15 Whistler Must Do’s Beyond the Mountain
Did you know that more people visit Whistler in the summer than the winter? Perhaps they’re finally catching on to what the locals have always known: there’s far more to Whistler than ski slopes. There’s so much in Whistler for the non-skier that you could plan a whole trip without ever buying a lift pass. Which means that Whistler isn’t just for skiers: it’s for everyone.
We’ve picked out some of the must-do activities in Whistler for the non-skier. Lots of these are available year-round, although it’s always worth checking operating dates and times. There’s also tons more than we can cover in one short guide.
If you need more inspiration, we’ve got a truly comprehensive list of 100 things to do in Whistler, just for you. But for now, here are 15 of our favourite ways to get a taste of Whistler, beyond the mountain.
1. Explore Whistler by Air
- Helicopter trip
There are few more spectacular ways to experience Whistler than from a helicopter tour. Year-round sightseeing trips take you past dramatic peaks and over crystal clear lakes. You can land on an ancient glacier! Kids from 5+ are welcome on helicopter tours, making it a perfect family activity that everyone will remember forever. You’ll see Whistler as you’ve never seen in before, getting an insight into just how wild this country really is.
Another unique way to witness Whistler from the air is via seaplane. In the summer, these tiny planes take off from Green Lake several times per day. A Sea Plan tour offers stunning views. Seeing the mountains and village from a seaplane is a special experience. Your experienced pilot will share the history of Whistler and the surrounding valley while navigating skilfully between peaks (and even over the Peak 2 Peak gondola!).
If you’re prepared to take the plunge, a skydive over Whistler is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The little plane takes you past the iconic Mount Currie, although you might not be able to enjoy the views at this point. But once you’ve overcome the jitters and made the leap, you’ll be rewarded with views that few ever get to see. The Coast mountains sprawl beneath you, dotted by secluded alpine lakes and towering glaciers. Soak it all in, because it will be over far too soon.
2. Explore Whistler’s Valleys by Foot (or Pedal)
- Valley Trail
The Valley Trail is a locals’ secret hidden in plain sight. The paved trail system stretches from one end of Whistler valley to the other, around 15k m in all. It gives pedestrians, cyclists and even strollers access to the stunning lakes and parks scattered through the valley. It’s also pretty foolproof, with clear signposts and a handy yellow line to follow down the trail. Head out for 30 minutes or a whole day: you’ll be rewarded with great views and get to another side to Whistler.
- Lost Lake Trails
Another absolute gem, you could spend days getting lost (sorry) in the Lost Lake trail system. In summer, the trails attract mountain bikers and trail runners in equal measure and are free to use. In winter, they’re transformed into snowshoe and cross-country skiing trails through a silent winter wonderland. And at their heart, of course, is Lost Lake itself. An oasis in the forest, the lake is perfect for refreshing cool down after a hard day on your bike.
- Train Wreck Hike
The Train Wreck hike offers a lot of reward for just a little work. The short hike sets off from Function Junction (come and say hi to us first!). It follows a meandering trail through the forest, past tumbling waterfalls and rushing whitewater. And the Train Wreck itself is no less impressive. Literally a train wreck, over the year locals have turned the rusting carriages into a bike park and piece of art. Colourful graffiti and big bike jumps give you plenty to explore and tons of great photo opportunities.
When: Year-round (bring snowshoes in winter!)
3. Explore Whistler’s Rain-Proof Activities
- Forged Axe Throwing
We obviously love throwing axes all day every day here at Forged. Bring your whole crew down and get to grips with the art of axe throwing. Spend a whole afternoon here and we’ll have you nailing bullseyes and trick shots in no time. We might even let you try out giant axe (if you’re nice to us). Everyone from kids aged 10+ can have a go, and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to pick up (and how addictive it is).
- Escape! Rooms
If you feel like your brain needs a little workout, test yourself against the Escape Rooms. Built by creative Whistler locals, they boast four different, increasingly difficult Escape Room challenges.
