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More Than Skiing in Whistler

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The resort town of Whistler, B.C. has a well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s premier winter destinations. It’s got some of the best alpine skiing in the western hemisphere, supported by excellent infrastructure and as many modern amenities as you could ask for. But Whistler’s just as amazing without snow, too. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures or just some time to unwind, there’s something for everyone.

Though you won’t be shushing down Whistler’s famed slopes in the summer, there’s still a ton of awesome action in the mountains. A ride on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola is a must-do for most first-timers: It spans 4.4 kilometres between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and provides a breathtaking view of the snow-capped summits and surrounding rainforests, glaciers and valleys. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to see the sights al fresco, two highly regarded zipline operators offer a variety of exhilarating tours through the treetops. And even more scenic, airborne excitement can be had with a 50-metre bungee jump from a bridge above the Cheakamus River, surrounded by basalt cliffs and old-growth forest.

Of course, the adrenaline-fueled highs aren’t only found at altitude. The glacier-fed rivers that snake through the Whistler region are great for paddling, and whether you prefer the roaring rapids of the Elaho or the gentle roll of the Cheakamus, the Squamish Rafting Co. offers excursions that…

One of Whistler’s newest attractions is the Audain Art Museum. Opened just last year, the beautiful building sits seamlessly within a stand of spruce trees. Inside, its light-filled galleries house an unparalleled assemblage of indigenous masks, an impressive set of Emily Carr paintings and much more.

Like what you see at the Audain? Whistler’s many commercial galleries boast exceptional Aboriginal artworks that you can bring back to your own home. Among them, Black Tusk Gallery features works by artists of British Columbia’s northwest coast, while The Crystal Lodge Art Gallery specializes in contemporary interpretations of Coast Mountains scenery, and at Fathom Stone Art you’ll find animals and other figures carved from marble, jade, serpentine, limestone, quartz, brucite, soapstone, granite, barite and other stone types from B.C. and southeastern Alaska.

And save a few hours for a visit to the Squamish-Lil’Wat Cultural Centre, where you can engage with the history and culture of the centre’s namesake indigenous nations. The Great Hall’s 12-metre-long Salish hunting canoe is a highlight: It’s still paddled every year in Howe Sound to preserve the canoe’s spirit.

Whistler has always been a restaurant village; the food here is better (and there’s more of it) than in many much larger cities. The heights of culinary excellence are most notably scaled on the mountains themselves: Christine’s, perched at 1,860 metres on Blackcomb Peak, has made its name serving fresh, wild-caught fish, free-range meat and seasonal, local produce in a contemporary chalet-style space with panoramic views. In town, chef Melissa Craig’s Bearfoot Bistro is notable not only for its contemporary Pacific Northwest food, but also its beverage program: There’s a 20,000-bottle wine cellar, champagne bar, and the world’s coldest vodka tasting room, with more than 50 varieties of the spirit to sample. Seeking something a little less extravagant? Sushi Village has been holding its own with Vancouver’s famed Japanese restaurants for more than 30 years.

Few activities put the mind at ease more readily than a good hike—and Whistler has some of the best in Canada. More than 50 kilometres of trails ranging in length and challenge can be accessed by the resort’s various chairlifts and gondolas. Whether you choose and easy, intermediate or advanced trek, you’ll be treated to a bounteous mountain landscape of old-growth forests, glacier-fed lakes and unforgettable scenic vistas.

Following your hike, spend some time at Scandinave Spa, a Nordic-style collection of hot and cold pools, saunas and solariums located just north of the village beside Lost Lake. Partaking in the hydrotherapy circuit has many benefits, including helping to increase blood flow to your muscles and flushing toxins from the body.

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