Whistler? In the summer?
To be honest, people were a bit surprised that we were planning to visit Whistler in the summer. It’s best known as a winter resort for skiing and snowboarding, right?
Actually, Whistler is something of a year-round playground. During the summer months, it’s just as busy as in the winter. But at this time of year, people visit for the hiking, biking, and adventure sports on offer.
When you’re planning a first trip to Whistler, it’s worth noting that the village is split into different areas. The lower village is bigger and busier, while the upper village is just a ten-minute walk away, and is a little quieter.
We stayed at Horstman House, a ten-minute walk from the Upper Village. It’s a ski lodge style building with 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom suites, which are cosy and comfortable. There’s free parking, which is a bonus in a busy town like this. Our suite had TV, WiFi, a washing machine and dryer, and pretty much everything we needed.
You can either walk to the village, or there’s a bus stop just outside the hotel and you can take the free shuttle bus which runs each way up and down the hill three times a day. If you prefer to drive, you can drive down to the main village and park in one of the day lots for $8 a day.
When I say Whistler is a playground, I’m not kidding. Just about any sort of activity you can imagine is possible here.
When we arrived, the village was gearing up for a two-week mountain biking event and there were adventure courses and bikers everywhere. Kids can take mountain bike and stunt bike lessons, or simply hire bikes and explore the dozens of trails in and around the village.
On our first day, we headed into the upper village at Blackcomb and the Family Adventure Zone. Here, you can buy tickets to take part in any number of activities dotted around the village, from bungee trampolines to NASA training chairs, batting cages and more.
Flea’s first activity was the Leap of Faith, basically jumping off a high platform into a giant air bag. She LOVED it. Next up, the grass toboggan, which takes you down the hillside on a tea tray with wheels (basically). Terrifying, but a lot of fun.
We spent a fab day in the Upper Village, then wandered through the short woodland path to the lower village for dinner. The village is built around a number of squares, connected by pedestrianised streets called “The Stroll”. You’ll find endless outdoor supply stores, bike shops and activity retailers, along with coffee shops, restaurants, clubs and more.
Towards the bottom end of the village is an open park area with a giant screen, which was showing the Olympics daily during our visit. Here you’ll also find a Post Office, drug store and grocery store. There’s even free WiFi around 90% of the village. Basically, if you don’t want to, you’ll never need to leave Whistler during your holiday here.
Certainly, we didn’t want to leave. Three days wasn’t NEARLY long enough to spend in Whistler. The scenery is amazing, there’s a hundred different things for kids to do here, and if you DO want to have some adult-time, there are plenty of activities and clubs where you can leave kids for an hour or two.
Eating out here can be expensive, but there are plenty of more budget-friendly options. Starbucks is a pretty reliable option, and we also ate dinner one evening at The Old Spaghetti Factory which was great value. We paid around $40 for dinner for two, including starters (which are included in the dinner price), drinks and main courses.
We had booked two ziplining adventures during our stay in Whistler. First up was the Eagle, a 5-line, 3-hour adventure suitable for kids who are particularly adventurous.
Then S**t Got Real…
The following morning, we also decided to take on The Sasquatch, one of the highest, fastest and longest ziplines in the world. At 10, Flea was just old enough to ride it, which she was pretty excited about. Me? Terrified probably comes closer.
Check out the video below – I probably don’t need to say it, but my kid is SO RIDICULOUSLY BRAVE it just blows my mind.
You’ll see me in the background at about 58 seconds in, realising that my feet wouldn’t move beyond the first step down to the zipline. I’m simultaneously thinking, “What if I can’t move my feet? Am I stuck here?” and “How did I not realise before now that I urgently need the bathroom?” Both thoughts instantly forgotten the moment my feet left the platform.
It’s quite extreme – you’re 700 feet off the ground, travelling at more than 100km/hr, for over 2.2km. For the first 20 seconds or so, you’re travelling so fast, it’s hard to breathe. Then – whoosh – you’re out of the tree line and it’s some of the most spectacular scenery you can imagine.
There are LOADS of providers to book through but only Ziptrek Ecotours offers the Sasquatch, and we found all their guides to be really friendly, very helpful and knowledgeable about the forest ecosystem and history. They also provide guests with a GoPro to take with them on all tours. When you finish, you have the option of buying the footage for $25 per camera.
With wobbly legs and dry throats (from screaming) we headed back into the village where Flea had another couple of hours fun in the Family Adventure Zone. At lunchtime we had to cut the fun short, though, as we were heading off to our next destination: Port Angeles in the Olympic National Park!
Don’t miss Part 1 of our road trip, Vancouver and Granville Island