island, it’s an awesome little place to shop, eat, explore art galleries, and more! There’s a lot more to do on Granville Island than originally meets the eye so be sure to allow for some time here. To me, the VIP Granville Island Food Tour was such a fun way to eat my way through the market!
- Relax at Kitsilano Beach – as I mentioned Vancouver is filled with urban beaches and one of my favorites is Kitsilano beach. It’s a nice, clean beach that’s a great spot to head for sunset. Surrounding the beach is the trendy neighborhood of Kitsilano which is home to lots of cool restaurants, bars, and stores. The Maritime Museum is also located here as well as a great waterfront public swimming pool.
- Ride in a Sea Plane – This has been the most exciting thing I have done in Vancouver! Taking off and landing on the water was new and a little scary but don’t worry, though; the pilots are trained professionals. While this scenic flight is only a 20-minute Vancouver city seaplane tour, it was such a fantastic experience and we got to see so much of the city and surrounding mountains. The best part is, it only cost $160 CAD! Can you believe that?
Where to stay in Vancouver
The Cambie Hostel Gastown is perfect if you’re looking for a budget option! There are not as many hostel options in Vancouver but this one in Gastown is a good option. While it doesn’t have super high ratings it is in an excellent location.
For something a bit more moderately priced in the West End in the middle of the action try The Listel Hotel Vancouver. There is an on-site restaurant and is a short walk to major attractions like Stanley Park or the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Or ball out at the Fairmont Pacific Rim if you are searching for luxury. It has a full-service spa and rooftop swimming pool, on-site restaurants that have live music, and an outdoor terrace. The views from this hotel are phenomenal, as it’s right at the waterfront.
There are literally hundreds of places to stay in Vancouver. Read our blog about where to stay in Vancouver for info about the best areas to base yourself and the top-rated hotels.
2. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Just a short 15-minute drive outside of Vancouver City is one of the most iconic Vancouver attractions that is the Capilano Suspension Bridge. This is a fun and exciting stop for pretty much anyone and the forest views here are mesmerizing! Plus, don’t you just love the smell of fresh cedar trees?
Although the main focal point here is the huge 137-meter (450 feet) suspension bridge that is situated 70 meters (230 feet) above the Capilano River, the rest of the 27-acre park has much more to offer!
This includes a treetop walk through lush forests alive with wildlife, a glass-floor lookout, an epic Cliffwalk, and The Birds of Raptors Ridge where you can meet eagles, owls, and other birds of prey up close. Along the way, you’ll also notice information boards posted to learn about the area.
To see everything that was mentioned should only take an hour or two but you’ll need to purchase tickets for the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park which can seem pricey at $73 CAD per person.
However, I do think it’s worth seeing at least once because it’s such a relaxing spot to take in nature, especially if you’re passing by this area en route to Whistler!
3. Lions Bay Beach Park
Lions Bay is a small community just at the beginning of your trip to Whistler and your first point to get out and stop!
The beach here is just so charming and there are great views of Howe Sound!
Depending on when you leave, it might be a great place for a picnic lunch at Lions Bay Beach Park at one of many picnic tables and there is a playground with swings for the kids.
This park has a nicely maintained grass and a clean sandy area with a small roped-off swim area. Limited parking is available near the Lions Bay Marina.
Tip: On the way back from your drive from Vancouver to Whistler you could even stop here again if you will hit the area in time for sunset.
4. Tunnel Bluffs Hike
There are many, many awesome hiking options in and around Vancouver, and Tunnel Bluffs is definitely worth a stop! This intermediate hike will take about four hours to complete. It’s an 11.5 km (7.1 mile) roundtrip and has an elevation gain of 470 meters (1542 feet) – definitely a bit of a challenge!
Tunnel Bluffs is accessible off the Sea to Sky Highway at the Lions Bay exit (Sunset Trailhead). The hike is a push, with lots of steep switchbacks. But you will be rewarded with the most amazing views along the way, especially at the top, where you can look out across to Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast on a clear day!
Parking here at the main parking lot costs $3 CAD/hour or $24 CAD per day but if that parking lot is full there is an overflow lot down the road at the elementary school however, this will add another 1 km (0.64 mi) onto your hike each way and it is extra steep so try to get here early if possible.
5. Porteau Cove
A few more kilometers up Highway 99 is Porteau Cove Provincial Park, a picturesque park and campground that is definitely worth a stop. You can get out and stretch your legs at this scenic viewpoint, walking out onto the old dock to catch some views of the nearby islands.
