5 Reasons to Stay Longer in Whistler This Summer: Adventure Deeper

A couple stand up paddle board at sunrise on a lake in Whistler.

5 Reasons to Stay Longer in Whistler This Summer: Adventure Deeper

The Government of British Columbia has implemented a new order restricting recreational and leisure travel in British Columbia until May 25, 2021. Now is not the time to travel to Whistler for recreational purposes. Only essential travel will be welcome in Whistler and our neighbouring communities of Squamish and Pemberton until the non-essential travel advisory is lifted. This includes both day trips and overnight trips to the Sea to Sky region. We look forward to inviting visitors back to our community again soon and in the meantime, the below post should help you dream and plan for your next visit and for when travel restrictions allow. For more information take a look at our dedicated COVID-19 page.

Whistler has a reputation as a high-adrenaline, bucket-list-checking, fast-paced place and it is; but it’s more than that. The yin to Whistler’s yang is about appreciating a whole morning spent drifting down a river, hiking with multiple stops to breathe in the surrounding beauty, sessioning a nemesis rock roll on a XC bike trail until you conquer it, and sitting still for sunsets that turn the sky into unbelievable colours before the stars take over.

A couple stand up paddle board at sunrise on a lake in Whistler.

Stand-up paddleboarding on Whistler’s lakes isn’t something that should be rushed. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

You might have heard of the term slow travel, which is exactly what it sounds like; it’s about relaxing the pace at which you vacation. Instead of packing in activities and must-dos while you’re here in Whistler, we invite you to take your thumb off the throttle, stay longer and go deeper into what you love about the mountains this summer. We guarantee that this way of travelling will make for a more meaningful trip and uncover something new, even if Whistler is like a second home to you.

1. Make a Connection

Connecting with the locals is another way to feel more a part of Whistler’s mountain culture. For example, you might try a locally made beer at one of Whistler’s bars and restaurants and then take it a step further by heading down to Function Junction to explore the brewery where it’s made.

Bartender at Whistler Brewing Co pulling a beer

Hike or bike to Whistler Brewing in Function Junction to try some local beers. Note: Bartenders will be wearing masks this summer; this shot was taken before the start of COVID-19. PHOTO KARINA ERHARDT

Or, if you love the local art on display at the Whistler Farmers’ Market you could see if any of the artists or artisans offer workshops, like Andrea Mueller’s paint nights, or have home studios that you can visit, like Cheryl (weaver) and Vincent Massey (potter). Arts Whistler, our local arts council, is another place to find information on local arts-based events.

A woman looks up at artwork above a canoe at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre.

Gain a deeper understanding of a place you love by connecting with its cultural roots. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Indigenous people have lived and travelled through the Whistler Valley for millennia and you can connect with their culture and living history by visiting the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre; trying their cuisine at the Thunderbird Cafe and looking out for the work of Indigenous artists represented in our public art program as you travel throughout Whistler Valley.

2. Learn Something New or Improve on Your Skills

Guided tours and coached sessions are another way to dig deeper in Whistler and can be personally rewarding. Sure you can hike and bike by yourself, but would you know which medicinal plants in the area are used for healing by Indigenous people? What makes the strange, claw-like markings on a tree? What’s the best way to tackle a gnarly-looking woodwork bridge on your bike? Where are the best areas to go rock climbing?

If you love natural history, consider going on a guided tour of the River of Golden Dreams. Not only will the guide help you with your j-stroke, point out beaver dams and explain the abundant flora and fauna, but they’ll tell you how it was the connection to water and fishing that actually started tourism in Whistler. If you’re an animal lover, then a bear viewing tour with Whistler Photo Safaris will give you another layer of understanding and appreciation for one of Canada’s most iconic animals – the black bear. And if you want to learn from a culture that’s inhabited this area for hundreds of years, take a wander on the Salish Stroll with an ambassador from Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.

Two cyclists tackle a rock roll in Whistler.

