Whistler, Canada, is best known as a winter ski destination. But this British Columbia mountain village offers activities throughout the year — and fall in Whistler is a particularly good time to visit.
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While I’ve visited British Columbia several times, I’ve never been to Whistler. So, today’s post is by someone who knows the area well, writer Rachael Hopwood Jarvis.
Rachael is passionate about travel and she writes regularly about the Canadian mountain resort of Whistler. A keen skier, she also loves fashion, food, and reading. And today she’ll explain why Whistler should be on every fall travel itinerary!
Fall activities in Whistler
Nestled high in the mountains of British Columbia, Whistler is a Canadian resort famous for its long ski season and legendary apres-ski. The summer months are popular too, notably for an abundance of outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting, mountain biking and fishing.
The fall months are enjoyed at an altogether more laid-back pace by locals and tourists alike. And while you may not have Whistler on your fall travel wish list, it’s well worth considering. Comfortable temperatures, fewer crowds, and an array of festivals and events mean the autumnal months are something of a hidden gem.
Fall for arts
The months of September through December are synonymous with arts and culture in Whistler, and there are several events and festivals to watch for.
The Fall for Arts program was set up to bring together all the cultural activities taking place at this time. Whether you’d like to try your hand at writing, interior design, or painting, there’s sure to be an event for you.
While Whistler’s art galleries are open throughout the year, fall is perhaps the best time to visit. Take a day to explore them all or check out one of the special exhibitions or artists-in-residence events taking place. Most galleries are located just a short walk of a cafe, patio or brewery too, so you’ll be able to digest and mull over the original works you’ve seen.
Start at the Audain Art Museum, one of Whistler’s newest cultural hotspots. Here, you’ll find a permanent collection of nearly 200 artworks from across British Columbia. Look for Northwest Coast masks, one of Canada’s strongest Emily Carr collections, as well as art by notable post-war modernists such as E.J. Hughes, Gordon Smith and Jack Shadbolt.
The collection includes The Crazy Stair, a painting by Emily Carr which sold at auction for a record-breaking $3.3 million making it the fourth most expensive work at an art auction in Canada.
Take a trip back in time at the Whistler Museum where extensive exhibits are complemented with engaging stories, historical photographs, multimedia presentations and even a complete original gondola cabin – sure to make any health and safety officer wince. The museum has a real interactive flavor focusing on some of the area’s most defining milestones, including its history with ski racing and numerous Olympic Bids.
To understand the history of the First Nations, a visit to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) is essential. The Squamish and Lil’wat Nations have coexisted respectfully as neighbors since time immemorial and both came together to create this cultural hub and celebration of their culture. The building is designed to evoke the longhouses of the Squamish people and the Istken, a traditional earthen pit house of the Lil’wat people.
The Whistler Writers Festival
If you love nothing more than losing yourself in a good book, the Whistler Writers Festival (October 16-20) is for you. The event has grown rapidly since its inception and welcomes budding and published authors alike, as well as those seeking out their next great read.
Books are at the heart of the event but there’s plenty of time for fringe events such as lake walks, culinary nights and wine tasting. A packed timetable of workshops, readings and speaker panels are planned for the eighteenth running of this event.
Tantalize your taste buds
Foodies are more than well catered for throughout fall with everything from cooking, brewing, baking and distilling taking place across the village.
Head to Whistler Cornucopia (November 7-17) to enjoy a true celebration of BC produce and world-class chefs with events taking place across a large number of restaurants and hotels.
For something more artisan and altogether more rustic, head for the Whistler Farmers’ Markets on through October for a host of tasty treats.
The Bearfoot Bistro is just one of Whistler’s legendary culinary beacons. Executive Chef Melissa Craig serves up the best seasonal produce in the form of award-winning dishes. Try your hand at sabering a bottle of Champagne or enjoy the freshest oysters around from the extensive Bearfoot Oyster Bar.
Araxi is another must-visit for foodies. As a champion of farm to table dining, the freshest ingredients and finest cuts of meat are gloriously utilized by Executive Chef James Walt. The menu is split into land and sea, with an impressive fish selection.
While the summer season may be long gone, there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy ahead of the first snowfall.
A guided hike in Whistler could be just the ticket to check out the beautiful fall colors from a secret viewpoint, and there’s a trail for every skill level. For those who enjoy getting active, why not hire a mountain bike and head for the hills? Again, there are over one hundred trails to choose from and all skill levels are well catered for.
Or relax and enjoy sightseeing from the Whistler Peak 2 Peak Gondola. This tri-cable gondola lift is an integral part of the Whistler Blackcomb Resort, providing an unparalleled perspective of British Columbia’s rooftop including towering volcanic peaks, coastal rain forests and ancient glaciers.
While in town, give your arms and aim a workout at Forged Axe Throwing where you’ll have the chance to try your hand at a pastime enjoyed by lumberjacks of old. These former woodsmen of British Columbia found entertainment in throwing axes at targets, and you will too, albeit in a much safer and more comfortable environment!
Forged Axe welcomes throwers of all ages. And they’ll offer advice and tips to have you hitting bullseyes left, right and center.
Where to stay in Whistler
There’s no shortage of places to stay when visiting Whistler and many hotels offer discounts and deals in fall.
For something luxurious, the Fairmont Chateau has to be high on the list. The hotel is located right at the foot of Blackcomb Mountain and offers impressive dining options and even an onsite spa. For something VIP, check out the Fairmont Gold floor.
The Nita Lake Lodge has one of the most breathtaking views around and the hotel comes highly recommended at any time of year. The fall colors can be viewed from the comfortable, spacious rooms, and the Aura restaurant located on-site is championed by many.
Alternatively, the Pangea Pod Hotel took Whistler by storm when opening its doors in 2018. The hotel has turned share accommodation on its head, targeting solo travelers and couples who seek cutting-edge design, comfort and a social vibe. 88 independent sleeping pods feature alongside eight custom suites and the hotel is a truly affordable choice.
Check reviews, compare prices, and book one of these or another Whistler hotel at TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Hotels.com, or Expedia.
Getting to Whistler
Whistler is located in the mountains near Vancouver, Canada.
It’s a two-hour drive from Vancouver International Airport, which is served by many global airlines. Frequent daily shuttle buses depart directly from the terminal building.
Thank you, Rachael for providing so many reasons to plan a fall visit to Whistler, Canada!