Visiting Whistler on a Budget
By Kilee LeBlanc
Keen to visit Whistler but are unsure if you have enough money to do so? Have no fear – there’s still plenty to do while visiting Whistler on a budget, which will still allow you to explore this tiny mountain town to the fullest. You’ve already saved money on accommodation by renting an Escape Campervan, so here are some other ways to stretch your dollar a little bit further.
Visit Whistler on a Budget by Traveling During the Shoulder Seasons
Peak season in Whistler is defined as the months of mid-December to April and July to September. During this time, you’ll find the town exploding with tourists, prices skyrocket, lift lines are endless, and not a spot of grass at the lakeside parks.
Shoulder season, however, the crowds dissipate, prices go down, and the deals around town make Whistler during these times the most affordable without sacrificing fun. May – June and October – November are considered the “shoulder season” months and have plenty going on – from Whistler Beer Festival to Cornucopia and Whistler Film Festival!
If you are on a budget, visiting Whistler mid-week (as opposed to weekends) is also another way to ditch the crowds and save money.
Book Activities & Accommodation in Advance
Being spontaneous is fun and all, but sometimes planning ahead is your best technique for saving money on accommodation and activities in Whistler. For example, the best deals on winter activities, lift tickets, and accommodation are available if you book by August 31st, with the second-tier of discounts if you book before November 15th.
For the best deals on summer activities, book by May 31st to get the deepest discounts on ziplining tours, ATV tours, and whitewater rafting. Discounts can be up to 30% off regular price so if you have dates in mind for your trip to Whistler, consider booking your activities early for the best rates.
Outdoor Activities to Do While in Whistler
Whistler is world-renowned for its natural beauty, and luckily there are many activities to partake in that are free to visit. Having your campervan to get around to these locations is especially handy as most require a vehicle to access – such as the stunning Brandywine Falls right off Highway 99 and Alexander Falls up the Callaghan Valley Road. Cheakamus Lake is up a bumpy forest service road that rewards you with a meandering hike to an alpine lake or check out the unique Train Wreck trail that takes you to a spooky railcar graveyard opposite a new suspension bridge.
The beaches and parks in Whistler are free to visit, with opportunities to rent bicycles to further explore Whistler’s expansive Valley Trail network or take to the water on a paddleboard, canoe, or kayak with rentals from shops at Lakeside Park and Wayside Park on Alta Lake. In the winter, rent snowshoes from Spicy Sports in Whistler Village to venture through old-growth forests and stunning vistas.
Happy Hours & Dining Deals to Check Out in Whistler
Escape’s campervans are fully-equipped with fridges, stovetops, and cooking gear but with incredible restaurants in Whistler, it’s worth having a night on the town during your trip. Here are a few ways to save money on meals out while in Whistler:
- Daily Deals – there are deals every night of the week in Whistler, simply go to whistlerbites.ca, choose the day of the week and voila – discounts to be had! There are discounts year-round though they do change, so check the site during your visit for the most accurate deals. Personal faves include Taco Tuesday at La Cantina and Wing Wednesday at the Crystal Lounge.
- Happy Hours – they vary by the establishment but generally are between 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM and are the perfect post-adventure fuel. Check out whistlerbites.ca for a listing of the different Happy Hours in town but personal favourites include Earl’s Kitchen + Bar’s legendary Happy Hour from 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM (and 10:00 PM until close) and Cure Lounge in Nita Lake Lodge from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM or all-day on Sunday.
- Shoulder Season Dining Specials – more reasons to visit Whistler during shoulder season: the epic dining specials! Many of the high-end restaurants in town offer a deal where you get multi-course dinners for between $30-60 per person which is about a third of the cost of ordering a la carte! Many offers take place during the week (Sunday through Thursday) but some are offered seven nights a week. For the most up-to-date information, browse through the pages of the local Pique Newsmagazine. Don’t miss the $30 sushi feast at Nagomi and the five-course Italian meal from Il Caminetto.
Other Inexpensive Activities to do While Visiting Whistler on a Budget
Not all activities and tours in Whistler cost an arm and a leg, so skip the helicopter tours and keep your wallet fat with these fun adventures instead:
- Vallea Lumina – now open almost year-round (with a brief hiatus in October/November to switch from summer operations to winter), Whistler’s newest attraction is great for all ages and takes you on a magical light walk through old-growth forest. Music, interactive features, lights, and story guide you through the course and takes about an hour. It only operates at night so it is a great evening activity or apres activity in the winter.
- Treetop Adventure – break out your best American Ninja Warrior moves and conquer this obstacle course in the trees. Balance beams, ziplines, and rope swings will keep your adrenaline high and everyone (safely) entertained until you reach the end of the course (which takes about 2-3 hours).
- Escape! Whistler – escape rooms may seem so 2015 but the rooms at Escape! Whistler are incredibly creative, unique, and will have you talking about it for hours afterwards! There are four different rooms to choose from – from beginner to advanced – and you have forty-five minutes to get out.