This is a popular spot for deep-sea divers, so you might be able to see some diving in action. Or, if you’re a diver yourself, book a dive! It is super easy to safely enter the water because there is a diver-specific metal ladder here and underwater you can discover the shipwrecks that are marked with buoys and see the diverse sealife including sea cucumbers, lingcod, starfish, and more.
If you want, you can book the campground here and spend a night or two right near the water – it’s truly a beautiful spot on the road from Vancouver to Whistler.
6. Furry Creek Golf Course
Depending on your schedule, you might want to stop off at Furry Creek Golf Course, which has the title of “British Columbia’s Most Scenic Golf Course”! And I can see why – views of the Howe Sound Bay and snow-peaked mountains from all around. If golf is your thing, it’s definitely worth a visit!
Golf rates range from $89-$139 CAD depending on the month and day of the week you visit. Of course, weekends in the summer (July and August) are the most expensive. Furry Creek Golf Course is open annually from March until October. You should book a tee time in advance to ensure you don’t miss out.
Even if you aren’t a golfer, you might want to stop here to enjoy their very restaurant, fittingly called Sea to Sky Restaurant. This is a beautiful fine-dining experience in a restaurant that offers incredible views. They serve what they call “West Coast cuisine”, so you can expect plenty of fresh seafood. Reservations are welcome but are not required.
7. Britannia Mine
This unique attraction is a great, family-friendly stop along the Sea to Sky Highway. Britannia Mine was a copper mine in operation from 1904 to 1974. It was actually once the largest copper mine in the British Empire that employed over 60,000 people in the community!
Today, it is a heritage site that educates the public on the history of the mine and the region. On a visit to the Mine, you will get a guided tour that includes an underground mine tour. You’ll even learn how to pan for gold, and if you find anything then you can keep it!
You’ll also find an on-site cafe and gift store to pick out a souvenir or two. Entrance tickets (including an underground mine tour and gold panning experience) are $40 CAD/adult and $21.95 CAD/child. You should book your tour in advance as there are only select departure times and group sizes are limited.
8. Shannon Falls
This is the perfect pit stop to have a snack, stretch your legs, and check out some magnificent waterfalls! Shannon Falls is located just south of Squamish, where there is an easy, relatively flat trail to the falls lookout. There is also a paved trail to be accessible for all visitors.
The Falls are pretty spectacular at 335 meters (1099 feet) tall! The ideal time to go is the late Spring and Summer when winter snow on the neighboring mountains has melted and the falls are at their most powerful.
Personally, this is one of my favorite stops on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler. But, I’m not the only one who thinks so. Shannon Falls can get very busy in the Summer months so it’s best to plan for the crowds. If possible, visit early in the morning or later in the day, and mid-week as opposed to on the weekends.
At Shannon Falls you’ll find picnic tables and toilets. So, it’s a good place to have lunch and a bathroom break along your road trip if needed.
Related Read: Shannon Falls is also one of the best stops on a road trip from Vancouver to Lake Louise – read about the other stops on thie epic route!
9. Sea to Sky Gondola
If you’re ready for some jaw-dropping views, make sure you make a stop and ride the Sea to Sky Gondola! The gondola is located just before you reach Squamish on your road trip from Vancouver to Whistler just off the highway.
It will take you up the mountain, with great views of the Howe Sound from every direction. Once at the top, you can go on walks, check out the suspension bridge, have a drink or snack, and take in the views. Give yourself a good amount of time to enjoy the top, there are many different trails to viewpoints here and you can even enjoy some food at the restaurant.
My best advice is to ride the Sea to Sky gondola on a clear day. If there is too much cloud cover, you won’t see much from up there. But on a bluebird day, it’s honestly breathtaking!
A day pass for the gondola is $67 CAD/adult with discounted rates for seniors and children. There is also the option to hike up to the top but be warned, it’s pretty intense (almost 1,000 m/3,280 feet elevation gain!). Hikers can pay a one-way fare to go back down on the gondola.
10. Stawamus Chief
If you’re looking for an iconic, Instagram-worthy hike to do in the area, the Stawamus Chief has got to be your top choice. It’s very popular with locals and tourists alike. The hike is rated intermediate, but depending on the route you go, it can be longer or shorter (2.5 hours on average but some people take over 6 hours).
There is about a 600-meter (1968 feet) elevation gain, so get ready for a workout!
