11 Awesome Reasons to Visit Whistler in Summer
Updated: Jan 12
This article forms leg 1: A Canadian Itinerary – Follow our journey to help plan your best family road trip to Western Canada.
Whistler, BC is well known as a winter playground and even hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics however it is also a super destination for summer adventures with jaw-dropping mountains, glossy alpine lakes and endless hiking and mountain biking trails to explore.
Whistler with kids is the ultimate holiday with plenty of outdoor explorations, sporty activities and gorgeous natural wonders all around. Whistler’s pedestrian only village brims with energy and is packed full of interesting shops and eateries to sample along with a huge selection of accommodation in Whistler to suit every budget and taste.
Read on to get tips and tricks for your family visit to Whistler in Summer as well as the best fun things to do in Whistler. Here are the top 11 reasons to visit Whistler, British Columbia:
1. Getting to Whistler from Vancouver is quick and easy
Transport from Vancouver to Whistler is super easy via either public transport or private vehicle.
There are loads of private shuttles running from Vancouver Airport to Whistler or you can hop on board a Greyhound bus for cheap and cheerful transportation.
The drive from Vancouver to Whistler is only an hour and a half to two hours and there are plenty of beautiful stopover points along the way making it a wonderful road trip.
For International visitors I highly recommend hiring a car like we did and using Whistler as the tip off point for an epic road trip around Western Canada.
Car hire from Vancouver is easy and plentiful however I highly recommend booking early. Prices are much cheaper the further ahead you book your vehicle and an insider tip – booking from agencies off-airport will save you significant dollars. Even with the cost of a taxi to get to the rental office you will save hundreds on paying for airport car rental in Vancouver.
Click here to research the best prices for car hire out of Vancouver.
2. Family Friendly Whistler Accommodation
Whistler and Blackcomb provide lots of family friendly accommodation options.
We stayed at The Aspens Whistler located on the Blackcomb mountain side which was a peaceful place to stay just moments from the action of the main village. With a great swimming pool that was heated, and access to onsite bike rentals the resort was a great family friendly option.
Here is the link to the condo we rented which was perfect for a family stay.
Warm and comfortable with a king-sized bed and large sofa bed for the kids. This condo also had a fully equipped kitchen which is super helpful for a mountain stay.
Here are a couple of other places perfect for family friendly accommodation in Whistler:
One bedroom suites perfect for families and a large outdoor pool and central location. A high rating option for families. Check it out here.
In the heart of the village, the Pan Pacific Whistler Village is a high quality resort with 1 and 2 bedroom apartments for family groups. A lovely pool and recreation areas as well. Book now.
3. Sea-to-Sky Highway – where to stop
Just getting to Whistler is an adventure in itself with the Sea to Sky Highway being one of the most beautiful drives in the world. Nestled between the mountains and ocean this drive is one to relish and offers plenty of scenic stops and hikes to break up the journey.
Porteau Cove Rest Area
An easy to slip off the highway, Porteau Cove is a picturesque waterfront location perfect for some photos or a short driving break. You can wander the rocky shores or stroll out to the boat dock to take in the scenery.
For the adventure seekers there is actually a sunken ship that many divers explore!
Shannon Falls Provincial Park
Located just a couple of kilometres south of Squamish, the Shannon Falls are spectacular and provide easy access to one of British Columbia’s tallest falls at 335 metres high. You can take a short walk to the lower viewing platform of the falls or head a little higher to see them from a different vantage point. The walk only takes ten minutes and the park is also a great picnic spot.
One of the adventure capitals of Canada, Squamish offers plenty of free and paid options to get active and out of the car.
Squamish is a rock-climbing mecca and hiking trails abound to get you into nature on foot.
The Squamish tourism website is perfect for checking out the day hikes in Squamish.
If you are keen to see the vistas from up high book yourself a ticket to travel on the Sea-to-Sky Gondola taking you 885 metres above sea level and providing sweeping views of the Howe Sound and the surrounding mountain ranges. This can be done as a tour from Vancouver if you are looking for a brilliant day trip.
Brandywine Falls Provincial Park
On the Whistler end of the drive make sure you take the opportunity for one last stop at Brandywine Falls. A smaller but still spectacular falls Brandywine is also the perfect tip off point to the new Sea-to-Sky Trail which is a combined bike and hike trail well suited to families. There are also some good viewpoints back across the valley floor from the trails past the falls.
