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My Solo Trip to Whistler, BC

After spending three nights in Vancouver, I was off to Whistler. While researching all the must-see things in Vancouver, taking a drive on the Sea to Sky highway popped up with a suggestion to spend the day in Whistler. The more I looked into Whistler, the more I knew I wanted to spend way more than just an afternoon here, so I decided to split my trip into two parts, and spend half of it in this amazing alpine town.

The drive on the Sea to Sky highway has been named one of the most scenic in Canada. After spending a few days in Cape Breton last summer, and driving the Cabot Trail, I wasn’t sure if I’d even be all that impressed because that drive, my friends, will take your breath away. But, I totally had some breathless moments on this drive, too. The drive was so, so beautiful, and it was hard to concentrate on the road with the stunning mountain and water views! I wish there had been more overlooks to pull off into to take in the views, but the only one I saw was in Porteau Cove, which is almost to Squamish, and I didn’t realize it was there until I was pretty much driving away from the exit. So, take note for next time!

But, that said, my time in Whistler was off to a pretty amazing start just with the drive, and I’m thrilled to recap how I spent my time here.

Depending on where in Vancouver you’re coming from, the drive is about an hour and a half. For me, it was exactly this because I was coming from North Vancouver. Coming from downtown or another direction may add more time.

In total, this trip was six nights, with three in Vancouver (which you can read about here) and three in Whistler.

Early June/2019. As mentioned in my Vancouver recap, I wanted to travel during an off-peak time to avoid crowds as much as possible, and also save a little money on accommodations. I will say, Whistler seemed lively all three days I was there (including a Monday). And the parking lots were all pretty full every day I was there. So, not sure if I avoided too many crowds, but I definitely saved some money on my hotel.

I stayed at the Summit Lodge in the village, and I would recommend to everyone that you stay right in the village when visiting Whistler.  Everything is in the village, and it’s the heart of your whole experience while visiting. Staying in the village made my time here infinitely more convenient and enjoyable because everything is walkable – and a scenic , enjoyable walk at that!

Just follow the rainbow to the Summit Lodge!

While comparing prices for my trip, early June was a lot less expensive than mid-  to late-June, being that July begins their peak summer season.

The lobby of the Summit Lodge.

In addition to a doggie bed in the lobby, they also had a chalkboard at reception which listed the names
of all the pups staying at the hotel. It made me miss mine at home so much.

My room at the Summit Lodge. It was the cheapest and smallest type they had, and it still felt so spacious.

I also found that while comparing prices of hotels and AirBnB’s, a few hotels ended up being the same as an AirBnB  (or less, in some cases) in the same kind of location. So, I decided to go with one of those options. The Summit Lodge was amazing, and I found it via Booking.com. I loved my stay here so much. I paid under $100 a night, and each room had a fully-stock kitchenette, fireplace, iPad, robes, sofa with sitting area and a bright, modern but rustic style that was unique to the lodge. They also offered so many little extra, fun and sometimes quirky amenities like hot cocoa in the lobby, an adopt-a-fish program (if you get lonely and want a room companion), a candy bar in the lobby during certain hours, free hugs and on-site parking (parking was an added nightly fee, though).  Everyone that worked here was insanely friendly and helpful - I can’t recommend it enough. Other hotels in the village in the same kind of price range were the Crystal Lodge (closer to Whistler Gondola) and the Pinnacle Hotel.

Just outside the front doors at the Summit Lodge, they had bikes to rent.

The one downside to my hotel (and from what I’ve read, most hotels in the village) is parking, which usually comes at an added cost. The Summit Lodge’s nightly rate was $21, but they kindly pointed me to Day Lot 4 as a free option, which was a 5-minute walk away. So, I definitely took advantage of that. Day Lot 4 is free until June 15th for overnight parking.  After that, you’re lookin’ at a steep price of 5 whole dollars a night.  All the parking lots are pretty much right next to each other on the same road with signs pointing out where each one is. Day Lot 4 came up in Google Maps for me, just FYI.

To get around, use your feet. The only time I used my car was to drive to a waterfall nearby, but for everything else, I walked. That was one of the best parts about staying in the village for me. All the walkways are pedestrian-only, making any stroll you want to take very relaxing. There are two main village areas, Upper and Main, and both are connected by a lovely walk over a covered bridge. There are free maps available all over town to help get you where you need to go, and navigating was pretty easy once I got the lay of the land. I was on the far side of the Main Village, and getting to the other side of Upper Village was a 15-minute walk, and that’s probably as far as you’ll ever need to go to get anywhere between the two villages.