The basic premise: you’re trapped – in a buried cabin or a video game for example – and to escape you solve a series of challenging puzzles. Escaping requires teamwork and ingenuity. It’s also a lot of fun and if you do manage to escape, you’ll be damn proud of yourselves.
- Meadow Park Sports Centre
If you’re in town with the kids, you can’t beat an afternoon at Meadow Park when the weather doesn’t play nice. There a swimming pool with a great kids’ pool that will keep them entertained for hours. Or hop on the ice and try your hand at the Canadian national sport of ice hockey. It’s an affordable and fun way to entertain the whole family for a day. And if the weather does play nice, there’s a beautiful park right outside with a fantastic kids’ water park.
4. Explore Whistler’s Adrenaline Junkie Side
- Bungee Jump
The biggest adrenaline rush in Whistler isn’t found on the slopes. It’s found when you leap from a 160 ft tall bridge and plummet towards the churning Cheakamus River. The views are breathtaking, but we suspect that’s not why your breath will be taken away.
Survive the plunge though, and you’ll get the biggest buzz of your life. Whistler Bungee is open to everyone: even kids can go tandem with an adult if they’re too small. That’s definitely a family holiday activity no one will ever forget.
- Bobsleigh Ride
A bobsleigh ride is a truly unique Whistler experience. There are few places in the world where you can feel the thrill of hurtling down an icy track at 100km/h. You’ll have a pro pilot to do the hard work. So all you need to do is hold on and enjoy the ride. This is the fastest bobsleigh track in the world, and they say you feel up to 5Gs of force in the final corner. You can try bobsleigh in the summer too. They mount the sleds on wheels, but the ride is no less exhilarating.
- Off-Road RZR Tour
Get behind the wheel and explore the Whistler backcountry off-road style. Polaris RZRs are off-road buggies that are easy to drive and can climb up anything. An RZR tour will give you unmatched access to the wilder side of Whistler. Out here, there’s no crowds, no chairlifts, and no queues. Instead there’s just you, your trusty guide, and the great outdoors. You need a valid driver’s licence to drive an RZR, but kids are welcome as passengers, making it a truly memorable family day out.
When: Summer (try snowmobiling in winter instead)
5. Explore Whistler’s Gentler Side
- A Luxury Spa Day
It’s not all about adventure here in Whistler. We know how to relax in luxury too. Whistler has several spas that offer lavish relaxation opportunities. From the outdoor hot pools and hammocks of the Scandinave Spa to the grandeur of the Four Seasons Resort, there are lots to choose from. The spas are just as beautiful in winter as summer, when you can stay toasty warm in the tub while the snow drifts down around you.
- Wine and Dine
Another luxurious side of Whistler is the fine dining. You can dine out here every night for weeks on end, and never taste the same thing twice. Try your hand at champagne sabering in the wine cellar of the Bearfoot Bistro. Or apres with oysters and fine wine at Araxi. For the best seafood in town, try to nab a table at Rimrock Café (but book in advance, as they sell out quickly). We could go on. And in fact, we did: here’s some more of our favourite fine dining destinations in Whistler.
- Cocktail Night
If it’s liquid luxury you’re looking for, why not plan a cocktail tasting tour? Whistler’s thriving bar scene has plenty of options. We love the Firerock Lounge to start the night: their bartenders are always creating funky new cocktails to sample. The new kids on the block at the Raven Room are also experts, and we love the sophisticated atmosphere. And for the best drinks in town, pop over to Spanish-influenced Bar Oso for world-class cocktails and delicious hors d’ouevres.
Whistler for the Non-Skier | Plenty to Keep You Entertained
Honestly, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what Whistler has to offer the non-skier. But we hope we’ve given you an idea of the variety and the sheer volume of one-off, unforgettable experiences you can have here.
Don’t let our ski town reputation put you off. Whistler is for everyone, and that means you. So what are you waiting for – start planning your trip today!