Sure, when most people think of Whistler, British Columbia, they think about winter sports, like skiing and snowboarding. And it’s true that Whistler Blackcomb Resort (and the entire town) was originally set up to be a winter destination, but things have changed in recent years. Whistler is the place to visit both in winter and summer.
There is no shoulder season in Whistler – people flock here year-round, which means that many of the hotels don’t offer a discount for off-peak times and that the town is pretty much always busy.
In addition to the many conventions and conferences that happen here year-round, people from nearby Vancouver drive up for weekend getaways and day trips. There are so many different outdoor activities to partake in, lots of high-end shopping/hotels/restaurants, plenty of casual dining options, and also a lot of free things to check out, so there is really something for everyone here. There really are so many things to do in Whistler in Summer.
What is there to do around Whistler?
The Bike Park at Whistler is one that people travel far and wide to go to each year. There are lessons and rentals available for those who are new to the sport. With green, blue, black and double-black trails and new ones being created every year, there is something for all levels of mountain bikers here.
If you’re not into mountain biking, check out the Peak 2 Peak Gondola! Take either the Whistler or Blackcomb gondola up, wander around/hike a bit or get something to eat at either Roundhouse or Rendezvous lodge at the top of each mountain and then transfer to the Peak 2 Peak Gondola to get to the other mountain! This sightseeing adventure is a lot of fun, no matter how many times you’ve been up before.
Many people enjoy leisurely meals at one of the many places to eat or hang out at a pub or bar for a few hours. It’s not the kind of place where anyone is rushing around! You can also check out the many museums and galleries (not to mention world-class shops).
Watch this video to see more of what to do in Whistler in Summer:
What to do in Whistler in Summer outside Whistler Village
There are several lakes and waterfalls near Whistler to check out as well as plenty of hiking trails to enjoy. Lost Lake is one of the more popular nearby lakes with Shannon Falls Provincial Park being a a great place to have a picnic. I suggest you take a look at this insider’s guide to the 5 lakes near Whistler.
What to do in Whistler in Summer if it’s Raining
Depending on how much it’s raining, I’d say that you can still do many of the activities you’d planned to do outdoors.
But, if you’d prefer to either escape from the rain or take respite from the heat, head inside one of the many cultural institutions in Whistler.
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
Walk through this cultural centre, a collaborative effort by both the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations, on your own or let a guide lead you. There is a short video to watch to learn about the many aspects of the Squamish and Lil’wat cultural history, traditions and practices, very much still alive and thriving today. There are both temporary and permanent exhibitions housed here – and don’t forget to go out the back to take a look at both a pit house and a longhouse.
To make this more family-friendly, there is a cedar bracelet-making activity for kids of all ages to participate in. The Thunderbird café caters events within the cultural centre (and elsewhere) and it is where you can stop to have lunch or snacks. The bannock (fry bread) is especially good, as is their coffee. Learn more (and check out their virtual tour) here: SLCC.CA.
Audain Art Museum
Founded on the philanthropic gift of Michael Audain and Yoshiko Karasawa, the Audain Art Museum has both permanent and temporary exhibits highlighting the art of British Columbia. There are also pieces from elsewhere in the world, all housed in this 5,203 square meters (56,000 square feet) art museum that blends in well with the natural surroundings.
Through artist talk, special event evenings, and temporary exhibits that are updated throughout the year, the Audain Art Museum is a place to return to throughout the seasons.
What to Wear in Whistler in Summer
Temperatures in Whistler are generally very similar to those in Vancouver: Lows of 8-10 degrees and highs of 20-25 degrees with 4-8 days of at least partial rainfall. I’ve been to Whistler in the summertime when temperatures hovered around 32 degrees, so plan accordingly and be sure to bring a hat and sunglasses.
I would recommend always wearing comfortable walking shoes/runners and shorts or those pants with the zip-off legs. Even in restaurants you will see that people dress very casually since this is an active place where people tend to be out during the day enjoying some kind of outdoor activity.
If you plan on going on the mountains, be sure to bring a light rain jacket. One year, in early September, I went on the Whistler Gondola and found that it was snowing quite heavily up top! I prepared for this and had brought a toque and light jacket.
There are plenty of lakes near Whistler, so if you’re so inclined, bring a swimsuit and quick-dry towel, too.
Who should visit?
Art appreciators, history enthusiasts, waterfall chasers, lake lovers, outdoor revellers, foodies, wildlife admirers, and photography fanatics.
How do you Get to Whistler?
Where should I Eat?
The main Whistler Village has an almost endless supply of restaurants, cafés, and fast-food places to suit every budget. Many of the nicer hotels also have their own restaurants. I, personally, really enjoy the restaurants at the Fairmont in the Upper Village (Blackcomb Mountain side) and the restaurant at Nita Lake Lodge in Creekside Village.
There are plenty of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo options within the village.
Look out for my upcoming Eating Vegan in Whistler guide.
With so many things to do in Whistler in summertime, I bet you won’t just think of Whistler as a ski resort anymore!