The bridge connecting the two villages in Whistler. Yes, the water was really that blue!

What can’t you do would probably be the more appropriate phrasing! You can do it all in Whistler. Bungee jump, zip line, mountain biking, easy hiking, serious hiking,  shopping, casual walks, skateboard parks, gondola rides – the list goes on and on and on. I was never bored while here (in fact, usually exhausted from doing all the things). Here’s a recap of what I decided to do during my stay.

Zip Line with Zip Trek
This was, by and far, my favorite thing in Whistler, and probably of my entire trip (or maybe even my entire life).  I’ve always wanted to go zip lining, but just never got around to it for no real compelling reason. Once I saw reviews online of Zip Trek, and took a peek at their different programs, I decided to go for it and book two different tours. I started with the Eagle Tour, which is 5 lines, and is suggested for intermediate participates, or those looking for a little more of a thrill than their basic course. I loved this one. You got to go on mini walks through the alpine meadows (where we ran into some black bears!), walk over tree-top suspension bridges and had some pretty scenic views of the mountains – all while zipping through the lines.

Then, I decided to book the Sasquatch Tour right after, which is the longest zip line in North America! I did the combo package, which got me a discount by booking both tours, and guys, this line was epic. You really feel like you’re flying because you go so fast and so far – way faster than any line on the Eagle Tour. And it’s such an adrenaline rush. I called up Josh when I was done with it raving about the experience and totally debated doing it again. I didn’t because it’s a bit expensive, but if it had been cheaper, I would have done it again the following day.

All the guides were super friendly, and they make it as easy as possible by putting your harness on and prepping you for all the lines themselves. All you have to do is enjoy the experience and do as they say.

Tip: If you do book a combo tour with Sasquatch and something else, Sasquatch is the only one that has a different meeting place (right by the Blackomb Gondola in Upper Village). I contacted them prior to booking and asked if 30 mins between tours was enough to get from one location to the other, and they said yes. However, because you have to arrive 15 mins before your tour starts, I didn’t make it in time to my Sasquatch tour (I actually arrived 5 mins before it was supposed to start!). You have to go from one end of the main village, to the Upper village, and since I didn’t know exactly how to get there, even with jogging the whole way, it was tough to get to in time because I got turned around a few times. I would suggest planning about an hour between tours, which will give you time to use the bathroom, get some water, take a leisurely walk to the Sasquatch check-in area, and not feel so rushed. Once I finally arrived, I came in hot, out of breath, sweating, screaming “Did I make it in time!?” and thankfully, they let me join the tour. Probably because they felt bad for weird, disheveled woman traveling alone.

Peak2Peak 360 Experience
The one thing that didn’t quite go my way was my last day, where I planned lots of hiking while also riding the Peak2Peak Gondola. Until 2017, this gondola held the record for the longest unsupported span between two cable car towers (a cable car in Switzerland took over as number 1). I think it currently holds the record as highest cable car above ground, but it was kind of hard to confirm that with a Google search. It is also the first gondola to connect two mountains.

The day I did this, all the hiking trails were closed due to snow accumulation. Yes, in early June in the highest peaks of the mountains, this girl forgot there could be lots of snow. I read reports from years prior saying that quite a few trails were usually open by this time, but the cards were just not working in my favor. That said, I still had an amazing day.

The Peak2Peak 360 experience includes your lift tickets for both the Whistler and Blackcomb mountain gondolas (Whistler Village Gondola is in the main village, and the Blackcomb Gondola is in the Upper Village, and you need to go on one in order to access the Peak2Peak). It also includes unlimited rides on the Peak2Peak gondola, which connects the two mountains. The views on this were awesome. I rode it twice just to squeeze out my money’s worth.

There’s also a new suspension bridge called Cloudscraper, but sadly, that doesn’t open until mid-June each year, so I missed out on that, too. It’s okay though because I got to cross so many suspension bridges on this trip already, and I already knew it was closed.

One thing I was able to take advantage of was the lift to 7th Heaven. You pick up a shuttle bus on Blackcomb mountain (it’s very easy to find the shuttle once you unload from the gondola), and they drop you off at the entrance for the 7th Heaven lift. It’s an open-air lift, but it takes you up the mountains to a beautiful area close to the glacier, and the views were insane. It also smelled so good up there (crisp air, snow and trees), and you could watch skiers flying through the paths on the glacier. It was so memorable for me, and I feel so fortunate to have experienced it.

