Whistler Is A Great Destination For Year Round Activities
Going to Whistler in the fall seemed to be the perfect time for us, considering we don’t ski. The weather was still favorable. It wasn’t hot, but still a comfortable temperature for enjoying the outdoors. It was a relaxing atmosphere around the villages and in the hotels. They were much quieter than what they would be in the peak of summer or during the ski season.
Whistler and Blackcomb are located in the Coast Mountains, 120 km’s north of Vancouver. There are more than 200 down hill ski runs and 27 lifts. Heli-skiing, cross country skiing and snowmobiling are also offered. In the summer activities such as windsurfing, fishing, canoeing, golfing and hiking can be enjoyed.
Getting There On The Sea To Sky Highway
The Sea To Sky Highway is the stretch of Highway 99 that hugs along the cliffs of Howe Sound starting from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. It runs through the Coast Mountains, through Squamish, Garibaldi Provincial Park and the Resort area of Whistler and then onwards to Pemberton.
The scenery along the Sea To Sky Highway is awe-inspiring, there are many beautiful sites along the way. There are many attractions and points of interest including ones of cultural and historical significance.Outdoor activities include mountain climbing, hiking, fishing and swimming. Among some of the most significant places to stop at are Shannon Falls, the BC Museum of Mining and Brittania Beach. You can’t miss the Stawamus Chief monolith. It is the second largest granite monolith, the Rock of Gibraltar being the worlds largest. There are hikes and rock climbing in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park.
Thank goodness this road was greatly improved prior to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. It has been a roadway that has claimed far too many lives over the years. The winding curves, quickly changing weather conditions, and the fact that many people speed on their way up to Whistler Mountain have made for many accidents. Extensive improvements and twinning of most of the highway have now made it significantly safer, but you still need to drive with care.
World Class Mountain Biking
It’s a well known fact that Whistler offers some of the best skiing in North America and ranks as one of the top ski destinations in the world. Perhaps what is not as well known is the incredible amount of year round activities that are available.
One the most popular non-winter activities in the Whistler area is mountain bike riding. Whistler has an amazing Mountain Bike Park. It offers something for every level of mountain bike rider. There are over 1500 meters of lift-serviced descending trails. In addition to the trails there are other specialty riding parks and a large indoor riding facility. The park opens mid-May and closes around mid-October.
We stood at the bottom of the lift area and watched riders working their way down the trails. They were covered in mud. It was great to see how many girls were really into the sport. There is a washing station for your bike and yourself at the bottom where you can hose yourself down.
If you are not into trails requiring bikes with heavy suspension systems there are many relaxing paths around the villages and Whistler area where you can casually take in the surrounding scenery by bike or on foot.
There are several lakes in Whistler that are easily accessible. Most of the lakes have park areas with kid’s play zones, bbq shelters and picnic tables. There are also canoe and kayak rentals. The shallow lakes are perfect for summer swimming. Some of the beaches have volleyball or tennis courts.
Being that we were here in late September it was a bit cooler, but still an enjoyable temperature for walking around in a light coat. We could see how the lakes around Whistler would be quite popular during the summer for swimming and water activities.
Hiking At Whistler And Blackcomb
At the top of Whistler/ Blackcomb there are 18 hiking trails offering over 50km’s of hiking that range in difficulty from beginner to expert. They can be accessed as part of the Peak 2 Peak Experience. From the terminal building you can set off on trails that will offer amazing views, alpine meadows, glaciers and plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing.
Whistler Has No Shortage Of Shopping And Restaurants
There is every type of restaurant imaginable. Whistler is home to some of Canada’s best restaurants. There is something for every budget from fast food chains, bar and grills and fine dining featuring world renown chefs. There are just as many choices for coffee shops and cafes.
The Village of Whistler is a shoppers paradise, this is where the majority of the shopping is located. Take a stroll through the pedestrian only walkways to the more than 200 shops, boutiques and art galleries. Among the shops are chain and designer outlets and many outdoor clothing and ski stores.
Even though it was late September during our visit we could get a sense what the atmosphere of the village must be like during the winter. It would be a fun and lively place to wander around after the ski day has ended. The European style village must look quite pretty when the snow has blanketed the area.
Everyday needs are catered to in the Village as well. There is a large IGA grocery store, a pharmacy, post office and liquor store.
More shopping exists in the Upper Village and within the major hotels. The Upper Village hosts Whistler’s Farmers Market every Sunday during the Summer. A variety of produce and artisans creations are displayed for sale.
There Are Lots Of Pathways And Trails To Enjoy
There are endless paths, trails and roadways to explore in between and around the villages. Get some take away from one of the cafes or ask if your hotel offers a picnic lunch, then you can take off by foot or bike to explore the area.
Be aware of your surroundings while hiking and walking around. There are bears in the area at times. This grizzly had come right down to the back of the Fairmont hotel property. He was about to start walking onto the mini golf!
Whistler Has Plenty Of Activities For The Kids
Whistler Blackcomb Base Adventure Zone has many activities for kids. Among just a few of them are a luge, rock climbing and mini golf.
Free Village Shuttle
The transit system operates a free shuttle between the upper and lower villages and from the condos to the ski lifts. It runs every 6-12 minutes in the winter and every 15-30 minutes in the spring, summer and fall. The shuttle runs throughout the day and evening. Buses are available to and from other areas of Whistler for a nominal fee.
Every type of accommodation is available in Whistler. If you’re looking for a holiday rental you can choose from a ski-in, ski-out condo or town homes, a full house near a golf course or an apartment in the village. If you’re looking for full service there are an endless amount of hotels and bed and breakfasts.
HI Whistler runs around $30 for a bed in a dorm room and $100 for a private double room. The majority of Whistler’s hotels range from moderate to deluxe and then of course there is the full luxury category. You can find condo rentals for as low $50 a night in the non-skiing months of the year and if you search around you can find some hotel rooms for as little as $100 a night.
See our blog post on Our Stay At The Fairmont Whistler Chateau
Peak 2 Peak Gondola
The record breaking Peak 2 Peak Gondola spans the 4.4 km distance between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. The ride between the two mountains provides a spectacular view of the surrounding peaks and beautiful mountain nature. The gondola has transformed the summertime experience on the mountains. It gives access to kilometers of hiking trails and mountain top dining options.
Whistler Golf Courses
Whistler is home to four award winning golf courses, that offer some of the finest golfing in the world. You can golf on courses that have been designed to take full advantage of their rugged Coastal Mountain surroundings. They traverse creeks, ponds, ancient Douglas fir trees and granite rock faces. These courses carved out of the slopes of the mountains will offer a challenging game amongst spectacular scenery.