Top 10 things to do in Whistler (Besides Skiing)

by Chantal Kerr
resort in whistler british columbia

Whistler. Just saying the name can immediately conjure up visions of seemingly endless, glacier capped mountain peaks, the sound of crunching snow beneath your feet and the feeling of breathing in clean, cold, refreshing air. Many people who visit Whistler are drawn to it to ski or snowboard, but this world-renowned town can offer precious travel experiences for just about any type of traveller.

1. Culture & History

inuksuk overlooks whistler landscape

Whistler is well-known for its skiing and snowboarding, but its history and culture go much deeper than that. Whistler was originally inhabited by two Nations, the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations. Their territories overlap in the Whistler area and their culture and history is intertwined with the ocean, rivers, lakes and mountains.

To ensure you have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the area and First Nations, we highly recommend you visit the beautiful Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre where you can learn through galleries, exhibits, demonstrations and more.

2. Food

friends enjoy red wine around an outdoor table in whistler

Whistler has no shortage of restaurants to enjoy. With everything from fine dining to locally-owned, delicious grab and go bakeries, you’re sure to find something to make your taste buds sing (or whistle!).  With so much to choose from, why not take a Whistler Tasting Tour and have the experts lead you on a culinary adventure with themes such as desserts, fine dining, hidden gems, custom tours and more.

3. Lakes

view of dock in whistler

When thinking about Whistler, being at the lake isn’t usually the first activity that pops into mind, but with five lakes easily accessed from Whistler Village, it’s hard not to make a sunny day at the lake a part of the itinerary.

Whistler, BC’s 5 Lakes

  • Alpha Lake – Closer to the Creekside Village area.
  • Nita Lake – One of the quieter lakes with fewer people and a swimming dock.
  • Alta Lake – One of the larger lakes with multiple parks to enjoy along its shores.
  • Lost Lake – Just a short walk from Whistler Village, with a fabulous forested walking trail that encircles it
  • Green Lake – Located north of Whistler Village, popular for boating and seeing float planes land.

4. Mountains

traveller goes for a hike in whistler

The Mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb can be enjoyed in a number of ways, year-round! Easily accessible by gondola or chair lift, it’s a great way to get into nature and experience its raw beauty, up close. In the winter months, many people will enjoy the mountains by skiing or snowboarding as it’s the largest ski resort in Canada, but even those without 1 or 2 planks can take the Whistler Village Gondola or the Blackcomb Gondola up the mountain simply to enjoy the wintery views.

5. Rivers  

traveller relaxes in inner tube floating on river in whistler

Did you know you can float down a natural lazy river in Whistler? Fancy a day of rafting or fishing? Well, Whistler has it all!

The River of Golden Dreams is a lazy river that starts at Alta Lake and leads you to Green Lake. It’s approximately 5kms long, and we recommend taking a guided trip if you don’t have any paddling experience.

If you’re looking for a little more excitement, you can head north of Whistler to Green River. There you’ll find class 2 and 3 rapids where you can enjoy some white water rafting.

If you’d rather be catching fish than catching thrills, you’re still in the right place. With many different fishing tours to choose from, you could find yourself heli-fishing, float plane fishing, spin fishing or fly-fishing remote rivers.

6. Waterfalls

waterfall surrounded by trees in whistler

Who doesn’t love a beautiful waterfall to marvel at? There’s nothing quite like feeling the mist on your face and listening to the roar of tumbling water.

Just south of Whistler is the 70-metre Brandywine Falls. It’s easy to access with plenty of parking and it’s just a short 1km walk. Story has it that the falls earned its name when 2 surveyors bet on the height of the falls with the wager being a bottle of brandy.

Rainbow Falls is just a 15-minute drive north of Whistler Village plus a short walk through the woods. It’s family friendly and has a well-marked trail leading you to the falls.

7. Wildlife

black bear stands on hind legs among flowers in whistler

In the summer months, Whistler is one of the best places to see black bears in the wild. Of course, you’ll want to see them from a very safe distance. We highly recommend taking a Bear Viewing Tour where you can learn about these furry (and ferocious!) locals.

Did you know that Whistler is named after an animal called the Hoary Marmot? The Hoary Marmot whistles when it thinks it’s in danger, so keep your eyes out for these iconic locals.

8. Adventure

happy child zip lines in whistler

If we haven’t already convinced you that there are lots of adventures to be had in Whistler, let’s dig in a little more.

Ziplining

Imagine yourself harnessed into the longest single zipline in the USA & Canada, zipping above the forest canopy, old growth trees and rivers. Is it enough to get your heart pumping?

ATVing

Want to get into Whistler’s backcountry, quick? Whether you want to gain some serious elevation and get into the high alpine, or stick to lower elevation trails, ATVing is a great way to get the whole family adventuring and laughing.

9. Relax

smiling woman lying on massage bed at spa in whistler

There are just as many ways to relax in Whistler as there are to seek thrills. With many luxury hotels to choose from, most with first-class spas, you’ll have no problem finding a top-notch, relaxing and rejuvenating experience.

One of our favourite spas is the Vida Spa at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, which specializes in Ayurveda principles with modern practices. Choose from experiences such as massages, facials, body wraps and more.

10. Art

indigenous art displayed in whistler gallery

Whistler has inspired many artists and has a thriving art community. You’ll find no shortage of art galleries in Whistler Village. A must-see art gallery is the Audain Art Museum which boasts a permanent collection of British Columbia’s most celebrated artists plus exhibitions from around the world.

Ready to start planning your trip to Whistler? 


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top 10 things to do in whistler besides skiing

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