Known for its award-winning winter landscape spanning two mountains and 8,171 acres – and that’s just the alpine terrain – Whistler has been bolstering its summer scene for more than 20 years. From hiking through wildflowers, to exotic hot springs only reachable via helicopter and highbrow art, when the temperatures rise from freezing to fabulous, Whistler’s summertime is, dare we say, as epic as winter. But shhh, don’t tell.
Hangout (literally) between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in style aboard the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Offering 360-degree views of the vast and varied terrain, this peak experience personifies “views for miles.” Couple the outlook with the gondola’s engineering wow-factor – it boasts the longest unsupported lift span in the world (3.024 kilometres or 1.88 miles) – and your summer just got an UPgrade (sorry!).
Pro Tip: Request the glass-bottom gondola for a bird’s-eye view of the forest from a height of 1,427 feet above ground (making it the highest lift of its kind, anywhere).
Hiking on High
Once you’re on a mountaintop high, stay there (literally) and take a step on the wild side with access to 31 miles of hiking trails that take in glacial lakes, snow fields and alpine meadows. For a short and sweet stroll, head to Spearhead Walk on Whistler for a 15-minute foray into Whistler’s summit setting, think: melting snow, serene pathways, and wildflowers at every turn. Experienced hikers will enjoy the steep incline of Harmony Meadows, a technical two-hour trail with vistas overlooking milky-blue lakes and the lush valley below.
If the spa is more your scene, Whistler’s well of wellness is as world-class as the Olympic athletes who call the resort community home (and ensure its health facilities are top-notch). Those craving a remote and refined retreat will want to consider a heli-spa adventure offered by Head-Line Mountain Holidays. This five-hour mini spa-cation whisks you from Whistler over ice caps and waterfalls to a mountain clearing beside a natural hot springs. Here, appetizers await, as does a spa staff ready to provide bespoke treatments by the thermal pool.
For an outdoorsy and soothing experience closer to Whistler (read: A two-minute drive from the Village), stroll into Scandinave Spa, a Finnish-style retreat practicing the art of hot-cold-rest hydrotherapy to soothe muscles and flush toxins. Under the canopy of nature and a code of silence, it’s the perfect way to relax the mind, body and soul amid Canada’s cedar-scented cathedral.
Fresh off of a total revamp, Christine’s on Blackcomb redefines rooftop dining thanks to its highfalutin location and locally sourced menu. Jetting out over the cusp of Blackcomb Mountain at 6,102 feet above sea level, the fine dining address is also helmed by the former Sous-Chef and menu development savant of Canada’s hottest restaurant: Hawksworth. Stop in for a wine flight après spa or hike, or take advantage of your vacation state of mind and sit on the sunny patio for the afternoon and order a bottle (or two!) of British Columbia bubbly paired with seared local scallops accompanied by carrots, cucumbers and fried chickpeas in an Indian-spiced vinaigrette. Cheers!
High Altitude Culture
The newest and most cultured notch on Whistler’s belt belongs to the Audain Art Museum, a 56,000-square-foot gallery showcasing the works of British Columbia artists, as well as exhibitions from leading museums around the world. Open in March 2016, the self-named cultural hot spot offers an in-depth look at a Vancouver home builder’s passion project, which includes centuries-old Northwest Coast artistry (some created before European contact). Art aficionados will relish in the more than two dozen Emily Carr works (acknowledged as one of Canada’s most important female artists), as well as pieces by Canada’s most significant post-war modernists, including Jack Shadbolt and Gordon Smith. For a “peak view” of the gallery visit on Thursday or Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m. for a Moonlight Tour, which shines a unique light onto the art through the gallery’s windows and the curator’s storytelling.
Where to stay in Whistler
Images: Headline Mountain Holidays; Paul Morrison; Robin O’Neil, Mike Crane, Justa Jeskova/Tourism Whistler