From the trailhead off of the Sea to Sky highway, you’ll start the hike on a wide trail. You’ll then see the trail quickly turns into a steep section of stairs. This section is the most challenging, so take rests as needed and push through.
Continue up the trail through a trail junction with the Sea to Summit Trail, and continue towards one of the three peaks of The Chief. The peaks are all marked, and depending on your fitness level, you can do one or all three.
Be ready for a bit of technical hiking! To get up to the viewpoint you’ll notice a section of ladders you’ll need to climb. Once you’re at the top you get to enjoy sweeping views of the entire region. Feel the sense of accomplishment and soak it all in!
Climbing the other peaks requires more time and is much harder, so if you’ve found yourself challenged enough only hike up the first summit and back down, this is exactly what I ended up doing.
Squamish is an awesome city and a great place to stop for a visit, or even stay overnight to really make the most of it and break up your road trip. It’s the only city you’ll drive through on your way from Vancouver to Whistler, so fuel up and grab a bite to eat here.
Squamish is known as heaven for the outdoorsy crowd, with a lot of people attracted to the outdoor lifestyle, with plenty of hiking, rock climbing, and windsurfing enthusiasts living here.
If you’re just stopping for a bite to eat or a drink, try the Howe Sound Brewery or Zephyr Café – both fun, local stops to relax at for a bit. If you want to check out some culture and history, try the Railway Museum of British Columbia!
It’s also fun to just walk around the downtown area, as there are a ton of cute little shops to check out.
If however, you want to spend a few more hours here or even extend the stop into an overnight for at least a full day here are some more suggestions!
- Go sailing – For a more laid-back activity, I highly recommend setting sail on the Howe Sound where you will be offered the chance to take the helm or learn how to trim the sails (balance them). You could also just sit back and enjoy the views and if you get lucky you might spot some wild orcas or dolphins. This sailing experience lasts 3 hours and costs $179 CAD.
- Via Ferrata – try out assisted rock climbing with via ferrata! You’ll climb up granite cliffs with a fixed cable system and hold onto large steel rungs. It’s just like climbing a giant ladder … but on a cliffside! The Via Ferrata climbing experience in Squamish can be booked online and is led by a certified guide. It starts at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola (previously mentioned above), so you’ll need to book gondola tickets separately.
- Go whitewater rafting – See Squamish from the water while navigating the exhilarating class 3-4 rapids on the Elaho and Squamish Rivers. The “Devil’s Elbow” section of the river is sure to get your heart pumping! This white-water rafting tour is about 16 kilometers (10 miles) long and costs $190 CAD and includes transportation, a guide, and all the gear you need.
Where to Stay in Squamish
If you want to break up the road trip from Vancouver to Whistler then Squamish is the perfect place to spend a night or two. There’s plenty to do in Squamish and lots of hotels and holiday homes to choose from.
For a budget stay, check out the Adventure Inn. You can get a private room for an affordable price here as well as have access to shared communal facilities like laundry and a kitchen – super handy if you want to save money by cooking.
For something a little nicer, check out the Mountain Retreat. This hotel features many different styles of rooms from a standard queen all the way to a one-bedroom family suite. There is a pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant.
Luxurious travelers can’t pass up the Highlands Bed & Breakfast. The one-bedroom suites here are stunning and a delicious breakfast is included. Views from around the property are seriously stunning and this B&B makes for the perfect relaxing getaway in the Garibaldi Highlands.
12. Squamish Spit
While in Squamish, make sure to drive out to the Squamish Spit, located at the tip of the Howe Sound near the Squamish Estuary. This long man-made walkway jets out into the water and makes for a nice place to take a stroll and stretch your legs on the road between Vancouver and Whistler. Enjoy the breeze and mountain views in every direction!
Although the views are nice, the main draw here is to check out the windsurfers! The natural environment here is perfect for wind sports, like windsurfing and kiteboarding. It’s pretty cool watching these athletes catch some major air and surf the waves!
2023 Update: Part of the Squamish Spit has already been removed as part of the Central Estuary Restoration Project and the completion of the project is expected to be done in mid-May of 2023 but it is unclear just how much of the spit will remain if any so check for updates.
13. Alice Lake Provincial Park
Okay, time for some R&R! If you’re itching for a beach day, Alice Lake Provincial Park is a great place to stop for the afternoon and it’s just 13 km (8 miles) north of Squamish on the drive towards Whistler.
