Car driving down highway 99 next to lakes and mountains with fog in the background.

Drive down Highway 99 for the perfect weekend getaway. (Photo: Getty Images)

Road Trips

Outdoor Adventure, Culture and Amazing Food Await on a Seattle to Whistler Road Trip

Whistler is a go-to weekend road trip from Seattle, especially during winter months. (Summer is actually Whistler’s busiest time of year.)

Widely regarded as the number one ski destination in North America, skiers and snowboarders soak up Whistler Blackcomb’s 200 trails and 8,000 acres of skiable terrain. During summer months, hiking, biking, rafting and adrenaline-fueled activities can be found in abundance.

Here’s what to see along the Seattle to Whistler road trip route.

Start: Seattle to Bow-Edison

Seattle skyline and space needle from the lake.
Start your trip in Seattle and enjoy the urban ambiance. (Photo: Getty Images)

Seattle is the kickoff point for so many Pacific Northwest adventures: cruises to Alaska and trips to Washington wine country or Whistler in Canada’s British Columbia. Get up, get going and enjoy the gorgeous journey to the Coast Mountains.

If you’re a foodie, a stop in Bow-Edison is a must. Head northbound for a little over an hour on I-5 before getting off at Exit 236 and heading west for a quick rural detour.

Dairy lovers will delight in a stop at Samish Bay Cheese. Artisan farmstead cheesemakers and owners Suzanne and Roger make cheese, yogurt and kefir. Don’t miss their signature cheese, Ladysmith, which has been described as a cross between queso fresco and ricotta salata.

About a mile down the road, swing by Breadfarm for its rustic loaves (don’t miss the black olive baguette) and buttery shortbread cookies. Bring cash.

Bow/Edison to Bellingham

From Bow/Edison, drive 40 minutes north to Bellingham, where Whatcom County meets the bay.

If you have time, visit the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention. The MegaZapper show, featuring one of the largest Tesla coils in the country, is not to be missed. Afterward, grab a scoop (or two) at locally beloved Mallard Ice Cream. Try the Oreo mint.

Bellingham to Vancouver, BC

Waterfront and bridge going into Vancouver with mountains in the background.
Cross the border for a fantastic stop on this adventure. (Photo: Getty Images)

This stretch of the drive isn’t the most scenic; it’s all about crossing the Peace Arch Crossing border as expeditiously as possible. For current border wait times, be sure to check the Canada Border Services Agency website.

Once in Vancouver, celebrate your arrival to Canada with a bite and cocktail at Stock & Supply at Delta Hotels Vancouver Downtown Suites. The house-smoked beef brisket pairs well with an on-tap Negroni.

If you plan to stay overnight, hop on the Aquabus or False Creek Ferry and spend a few hours meandering Granville Island and its fantastic farmers market. Raise your spirits with skillfully made craft cocktails at The Liberty Distillery, or sign up (in advance) for a guided grains-to-glass tour.

Or you could visit historic Chinatown — the third-largest in North America — which had a recent rebirth and influx of hip new restaurants and retailers, especially along Union Street.

Looking for something a little more adventurous? Take to the water for a thrilling ride on Sea Vancouver‘s 90-minute zodiac-style boat tour of the city’s Inner Harbour and environs.

If you’re traveling with your dog, Spanish Banks and Trout Lake Beach both have off-leash areas so you can give your pup a break.

The drive should take roughly 90 minutes, plus however long it takes to navigate the third most active U.S./Canada border crossing.

Vancouver to Porteau Cove

Lions Gate Bridge from an aerial view.
Enjoy the scenic views as you pass over the Lions Gate Bridge. (Photo: Getty Images)

Head north along Highway 99 for about 45 minutes along the Sea-to-Sky Highway. The spectacular route curves along the sea and affords plenty of Instaworthy moments of ocean and mountains. Take your time and soak up the views; it’s one of the most scenic stretches in Canada. Where else might you spy a bald eagle or an orca breaching?

Cross the Lions Gate Bridge on your way out of town and head toward Whytecliff Park near Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver (7102 Marine Dr., West Vancouver). Walk down to the beach for views of Howe Sound and the nearby Sunshine Coast. It’s one of the first Marine Protected Areas in Canada where you can see sea lions stack themselves like sausages in the sun during summer months.

Just north of Squamish, look for signs for the Tantalus Range Lookout. Known for its jagged mountains, white glaciers and 8,540-foot peak, it’s one of the most iconic stops along the route. (Pro tip: Driving north, there’s no way to turn left into the main pullout on the south side of the highway. Instead, pull into the parking lot across from the main pullout. It’s easy to miss, so pay close attention.)

Porteau Cove to Whistler

You’re almost there! Only one more hour to Whistler.

In the meantime, stop at Porteau Cove Provincial Park. It’s home to some of the most incredible views of Howe Sound. Park at Porteau Cove and go for a walk along the beach or take a quick (and easy) hike up the hill.

Stop around the midpoint and take the Sea to Sky Gondola, half a mile up the side of Mount Habrich. If heights don’t scare you, brave the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, a 328-foot bridge that offers 360 views of the area all the way to Howe Sound. It’s a popular spot for photographers to catch the golden light.

End: Whistler

Dock over lake with mountains in the background in Whistler.
Finish your trip in the idyllic town of Whistler. (Photo: Getty Images)

Once you arrive in Whistler, indulge in cheese toast, a Hy’s Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar staple since 1955; Canadian Black Angus steaks; and an Old-Fashioned before hitting all the outdoor adventuring this mountain town has to offer.

For something low-key and off the slopes, go ice-skating in Whistler Olympic Plaza. Rink access is free; just pay $6 for rental skates. Afterward, warm up at the fire pits around Whistler Village with a hot chocolate from Purebread Bakery.

Advanced-intermediate to expert skiers can book a two-day deep skiing clinic with Extremely Canadian, bypass the lift lines at Whistler Blackcomb and learn steep skiing techniques on the highest vertical rise (5,280 feet) in North America.

After hours of skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing, recharge at Scandinave Spa. This outdoor spa sits on the edge of the Lost Lake Park spruce and cedar forest and offers the old Scandinavian tradition of hydrotherapy with a series of warm hydro pools and cold pools. Steam baths, saunas and an outdoor gas fire are heavenly additions to the relaxation mix. Achieve maximum serenity by booking a massage.