Top 12 Day Trips from Whistler – An Update
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To get the most out of your family in Whistler, you’ve really got to get out of the Village proper. There are limitless day trips that will take you outside of the Village and into the landscape beyond. While Whistler has plenty to offer families of all ages, there is so much more to see in the surrounding communities.
The beautiful thing is, your hotel concierge will be happy to help you curate the vacation of your dreams, one day trip at a time. This makes it easy! If you’ve come to relax and get outside with your family, the area around Whistler makes the perfect destination.
Day trips from Whistler are abundant thanks to the fantastic terrain which envelopes it.
Adventures start from the steps of your hotel, and they will take you outside of the resort municipality for the day.
We strongly believe that the best Whistler vacations should always include an exploration of the surrounding areas. These areas are off the beaten path and allow you to immerse yourself in the true Canadian wilderness. Everyone will return to Whistler at the end of the day rejuvenated and refreshed.
1. Hike the Chief in Squamish
Accomplish something great in half a day. Drive the quick 30 minutes from Function Junction down to the Southern end of Squamish and keep an eye out for the monolith of granite which towers over the ocean town. You can’t miss it.
Wear proper footwear, bring lots of water, and maybe a layer for the top, and you are ready to go. This hike is strenuous, so be prepared, but it’s well worth the sweat. Its roughly one to two hours of straight up, but take your time and power through.
When you get to the top, you’ll understand what we are talking about – the view of the entire Howe Sound is to die for. Usually this hike is suitable for active people, and for most children 10 years of age and older.
2. Don’t Forget to Hike and Bike in Squamish
Fun activities for the family near Whistler should always include Squamish, the outdoor capital of North America. Squamish is about a 30-minute drive from Whistler and boasts some incredible trails for hiking and biking. In fact, drive down to Squamish on any given weekend in Summer, and it’s clearly a biking mecca.
Squamish is also the kitesurfing mecca of British Columbia, which makes for great entertainment even if you don’t want to take a lesson. Although if you do want to take a turn, check out Aerial Kiteboarding School, they will be happy to show you the ropes (and the kite!) For those less inclined to try it out, ‘The Spit’ is still a great destination to hit in Squamish. Pull out the picnic blanket and watch the pros.
3. Beer Tour Day Trip
Find your designated driver, and buckle up because within a single day you can hit up five breweries in Whistler and in Squamish. Start around lunch time in Squamish, hit up Backcountry Brewery for a delicious thin-crust artisan pizza.
Next up in Whistler you’ve got two breweries on your brewery tour hit list – and both in function junction right next to Forged Axe throwing. Whistler Brewery puts on an excellent brewery tour, samples included, followed by Coast Mountain for a potent IPA or delicious sour. And since you’re so close, why not stop by for a friendly competition of axe throwing?
If you want a deep dive into our favourite beers, head on over to our Whistler Beer Guide.
4. Pemberton for Lunch a Break
Pemberton is a little town further North of Whistler. It is a perfect farming and ranching community nestled in a valley between some pretty picturesque mountains. Like Squamish, you can hike, bike, and camp in Pemberton, but it’s also nice to just take the afternoon off from the hustle and bustle of Whistler village.
Pemberton has some great spots for lunch using much of the bounty growing locally. Some of the mentionable lunch spots include Mile One Eating House and The Pony. If you go there in midsummer, you can even take the family out to a U-Pick for some delicious family fun.
Of course, you can always stay in Pemberton for a full day – Whistler Day Trippin’ to Pemberton.
5. Take an Epic Selfie for Instagram at Joffre Lakes
Glacier fed crystal clear lakes make Joffre Lake the perfect picnic destination. Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is 35 km East of Pemberton (but still North of Whistler) on the Duffey Lake Road. There are a total of three glacier lakes in the park.
The lower Joffre Lake is a brief walk into the park which makes its easy for the whole family, and the moment you see the glacier water, you’ll certainly be invigorated. Joffre Lakes Park has some of the most accessible pristine turquoise water available locally, plus the backdrop of the Joffre Glacier towering over you.
If you choose to see the other lakes, make sure you prepare, as you’ll need food and an adventurous group because it’s a 10 km round trip hike to the top and back. It is not for the faint of heart.
6. A Day of Adventure at Cougar Mountain
One of the best day trips in the Whistler region, suitable for the entire family, is Cougar Mountain. An easy hike in the area is The Ancient Cedars Trail; a pure scenic route through the forest. The entrance is located just North of Whistler, and the trail is named in honour of the majestic ancient cedars that exist within it.
In the end, you and your family will be in a grove of huge old growth trees. The road to get to the trailhead is located on 4.5 km of dirt road, accessible during the summer months.
Most cars can drive this road without concern. The Adventure Group offers you and your family a different way of seeing the area. You can rent an ATV, a Jeep, or even a canoe tour through the area. They tailor tours based on what your group can handle, and the guides are all fully licensed.
