You may well be pleasantly surprised at the many free things to do in Whistler. Geared at both children and adults, there’s plenty to keep you occupied indoors and out. Here’s our favourite ways to explore Whistler without splashing the cash.
Take A Stroll
The Village Stroll is a great place to begin your exploration of Whistler. It’s fully pedestrianised and a great way to learn more about Whistler activities while browsing some stores or enjoying a coffee. We recommend taking the time to check out a few menus on your stroll. This may spark inspiration for dinner plans or reveal an offer that you were otherwise unaware of. Some personal highlights on the Village Stroll include:
Whistler Farmers Market
Found in Whistler’s Upper Village, Whistler Farmers Market may be accessed by following the Valley Trail adjacent to the Audain Art Museum and across the Fitzsimmons Creek bridge. Featuring local crafts, fresh produce and artisan goodies, the Farmer’s Market is certainly worth a browse.
The hub of mountain activity, Skier’s Plaza is a great spot to grab a drink and people-watch. In winter you can watch hundreds of skiers and snowboarders doing their thing. In summer you can gaze in awe as mountain bikers tackle the final rollers and berms of Whistler Bike Park. This area also plays host to a number of free events such as the Fire & Ice Show (winter), and Crankworx (August).
Ironman, Wanderlust, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra have all called Olympic Plaza home at one time or another. A legacy of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Olympic Plaza was (and remains) a staging area for major sporting events as well as free concerts and celebrations. The area transitions into winter with the introduction of a skating rink and children’s sliding area, which can be used for free if you bring your own gear.
Whistler Public Library
A wonderful resource for Whistler locals and visitors alike, Whistler Public Library hosts a number of free things to do in Whistler. These range from Parent/Infant Drop-ins and Preschool Story Time, to Evening Meditation and the Best Picture Movie Series. We especially love their Photography For Beginners program, which helps budding photographers to understand and utilize the full potential of their digital camera. Perfect for capturing the beauty of Whistler and British Columbia.
The Blackcomb Ascent Trail
Whistler is home to countless hiking and biking trails to explore. One of our favourite hikes, which is easily accessible from the Village, is the Blackcomb Ascent. Made up of Little Burn, Big Burn, and Heart Burn, the complete trail makes up just over 6km and takes about three and a half hours to complete. There are plenty of spectacular viewpoints, which only get better as you ascend. Finish your hike by downloading back to the Upper Village, with options at mid-station and at the peak (tickets must be bought in advance at the bottom).
Go For A Swim
When it comes to free things to do in Whistler, we have to include a day at the lake. Our favourite is Lost Lake (because it’s typically the warmer of Whistler’s lakes). There’s a great little beach/lawn area to relax on as well as a couple of docks, which are great for swimming. If you want to explore, Lost Lake Park is also home to a number of hiking and biking trails. The Lost Lake Loop is our favourite – it’s easy on the legs and offers great views.
Other lakes in the Whistler area include:
Rainbow Park is easily accessed via the Valley Trail or by car via Alta Lake Road. It’s slightly larger than Lost Lake Park. While you’re here, check out the old Alta Lake cabins – once home to local legends Alex and Myrtle Philip, and site of the very first resort in Whistler.
Located in the quieter neighbourhood of Creekside, Nita Lake can be discovered about 5km south of Whistler Village. This serene lake is perfect for relaxation, reading a book, and sunbathing. Bonus: guests of Nita Lake Lodge have complimentary access to kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards.
We love spending time at Alpha Lake. It’s home to a sandy beach, volleyball and tennis courts, BBQ stands, and a dog park. Alpha Lake is also found in the Creekside Neighbourhood and so typically sees fewer visitors than other, busier Whistler lakes. Grab an iced coffee from Fix Café and enjoy a perfect morning in the sun.
Whistler Sliding Centre
A visit to Whistler Sliding Centre is a great way to learn about Whistler’s Olympic Legacy. Accessible year-round, visitors are invited to undertake a self-guided interpretive tour and learn about the centre and the role that it played in the 2010 Winter Games. You can get a photo on an Olympic podium and sit in an Olympic sled too. You may even witness some athletes in training – be sure to remember your camera!
(Almost) Free things to do in Whistler
This is a great way to learn about Whistler’s incredible past and the legends who helped to shape the area. They also feature an interesting exhibit, which focuses on Whistler’s 2010 Olympic bid titled “Hosting The World”. Entry to Whistler Museum is by donation and we absolutely recommend it as a great afternoon activity.
Valley Of Dreams Walking Tour
In addition to it’s exhibits, Whistler Museum operates the Valley Of Dreams walking tour, which is also by donation. Typically lasting an hour, the walking tours are not physically demanding and so can be enjoyed by most. The tour explores Whistler Village and uncovers stories about local pioneers and points of interest.
One great point to mention is the opportunity for a private guided tour. When arranged in advance, the tour may be customized to meet the interests of your group. It’s a great option for large families or corporate gatherings.
Other Things To Do
There’s no denying it, the mountain is the biggest draw for visitors to Whistler in the winter. The same can be said for the summer too. Here’s three activities to enjoy on Whistler Blackcomb that don’t involve a helmet: https://blog.nitalakelodge.com/whistler-in-summer/