You can conquer the things you thought you could never do when you have someone showing you how it’s done. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

Whistler is a biking Mecca, and so naturally, we have some of the best riders and coaches right in town. Maybe you’ve never been to a bike park before or ridden on an XC trail, or perhaps you’re ready to level up to gain more confidence and tackle harder terrain – Whistler’s the place. However, learning these skills takes time. Why not set yourself a challenge, get a coach and become a better biker this summer. Imagine what a couple of weeks of solid riding could do for your technique, especially with someone giving you tips and tricks along the way and taking you to some of the best bike terrain on the planet. Whistler Blackcomb offers lessons, as does ZEP Mountain Bike Camps, Whistler Eco Tours and the female-focused Sweet Skills Mountain Bike Coaching and Trek Dirt Series Mountain Bike Camps.

Mountain Skills Academy and Adventures offer introductory rock climbing courses in Whistler during the summer, so if this is a sport you think you might like to have a go at why not build your Whistler vacation around that goal. We also have four championship golf courses, which offer private coaching sessions and camps. So, if you’re looking to improve on your swing why not do it in the mountains where we have incredible views, moderate temperatures and designer greens? Did you know that Whistler has a sailing association? That’s another skill you could pick up in Whistler over an extended stay.

A woman pumps her fist after a hole in one on a golf course in Whistler.

Whistler coaches, workshops and camps can get you to the next level in your chosen sport. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Investing in learning naturally slows the pace, focuses the mind and leaves you with new knowledge and skills. You just need to spend time digging into what you’re passionate about and then follow that thread of curiosity from one thing to the next.

3. Explore Deeper

Consider choosing an area of Whistler you haven’t been to and really exploring it. I’ve been in Whistler for 15 years and I still find myself turned around in the weaving trails of Lost Lake Park. The area can be exhilarating on a cross-country bike ride, make for a challenging trail run, a leisurely walk with wanders out onto its floating docks, a peaceful picnic by the lake or splashy fun with the toddlers or a member of the hairy, tail-toting crew in tow. The Whistler Museum has recently added an additional layer of information to Lost Lake’s Nature Trail with QR codes that you can scan to find out information on the trees, wildlife and surrounding area. One park – many days of fun.

Black Tusk and Fall Hikers at Sunset

Iconic Black Tusk Mountain is the core of an extinct volcano and, according to local indigenous legends, the landing place of the Thunderbird. JUSTA JESKOVA PHOTO

How many days do you think it takes to explore two gigantic, ancient mountains? Many. Whistler Blackcomb’s alpine trails take you to pristine lakes, wildflower meadows and viewpoints of the Coast Mountains range that will take your breath away.

There are 50 kilometres of trail to explore, but we’d suggest breaking that up a bit. If you like a challenge then you could opt for the Ascent Trail on Blackcomb Mountain, which goes from the bottom of the mountain to the Rendezvous Lodge (6.1 kilometres with a total elevation gain of 1,200 metres). We’d recommend a day spent at the Scandianve Spa after that one.

For your next hiking adventure, you could make it all high alpine on the High Note Trail, a 9.4-kilometre loop from Top of the World Summit to the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain. Hit the lakes on your day off and then it’s time to tackle Blackcomb Mountain’s Decker Loop, which takes you into Garibaldi Provincial Park, a 7.1-kilometre loop that gives you incredible views of the Overlord Glacier and Decker Tarn (glacial lake). Again, a deeper look into one of Whistler’s most iconic summer experiences reveals more to explore.

Take a look at our blog posts on hiking in Whistler for more inspiration.

Two mountain bikers make their way down a trail in Whistler's high alpine as the sun begins to set.

Skill up so that you can ride some of the most epic mountain biking terrain in the world. PHOTO MARK MACKAY

If you’re a XC biker then read our Insider series that splits riding the trails in Whistler into four sections, giving you beginner to expert trail suggestions for each. Make sure to download the Trailforks app, so you can see which trails are open and how to navigate them, and grab a membership to WORCA, the organization is responsible for most of our trail maintenance and building in the valley. Joining in on a local ride night, whether it’s in-person or virtually this season, is another way to connect with Whistler’s community, making you feel part of the crew. You can easily see how a bike-based trip to Whistler could extend to staying out here for a week, or two, make that a month, oh wait, I’ve been doing it for 15 years.