Tip: Keep an eye out for black bears while on the Whistler and Blackcomb gondolas. I saw more on Whistler Mountain than I did Blackcomb, but I did see them on both. I even saw a momma bear with her two cubs! Quite a few of them were out and every time I rode the gondola I had at least one sighting. And I rode the gondolas quite a bit.

Tip: The Peak2Peak offer some gondolas with a glass bottom, and there's a separate line to wait in to hop on one of those. I've heard that during peak times, the lines can get rather long, and there aren't that mean glass-bottom gondolas to begin with. I never waited for one and never rode in one, but I did overhear a few people saying the wait isn't worth it. The views from a regular gondola were amazing enough, and everything you want to see is right in front of you, not below your feet. Just my two cents if you're planning a visit. I also never had to wait in line for any gondolas during my visit, so even though I was by myself, they let me have them all to myself which was so great. 

Walk The Village
The village is so much fun. I loved just walking around, popping into the shops, grabbing snacks, etc. It’s so quaint and cozy feeling, even though it’s pretty big. I found it so interesting that all the condos and vacation rentals (and I would assume AirBnB’s) where located above all the stores. And since you pick up the gondolas right from the village, it’s a true ski-in/ski-out destination. So after unloading from my gondola rides, I was right in the middle of all the excitement, making it so easy to grab food or take a quick shopping excursion.

My favorite shops in the village were 3 Birds and Ruby Tuesday, both located in the main village. I told myself no souvenirs since I left my house with barely any room to spare in my two carry-on’s. But, each of these two stores had really cute necklaces, so I got two to remember my trip by since they were so tiny.

The main village is where most of the shops are. The Upper village was mostly restaurants and the fancier hotels, including the Fairmont. The main village is also home to the Olympic park area.

Sea To Sky Gondola
About 30 mins from Whistler is Squamish, home to the Sea to Sky Gondola. I did this on my way in to Whistler, and my jaw dropped at the views on my way up the Gondola. Once at the top, there’s a beautiful suspension bridge to walk over to access the hiking trails, and I took the easy way out and just did a couple of the beginner trails. The one that offered the better views was XX trail, and honestly, for minimal effort, you got some pretty great views. Toward the end, you’ll pass the Chief Viewing area, and while it was super overcast once I got to it, it was still kind of cool because it felt like I was literally walking in the clouds.

Your constant view as you go up the Sea To Sky gondola. I mean ... seriously?

The suspension bridge at the top of the Sea to Sky gondola. 

Pacific Northwest vibes all the way. I loved it.

I got all the PNW vibes I wanted up these mountains. 

Totally got photobombed, but grateful that a stranger took a photo to capture my time here.

Nairn Falls
About 30 mins the other way from Whistler are Nairn Falls. I squeezed this in because the hiking trails on Whistler and Blackomb mountains were closed the day I visited, and I really felt like going for a hike. The Nairn Falls hike is pretty easy and not very long, so I didn’t quite get the super adventurous experience I was hoping for. But, that said, the falls and the views are beautiful. The falls are glacier-fed and a beautiful turquoise green color. The entire trail to the falls is parallel to the stream so you get to take in that beautiful color the entire walk. The whole thing only took me about an hour and a half round trip at a moderate pace.

Brandywine Falls
This waterfall is just about 20 mins south of Whistler right off the Sea to Sky Highway, and a great little pitstop. The walk to the falls is very short and easy and there's a nice little viewing area to take it all in. You don't need to plan a long stop here - I think 30-45 mins is more than enough time. Because it's so easy to access, it's definitely worth doing.

Day Hikes
One thing I didn’t have time to do was a day hike. I also didn’t really want to do any of these alone, so even if I had the time, I didn’t feel safe flying solo on these. But, there are some incredible opportunities for day hikes to beautiful glacier-fed lakes in the mountains – you know, those ones you see on Instagram and you question if they even exist?  Well, turns out, they do exist, and it was hard to resist the temptation to just say “Screw it, I’m doin’ it!” But common sense told me that hiking for 10+ hours by myself in the Canadian wilderness was probably not a good idea.

One super helpful resource I suggest is XX. He details all the hiking opportunities in Whistler with awesome detail, and it’s worth visiting if you want to plan some memorable hikes.

Scandinave Spa
One thing I also wish I had the time (and budget) for was a visit to the Skandinave Spa. This spa specializes in hydrotherapy with small pools outside overlooking the mountains which have different temperature waters from cold to hot. It’s supposed to be very relaxing and good for you, and I was so tempted to go. But I really wanted to prioritize all the more active excursions since that was the reason for my visit. And since Josh and I are planning a trip to Iceland in September, we plan to have similar experiences there. But, it’s something I’d recommend looking into for a unique and relaxing experience after a day on the mountains. It’s $79 to use the baths (plus extra for a robe rental), and they also offer massages on-site.

