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The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Whistler for Free

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If there is anything people love in Whistler, it is getting free stuff. In fact, there is nowhere on earth where people appreciate free things than in Whistler, one of the premier luxury ski resorts in the world.

Whistler Ski Resort

Every season, hordes of snow-hungry seasonal travellers flood whistler looking for the cheapest accommodation, the most affordable parking, and any other free things they can get their hands on in order float through the ski season on as little cash as possible. Under most circumstances, travellers are looking to get the maximum amount of fun with the least amount of effort, after all, most folks don’t come to Whistler to work, they come to play.

At Forged Axe Throwing, we appreciate the free things in life too. This is why we decided to put together the Ultimate Guide to Visiting Whistler for Free. While not everything on our list is free, this reference list will at least will cover some of the cheapest ways to live and play in Whistler.

Check out our social media for local events, either Instagram or Facebook, as we often participate in community events. Depending on where you find us, we might be offering cheap or maybe even free axe throwing with our mobile axe throwing unit!

Free Accommodation in Whistler

A tent in the woods

If you are visiting Whistler and find the hotel prices to be unreasonable, there are some cheaper options to consider.

No, this isn’t a joke, there are free places to stay in Whistler! Particularly for those who are only here temporarily, or arrive by camper van, we put together some savvy suggestion for Whistler free accommodation.

If you are new to town, you will quickly realize the problems locals, and seasonal workers alike face every single season – the housing crunch. For a super-duper great guide to getting accommodation at a reasonable rate – check out the Whistler Survival Guide.

There are always wild stories floating around of people shelling out nearly a thousand dollars to share a king size bed with a total stranger, or people renting out a third bathroom in a shared house and sleeping in the bathtub. The local newspapers are rife with a never-ending conversation over the affordability crisis. However, for the endeavouring seasonal entrepreneur, there are a few free or at least cheaper options available.

Work for Whistler Blackcomb 

Getting hired by Whistler Blackcomb has long been the go-to option for people here on a seasonal basis. First-year staff get first dibs on subsidized staff housing. Their housing options come fully furnished, with built-in friends and the often ignored bonus  of having utilities included. While this option isn’t free, working for the mountain is one of the easiest ways to get a job and be guaranteed reasonable accommodation, not to mention cheaper access to lift passes!

Van Life 

People renting a camper van in Whistler

For those lucky enough to own their own accommodation, Whistler has a vibrant van life community

Whistler is now home to perhaps the most eclectic collection of retro camper vans North America has ever seen. Australians, Europeans, and even Canadians have all purchased aging campers and driven them sometimes thousands of miles to pay homage to a Whistler Winter.

While an initial investment is required, van owners do enjoy free accommodation for the foreseeable future, at least until their old transmission explodes.

If you choose to join the van culture in Whistler, you will soon learn where you can park and for how long without getting caught. You’ll also discover which bathrooms are open to the public and at what times. Some campers have called the living situation quirky, others a necessary logistical nightmare. The good news is that nearly every business in Whistler has trouble filling positions, so at least you’ll be able to find a job and park in the employee parking spot for eight hours a day.

What are the hottest tips we can offer on living in a van in Whistler? First, buy yourself a gym membership to ensure you have access to hot showers and bathrooms. Second, if your van doesn’t come equipped with a wood stove, buy a winter rated sleeping bag; you’ll thank us in January.

Couchsurfing

A person sleeping on a couch

Couch surfing connects travellers looking for a place to crash with hosts looking to share.

Living off the generosity of strangers has been legitimized through the fine folks at Couchsurfing. There are currently over 900 potential hosts calling Whistler home, and it can be an excellent way to meet new friends and learn about the town from locals instead of a tourist brochure. Couch surfing is notably a temporary option, but it can help those with more long-term goals have a warm place to begin their quest. Who knows, perhaps you might even make some friends with people looking for a roommate.

 


Whistler Free Activities 

Pick up a copy of the Pique for a current listing of all activities in Whistler. It is the go-to resource for locals and caters heavily to free events being hosted by community members or the Whistler municipality. Another great tip is to join the infamous Whistler Winter (or Summer) groups on Facebook. While always a good laugh, people often post updates on events going on around the community.

