Whistler is a town of action—fast bikes, big hikes, cold whitewater and hot patio sessions—but sometimes it’s nice to slow things down and just do nothing. Or almost nothing. The long days of summer are perfect for kicking back with a good book and Whistler has plenty of awesome tucked-away outdoor spots to cozy up and do just that.
We also have a pretty awesome local bookshop. Armchair Books has held down the same corner space in the Whistler Village square since 1982 when Hazel Ellis opened Whistler’s first bookstore. The shop has since expanded and Hazel handed the keys over to her son Dan in 1998.
“Summer is our best season,” Dan says. “Lots of people are on vacation and looking for something light to read. Plus, the kids are out of school.” Despite years of myths claiming the opposite, Dan says the kids these days still love to read. “Kids are still growing up getting read to while they sit on someone’s lap,” he says, “and you can’t really duplicate that with technology.”
You can’t duplicate a peaceful afternoon with a good book either, so The Insider has picked out some of Whistler’s best reading spots and Dan and his staff have suggested 5 books by local or BC authors. Start flipping those pages, it’s summertime.
Top 5 Whistler Reading Spots
1. In a Giant Chair
Channel your inner Alice in Wonderland and shrink into your book out at the oversize chairs by the lake at Alta Lake Park on Westside road. The chairs are tucked into the forest a little ways off the Valley Trail and conveniently located near a great swimming dock and the Poet’s Pause literary sculpture exhibit. Located on the West side of Alta Lake this is one of Whistler’s most secluded little spots but definitely worth searching for (head West from Wayside Park).
Local Book: The Radiant Woman’s Handbook. “It’s essential to do what best nourishes your body and soul,” writes Whistler author Joanna Runciman in this book about empowerment, self-beauty and inner worth. Runcimen mixes diet and skin tips with old-time common sense and spiritual advice gleaned from Christian proverbs but she never gets too preachy. This one is a popular seller at Armchair Books but look for an autographed copy.
2. On a Dock
The beach is a great place to read but on a dock is even better, the cool breeze off the water is invigorating and sounds of small lapping waves provides the perfect background noise for focusing on the pages at hand (which can be difficult with some of Whistler’s sweeping mountain views). The best reading docks are the less-busy ones— you don’t want anyone splashing water on your pages. Lost Lake Park and Rainbow Park generally have the busiest docks but mornings are always a good time to get out there.
Local Book: Only In Whistler: Tales of a Mountain Town. Longtime resident/author Stephen Volger tells some of the lesser-known stories from Whistler history and dishes up a good bit of insight into local culture and some of the legendary characters who’ve made this place what it is.
3. The Great Lawn
The green-grassy lawn at Whistler Olympic Plaza‘s centralized Village location makes it an easy and convenient reading spot but there is still enough space to put in a good shift without being interrupted. Close to some epic lunch spots and coffee shops too.
Local Book: Snakebit: Confessions of a Herpetologist. Leslie Anthony is better known as one of Whistler’s leading ski and travel journalists but he’s actually a scientist first and foremost and this memoir is a mix of adventure, travel, biology and conservation with more than a bit of dry humour. Plus you can win money off your friends at dinner parties by actually knowing what the word Herpetologist means.
4. Florence Peterson Park
One of Whistler’s newest parks, this spot is right behind the Whistler Public Library and museum and features a small stream, big trees and a sense of Whistler history only amplified by the ancient old-growth stumps with notches cut in so turn of the century loggers could properly hand saw the giants down. Florence Peterson is almost singlehandedly responsible for preserving and curating most of Whistler’s early history and this centralized, tucked away park is a perfect legacy to her memory.
Local Book: First Tracks: Whistler’s Early History. If you are in her park, you may as well read Florence Peterson’s book and learn the roots and stories behind on of the best places on earth.
5. Ross Rebagliati Park
Named after the local who won the first ever Olympic gold medal in snowboarding, this park sits on the shores of Fitzsimmons Creek between the Village and the base of Blackcomb Mountain. Giant trees flank a beautiful stretch of sunny grass, perfect for peace, quiet and reading.
Local Book:. Speaking of grass, Rebagliati was also famously stripped of his medal when he tested positive for having marijuana in his system. It was a big misunderstanding, however, and the medal was given back. Sticking with the BC Bud theme, Almost Criminal by Vancouver author E.R. Brown, is a fictional coming-of-age tale about a brilliant child from a troubled home who gets caught up in the shady underworld of illegal marijuana grow-ops. A nice light crime story for summer.
Bonus/Alternate Book: The Great Canadian Bucket List. World-renowned travel writer Robin Esrock has traveled this great country multiple times checking out all sights worth seeing and things worth doing. Whistler even has it’s own chapter in this one and The Insider actually hooked up with Robin for a video project coming out soon. In the meantime though, what better way to celebrate a great summer adventure than reading and planning your next one?