Located in the Coast Mountains of beautiful British Columbia, only two hours north of Vancouver, is the flourishing municipality of Whistler. Its history dates to the 1860s, when British Naval Officers surveyed the area and gave Whistler Mountain the name London Mountain. The name Whistler was used because of the whistling sound made by the hoary marmots who live among the rocks.
Whistler is a world-renowned, year-round destination; it is considered to be a first-rate setting for skiing and snowboarding in the winter season and biking and hiking in the summer. Whistler is also well known for hosting the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Driving along the winding Sea to Sky Highway is an amazing journey through history and nature. Along the way, there are stunning views of the Pacific Ocean on your left and the North Shore Mountains on your right. These mountains have a plethora of tree species—western red cedar, yellow cedar, western white pine, Douglas fir, western hemlock, western yew, and Douglas maple to name a few.
If you have time, here are 13 places worth stopping at and exploring along the way:
1. Horseshoe Bay
Along the Sea to Sky Highway (a section of Highway 99) is the quaint seaside village of Horseshoe Bay. Its main draw is the BC Ferry Terminal.
To the left of the terminal is Horseshoe Bay Park, which has breathtaking views of the ferries coming and going. In the distance, you can see the tree-lined mountains rising from the rugged beauty of Howe Sound, with views that will captivate spectators of every age.
Enjoy a stroll along the beach and discover its treasures. Make sure you take a moment to check outtwo totem poles and a 5000-pound cast-bronze propeller from a converted whaling ship.
Visit the marina, walk to the end of the pier, and enjoy the beautiful scenery in front of you.
Have a craving for fish and chips? Why not find a restaurant with a window view so that you can enjoy your food and the view in front of you.
For more information: https://vancouversbestplaces.com/north-shore/west-vancouver/horseshoe-bay/
2. Porteau Cove Provincial Park
Located between Vancouver and Squamish in Howe Sound, Porteau Cove is a popular spot to stop and enjoy the beauty of nature. Established in 1908, Porteau Cove was a resource for Vancouver’s growing need for sand and gravel.
There is a long pier and a lookout where you can enjoy the scenic views. You might be lucky and spot some Pacific dolphins or whales passing by. It is also a popular place for divers and kayakers, with a sunken boat offshore to explore.
If you are looking for a campsite to stay at, there is a large, year-round campsite with ocean views just before the exit to Porteau Cove. There is a picnic area and public washrooms just off the parking lot. For reservations: https://www.discovercamping.ca/bccweb/
3. Britannia Mine Museum
Operated from 1904 to 1974, the Britannia Mine was once the largest copper mine in the British Empire. Over the course of its life, over 60,000 people from 50 countries lived and worked in this secluded mining community.
The museum was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1987. Currently there are tours into the mine for all ages to enjoy.
For more information: www.BritanniaMineMuseum.ca
4. Sea to Sky Gondola
The Sea to Sky Gondola is located 1.2 miles south of Squamish along the Sea to Sky Highway. The views here include snow-capped mountains, old-growth forests, and the sea-green waters of Howe Sound.
A ride in the gondola is a breathtaking experience, with stunning views. Once at the top, there are two walking trails, three easily-accessible viewing platforms, the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, and much more. Free parking is available.
For more information: https://www.seatoskygondola.com/attractions/
5. Shannon Falls Provincial Park
While driving along the Sea to Sky Highway toward Squamish, watch out for the sign to Shannon Falls on the right-hand side of the road. This park is a great stopover for those who love to chase waterfalls or for sharing a picnic lunch with your family and friends.
Shanon Falls is British Columbia’s third tallest waterfall, at a height of 1,105 feet. The plunging waters come from Mount Habrich and Sky Pilot Mountain.
Along the base of the falls, there is a boardwalk and trail system that explore some of the area’s colossal trees, old-growth stumps, and continuous mist from the thundering falls above.
There are two viewing areas for a better look at the waterfall. There is also a concession and information center located next to the public restrooms on the trail to the waterfalls.
For more information: http://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/shannon/
6. Brandywine Falls Provincial Park
This stunning waterfall is in the Cheakamus River Valley, about 29 miles north of Squamish off the Sea to Sky Highway. Brandywine Falls is the perfect stopover for those traveling through the Squamish and Whistler area looking for a quick walk to a breathtaking waterfall.