Summer Concerts 

Whistler has a long history scheduling an excellent summer concert series on a weekly basis during the sunny season. Plus, its totally for free! Some big names come through this small town of ours, including Snoop Dogg, Jann Arden, Michael Franti, and some exciting local talent as well. Be sure to check out the schedule, from June until September on Friday and Saturday nights.

Festivals

Crankworx crowds in Whistler

Whistler hosts festivals all year long, many like Crankworx have free events

It’s true that not all festivals are free, but often festivals come with a set of free events that are open to the public. Some favourites include the Hear and Now Festival in September, showcasing some of the local musical talents Whistler has to offer. It’s totally free, in the main Village Square.

Another great option if you have arrived in time for Crankworx is watching the gravity-defying stunts during some of the main competitions, no tickets required. Simply schedule your visit to begin at the bottom of the mountain on event day.

Hiking and the Great Outdoors 

Garibaldi Provincial Park

There are no VIP tickets to the great outdoors, its always free

It goes without saying that the great outdoors is always free. It also goes without saying that Whistler has an overabundance of free outdoor activities that suit any ability level. From a quiet loop around Lost Lake to undertaking a multi-day excursion into Garibaldi Park, there is something for everyone.

If you have access to your own method of floatation, we always recommended floating down the river of golden dreams in the summertime. It’s a cold, clear and refreshing way to spend a sunny summer afternoon. It begins at Alta Lake and gently flows over the course of a few hours into Green Lake. Be sure to bring along some snacks, a bottle of water and a life jacket. The river looks gentle, but its always good to put safety first.

Other Free Honourable Mentions

We haven’t exhausted our free and nearly-free options yet! Maybe you are looking for some good intel on free parking, or a place to grab a cheap pair of shoes, we got you covered! Even if Whistler has long been considered a destination for only the wealthy, there are an increasing number of people with smaller budgets carving out a place to live with a more reasonable pocket change.

Whistler Free Parking 

Underground parking lot

Free parking does exist in Whistler, and its relatively easy to find

If there is one good thing coming from the Whistler City Planning Department, it is that they have made tons of parking available. While not all of it is free, it is at least reasonably priced. Located near the main Village are parking lots 1, 2, 3 which are free after 5 pm all year long. For cheaper parking during the day try lots 4 or 5 or go even further out for totally free parking in lots 6, 7, 8 which are considered Blackcomb base parking.

On top of this, the underground parking lots at Creekside remain entirely free all day long. We’d like to point out that we aren’t advocating you park your campervan in any of these free lots. In fact, if you are on the hunt for free overnight parking, the best bet is likely down a dirt road on the outskirts of the city, or perhaps ask your car-camping neighbours for the best intel on when the parking police do their rounds.

Whistler Free Shuttle 

Surprisingly, there is such a thing as free shuttle services in Whistler. Whistler transit authority offers a free service between many locations in and around the Village to help with the flow of pedestrian traffic to and from the Gondola. Check out the free shuttle schedule in advance, as it changes seasonally.

Re-Use-It Centre and Re-Build it Centre 

The Re-Use-it Centre is not free, but absolutely the cheapest destination in Whistler if you are looking for gently used or retro sporting gear. If you forgot your bathing suit, need a new pair of jeans, or want a blender, the Re-Use-it Centre is Whistler’s go to shopping spot.

For kicks, check out the literal wall of ski’s encircling the entire location; each pair is only five dollars! When you are ready to leave town, they are also the quickest and easiest way to get rid of all the accumulated belongings you no longer need. Everything is by suggested donation price, and best of all the proceeds go to support Whistler Community Services.

tools laid out on a table

Need a tool, or a bucket of paint? Check out the Re-Build-It Centre for the perfect DIY renovation

For those who have been lucky to find accommodation in Whistler or the surrounding areas, one of the best places to find used furniture, tools, or other household items is the Re-Build-it Centre.

It’s a fantastic place to check out because many Whistler locals would prefer to donate their expensive furniture instead of going through the hassle of selling it on Craigslist. They also carry a huge selection of door handles, kitchen faucets, and other miscellaneous items your slum landlord may have forgotten to replace before you moved it. Again, all the proceeds from the Re-Build-it go straight into funding Whistler Community Services.