7. Explore Cheakamus River by White Water Raft
Wedge Rafting is the place to be when you want to get wet and wild! Making it a perfect fit for family trips. Plus, the scenery is outstanding! The rapids are usually Class 1-2, which means they are easy to navigate.
You won’t have to do much paddling so you can sit back and take in the stunning backdrop. A rafting trip lasts all day, beginning in Whistler. Wedge Rafting covers all your needs including transportation to where the raft puts into the water, lunch, entertaining guides, and the return trip.
8. Glacier Mountain Tours by Float Plane
If you’re looking to make some Instagram worthy memories, a floatplane tour is the way to do that. Flights leave from Green Lake which is about a 5-minute drive north of the village, and they fly over breathtaking glaciers, mountain peaks and take in spectacular volcanic formations.
One of the flyovers is to Garibaldi Lake, which takes over a day to hike to if you were so inclined. The pilots are all wonderful tour guides and provide a stream of information about all the surrounding areas. Affordable packages start at just over $100 CAD, with the flight lasting about 30 minutes.
Once you are back on the ground, you and your family can enjoy the peace of Green Lake.
9. Hot Springs in the Whistler Area
There are a fair number of hot springs in British Columbia, and a few are easily accessible on day trips from Whistler. Family activities near Whistler don’t always have to be adrenaline filled; they can also be a gentle dip in a hot natural spring.
Getting out into the forest and getting into natural hot springs is a once in a lifetime experience. While some are accessible only by 4 X 4 or vigorous all-day hikes, let’s just focus on the ones accessible to a Honda Civic. Keep in mind not all rental car companies cover dirt roads, however, a company might not insure you if something happens to the car while you’re off-road.
Skookumchuck Hot Springs
This hot spring is on the historic Harrison Lillooet Gold Rush Trail on the way to Sloquet Hot Springs. The drive is two hours with about 45 minutes on a gravel road. One hot tip from those in the know, you may want to go early and leave early if you’re bringing the family unless you’re a liberated bunch.
Locals tend to like to get down to their birthday suits and play music while indulging in the natural surroundings. While still being fed by a natural source, which is too hot to swim in itself, the caretakers have put together a series of different eclectic tubs for people to soak in. Each comes with a direct tap from the source and a cold line, making it easy to adjust the temperature to whatever you want.
Sloquet Hot Springs
When you get here, you will be blown away by the naturally fed hot springs that sit deep in the BC wilderness. You can camp overnight here if you’re prepared. The hot springs here are quite expansive and powered by a hot, steamy waterfall. While a bit of a longer trek from the village, the Sloquet Springs are quintessentially BC backcountry beauty.
These hot springs are just over 3 hours away from the main village in Whistler…. or you could just bike there with these fine folks.
10. Historical Tour of the Sea to Sky Corridor
If you’ve ever driven the Sea to Sky Highway, you probably noticed a large, looming building built against the rock at Britannia Beach. The Britannia Mining Museum one of the most surprisingly entertaining tours to explore. Besides the standard room filled with old mining equipment, rocks and place to pan for gold, there is also an in-depth mine tour.
The tour takes you deep into the mountain, on a tiny train, and provides an extremely riveting historical lesson. If trains are your thing, there is also the The West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish which is where the Royal Hudson, a steam train that used to service the corridor, has retired to.
11. Lillooet and Remnants of Days Gone By
If you and the family have an interest in British Columbia’s provincial history, Lillooet is a great day trip from Whistler. Just a two-hour drive but on an entirely different vibration. Be sure to stop at Seton Lake on route for a quick dip, and the kids will love Kaoham Shuttle, the short train ride that takes them from Seton Lake to Seton Portage.
It should be noted that the shuttle might be restricted to local traffic, so it’s not always a guarantee you’ll be able to catch it. In Lillooet, there is also the Xwísten Experience Tours by the St’at’imc people. The tour shows you the traditional fishing grounds and demonstrates how the community continues to preserve salmon using traditional methods to this day. The tour takes place on an archaeological village site where there is also a replica of an underground pit house.
A final stop in Lillooet should include the historical home, Miyazaki House, which used to house the most prominent families that once lived in Lillooet around the time of the gold rush. There are plenty of interesting old photos and antiques to see. They also host local arts and concerts on Wednesday evenings during the summer.
12. A Round of Golf at Furry Creek
If you love golf, and have exhausted the options in Whistler, why not head down to the world renowned Furry Creek golf course, about an hour south of Whistler. It is a picture perfect community, with one-of-a-kind views of How Sound from almost ever green.
Plus, for any film buffs out there, you might recognize parts of the landscape. The cult classic Happy Gilmore was filmed there in 1996. So find your “Green jacket, gold jacket who gives a crap?” and ramp up your golf swing. Here is a reminder of what you could reenact.
When seeking out Whistler family activities, there are so many things on offer. You can play tourist in a small town like Squamish and Lillooet or head out into the wilderness. The list doesn’t stop at twelve; this is just a taste of what the region has on offer!