Featured Photo - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours

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During a trip to Vancouver we found ourselves with a day with nothing planned. To fill that day we researched what day trips we could do from Vancouver. We took a look at the map of British Columbia and one city jumped out at us, the iconic ski resort of Whistler. Even though our visit was during the springtime, we knew we still wanted to travel to Whistler.

We didn’t have a rental car and had to explore other options for reaching Whistler. It was our understanding that a train ride in Canada is a great way to see the country’s landscape. As appealing as that sounded a train from Vancouver takes an entire day to reach Whistler and we’d have to spend the night in Whistler. To keep the visit to one day we had only one practical choice, riding a bus service to our destination.

Gray Line Tour Bus - British Columbia, Canada

Gray Line Tour Bus

Gray Line Tours

A few companies offer direct bus service between Vancouver and Whistler but we opted for the tour company Gray Line. Gray Line has a 10-hour tour with stops at Whistler and Shannon Falls. We’d used Gray Line before in other parts of the world and knew how reputable a company they are. By choosing Gray Line we knew we’d have the opportunity to stop at other places besides Whistler and be escorted by a knowledgeable guide.

On the day of our excursion the Gray Line bus arrived at our hotel in the morning. Our driver/tour guide for the day was Jack, a Canadian who’d lived in Vancouver his entire life. After we got on the Gray Line bus Jack continued on to pick up the other tour travelers from their respective hotels. With everyone on board Jack made his way through Downtown Vancouver. Along the way Jack pointed out sights and added historical commentary related to the various regions we passed. At this point in our trip we’d been in Vancouver a few days. The insights provided by Jack added clarity and perspective to the sights and districts we’d seen and visited on the days prior. Once out of Downtown Vancouver the bus made its way to Highway 99, the Sea to Sky Highway, and the main road to Whistler.

Porteau Cove - British Columbia, Canada

Porteau Cove

Howe Sound - Porteau Cove Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

View of Howe Sound from Porteau Cove Provincial Park

Sea to Sky Highway 99

With traffic being light the morning of our tour our driver/tour guide Jack made extra stops along the way to Whistler. These stops were a pleasant surprise since they did not appear on the original itinerary. The first of these stops was Porteau Cove, a provincial marine park. At Porteau Cove locals can camp by the waterfront or launch boats from the dock. Visitors to Porteau Cove see stunning views of Howe Sound, crystal blue water, and towering green trees.   Those lucky enough to visit Porteau Cove after dark can stargaze on cloudless nights. They might even have the chance at viewing the Aurora Borealis during the right parts of the year.

After Porteau Cove we made our way to our first official itinerary stop, the Squamish Adventure Centre. Those traveling through this region with a rental car will want to stop at the Squamish Adventure Centre. The Visitor Centre has information, brochures, and a booking desk for those looking to partake in outdoor activities. Those interested in the history of the First Nations, Canada’s indigenous people, will find informational exhibits throughout the Centre. In addition, the Squamish Adventure Centre has restrooms, a cafe, and a gift shop.

Squamish Adventure Centre - Squamish, British Columbia, Canada

Squamish Adventure Centre

Alexander Falls - Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Alexander Falls

Whistler Olympic Park and Alexander Falls

With time still in our favor from the lack of traffic we made an unscheduled detour up a road that leads to the Whistler Olympic Park. The Olympic Park was the location for many of the athletic events for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Close to Olympic Park is a waterfall called Alexander Falls. Our bus parked in a gravel lot with access to a viewing platform. Without having to hike we walked to the platform and had a direct view of the waterfall.

As we walked back to the Gray Line bus one of our travel mates pointed out something the rest of us had missed. In a grove of trees a good distance from the parking lot the tops of massive trees were swaying even though there was no breeze. Our eagle-eyed companion had spotted a black bear and her cub that had climbed up to the top of the tree. Although the bears were a good distance from the bus, we could still see them well enough from our location. To see bears in their natural habitat awed the bus full of city folks and we knew we’d gotten more than our money’s worth for this tour.

Whistler Village - Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Whistler Village

Hunter’s Bowl at Stonesedge Kitchen - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Hunter’s Bowl at Stonesedge Kitchen

Roast Duck Mac N Cheese at Stonesedge Kitchen - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Roast Duck Mac N Cheese at Stonesedge Kitchen

Whistler Village

From Alexander Falls the Gray Line bus made its way to Whistler Village. The sprawling pedestrian avenues of Whistler Village beckoned us with its stores and restaurants. We’d arrived in Whistler Village at noon and had three hours to ourselves to explore Whistler. Our first order of business was lunch and for that we went to Stonesedge Kitchen. This restaurant prides itself in serving “comfort food” and it did not disappoint. We ordered the Hunter’s Bowl and the Roast Duck Mac N Cheese. The Hunter’s Bowl has venison with rigatoni, mixed in a tomato cream sauce. Besides the dishes we ordered two beers from a local brewery, Whistler Brewing Company. We had the Bear Paw Honey Lager and the Whiskey Jack Ale. The beers paired great with our dishes and we left Stonesedge Kitchen satisfied, renewed, and ready to tackle Whistler Village.

