Catching the Sun: Whistler Summer Activities

When you think of Whistler Blackcomb, most people’s thoughts go straight to a winter wonderland and world-class powder skiing. Come end of spring when the chairlifts stop spinning and all that epic snow melts off, what exactly does one do for their Whistler summer activities? For those who live here, this probably seems like a silly question but trust me, as someone who has spent a summer working at the Whistler Visitor Center, “What do you do here?” are the 5 words that you hear from 95% of the visitors who are looking to see what this place is all about. My response, “Well what do you want to do? Actually?”

Come For Winter, Stay Because of Summer

When summer arrives in Whistler, you can pretty much do everything and anything imaginable. According to Tourism Whistler, of the 2.7 million visitors Whistler receives every year, 55% of them come during the summer, and there are plenty of good reasons for that. This place is no one trick pony and yes, horseback riding is one of the many things you can do here during the summer. They say that those who come for the winter, stay because of the summer. Whether you came for the winter and decided to stick it out for a summer, or you’re here for a day or a perhaps a few weeks, here’s how to make the most of the sunny season, with a range of  Whistler summer activities for everyone.

Whistler Summer Activities For Every Personality

Whistler wouldn’t be what it is if it didn’t have the ability to cater to a plethora people. From those who fall on the different points of the excitement, thrill seeking or adventure continuums, to the foodies and art aficionados, there are Whistler summer activities for everyone.

Type 1 Fun-Seekers

For those of you who aren’t quite sure, the Type 1 fun-seekers are those who enjoy activities that are awesome and enjoyable the entire time you’re doing them. It never sucks, you wished it lasted forever and you’re smiling the entire time – let me tell you there are lots of these activities in Whistler.

Examples of Type 1 fun in Whistler include ATV tours, off-roading, bungee jumping, jet boating, zip lining, whitewater rafting or glacial plane/helicopter tours to name a few. Canadian Wilderness Adventures is a great at making all of these things happen.

A Whistler 4x4 Jeep tour with Canadian Wilderness Adventures.

Great views without the effort thanks to Canadian Wilderness Adventures. Image: Tourism Whistler, Justa Jeskova

Similar to its winter reputation, Whistler’s bike park is known to be the best in the world, and you can rest assured lift-assisted mountain biking is classified as Type 1 fun at its finest. Like skiing, there are trails that cater to all levels of mountain bikers, so if it’s your first time and you want to give it a go, Bike Park 101 is a great way to get started. $149 covers all your equipment rentals, a lift ticket and a 2 hour lesson from a certified instructor.

If the Olympic legacy has lured you to Whistler, take a tour of the Sliding Center, hop in one of the Olympic bobsleds and see what it is like to be an Olympian sliding down the track at 90km/hour!

Type 2 Fun-Seekers

This group is interested in actually having to work for the fun. In the moment, you question why you are doing this to yourself, but once you’ve reached your destination, the sense of accomplishment and/or the views you would have never seen otherwise allow you to be happy you endured the challenge of getting there. Bring those running shoes! Type 2 fun in Whistler includes hiking, cross country mountain biking, trail running, cycling or canoeing.

The Adventure Group, commonly referred to as TAG, has a solid reputation for their tours and are all about making your adventure in Whistler awesome, accommodating and enjoyable. Tell them what kind of thrill you are seeking (Type 1 or 2) and they can make it happen.

Check out Whistler’s Visitor Center for a list of the top notch hikes around town or recommendations from some local experts. Trust me, once you’ve reached the top with epic views and/or glacial lakes the effort you put into getting there will be well worth the bragging rights for the rest of the summer.

Riding a wooden feature on a Whistler cross country bike trail.

Whether it’s hiking or biking, there’s plenty of Whistler summer activities for type 2 fun-seekers wanting to work up a sweat. Image: Abby Cooper

If you have a bit of a competitive nature within, WORCA hosts a cross country toonie race every Thursday. For $2 you can push your limits (or not) on the bike trails around town with an exceptional pool of talented mountain bike athletes. The reward at the end? What could be better than a cool beer and a bite to eat, all included in your $2 entry. Not a bad deal at all!

The Sightseers

For those of you who can appreciate a beautiful view, nature, and local wildlife but don’t feel the need to have your heart rate go through the roof or scare yourself half to death to get there, do not fret, there are plenty of Whistler summer activities for you too. Get yourself a ticket, take the chairlifts to the top of the mountain and hop on the Peak to Peak gondola from the top of Whistler to the top of Blackcomb. The views from the highest part of the mountains and along the hiking trails are second to none, especially amidst the blossoming wildflowers that cover the mountain in the early summer months.

The Peak to Peak Gondola with alpine wildflowers.

Experience views and scenery that are second to none. Image: Tourism Whistler, Mike Crane

If heights scare you a bit and chairlifts are not an option, check out the local wildlife from the within the safety of a Land Rover. Whistler Discovery offers bear tours three times daily. When you are done with the local wildlife, hit the Valley Trail by foot or by bike and visit one or all of Whistler’s 5 beautiful lakes and their associated beaches – perhaps even try your hand at some scenic stand up paddle boarding. If your stroll around town happens to fall on a Wednesday or Sunday, take the time to stop by the local farmers market at the base of Blackcomb Mountain for art, clothing and tasty treats from local artisans.