There are actually four lakes in the park, but Alice Lake is the biggest and is a beautiful lake surrounded by towering mountains. It has a well-maintained day-use area and overnight campsites as well.
Most people visit here to enjoy a picnic, a day of swimming, or even get out on the water in a paddleboard or canoe. The campsites are some of the best in the province too and they even have powered sites (not overly common for provincial parks.) Be sure to book your camping in advance, especially during the peak months of July, August, and September. Camping is generally open from May until October each year.
14. Tantalus Lookout
Keep your eyes open for the Tantalus Lookout sign while driving out of Alice Lake Park. This will be a quick pit stop, but so worth it. The views from Tantalus Lookout, which sits at a 320-meter elevation (1,050 feet), are epic. Bring a camera and snap some great pics to remember your awesome road trip!
15. Garibaldi Lake
I told you there was a lot of awesome hiking in this area, and Garibaldi Lake is another example of one! This hike is rated intermediate, but at 820 meters (2690 feet) of elevation gain, it’s definitely quite a challenge for a lot of people! The hike is about 18 kilometers (11.2 miles) long roundtrip and will take approximately six hours to complete. I would personally give yourself a little more time to relax at the lake before having to hike back down.
The hike is accessible from the Rubble Creek parking lot, which is just south of Whistler, and begins at the wooden steps at the top of the lot. You’ll follow the trail until you get to the stunning turquoise-colored Garibaldi Lake. This, plus the picturesque meadows with alpine flowers along the way, make the effort so worth it!
The last time we visited, we spent the night at the lake. This is great because it breaks up the hike and allows you to enjoy “golden hour” at one of the most beautiful lakes in BC! Spending the night also means you’ll have more time to conquer the even more challenging hikes from there, Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge.
Of course, due to its popularity, you need to book your campsites in advance. At worst, you could hike up to the lake and back down in a day, however, spending the night is highly recommended!
16. Brandywine Falls
Not to be outdone by Shannon Falls is the other must-see waterfall on this drive from Vancouver to Calgary, the stunning 70-meter (230 feet) Brandywine Falls. It can be seen from a viewpoint that is just a quick 1 km (0.62 mi) walk away from the parking area and back again.
The short walk to the viewpoint is flat and well-maintained, making it very accessible to most travelers. And the view? Well, just look at the photo! Brandywine Falls is truly gorgeous and well worth checking out if you ask me.
My tip though is to make sure to keep walking after getting to the first viewpoint because there is an ever-better lookout about a few meters ahead!
Brandywine Falls is located only a 15-minute drive from the town of Whistler. One thing to note is that it is only open during the summer months, so it’s easily one of the best summer activities in Whistler.
17. The Train Graveyard
Located just outside of Whistler is the quirky and wonderful attraction that is the Whistler Train Wreck. It’s a spot in the middle of the forest with a handful of de-railed old train boxcars that have now been transformed into graffiti artwork. The boxcars ended up there when a train derailed in 1956 after going too quickly. The odd part, though, is that they were just left there!
Today, the train graveyard is accessible by various trails, but the quickest one is actually from a pullover bay right off the highway. If you check the train wreck location on Google maps you can see this trail. Alternatively, there are other trails from Whistler that you can take to visit the Wreck.
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 a little further on.
This is a must-see spot and is a really cool place to explore and get some unique photos.
Hot Tip: Because the Train Wreck is located so close to Whistler, you can always skip this stop on your road trip and come back another day from Whistler.
You made it! Whistler. It’s an awesome city, no matter what season you go in. Obviously, Whistler is known as a world-class ski and snowboard destination, but there is so much more to do in Whistler than just that. Whether you take in one of these amazing Whistler tours, hop on an ATV, or decide to explore on your own, some highlights include:
- Go skiing – skiing or snowboarding at Blackcomb Moutain is the pride and joy of Whistler from November to March with over 200 different runs, 3,307 hectares (8,171 acres) of terrain, and 36 different lifts. Then take part in Apres Ski and party all over Whistler Village! You can even join this Bar Hop Whistler to check out several of the best bars.
- Take the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. This gondola is the longest in the world and takes you between Whistler and Blackcomb’s peaks. The ride offers some seriously epic views of both mountains and the valley below!
- Kayak the river of Golden Dreams – this kayaking 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. It’s a great self-guided tour that’ll cost you about $139 CAD for 3-hours on the lake with all of your equipment included.