Now, onto the awesome things to do on a summer trip to Whistler!
4. Peak to Peak Alpine Experience
The Peak to Peak Alpine Experience is best experienced by planning a full day on the upper mountain ranges and includes combining a visit to Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains as well as plenty of hiking and activities such as the Skyraker Bridge and of course the Peak to Peak Gondola.
Whistler resort offers packages which include your full day tickets and in the summer you can add-on the Summer Alpine Dining which is a nice way to top off a day of mountain exploring.
Here is an itinerary to help you plan your day on the Peak to Peak Whistler:
Ride the Blackcomb Mountain Gondola to Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb Mountain. Stop for a hot chocolate before boarding the complimentary shuttle bus to the 7th Heaven Chairlift.
At the top of 7th Heaven Chairlift on a clear day you have phenomenal views of the Horstman Glacier in one direction and then back towards Whistler Village looking down Blackcomb Mountain. There was loads of snow up here so it’s a great place for snow play with the kids.
There are six main hiking trails on Blackcomb Mountain varying from easy to very difficult. Check out the Whistler Trail Map to guide you on the options.
Ensure you are wearing adequate clothing to keep warm even in the middle of summer by bringing plenty of layers and definitely a warm coat. It was absolutely freezing the July day we took this trip and the kids even ended up with a pair of socks on their hands as makeshift gloves.
Peak to Peak Gondola
Venturing onto the Peak to Peak Gondola, take a ride on a truly breathtaking opportunity. Operating at 436 metres above the ground the Peak to Peak is the highest and longest gondola in the world and a true engineering feat.
If you are not bad with heights jump on board one of the glass floored gondolas that require you to line up in a separate line. Note you will be in a far less crowded gondola if you choose to jump in one without the glass floor and the views are still ridiculously good.
The Peak to Peak takes you from Blackcomb Peak dipping deep in to the valley between and then up the other side to the top of Whistler peak. Along the way check out the valleys, glaciers, lakes and forests that make the mountain top so beautiful and marvel at how amazing the lift is itself with the highs and lows that it reaches.
Once at Whistler Mountain take some time during the middle of the day to enjoy some of the alpine hikes. If travelling with kids a great short hike option is the Harmony Lake Loop (1.9km) which was easy and included snow along the way as well as a couple of really pretty lakes to walk around. Even though it was snowing and overcast the day we were there the lakes still had magnificent reflections.
Hike across to the Peak Express Chair which takes you literally to the “Top of the World Summit” with 360-degree views. A major drawcard of reaching the summit is the Cloudraker Skybridge which only pictures can explain – another engineering marvel, you need to walk across this epic suspension bridge high up in the sky!
Please note the Peak Express Chair is super high from the ground at certain points and children under 1 metre are not permitted on. Infants in carriers are also not permitted.
I would definitely not recommend the Peak Express for families travelling with younger kids or those not totally confident in their kids handling of heights.
You want to be super certain that you don’t have a wriggling child on this open lift. Our kids were 6 and 8 at the time and I felt a bit panicked when they freaked that they were going to slip through so I would recommend this as the minimum age regardless of height.
Finish your day with the Summer Dining experience before making your way home via the Whistler Mountain Gondola.
5. Lost Lake Hike
There are literally hundreds of hiking trails in all directions from Whistler and many are located in the valley floor so don’t require elevated climbing which is great for families. One of our favourite Whistler Valley hikes was Lost Lake.
There are loads of different trails through Lost Lake Park which is a densely forested area that leads to Lost Lake.
Use the hiking map to help you find a track that works best for your location.
Once at Lost Lake enjoy a long picnic lunch and if warm and sunny there is a fantastic beach area for a cooling dip.
If you want to extend the walk take the circuit around Lost Lake and follow the signs towards Green Lake via the Lost Lake Mons Trail. A further 3 kilometre walk will take you all the way to Green Lake and the neighbouring suburbs where you can jump on the local bus service to catch a lift back into town.
If you want to head for one of the most beautiful hikes in the region, just a 30 minute drive from Whistler will take you to the trailhead for the Rohr Lake Hike in Pemberton. A highly recommended venture for those looking for a half day trail (10kms.)