Shannon Falls
Lastly, as much as I wanted to visit Shannon Falls, I wasn't able, but highly suggest you swing by if you can. It's also right off the Sea To Sky Highway, and very close to the Sea To Sky Gondola. When I visited, it was on a Saturday late morning/early afternoon, and it was a beautiful day, and I could not find parking to save my life. The parking lot is very small, and I must have circled it 25 times, stalked people and did everything I could to secure a spot, and I was always beat out by another car. It just wasn't meant to be. But, if you're able to visit during an off-peak day or time, I'd assume you'd be able to get a spot. 

Because I was by myself, I wasn’t really in the mood for an upscale dining experience and pretty much stuck to take-out orders and counter-service type places.  But, I still ate some really great food.

By and far my favorite place I ate in Whistler, if only for the interior. If you’re traveling solo, this is a great place to go. It’s located in the Upper Village in the Fairmont Hotel, but it’s open to the public. It’s a very cool, rustic-styled restaurant with counter-service and to-go food. They serve all three meals throughout the day, and I came twice: once for breakfast and once for dinner. For dinner, I got their veggie burger, with sides of mac and cheese and cole slaw. I thought the side portions would be tiny based on the prices, but they were huge and I was actually kind of embarrassed when I picked up my food. The food was really good, and the inside of the place is just really cozy and relaxing. I loved coming here. Bonus, they also have wifi, so I was able to keep myself entertained while eating alone.

La Cantina
I believe they have two locations in Whistler, but I went to the one in the village, which just so happened to be right across the street from my hotel. This is also an order-at-the-counter type place, and I got chips & quac and fish tacos. All of it was amazing. I debated going here again on my last night since I enjoyed it so much but decided to try another place to mix it up.

Pizzeria Antico
On my last night, I decided to get take out (or take away as they say in Canada). I got a side portion of their Cesar salad and their classic margherita pizza, and it was so tasty. It totally hit the spot after being up in the cold mountains all day. And not gonna lie, I chowed down on this while laying in bed because at this point, my feet and leg muscles were so sore.

And before I knew it, all my adventuring in the Canadian Pacific Northwest was over. I left this trip just feeling so grateful for every single one of my experiences. And also, exhausted and simultaneously invigorated, which I learned is very possible. This part of the world is so stunning and full of possibilities for easily accessible yet epic adventures, and I hope everyone gets to experience it at some point in their lives. Have you been to Whistler? Any tips that I may have missed this time around?

What's up next?
I have one more solo trip planned this year in August, and Josh and I will be spending our usual week at the Cape, as well as exploring Iceland in September. Stay tuned for recaps of these adventures.

Khaki BackpackeBags. I carried this around with me during my whole time in Whistler because it held my camera tripod, camera, snacks for hiking, water bottle and everything else I needed for the day. I also love the vintage look it has.

Athletic LeggingsOld Navy. I'm actually not an athletic leggings person unless I'm doing actual athletic things, but I totally just wore these around my entire time in Whistler because they were so comfortable. They're high-rise, and the waist never started to role down, either, which has always been an issue with me in the past. I bought them in black and navy for my trip because my old pairs from another retailer were in bad shape, and these were so nice.

Zip-Up JacketL.L. Bean. I didn't buy this specifically for the trip, but it was perfect for my time in Whistler. Mornings were a little chilly, but not freezing, so this was the perfect weight. And while up in the mountains, it kept me warm but not overheated. I also liked the thumbholes, and the fact that it didn't take up too much space in my backpack when I didn't need to have it on.

Hotel: I booked the Summit Lodge via Booking.com. I used to use Priceline exclusively for booking hotels but have since found that Booking.com has the best pricing, is also easier to use and has more options (they will include guest houses, hostels and a bigger selection of hotels). They show you the total price for all of your selected nights right up-front making it easier for me to plan my budget while looking at my options. Not at all sponsored, just a huge fan! If you'd like to save $25 on your first reservation, you can use my referral link here. Using that link will also get me a $25 credit, which will be put toward future content and videos during upcoming adventures.

Links included in my posts will sometimes be an affiliate link, which offers me a commission if you choose to use that link to make a purchase of something featured in my blog. The only time I ever use affiliate links is if I truly stand by the product, have used it and believe you may benefit from it as well. If I don't think something is worth your time, I simply will not link to it, or make it an affiliate link. Anything I earn from affiliate links is used to invest in my blogs to provide even more content for you.

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