12 Sightseeing Adventures in Whistler for the Whole Family
Contrary to popular belief, skiing, mountain biking, and drinking brewskis aren’t the only fun attractions in Whistler.
Whether you’re choosing to visit the city in the summer, winter, fall, or spring, there’s always an abundance of activities and sights for the entire family.
We’ve compiled a list of our favourite Whistler sightseeing adventures, perfect for your next family trip.
The 12 Best Attractions in Whistler
1. Seek Out a Black Bear
You’ve indeed done Whistler wrong if you visited in the summer without seeing a bear. If you missed out on finding one foraging beside the Sea to Sky highway, go on a bear-watching trip to ensure that you see at least one black bear in your time here. The best times to see bears are between early May to early August.
2. Visit the Famous Whistler Train Wreck
Located near the Cheakamus River is the site of Whistler’s famous 1956 train wreck. To get to the site, follow the trail at the side of Jane Lakes Road past the Sea to Sky Trail sign. From there, you’ll find signs along the way as well as skis on trees telling you that you’re going the right way. Finally, you’ll arrive at a suspension bridge which you should cross before coming up to the middle of the trainwreck sight. There are seven box cars in total, but tourists typically only find five. (The other two are located a few minutes downstream from the group of boxcars.)
3. Watch the Float Planes on Green Lake
During the summer, it’s not rare to spot Float Planes taking off and landing on Green Lake. The best place to spot the planes happens to be on a pullout between Rainbow and Emerald Estates. In addition to floatplanes, you’ll see locals boating as well as incredible mountain views and glacier water. If you’re brave enough, you can head out to the Green Lake docks and enjoy a plunge in the freezing waters.
4. Check Out the Snow Walls on Whistler Blackcomb
Snow in the summer? Yep, that’s a thing on Whistler Blackcomb. Start your search for the snow walls by taking the Blackcomb Gondola up the mountain. Then, take the Peak to Peak to Whistler Mountain, where you’ll find Pika’s Traverse to Matthew’s Traverse road. There should be maps located at the top of the mountain to help you find the walls. However, double-check the previous week/month’s weather as the snowy walls could be melted by the time you decide to get up there.
5. Lounge At a Gorgeous Lake
If there’s one thing Whistler isn’t lacking, it’s lakes. Spend time in the summer enjoying some of the best Whistler attractions by swimming out to the floating docks at Lost Lake, Rainbow Park, Green Lake, Alta Lake, and Wayside Park. In the winter, several Whistler lakes freeze over and offer gorgeous views of snowcapped mountains.
6. Ski or Snowshoe Through Olympian-tested Terrain
The Whistler Olympic Park, which was home to many events during the 2010 Winter Olympics, allows guests to explore their vast network of trails on cross-country skis and snowshoes. Although lessons are available, we recommend renting a pair of skis or snowshoes and going for a quick rip. It’s hilarious watching first-timers try to skate up hills with long and skinny skis on their feet! You can also set up a snowshoeing tour to access the secret pockets of Whistler backcountry.
7. Catch a Massive Salmon
Unknown to most travellers, Whistler has several great fishing spots which double as Whistler sightseeing attractions. The cold temperatures of the alpine lakes and coastal rivers allow for local fish to thrive, meaning that you’ll be able to catch fish such as Rainbow Trout, Bull Trout, Coastal Cutthroat Trout, Kokanee, Steelhead, and three species of Pacific Salmon. A BC fishing license is required to fish in Whistler, regardless if you’re on your own boat or decide to take a fishing tour.
8. Enjoy the Valley Trail
More popular than the highway in Whistler is the Valley Trail. Used by hikers, dog walkers, commuters, and bikers alike, the paved trail and boardwalk network connects Whistler’s neighbourhoods, lakes, viewpoints, and picnic spots. Spend a day exploring the entire trail, or pick a section to wander. We’re sure you’ll find some hidden gems along the way.
9. Ice Skate On the Frozen Lakes
Both Green Lake and Alta Lake are great spots to ice skate during the chilly winter months. Bring your own skates or check out the Re-Use-It Center for a cheap pair. Of course, if you don’t feel like braving the elements, you can always ice skate at the Whistler Olympic Plaza, which offers $2 skating in the heart of Olympic Village and $8 skate rentals.
10. Learn About the Land
Spend a few hours learning about Whistler and the people who first inhabited it at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. In addition to guided tours and exhibitions that showcase the many aspects of the Squamish and Lil’wat cultural history, traditions, and practices, the center also offers delicious food with a First Nations twist at its Thunderbird Café.
11. Enjoy the Local Bike Trails
You don’t need to drop hundreds on bike passes in Whistler when we’ve got spectacular trails littered about. Instead, download the Trailforks app or sign up for a guided mountain biking tour for the best ride possible. We suggest starting with the trails around Lost Lake — Tin Pants is great for kids and beginners, which leads into several intermediate blue trails.
12. Go On a Hike
If biking isn’t your cup of tea, explore the beautiful British Columbian mountains and scenery by foot. Sign up for a guided hike or head out on your own. We suggest hiking or active shoes, sunscreen or raincoat depending on the weather, insect repellant, water, and of course, your camera.
The Best Time to Sightsee in Whistler
Truth be told, there is no true best time to sightsee in Whistler.
The winter provides world-class skiing and snowboarding, as well as beautiful frozen lakes and snow-capped mountains.
The summer offers glimmering waters and incredible hikes, while the seasons in-between have a best-of-both-worlds combination, minus the off-season when Whistler Blackcomb is between snow and bike seasons.
If you choose to come in the summer, however, we do recommend that you come back to check out the city after its transformation in the winter, and vice-versa.
It’s Time to Travel, Time for Whistler Sightseeing!
As British Columbia is in Step 3 of the Restart Plan, travellers from across Canada are invited to visit. While mask-wearing is still recommended in indoor public spaces for those aged 12 and older, nearly all Whistler attractions have reopened for sightseeing.