The trail begins from the parking lot and crosses over the river through a covered wooden bridge. Head right for about half a mile, cross over the train tracks, and you will reach a platform overlooking the waterfall. The waterfall drops approximately 230 feet, and the surrounding cavern features rockslides that have crumbled from the walls over hundreds of years.
Keep walking and you will arrive at the second viewpoint with a view of Daisy Lake. The park has day-use picnic sites as well as hiking and mountain biking trails.
Even during the rainy season, families can have oodles of fun jumping in puddles, climbing huge boulders, and collecting rocks or leaves.
For more information: http://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/brandywine_falls/
7. Whistler Village
Whistler Village is centrally located at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. It is designed for pedestrians only, giving visitors a safer opportunity to take a leisurely walk and explore.
Open year-round, Whistler offers a variety of opportunities to ski, hike, bike, sightsee, shop, visit art galleries, and relax at the spas. Do not forget to stop in at the Visitor Center; they have a map to help you find what you are looking for.
The Village is the perfect place to spend time with friends and family; grab yourself a coffee and visit one of the art galleries; or check out the amazing variety of boutique stores and souvenir shops. After your day of exploring, choose a place to eat and sit back and watch the crowds.
For more information: https://www.whistler.com/village/.
Why not take the family to one of the five lakes (Alpha Lake, Nita Lake, Alta Lake, Lost Lake, or Green Lake) and enjoy the water, playgrounds, watercraft rentals, picnics, or a barbecue in the warmer months. In the colder months, you can go ice skating, ice fishing, snowshoeing, and more. Four of the lakes are a short drive from Whistler Village, and Lost Lake is within walking distance.
There are also eight parks to explore. Each park offers something different. Take a moment and watch the people skateboarding, biking, or even the kids playing at a playground.
For those of you who love walking, running, cycling, skating, or rollerblading, there are plenty of trails to choose from. The main trail in Whistler is the Valley Trail, with more than 25 miles to explore. This trail is open year-round and is maintained during the colder months for those who want to walk or cross-country ski. This trail also connects to the Sea to Sky Trail, which is part of the Trans Canada Trail.
Want to bring your dog while exploring the trails? Remember to keep them on a short leash so that they cannot wander across the trail. It is safer for your dog and others along the way. There are dog parks along the Valley Trail if your dog wants to run around. Be responsible and pick up after your dog. Forgot a poop bag? There are bins and bags along the trail.
Whistler has many lakes, parks, and trails to explore year-round. For more detailed information: https://www.whistler.com/activities/lakes-beaches-parks/
11. Whistler in the Fall
Wanting to get away from the busyness of life after summer vacations end? Why not spend a couple of days in Whistler! Autumn is an amazing time to visit. Nature showcases its amazing colors during this time. It’s the perfect time to go for a leisurely walk or hike along the trails.
If you want something edgier, check out the zipline tours. Sit back and enjoy the ride while getting a bird’s-eye view of the forest below you.
Do you love bears? Why not check out the bear tours before they hibernate for the winter.
Or maybe you just want to sit back and take a sightseeing tour of the area or an eagle tour. There is so much to do in Whistler during the fall!
For more information: https://www.whistler.com/activities/fall/.
12. Whistler in the Winter
In winter, Whistler is the place to visit for both skiers and non-skiers alike. For those of you who love to ski, you already know where to go and what options are out there for you. Maybe some of you are visiting Whistler for the first time. In that case, check out this link for more information: https://www.whistler.com/skiing/
For those who don’t ski, the sky’s the limit. There are so many places to explore in the Village and the surrounding area. Some of your choices include snowshoeing, snowmobiling, the Peak-2-Peak Gondola, and ziplining (yes, the zipline in the winter too!).
If none of these options appeal to you, check here for more information: https://www.whistler.com/activities/winter/
13. Golfing in Whistler
For those of you who love to golf, Whistler is Canada’s premier golf destination. There are four immaculate golf courses—Big Sky Golf Club, Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club, Nicklaus North Golf Course, and Whistler Golf Club—that allow you to challenge yourself while enjoying the stunning mountain views.
For more information: https://www.golfwhistler.com/
Whistler offers year-round opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Each season brings an abundance of places to visit and new activities to try. Whether you are alone or with family, and whether you are young or old, this is the place to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature. And for those who would rather curl up with a book and sip a hot chocolate or latte, Whistler Village is the perfect place. There is something for everyone in Whistler!
Last Updated on October 16, 2020