A Local’s Guide To Fall Activities in Whistler
As locals, we’re constantly being asked, “is Whistler worth a visit during September and October?” And the short answer is yes! If you visit during the shoulder season after the busy summer crowds have died down, but before the world-class snow season begins, you can find yourself exploring a vastly different side of Whistler. Plus, you can usually save a few pennies!
Read on to discover what our mountain town has to offer at this time of year.
During the quieter season, you can bag yourself some great deals from lodging, activities, and dining.
Many of our local tour operators are still running, so there‘s plenty of adventure to experience. Ziptrek Eco Tours offers you a unique way to hang out in Whistler and take in the area’s spectacular views from a different perspective. Head up Blackcomb Mountain to see the heights from above in a 4x4 Jeep Tour with Canadian Wilderness, and you may even see some of the local wildlife in their natural habitat. At night discover the magical hidden valley at Vallea Lumina, an award-winning multimedia night walk through the forest. Since arriving in Whistler in July 2018, it has been mesmerizing locals and visitors alike. Shows run until Canadian Thanksgiving weekend (mid-October).
Eat and drink your way through Whistler’s incredible selection of restaurants and pubs, with special offers at several of them from September until late November. Rimrock Café in Creekside is always high on the local’s list (pro tip: you can never go wrong with their lobster mash!) Later shop the sales and pick up some goodies to take a little bit of Whistler home with you.
The autumn is undoubtedly the most underrated season in Whistler, with the lush nature around it is an activity in itself. Wander through the fallen leaves and smell the freshness of the rain. Head on over to Brandywine Falls or Whistler’s Train Wreck hike and be surrounded by the gorgeous colours of brown, orange, yellow and red. It’s not uncommon to see three seasons in one day at this time of year in Whistler. You could wake up to a dusting of snow; by lunchtime, there’s a rain shower, and then dinner, you could have dinner on a patio with the evening sun.
Suppose you want to dive a little deeper into nature. In that case, you can go mushroom foraging with Whistler Naturalists for their annual Fungus Among Us Mushroom Festival on the week after Canadian Thanksgiving. Currently, in their 19th year, they invite expert mushroom gurus from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to lead talks, walks, and cooking demonstrations and tastings on Friday and Saturday that the public is welcome to join by purchasing tickets.
Whistler is home to endless mountain bike trails, and with the lift-assisted bike park, there is sure to be a trail for everyone. Fall is a great time for local and visiting Mountain Bike enthusiasts alike with moderate temperatures, top-tier conditions and fewer riders on the trails.
The world-class Whistler Mountain Bike Park will be open until October 11, and expect conditions to be at their best when there’s been some rain. This ultimate downhill biking experience has options for all abilities, whether learning for the first time, tackling a steep technical or hitting the jumps on A-Line.
If you like to earn your turns by climbing up the mountain before biking down, hit the local trails dotted all around town from Wedgewoods down to Cheakamus. Local organization WORCA (Whistler Off-Road Cyclist Association) has been working hard all summer long to keep these trails in excellent condition for you, so be sure to thank them on the way down mentally.
Wet Weather Activities
Whistler is in a temperate rainforest which, if we haven’t made it clear already, you can expect a lot of rain as we gear up for winter. So for the days you want to stay inside, there is a plethora of excellent indoor activities.
Get immersed in local arts and culture by visiting the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) and the Audain Art Museum. The SLCC aims to share their cultural knowledge to inspire understanding and respect amongst all people. They hope that by visiting the Cultural Centre, visitors will embrace this vision and live by it. We recommend taking a guided tour experience by one of their cultural ambassadors; tours run every hour from 10 am – 4 pm. Afterwards, visitors are encouraged to visit the Thunderbird Café and try their Indigenous-inspired menu selection. Our favourites include the Cedar Plank Squamish Salmon Chowder served with fresh traditional bannock. The Audain Art Museum hosts a comprehensive permanent collection of the province’s most celebrated artists. Exemplifying the richness of cultural difference in Canada, the exhibition takes visitors on a transformative visual journey from the late 18th century to the present. Regular hours are Thursday to Sunday, 11 am – 6 pm.
Looking for something a little different? Why not try Whistler’s Escape Room, a real-life gaming experience where groups of 2 to 6 people enter a themed room. Your group then has to solve a series of puzzles and riddles. You are given a number of clues, so you must work together to solve them within the 45 minutes given to “Escape.” Escape Room, voted Whistler’s best rainy day activity, has six different rooms to choose from, so it’s a great way to entertain the whole family or group.
Whistler’s Farmers Market
Throughout the summer and into fall, you can head to Whistler’s Farmers Market, which features almost 100 vendors throughout the season, including farms, hot and artisan foods, drinks, liquor, and various talented creators. Every Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm until October 10.
For those planning on visiting, note that snow tires are mandatory from Oct 1 on Hwy 99, so make sure you have them on, just in case!