The Summer Side of Whistler
By Rebecca Wood Barrett / Images By Joern Rohde
Summertime in Whistler serves up an embarrassment of riches: endless exciting activities; an abundance of freshly picked, locally grown fruit and vegetables; multiple freshwater lakes ideal for dock diving and paddling; alpine hikes amongst wildflowers and wildlife. Can you really have too much of a good thing? In a word — yes. If you schedule your holiday too compactly, you may come away feeling like you haven’t had a real break.
Our suggestion? Combat the curse of busyness by scheduling some strategic “timeouts” in between the fun-fuelled adventures. You’re bound to enjoy your summer days and nights in Whistler much more when you’re well-rested and aren’t racing from one activity to the next. The good news is, most summer activities take place outdoors, which offer a natural balm to your soul and an antidote for too much screen time. Consider a breathtaking ride on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola; an educational tour to view Whistler’s black bears; a thrilling zipline or enlightening tree-top ecotour; or exploring one of the area’s waterways via kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard or whitewater raft. The valley’s extensive trail network combined with Whistler Blackcomb’s alpine trails offer hiking and mountain biking possibilities for those of all abilities.
While you’re here, pause to appreciate the sights of our neighbouring communities in the Sea to Sky Corridor — Squamish to the south and Pemberton to the north. For incredible sweeping coastal views of Howe Sound, Shannon Falls and the Stawamus Chief, ride the Sea to Sky Gondola (currently closed; visit seatoskygondola.com for the projected 2021 opening date). Spend the day hiking, taking in the spectacular vistas from the three viewing platforms or enjoying a snack and freshly brewed tea at the Co-Pilot Café. Pemberton is a bucolic town well known for its seed potato industry, set at the foot of majestic, 2,591-metre (8,500-foot) Mount Currie. Its Old West charm, unique cafés and outdoor recreation make it well worth a visit. Notable stops include Nairn Falls, One Mile Lake and Pemberton’s scenic yet challenging golf courses.
If you’re a golf aficionado, sign up for 18 holes at one of Whistler or Pemberton’s courses, and admire the views of pristine lakes and the towering peaks of Whistler’s “other mountains,” Armchair, Wedge, Rainbow and Sproatt. The four championship courses designed by international players Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Arnold Palmer and Robert Cupp, respectively, to challenge your abilities against Whistler’s natural water features and terrain. golfwhistler.com
Whistler often also has a full calendar of high-energy activities and sporting events to test your physical abilities and jump-start the adrenaline. But don’t forget to balance out the buzz of pushing your limits. Plan to sleep in one morning. Chill out at the end of the day on a patio with a craft beer. Enjoy a massage or watch a sunset. By mixing it up, you’ll be ready to launch yourself into every adventure.
Downhill mountain biking on Whistler Mountain is summer’s gravity-fed answer to winter’s need for speed. The latest technology in downhill bikes, protective armour, and starter-level trails make it possible for everyone to give it a try. whistlerblackcomb.com
Throughout the summer, Whistler usually hosts a variety of popular events that embrace its mountainous terrain, such as the rolling North Face Whistler Half Marathon, wet and wild Tough Mudder and Tough Mudder Half, the uphill climb of the RBC GranFondo Whistler cycling race, and the steepest 400-metre running race in the world, the Red Bull 400, which sends competitors up the Olympic ski jump in the Callaghan Valley. whistlersportlegacies.com
By planning, you save time having to think about what to do or booking during your vacation and leave more time for relaxing. Be sure to consider dates for the Whistler Presents Concert Series, which showcases live bands and orchestral music at Whistler Olympic Plaza (whistler.com/events/concerts). Pack a picnic and lounge on the lush lawn of the plaza. For a memorable weekend for the whole family, don’t miss the Whistler Children’s Festival, packed with hands-on art workshops, music, theatre and dance. whistlerchildrensfestival.com
One of the most pleasurable ways to slow down in summer is to linger over a delectable meal and take the time to savour your food. Many of Whistler’s chefs pride themselves on sourcing produce and meat from local farms, seafood from Pacific coastal waters, and artisanal foodie favourites such as gelato, kettle corn, roasted coffee, cordials, craft beer, wine and vodka from local producers. Stroll the Whistler Farmers Market, and you’ll find a cornucopia of fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods and tasty treats, as well as one-of-a-kind gifts handcrafted by local artisans. whistlerfarmersmarket.org
It’s not too early to start thinking about summer. With a bit of research and organization in advance, you’ll be able to book all your exciting highlight activities and plan for those quiet moments of rest that are so vital to enjoying your stay. Breathe in, take a slow breath out: Summer is only a few months away.
For the summer of 2021, many of the usual Whistler festivals and events mentioned may or may not go ahead. Please visit the respective websites for the latest updates. All events are subject to change.