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Expect the Unexpected | 10 Surprising Things to Do in Whistler

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Once you’ve arrived in Whistler, it’s tempting to stay within the little hamlet of Whistler Village. However, leaving the confines of the Village can open up some great opportunities to get off the beaten path in Whistler and discover some gems. 

There are things to do in Whistler which might surprise you. You won’t see them on Tripadvisor, and you probably won’t come across any social influencers posting about them. But who doesn’t love a bit of adventure? Seize the day and discover these unexpected adventures during your next trip to Whistler.

10 Unexpected Adventures in Whistler

You can read the brochures and look online and you’ll find some of Whistler’s most popular activities like ziplining, riding the Peak 2 Peak gondola, and mountain biking. While they are fantastic activities, once you’ve done them there’s still so much more to see and do in Whistler.

Here are 10 unexpected adventures in Whistler that might just be the highlight of your whole trip!

1.River of Golden Dreams

River of golden dreams by kayak in Whistler

A slow lazy paddle down one of our favourite rivers

This five-kilometre long river runs between Alta Lake and Green Lake and provides fantastic watercraft opportunities during the summer months. Float through lush wetlands, old growth forests, and enjoy the surrounding mountain views as the gentle current carries you along. Wildlife sightings are common and you may see black bears, beavers, river otters, and a variety of birds.

Rent a canoe, paddleboard, or kayak from nearby Wayside or Lakeside Park on Alta Lake or hire a guide to show you the ropes. Do paddle with caution and be safe as water levels can change rapidly and is incredibly cold. Obey all signs on the waterway, including portages, and travel with a PFD and prepare for self-rescue as the river is not patrolled.

2. Check out a Hip Neighbourhood: Function Junction

Ten minutes south of Whistler Village (eight kilometres) is the industrial hub of Function Junction – an often forgotten area of Whistler that doesn’t quite fit the Whistler resort aesthetic. Art galleries, breweries, cafes, and vintage shops cozy up between warehouses and auto shops making it a funky, unique spot to visit.

Be sure to try your hand at axe throwing, followed by a pint from Coast Mountain Brewery. Vintage fans will love browsing The Velvet Underground, and coffee aficionados will appreciate Camp Coffee + Lifestyle. Come hungry and leave with a new souvenir of your visit.

3. Local’s Favourite Brunch Spots 

Don’t wait in a big line-up in the Village – head to these secret spots instead! Alpine Cafe just north of Whistler Village will fill you up with eggs benny and a variety of freshly baked pastries, or check out the new kid in town – Cranked Espresso Bar in Rainbow to get your fill on amazing views and Montreal-style bagels with all the fixings.

Riverside Cafe may be within an RV park, but they’re also whipping up mean waffles and traditional breakfast staples with a side caesar or mimosa. And finally, hit the sweet spot with banana bread french toast or the three benny sampler at Wildwood Cafe in Function Junction. Are you hungry yet?!

4. Shooting, Yes Shooting!

Try your hand at shooting a gun at Whistler Shooting Adventures – twenty minutes north of Whistler Village. Surrounded by mountains and towering trees it’ll be the most scenic place you’ve ever handled a gun. Choose from a variety of weapons where their professional staff will teach anyone from beginners or experienced shooters with an emphasis on safety and fun. This is definitely off the beaten path Whistler, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!

5. Hidden Apres & Happy Hour 

Focus on people holding pints of beer in cheers

Whistler has a thriving craft beer scene

The obvious choice may be right in front of you at a conveniently located bar or pub at the base of the gondola but make the effort to go a bit further for the best patios in Whistler. Whistler’s three golf courses all have restaurants that are open to the public that features sunny patios with incredible views.

Palmer’s at the Whistler Golf Club has an expansive patio that faces the eighteenth hole and has Happy Hour from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The food is also delicious and is a great place to end up after a long bike ride or day at the lake. Table Nineteen at Nicklaus North Golf Club has the self-proclaimed ‘Best Patio in Whistler’ and we’d have to agree – watch float planes take off on Green Lake while sipping on a local brew and snacking on nachos.

Within the Village, look up – The Living Room at Pangea Pod Hotel has the only rooftop patio on the stroll and is a cosy spot to enjoy a Dalmatian (a fancy version of a Greyhound), share a flatbread, and people watch. They also have tons of board games perfect for a night in with friends. The Raven Room within the Pan Pacific Village Centre has a newly opened patio and serve up unique cocktails and apres fare that goes beyond nachos and wings.

6. Escape the Escape Room

Escape rooms have taken off in other parts of the world, so why not try this puzzling adventure in a mountain town. All the themes at Escape!Whistler are family friendly and it’s a great way to escape the blistering heat or rain for an hour. Groups have forty-five minutes to solve the challenges and escape the room within the allotted time.

You’ll be amazed at the creativity of the designers, each room is a unique puzzle to work out. Buried Cabin is highly recommended as it takes place in the mountain and features many resort-themed props.

7. Try Stone Carving

Create and take home your own handmade souvenir by taking a soapstone carving class at Fathom Stone Gallery in the Westin Resort & Spa. Artist instructors will guide you in creating your very own masterpiece out of British Columbia soapstone and you can choose from creating pendants, Inukshuks, bears, and beyond. Spend a few hours at this educational, creative, and fun workshop at this off the beaten path stop in Whistler. 

8. Wildlife and Bear Watching

Beginning in May, black bears wake up from their winter slumber in search of food and a mate. While you may see a bear unintentionally while in Whistler, Bear Watching Tours are the best way to see a bear in Whistler safely and, most times, successfully. Sit back and relax as guides tour you around bear territory in a Land Rover in search of our furry friends.

9. Fish the Rivers Around Whistler 

Man fly fishing in Whistler

Fishing in the waters around Whistler, gets you off the hill and into the water

Take advantage of Whistler’s lakes and rivers by taking part in the catch and release of its inhabitants. Hit the river with a local fishing guide and explore secret spots while admiring the remote natural beauty of Whistler and its surroundings.

Chinook, Sockeye and Coho are local to the area among other fish species, and there’s potential for other wildlife sightings. Best of all you’ll have the opportunity to learn from an experienced fishing guide and return home with a new skill, or at least a lot of great memories!

10. Glacier Glissading

Ever wanted to slide down a glacier on your bum? There’s a tour for that – Glacier Glissading on Whistler Mountain. Feel the thrill of sliding down glacier snow in the summer combined with an interpretive hike of the 10,000-year-old Whistler glacier.

The tour takes two to three hours and runs rain or shine, and requires a Peak 2 Peak lift ticket to get to the top of the mountain. Slide down the glacier and enjoy other hiking and sightseeing opportunities once the tour is complete.

If you think you’ve done it all in Whistler you’re wrong – the list of things to do in Whistler goes beyond the Village and is sometimes tucked out of sight but shouldn’t be out of mind. If you’re ever craving a slice of the local life, or if you seek solace on an uncrowded patio, getting off the beaten path in Whistler might just be the spice your holiday needed and will keep you coming back for more.