Voted the #1 Ski Destination in North America, Whistler is also a haven for summer tourists. While most people come for the summer hiking and lakes, don't miss out on these six things to try at Whistler this summer.
Six Things to Try in Whistler this Summer
1. Peak 2 Peak Express Gondola: Take in this marvel of engineering! This gondola connects the two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb. The gondola bases are at the Roundhouse Lodge (6069 feet) on the Whistler side and the Rendezvous Lodge on the Blackcomb side (elevation 6102 feet). You don't need skis or even to be in good hiking shape, you can just take in the views.
Take in the 360 degree view of the two mountains as you soar 1,427 ft over the valley. The gondola holds a record for being the longest unsupported lift span in the world (1.88 miles). On my visit it was cloudy, but I still had wild appreciation for this apparatus.
To make the loop, head up the Whistler Village Gondola located in Whistler Village then head to the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. After you take the 11 minute ride, head down the Wizard Express lift to the Blackcomb base and Nintendo Family Adventure Zone in the Upper Village.
Add some time in to walk Matthew’s Traverse Road to observe the enormous snow walls. The snow gods shined on Whistler last year and there’s a lot of snow on hand, the plows created two enormous snow walls along this walk. Plan your trip: Whistlerblackcomb.com/peak2peak360. Note, the gondola will close in cases of inclement weather.
2. Lunch at Bar Oso: Celebrate the local fare of Canada at this casual chic spot. As the ski mom in the family, I'm usually the one cooking back in the condo. Same rules hold true in the summer (that's why we normally get a condo or hotel room with a kitchen). It's essential to take a break from meal planning and let the professionals have a go at it.
Bar Oso has a Spanish-influenced menu. Think small plates, tapas, and house-made charcuterie. I was treated to a seat at the bar on my visit. I started my decadent lunch with a red sangria that was loaded with fruit as well as torres brandy, triple sec, and a pinch of cinnamon (yum!).
Chef Jorge Muñoz Santos started as the Sous Chef at the well-renowned Araxi around the corner. Born in Madrid, Jorge brings his native foods alive with a western twist.
You can't miss with the Fresh Charcuterie Board: with house-made foie gras parfait, rabbit rillette, pheasant pate and ham hock terrine. This is the perfect sharing dish.
I also loved the bocadillo sandwich. I tried the wild smoked salmon with boiled egg and capers. My advice: put the kids in bike camp and make a date with someone special at Bar Oso.
3. Downhill Mountain Biking: Whistler Mountain Bike Park lift tickets provide access to over 4900 feet of lift-serviced trails.Downhill cycling is the perfect activity for daredevils and ski junkies that have run out of snow.
I took a lesson in the Bike 101 class and made my way down a beginner trial (think gentle banked turns and no jumps). If you have the skills take on the more challenging trails. NOTE: give yourself plenty of time to get outfitted with a rental bike. I found the on-site rental service VERY INEFFICIENT. The mountain has to find a way to speed up the process of signing in for a lesson and getting a bike at G1 Rentals. The process ate up 45 minutes, bummer since I was only able to get in one run down the mountain due to the huge delays. My instructor was very thorough and thoughtful (our group had a variety of skills) and probably a bit too cautious.
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I do recommend you try Bike Park 101 (it’s $149) just make sure you give yourself an hour to register and get your bike before the class starts (I know, it’s far too long). Your class fee gets you a lift ticket and a 2 hour lesson and a 2 hour rental of a full suspension bike plus helmet, pads and gloves.
The bike park is a clever use of the slopes. The same lifts that take up skiers are rigged up to haul bikes and bikers up the mountain. Get details about downhill biking at Whistler, here: http://bike.whistlerblackcomb.com/
After your class grab a seat outdoors at the Garibaldi Lift Co. I sipped a local brew and snacked on spicy wings while I watched the more daring riders take on the expert trails and jumps.
5. Museum trip to Audain Museum: Experience the art of British Columbia from the traditional art of the province’s First Peoples. The building was first built in 2012 and then was expanded and reopened in 2016 - the new structure alone is reason to visit the Audain. The 56,000 sq ft modern structure fits in seamlessly with the nature surrounding it. The galleries are split on two floors showcasing more than 200 pieces of art from the personal collection of Michael Audain and his wife Yoshira Karasawa with a museum shop on level one. Don’t miss heading up to the “art of our time” suite on the second floor. On our visit it was a display by Chili Thom. He painted just about everything including skis and snowboards.
This gallery is meant to give space to contemporary artists. There are also photography exhibits as well as a terrific permanent collection of Canadian artist Emily Carr.
Admissions $18 for adults and 16 and under are free. Open daily from 10am to 5pm (closed Tuesdays). Head here to plan your visit: https://audainartmuseum.com/
6. Ice Cream at Cow’s. We loved meandering the pedestrian walkways aka the “village stroll” from the Village Centre to Village North. Along one of our many walks we found Cow's. I'm guessing it's the Ben & Jerry's of Canada.
The friendly staff will let you sample all sorts of flavors before you make your pick. And don't sweat the sweets, with all the hiking and outdoors fun you'll have worked up an appetite.
My pick? The Cookie Moonster. It's blue and fabulous Vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough pieces and Oreo pieces. My daughter loved the Chip Chip Hooray in the sprinkle cone.
What else can't you miss at Whistler?
Love wildlife? Whistler offers bear tours to see the black bears in their natural habitat – I spotted on right below the the Whistler Village Gondola – keep your eyes open, you might not even need a tour to spot them.
Take a stroll through the Olympic Plaza (Vancouver was the host city in 2010, I was lucky enough to attend) and get some Olympic trivia, such as, who won the Women's Downhill (answer Lindsey Vonn).
And finally, there’s world-class hiking on mountain and in the valley. Try the Lakeside Loop a 2.2km (1.4m) loop around a densely forested area. The peaks pop out between the greens. Whistler/Blackcomb boats more than 50Km of hiking and running trails.
Let me know if you head to Whistler and try any of my recommendations. For lodging options, find out what we had to say about the Westin Whistler.
This is not a sponsored post.