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Summer in Whistler

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Summer in Whistler
From its roots as a winter playground, Whistler has become a magnet for summertime visitors in search of the hard-core adventure, peaceful alpine hikes, and warm-weather pleasures this mountain town has on offer.
By Crai Bower, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler
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    Peak 2 Peak Gondola
    The best way to get the lay of the alpine landscape is from the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, 1,431 feet in the air. Wild berries line the slopes below, and where there are berries in Whistler, there are black bears, often with a pair of romping cubs in tow. The 1.9-mile span of the gondola’s run connects Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, providing access to trails in every direction. The Whistler Mountain Gondola conveys passengers to the Peak 2 Peak or to lunch at the Roundhouse Lodge.
    Photo by Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler
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    Walks in the Woods
    Until recently, the Train Wreck Hike included a risky segment where the trail ran along active railroad tracks. A bridge built across the Cheakamus River has rendered the trail's name less a cautionary warning and more a bit of local flavor. True to its name, the 140-mile Sea to Sky Trail appears to be extended further every season. The trail runs through Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, where hikers can jump off to Lava and Swim lakes. The paved Valley Trail runs 25 miles from Function Junction to Emerald Park.
    Photo by Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler
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    Terrace Dining
    Whistler is a terrace town year-round, but the gloriously long days—the sun sets after 10 p.m. around the solstice—make summer prime time for outdoor dining. Diners have fantastic alfresco options when it comes to views: The Westin Resort's FireRock Lounge enjoys some of the best mountain panoramas and is far from the busy village scene. The Mallard Lounge terrace at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler faces Blackcomb Mountain, while Araxi and Dubh Linn Gate patios keep tabs on the village. If those spaces are too crowded, go for size; Nita Lake Lodge’s Cure Lounge has recently expanded its outside seating, and up on Whistler Mountain, the Roundhouse Lodge operates three terraces in summer.
    Photo Courtesy of Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler
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    Breweries and Bars
    The deck at Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC) wraps around the fabled après-ski hub, so revelers can opt for a table that overlooks busy Whistler Plaza or one that takes advantage of the village’s best perch for bike-park viewing. Garfinkel’s and Tommy Africa’s remain the go-to clubbing spots, while locals favor Crystal Lounge for live music and cheaper prices. The long summer nights are perfect for taste-testing the various small-batch beers made by Coast Mountain Brewing.
    Photo Courtesy of Tourism Whistler
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    Rafting and Paddling
    Whistler may be famous for hard-core adventure, but rafting down the Class I and II Green River is anything but, which makes it a perfect introduction to one of B.C.’s best outdoor activities. Whet your appetite here, then save half a day to paddle the Elaho River outside of Squamish. The River of Golden Dreams provides another great excuse to be mellow, a three-mile paddle, self-paced or guided, between Alta and Green lakes.
    Photo by Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler
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    Zip and Slide
    Ziptrek, which pioneered the whole North American zip-line craze, won’t simply rest on its laurels. The Sasquatch, the newest line, carries screamers a distance of 1.25 miles at upwards of 75 mph. Over at the nearby Whistler Sliding Centre, families can pack into a wheeled bobsled to hurtle down a track with banked curves at 70 mph. (In winter, this bobsled run is the fastest on the planet.)
    Photo Courtesy of Ziptrek Ecotours
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    Golfing in the Alpine
    The diversity of ski runs in Whistler is matched by the variety of layouts found in the four local golf courses. The Arnold Palmer–designed Whistler Golf Club, beside the village, provides the best outing for casual players. Big Sky Golf Club, in Pemberton, is a flat track that crosses creeks and passes ponds in the shadow of majestic Mount Currie. Low handicappers will definitely want to take on the Chateau Course, a sprawling beast with forested fairways and challenging greens. Nicklaus North, just outside of town, provides a very fair 18 holes with enough trouble to keep players wide awake.
    Photo Courtesy of Big Sky Golf Club
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    The Mountain Arts and Culture
    The Audain Art Museum has changed Whistler’s profile from adventure town to destination for art lovers. The Audain holds one of the world’s largest collections of North American indigenous masks and works by Canadian painter Emily Carr. The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre continues the study of regional First Nation culture. The local art scene extends to galleries like Black Tusk and Fathom Stone Art and twice-weekly farmers' markets, free outdoor concerts, and art walks.
    Photo by Justa Jeskova/Tourism Whistler
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    Mountain Biking Whistler
    The Whistler Bike Park laces up the slope of Whistler Mountain with enough runs to satisfy the area’s reputation as North America’s premier lift-accessed mountain biking playground. Originally a mid-mountain set of thrills, trails now launch off the top of the hill for a very long and thrilling journey down. The Lost Lake trails, a set of single-track capillaries, wind more than 200 miles over the flat valley floor. The 17-mile Comfortably Numb, an undulating point-to-point track, climbing over 3,000 feet and dropping almost 2,000, is nothing short of epic. (Don't worry, "point-to-point" means there's an easier route back.)
    Photo by Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler