The route from Vancouver to Whistler is one of the world’s most epic. Winding from coast to mountains, the Sea-to-Sky Highway takes in a dramatic fjord, towering waterfalls and colossal peaks, with plenty of fun pit stops along the way.
Afternoon: Arrive in Vancouver, where you’ll be instantly wowed by the extraordinary sight of the glittering sea and skyscrapers backed by the soaring North Shore Mountains. Check into Fairmont Pacific Rim, a sleek urban resort with sensational views and sophisticated eateries. Unwind with a refreshing gin cocktail beside the rooftop pool, or whiz along the Stanley Park Seawall by Mercedes electric bike, keeping your eyes peeled for floatplanes coming in to land.
When you’re feeling peckish, head to Notch8 at nearby Fairmont Hotel Vancouver for afternoon tea in a glamorous space with a 1930s vibe. Tuck into decadent sweet treats, creative savory bites like smoked ham hock terrine with apricot and edible flowers, and fluffy scones heaped with cream and jam. Served in patterned fine china, the accompanying choice of loose-leaf teas ranges from Lavender Earl Grey to zesty Lemon Rooibos.
Evening: Open June through August, the Pac Rim Patio Pop-Up is a favorite hangout for summer spritzes, live music and innovative dishes from guest chefs. Alternatively, wander over to Arc at Fairmont Waterfront and taste delicious West Coast seafood, such as Haida Gwaii halibut washed down with sparkling wine from BC’s Okanagan Valley while you take in splendid views of the harbor.
Morning: Stock up on gourmet snacks at Urban Fare. You’ll find everything you need for a picnic, including crusty sourdough bread, prosciutto, Sicilian spice olives and homestyle guac. To keep your food cool, pack it in a stylish insulated tote or backpack from Vancouver brand Herschel, whose flagship store is a short stroll away in Gastown. You’re now ready to hit the road!
After passing through Stanley Park’s lush rainforest, the highway to Whistler crosses the spectacular Lions Gate Bridge before curling along the coast to Howe Sound. Dotted with islands, this mountainous fjord was carved out in the last ice age. Stop off at Britannia Mine Museum, an immersive experience with restored buildings and underground train tours of a former copper mine.
A short drive beyond the museum, you’ll spot magnificent Shannon Falls tumbling down the mountainside. Ride the neighboring Sea to Sky Gondola for exceptional vistas across the sound, then grab a picnic bench at the top and dig into your lunch.
Afternoon: Short hiking trails fan out from the gondola’s summit station, weaving through old-growth forest and Alaskan blueberry bushes. For a longer adventure, hit a backcountry path such as Al’s Habrich Trail, a stunning route encompassing meadows, waterfalls and granite rock formations.
Back on the road, continue through Squamish and, if it’s a warm day, take a quick detour to Alice Lake for a cooling dip. The highway then begins to gain elevation, meandering north past Daisy Lake. Pull off at Brandywine Falls, where an easy stroll leads you to an incredible 70-meter cascade. From here, it’s a 20-minute drive to Fairmont Chateau Whistler, an elegant mountain retreat featuring a championship-caliber golf course and mountainside spa.
Evening: Once you’ve checked in, pair signature cocktails with elevated pasta and seafood dishes at the laid-back hotel restaurant The Wildflower. Then take a walk around the village, treating yourself to a lamington (Australian sponge cake) or salted caramel tart at Peaked Pies.
Morning: Kick off your day with an energizing yoga session at the hotel, or join fellow guests for an invigorating polar bear dip in nearby Lost Lake. You’re sure to work up an appetite for a hearty breakfast bowl or burrito at Portobello, a casual dining space.
The possibilities for adventure are endless. You can paddle Whistler’s peaceful lakes or ride along the Valley Trail by bike. Hop on the lifts to the peak of Whistler Mountain, and snap shots of panoramic views from the Cloudraker Skybridge. Or set out on a half-day forest hike to Cheakamus Lake.
On Sundays May through October, one of the best places to pick up lunch is the Whistler Farmers’ Market. You can browse over 120 stalls selling items such as honey, jewelry and lavender, then order hot food like wood-fired pizza and raclette. There’s a tempting array of sweet nibbles too, from craft chocolate to Scottish shortbread.
Afternoon: Connect with nature on a forest-bathing session. Known as shinrin-yoku in Japanese, this mindfulness practice aims to encourage relaxation and ease stress by using all five senses. You might listen for birdsong, rub your hands over tree bark or lichen and inhale the powerful scent of pine.
Continue your forest immersion at Scandinave Spa, a tranquil outdoor complex encircled by evergreens and mountains. A series of hot and cold installations takes you on a soothing thermal journey through eucalyptus steam baths, saunas and Nordic waterfalls.
Evening: Back at the hotel, sip chilled sangria at the poolside Cabana Bar, then enjoy oysters and steak at The Grill Room. If you’re visiting between late June and August, check out the lineup for the Whistler Summer Concert Series, an eclectic program of free outdoor concerts at Whistler Olympic Plaza.
Morning: Once you’ve checked out, it’s around a half-hour drive from the hotel to Whistler Olympic Park. Popular for cross-country skiing in winter, the park transforms into a hikers’ paradise come summer. Peer down an Olympic jump from the top of the Ski Jump Scramble route, or try the summer version of a biathlon, combining hiking trails with a lesson at the Olympic shooting range. You can also put your throwing skills to the test on a nine-hole disc golf course.
On your way back down the highway, pause for a few minutes at the Tantalus Lookout on the right-hand side. The expansive vistas of the valley below and snow-capped Tantalus mountain range beyond are unforgettable.
Afternoon: Pull over for lunch in Squamish, an outdoor-loving town famed for its mountain biking and climbing communities. It’s also home to a growing craft drink scene. Backcountry Brewing dishes up pizzas and wings alongside imaginatively named ales like “Mr Toad’s Wild Ride,” plus kombucha and craft sodas. Walk it off with a short loop hike around Murrin Lake, just off the highway south of town, before returning to Vancouver.
Evening: If you’re flying home, check into Fairmont Vancouver Airport. Enjoy a fabulous final dinner overlooking the runways at Globe@YVR and a restful sleep in luxurious rooms with soundproofed floor-to-ceiling windows. Opt for the Fairmont Gold package to enjoy exclusive comforts like evening canapes, a hot breakfast and personalized concierge service.