- Visit the Audain Art Museum – here you’ll be able to see some amazing local and Indigenous art and the building itself is a fine piece of architectural design! It costs just $21 CAD per person.
- Go ziplining – Tackle the mighty Sasquatch zipline which is the longest zipline in North America! It spans 2+ kilometers and you can touch speeds of up to 100 km/hr (62 mph) The rush I had during this experience was unreal! This zipline experience starts at $147 CAD per person and can even be done in spring, summer, and fall (until mid-October.) and it’s definitely worthy of the cost! However, if this is too intense there are many other ziplines in the area such as the Eagle or Bear.
- Eat, drink, repeat. There are tons of great bars and restaurants to check out in Whistler Village! Be sure to pamper yourself and visit some of the fine dining options (perfect for couples visiting Whistler and those on a honeymoon!) There are also some beautiful coffee shops in Whistler worth checking out.
- Via Ferrata – Whistler is another great place in Canada to try via ferrata, an introduction to rock climbing. Challenge yourself to climb the entire 2160-meter (7,086 feet) summit of Whistler Mountain with safety cables and metal rungs. The scenery is indescribable and well worth the $177 CAD price tag.
- Have a beach day – if visiting Whistler in summer, one of the best ways to spend a good chunk of the afternoon is by exploring one of the nearby lakes! Green Lake, Alta Lake, and my favorite, Lost Lake are accessible via easy walking trails through the surrounding pine forest.
Related Read: Did you know Whistler is a festive place to visit leading up to the holiday season? Read our blog about visiting Whistler in December for more info on annual events and special seasonal activites.
Where to Stay in Whistler, BC
There are tons of choices when it comes to hotels in Whistler, below are some of my very favorites:
Adara Hotel – Our Top Choice
Our go-to hotel in Whistler is the Adara Hotel. For us, it is the perfect mix of luxury and affordability with everything you need for a comfortable stay. They offer underground parking and are only a one-minute walk from the Whistler Stroll, so you can park your car and leave it while you explore Whistler Village. They also have a beautiful outdoor pool and hot tub offering mountain views – perfect for relaxing in the evening. The loft rooms are our favorite, and most also offer mountain views from the upstairs patio.
You can check prices, availability, and book Adara Hotel on Booking.com here.
Hi Whistler – Budget-friendly Hostel
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. They also have Cheaky’s Café which serves coffee, snacks, meals, beer, cider, and wine. It’s a great place to meet travelers and enjoy your time in Whistler. A single bunk in a mixed dorm room averages $56 CAD.
You can check availability on Booking.com or Hostelworld.
The Listel Hotel Whistler – Mid-range Hotel
The Listel Hotel is a beautiful place to stay in the heart of Whistler. It has an almost unbeatable location close the village and to the gondolas which is convenient if you are planning to ski! I still consider it a budget option for Whistler but the hotel has lots of luxuries including a spa, restaurant, and bar. Rooms on average cost $300 CAD.
You can check availability on Booking.com
Delta Hotels by Marriott Whistler Village Suites – Luxury Hotel
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, 3 hot tubs, a bar, a fitness center, and a restaurant. The rooms a very nice and for groups they have 2 bedroom apartments. Some of the suites even have balconies with mountain views!
You can check availability on Booking.com
Related Read: Heading to Whistler for a ski holiday? Check out our blog about the 5 best hotels in Whistler for skiing!
Renting a Car in British Columbia
If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Car rental in Canada isn’t relatively cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pick-up and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Discover Cars. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Discover Cars all over the world, including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic, you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Canada Travel Essentials
Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.
Crampons: In winter, crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect icy conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $37 CAD and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!
Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part, though? It comes in pink!
Bear bells: These are a must, and for the price, you shouldn’t hike without them. The bear bells I use are only $9 CAD and they come with a silencer (a must) so you can easily travel with them.
Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.
Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.
Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment, so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.
Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in handy so many times, especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $25 CAD and they serve my basic needs without any issues!
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
There are so many awesome things to do in Whistler, that this is just a taste. Both Vancouver and Whistler are amazing destinations in their own right, but the road trip between them? Pure bliss. I love a good road trip with lots to see and do along the way, and this one does not disappoint! So, get your car and some good tunes, and make some memories to last a lifetime on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler.
If you enjoyed this blog, be sure to browse the rest of our blogs about amazing destinations in BC including a few favorites:
What to know about a Kelowna Wine Tour