6. Whistler Mountain Bike Park – Valley Trail Bike Rides
Whistler is a phenomenal place for mountain biking. The town is built for it and avid riders opt to take on the no 1 mountain biking park in the world with technical and challenging options aplenty.
For families after some tamer bike riding options there are loads of lower valley trails that are perfect for kids. A great multi-stop bike ride is simply to head out south along the paved sea-to-sky valley trail which will take you past the combo of Alta, Nita and Alpha lakes. This ride has great scenery particularly in summer with the wildflowers in bloom and the lakes looking stunning.
There are playgrounds and picnic stops along the way and if you are lucky you may spot a resident black bear like we did at Wayside Park.
Sometimes having an experienced guide can really enhance the experience as they can do all the navigating and take you to the coolest places. Check out this full day mountain biking experience and pre-book your day.
7. Train Wreck Hike
If you are after a hike with a difference jump in the car for a trip to visit the iconic Train Wreck hike which is now a section of the Sea to Sky Trail. The trail head can be a little tricky to find but once you do you will wonder how you couldn’t see it.
Find the Cheakamus Lake Road on the east side of Highway 99 and parking is the first left before the bus shelter. I recommend ignoring your GPS as ours sent us way off course. The trail is clearly marked and easy to find if you go back to old school looking with your eyes.
The walk is super pretty and as it was raining the day we visited it made for a really unique experience as we were nestled in the canopy of the large fir trees. The suspension bridge crossing the Cheakamus River shows the power of the waters coming from the snow melt and is a great photo spot.
Once across the river you find the wedged carriages of a train wreck from 1956 when a speeding train left the tracks and several carriages found their permanent home deep in the forest. In a juxtaposition to its surrounds the carriages then became a favourite hang-out for local graffiti artists and now have become a piece of artwork in their own right.
The hike to the carriages is only 1km each direction and is a flat easy walk. Take your time to enjoy the river and forest as it is such a lovely place to walk.
8. Whistler Village Vibe
Whistler has a really energetic feel to it with loads of adventurous and health-oriented people enjoying their time off from work in the great outdoors. It really feels like a holiday resort and puts you in a good mood from the moment you arrive.
Whistler Village is packed full of great shopping with many large brands and outdoor retailers offering a range of products and services.
You have all the essentials at your fingertips with two good sized supermarkets to purchase groceries or pre-packed lunch items for your planned outings.
There are also a number of fabulous cafes and eateries. Purebread is the local bakery on steroids!
From the moment you walk in the door you are hit with an abundance of baked goods that will have you salivating.
You will not be able to work out what to try first from the decadent selections on offer.
For an unpretentious pub meal we found the Dubh Linn Gate Irish pub on the top side of the village, next to Whistler Gondola was well priced and served great food for families.
Check in with the local tourist office to find out what night time activities are on offer during your stay. During the Summer there are many food truck markets set up including a regular one in the Upper Village at the base of Blackcomb Lift. A nice way to pass the evening and sample local produce and foods from vendors.
9. Kayaking on Whistler's Lakes
You can’t visit Whistler in Summer and not venture out onto the perfect blue lakes in a kayak or canoe. It’s the perfect plan for a sunny afternoon and allows you to get a different perspective. There are operators from many of the valley lakes where you can hire canoes and kayaks or Whistler tourism can book you on guided tours.
10. Fly Fishing in Whistler
My husband is a keen fisherman and loves trying out new places for fishing.
Whistler has some great local businesses offering fly fishing experiences in the local lakes and waterways. It can be a little pricey but a nice gift idea for guys who love to travel!
11. Whistler Olympic Plaza
Located in the centre of Whistler Village, the Olympic Plaza is a fantastic place for families in the summer time. They regularly run free concert series and families can spread out on the grassy lawns to enjoy a picnic dinner as the sun sets.
There are also some good photo ops in front of the Olympic rings where the nightly Olympic medal ceremonies were held during the Games. Adjacent to the grassy lawns is a brilliant kids’ playground which will keep the little ones entertained for hours.
How many days do you need for a visit in Whistler?
We have had two week long visits to Whistler in Summer and really only scratched the surface of things to see and do. If you are an International traveller and may only get here once or twice in a lifetime then I recommend at least a five-day itinerary to tick off the big-ticket items for visiting Whistler.
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If you love mountain resort destinations check out my favourite place of all - Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald in Switzerland.
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