Foodies and Socialites

When it comes to food and entertainment, Whistler knows how to do it right and makes sure to offer different tastes and styles of each throughout the summer. To kick off summer right, the free Summer Concert Series hosted at Olympic Plaza will be starting July 1 and running through to the middle of September. That said, if you’re more of a movie buff than a music lover, Whistler Film Festival hosts a free outdoor movie series that starts July 19th.

Just because skiing is over doesn’t mean we don’t have reason to partake in “après”. In the summer months it is simply considered après bike, après lake, or après checking out awesome views. Any reason really, to enjoy a cold beverage after being out in the sun all day. Whistler’s Best Après Ski has got all your bases covered in that department. Or, check out how to Earn Your Après when you want to celebrate after a truly unique experience.

Friends enjoying beers at the Whistler Village Beer Festival.

Whether you create your own après or hold out until WVBF, there’s plenty worth celebrating over a few beers during the summer. Image: Abby Cooper

If you appreciate a good meal, good food or just great experience there are a handful of festivals that are worthy of checking out this summer. The Slow Food Cycle and/or Araxi Long Table Series both take place Aug 20th. Whistler Village Beer Festival takes place September 16th and is a can’t-miss annual event for both craft beer enthusiasts and general day-drinking outside enthusiasts. Alternatively, Whistler Blackcomb hosts a mountaintop summer feast every Friday or Saturday throughout the summer. If the meal doesn’t impress you the view certainly will. That said, when it comes to experiencing Whistler’s best menus in town, get yourself set up with Whistler Tasting Tours and you can expect a dinner worth remembering.

Arts and Cultural Enthusiasts

There is no shortage of history, arts or culture in Whistler and one of the best ways to experience that is to embark on Whistler’s Cultural Connector. This is a tour around town to different institutions that offers a teaching and understanding of the First Nations, the visionaries, the pioneers and adventurers that have built our community into what it is today. Pick up your Cultural Connector guide at the Whistler Visitors Center to start your tour of these 6 iconic buildings.

The Audain Art Museum is Whistler’s newest cultural hot spot. If the building itself isn’t enough to impress you, the permanent collection of BC art including Northwest Coast masks, one of the strongest Emily Carr collections in Canada, and an exhibit from West Coast artist Edward J. Hughes, certainly should. Throughout the summer the museum will be featuring an Edward Burtynsky exhibit – The Sacred Earth. A worthy look at how our species has altered our planet through resource extraction over the last 3 decades.

Traditional drum making at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre.

The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre and Audain Art Museum provide opportunities to experience First Nations culture. Image: Abby Cooper

For more hands on involvement in the local arts community here in Whistler, make an effort to check out Sunday’s at the Point from 11- 4. Every week at the Heritage Lodge on the shore of Alta Lake, a community of artists come together for Bocce, brunch, live music, and art open house.

Whistler is proud of the local talent our community holds, so the next time you walk into a coffee shop take the time to look around at the art on the walls. There is a chance it was created by the person in line with you!

Seekers of Relaxation, Rest & Rejuvenation

With all the adventurous and exciting things going on in town, taking down time is not always the first thing that comes to mind when planning your Whistler summer activities. But if you want to be your best self when it comes to getting rad, or just be your best self in general, taking the time to rest, relax and rejuvenate is essential at some of Whistler’s best day spas.

For the serenity seeker, start your day of relaxation at the Scandinave Spa. Between the rustic location in the woods, the incredible mountain views and the hot-cold hydrotherapy baths, it will be hard not to feel relaxed and soothed the moment you walk in the door. From there, enjoy one of the many yoga classes offered in Whistler. Neo Whistler and Yogacara have a handful of restorative relaxing classes. Or escape to the forest and zen out during your own Whistler outdoor yoga experience.

Wandering the grounds of the Scandinave Spa in Whistler.

If you’re looking to rest and relax over the summer, the Scandinave Spa is just one of many places to check out in Whistler. Image: Abby Cooper

For those hardcore yogis don’t miss out on Wanderlust Whistler, hosted throughout town this August 3-6, for the opportunity to experience world-class yoga practices, incredible live music, guided adventures and local sustainable food.

Looking for that little extra pampering contact? Gibbons concierge service can set up massages, esthetic or any spa treatment your heart desires, so you’re left feeling your best self this summer.

Whatever Your Preference for Whistler Summer Activities, We’ve Got You Covered

Before you walk into the Visitor Center and ask the staff at the front desk what Whistler summer activities are on offer, take a minute to think about what exactly it was that enticed you to come here in the first place, and what exactly you wouldn’t want to leave without having experienced. Nature, spectacular views, wildlife, extreme adventures, adrenaline rushes, culture, good food or simply a relaxing getaway. Don’t shy away, don’t think any idea is a crazy idea, because whatever it may be we’ve definitely got you covered.

Looking for more inspiration on the best Whistler summer activities to capitalize on the sunshine and stunning surroundings? Check out The Return of Summer  for our video homage to everything awesome that is summer in Whistler.


Brittia Thompson