Walk around Whistler Village and you can’t help being smitten with the quaint and charming buildings. Even in springtime the chalet architecture gives you the sense you are in a snowy wonderland. You might think that Whistler Village in the springtime is a ghost town. It turns out the opposite is true as every store and restaurant was open for business with plenty of vacationing folks walking the pedestrian pathways. Even the ski lifts were operational, allowing visitors the chance to reach the top of the mountains for gorgeous views. Plus in the springtime there may still be snow on the top of the mountains and even limited skiing available.

Ski lifts at Whistler Village - Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Ski lifts at Whistler Village

Rebagliati Park - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Rebagliati Park

Whistler Olympic Plaza

Throughout Whistler Village walkways connect the various hotel properties. These non-strenuous walks take you by roaring streams and tall trees such as those found in Rebagliati Park. Around the various hotels you will find more shops and restaurants. First-time visitors will want to see the Whistler Olympic Plaza. The original use for this location was for the medal ceremonies during the Whistler Olympics. Now people come to Olympic Plaza for concerts, to hangout, relax, and soak in the surrounding views of nature. The Olympic Plaza is home to the Olympic Rings, a perfect photo spot. Near the Olympic Rings are plaques listing each of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games medalists.

Whistler Olympic Plaza - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Whistler Olympic Plaza

Whistler Olympic Rings - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Whistler Olympic Rings

Shannon Falls

After an afternoon in Whistler Village we boarded the Gray Line bus and began the ride back to Vancouver. Along the way, again on the Sea to Sky Highway, we stopped at a scenic viewpoint. Here we had panoramic views of snow-capped mountain ranges and fields of green trees. From the viewpoint the bus took us to the last of the scheduled itinerary stops, Shannon Falls. A short walk from the parking lot led us to a viewing platform where we could gaze at the waterfall. We were fortunate that we undertook this tour in the springtime. The recent winter’s snow had melted off the surrounding mountains. That was why the waterfalls, rivers, and creeks we’d encountered during the day’s trips were full of rushing water. Shannon Falls was no exception, and magnificent to view.

Sea to Sky Highway 99 Viewpoint - British Columbia, Canada

Viewpoint along the Sea to Sky Highway 99

Shannon Falls - British Columbia, Canada

Shannon Falls

From Shannon Falls our driver/tour guide Jack drove us back to Vancouver. Along the way he made one last diversion through West Vancouver, offering us views of local neighborhoods and the skyline of Downtown Vancouver. From West Vancouver Jack deposited travelers back to their respective hotels. Everyone one of us left the tour bus with smiles on our faces. Each of these added stops and detours made our trip to Whistler extra special. On a direct bus we’d have seen just Downtown Vancouver and Whistler Village. If you plan on visiting Vancouver and have a day with nothing planned we recommend you explore Whistler with Gray Line Tours.

View of the skyline of Downtown Vancouver from West Vancouver - Vancouver; British Columbia, Canada

View of the skyline of Downtown Vancouver from West Vancouver

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Gray Line Tours - From Vancouver to Whistler

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Porteau Cove Provincial Park: 49.557121, -123.236311
Squamish Adventure Centre: 49.707029, -123.145871
Whistler Olympic Park: 50.139143, -123.113705
Alexander Falls: 50.135199, -123.127904
Whistler Village: 50.115743, -122.956334
Stonesedge Kitchen: 50.114190, -122.956994
Rebagliati Park: 50.115830, -122.950342
Whistler Olympic Plaza: 50.118817, -122.954993
Shannon Falls: 49.669969, -123.156460
West Vancouver: 49.334897, -123.166785
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Porteau Cove Provincial Park
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Porteau Cove Provincial Park, Squamish-Lillooet D, BC, Canada
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Squamish Adventure Centre
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Squamish Adventure Centre, Loggers Lane, Squamish, BC, Canada
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Whistler Olympic Park
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Whistler Olympic Park, Callaghan Road, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Alexander Falls
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Alexander Falls, Squamish-Lillooet D, British Columbia, Canada
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Whistler Village
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Whistler Village, BC, Gate Way Drive, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Stonesedge Kitchen
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Stonesedge Kitchen, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Rebagliati Park
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Rebagliati Park, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Whistler Olympic Plaza
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Whistler Olympic Plaza, Village Stroll, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Shannon Falls
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Shannon Falls, Squamish, British Columbia, Canada
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West Vancouver
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
West Vancouver, BC, Canada
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