On a lighter exploration level, if you’ve been to Whistler Village but not ventured far from it, take a look at our post on e-biking to Creekside Village and Function Junction – these areas are full of innovative small businesses, shops, cafes and breweries. Travelling by e-bike takes the pressure off some of the pedalling and gives you the option of stopping wherever catches your eye.

4. Time for R&R

Mornings at the lakes are peaceful times. Whether you like to meditate, sink a paddle into still waters or read a book on a floating dock, it’s a calming way to start the day, taking that feeling into whatever you do next.

Surnise yoga on Alta Lake

Dawn on the dock – a great place to start the day. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

You can spend a whole day at one of Whistler’s lakeside parks; building up the courage to take a dip, taking a paddleboard out for a few hours to scout the edges and find hidden spots, taking time over your picnic choices and gathering them from local shops, journaling, sketching or reading surrounded by stunning, snow-capped peaks.

And then watching the sunset cast its glow across the glassy waters, and huddling under a blanket for when the stars come out. It sounds simple, but a lot of people don’t give themselves the time to just sit back and take it all in.

Other ways to relax and rejuvenate in Whistler:

INSIDER TIP: Whistler’s parks can get very busy, especially at the weekends. Consider visiting midweek, or at off-peak times like first thing in the morning and in the evening. Paid parking is being introduced this summer (the money goes right back into paying for more transit to reduce congestion and pollution), so we’d suggest biking, walking, or taking the bus to the parks.

Woman walking between giant cedar trees while forest bathing

Everything feels smaller next to these giants, even your problems. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

5. Enjoy the Journey

Instead of just choosing the quickest way to get from A to B, consider the journey itself. Whistler has a 46-kilometre, car-free Valley Trail system that weaves its way around parks, lakes and neighbourhoods. Exploring slowly means you might spot something you’ve never seen before like a hidden trail to a beautiful cove of trees, an empty dock on the lake, a charging waterfall, a sculpture or public art piece. Take a read of Walks on the Mild Side for some inspiration on where you can wander in Whistler.

Don’t worry about time, just unleash your curiosity and see where the unbeaten path takes you.

Valley Trail bonus: stunning views and fresh air. PHOTO MIRAE CAMPBELL

Bonus: You Support the Canadian Tourism Industry and Local Whistler Businesses

Destination Canada reported that if Canadians shifted two-thirds of what they planned to spend on international travel to domestic travel, it would make up for the estimated $19 billion shortfall currently facing our visitor economy.

“Canada’s visitor economy isn’t just a key pillar of our country’s economy, it’s critical to our collective quality of life. We all miss our favourite restaurants, our art galleries and our music and cultural festivals. We all rely on the airlines that connect us to friends, family and business colleagues, and bring the world’s products to our doorstep. It’s devastating to lose so many businesses and services in our communities,” says Marsha Walden, President and Chief Executive Officer, Destination Canada. “Canadians have the power to change this by spending their travel budget in Canada.”

A group of three women stop for a coffee while shopping in Whistler in the summer.

Local shops and restaurants could really use some help right now. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

Whistler is home to hundreds of small businesses and to support them is easy – buy local. Get your picnic from Whistler’s selection of bakeries and cafes, grab take-out from your favourite Whistler restaurant, if you need a new pair of running shoes go in and speak to retailers who live and breathe exploring mountain trails. If you see a piece of artwork in a gallery or on the wall of a local cafe take note of the artist’s name and contact them. Got a birthday, anniversary or milestone coming up? Pop into Whistler’s gift stores for something unique and memorable from your time away. Take a look at what’s open in Whistler’s Doors Open Directory.

Extend your stay, slow down and explore deeper. Whistler’s weekends are typically busy, so consider coming midweek for a quieter experience and the best deals on accommodation. The longer you stay, the more you save with room rates dropping as you book more nights (7 nights from $93 CAD per night), you also get a free adventure voucher, which gets you up to $100 off a Whistler activity. 

Dee Raffo

Dee Raffo

You can often find Dee exploring all Whistler has to offer with her three-kid tribe in tow. Originally from the UK, Dee enjoys balancing out high-thrills adventures with down-time basking in the beauty of the wonderful place she now calls home.

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