It's time to fall for Whistler
The mountain village of Whistler was literally founded on fun. It started as an isolated fishing lodge in the early 20th century, but since the 1970s, this resort town built on a footing of ski slopes and leisure activities has attracted people from all over the world in search of relaxation, outdoor adventure and entertainment. More than two million people visit each year—and those in the know aren’t just coming for winter’s exceptional skiing and snowboarding. They’re also enjoying the fall season, with all the outdoor action, cozy sweaters and good vibes that go with it.
Indeed, the beloved mountain town of Whistler is the ideal place for your next autumn adventure. Slowing down to watch the leaves change offers so much more than pretty views, with a myriad of things to do between the peaks of Blackcomb and Whistler. It’s time to fall for Whistler.
Travelling in the autumn has so many benefits—fewer crowds, more moderate temperatures and gorgeous scenery, but in Whistler it’s especially magical. Whistler Village is bustling, its alpine aesthetic obvious at every turn, and its pedestrian-only streets beckoning with shops, restaurants and art galleries.
Not only is there a more laid-back vibe at your favourite museums, galleries and spas, but reservations for world-class dining options (in which Whistler totally punches above its weight) also are easier to get. Being selective with your dates and booking during the fall months means you can take advantage of lower rates to vacation longer.
And this year, staying in Whistler for more than three nights has benefits beyond the recreational — you’ll receive a $100 dining voucher when you book extended visits of three or more nights.
The gorgeous colours of Whistler in fall are reason enough to head to the mountains. Ramble through town to see the fall foliage bursting with reds, oranges and golds, or head to Fitzsimmons Creek Trail just minutes from the Village, where you can meander along the banks of the creek.
For longer excursions into nature, you can choose to bike some (or even all) of the 46-kilometre Valley Trail, which offers up paved, car-free trailways. Head up to Green Lake for gorgeous lakeside views along the boardwalk and a colourful experience of the seasonal changes — the trees surrounding the water are vibrant against the snowy peaks of the mountains.
For the ultimate birds-eye view of the changing scenery, hop aboard a helicopter for an exhilarating excursion over the peaks and valleys, or, if you're going in September, consider booking a floatplane tour of the Whistler Valley and going further afield to the glaciers (these end Oct. 1).
If looking at fall foliage doesn’t get your blood pumping, book a bear-viewing tour, available through October before the bears start hibernating for winter. Observe the famous black bears of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in their natural habitat with experienced guides for a photo safari (inside the safety of a 4x4).
Fall festival fun
If a jam-packed work calendar makes you wince, trade it for a full roster of fun when you visit Whistler Village in the fall. With events and festivals happening almost every weekend through to December, it’s a safe bet there will be something stimulating (or delicious) on the docket during your stay.
Cheer on the cyclists in GranFondo Whistler (or take on the challenge of the ‘big ride’ yourself) in September, or sample more than 100 different brews during the week-long Whistler Village Beer Festival. October brings the Whistler’s Writers Festival where you can attend readings by authors from around the world. And in November, see your fave celebrity chef cook up a storm and indulge in delicious tastings at the 10-day food festival Cornucopia, or take in a short film premiere at the Whistler Film Festival, which stretches into the first few days of December.
No visit to Whistler is complete without taking advantage of the array of activities. Mountain biking in Whistler is world-class all year, but it’s the so called “hero dirt” (when the trail surface is the perfect consistency for riding after rain, making for good traction) that brings bikers to Whistler in the fall. The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is open until October, making for gravity-defying rides into the autumn.
Extreme thrills can be found by taking an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tour and ripping through the backcountry, or riding up Whistler or Blackcomb mountain. Or, hit the links at one of the many golf courses in Whistler—most are open until mid-October. You can tee off at a Jack Nicklaus-designed course, Nicklaus North, just five minutes from the Village.
Immerse yourself in relaxation at one of the dozen spas in the Whistler area, which are open year-round for soothing experiences. Take in the water circuit at Scandinave Spa, Whistler's most well-known spa; visiting in the fall means more room to stretch out in the hot tub. A luxurious spa day at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler spa, Vida, brings blissful hours meandering from the pool (and the poolside bar) to the hot tubs, eucalyptus steam rooms and saunas.
Cultural immersion is a fall tradition in Whistler, too, with numerous museums and art galleries right in Whistler Village. Vallea Lumina, an immersive multimedia show that guides you through the foregrounds of Cougar Mountain with stories and lights, will brighten up your day. Head to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) to learn about the partnership of the two First Nations and explore the exhibitions about the cultural history and traditions of these indigenous peoples.
The permanent collection at the Audain Art Museum (above) is impressive in its own right, showcasing indigenous artists and masterpieces from British Columbia’s own Emily Carr, as well as Lawren Harris of the Group of Seven.
Ready to go? Start your trip planning here: whistler.com/fall