Squamish is a town located just at the tip of Howe Sound along the Sea to Sky Highway, around a 45-minute drive north of Vancouver. This town is often overlooked by visitors travelling through on their way to Whistler. It is often just a pit stop, but there are so many things to do in Squamish, you might find you need to spend a weekend here.
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How To Get To Squamish
Squamish is accessible from Vancouver via the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) and the total journey time takes around 45 minutes from Downtown Vancouver.
You can get to Squamish by bus on the Epic Rides, however it will drop you off at the Squamish Adventure Centre so you will need to arrange transport from there to your hotel. There is also no Uber or Lyft in Squamish.
Another option could be to do a day tour from Vancouver if you are short on time.
(2021 Update: current travel restrictions are requesting that you not travel to the Sea to Sky corridor until May 25th)
Where To Stay In Squamish
Squamish has just about every type of lodging option available catering to almost every type of budget and stay. From budget hostels to yurts and luxury cabins.
Stay In A Hotel
Squamish has a variety of hotels and budgets. Both the Executive Suites Hotel and Resort, and the Sandman Hotel and suites are highly rated, while the Howe Sound Inn gives a local intimate feel and is centrally located in Downtown Squamish.
Stay In A Cabin At Sunwolf
The Sunwolf Cabins are a small group of cabins tucked away in the Squamish Valley. This quaint and quiet part of town is great for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle and connect with nature. Cabins at Sunwolf range from standard cabins equipped with a coffee machine and fridge, to full kitchen cabins and luxury stays for families at the Fisherman’s Cottage.
Stay In A Yurt At The Cheekye Ranch
Not far from Sunwolf is the Cheekye Ranch, this ranch offers lodging experiences in both cabins and yurts. There are a variety of options, catering from small to large parties, and no two are the same. You can also choose to book a horse-riding tour at the Ranch. The thing I love about this place is it’s also a sanctuary for horses.
Stay In A Hostel
For those backpacking or looking for a cheaper budget option, the HI Squamish Adventure Inn is great for hostel accommodation.
The Best Things To Do In Squamish
1) Sea To Sky Gondola
The Sea to Sky Gondola is the biggest tourist attraction in Squamish. Visible from the highway, the Sea to Sky Gondola soars high into the mountains surrounding the Chief. Once you reach the top take a stroll across one of the gondola’s iconic suspension bridges or grab lunch at the café.
Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or just going up to witness the breathtaking views, the Sea to Sky Gondola offers several trails for differing fitness levels. Some of the most popular trails atop the gondola include the Panorama trail for panoramic views of Squamish and adventures through the backcountry such as Al Habrich’s trail.
2) Alice Lake Provincial Park
Alice Lake is one of the most popular lakes in the Squamish area during the summer months. Located just off the Sea to Sky Highway north of the Chief is the turn off for Alice Lake. Front country (car) camping is available at this provincial park and campsites can be booked via the Discover Camping website. There are a total of 108 campsites and 55 of those are equipped with electrical hookups.
3) Downtown Squamish
Downtown Squamish is where you’ll find local independent stores and retailers and independent coffee shops. I really like this art of town as it really has that small town local feel and there are next to no chain retailers so you know when you shop local, you are supporting local.
Make sure you check out some of Squamish’s public artwork while you are in the area. The new “Welcome To Squamish” sign can be found along Cleveland Avenue. There is also a mural called “Squamish Wings” – very similar to the Kits Wings in Kitsilano.
4) Stawamus Chief Provincial Park
The Stawamus Chief known as just “The Chief” is one of the biggest granite monoliths in the world. It’s also one of the most popular hikes in British Columbia. Once you reach the summit, you are rewarded with breathtaking views of the town of Squamish, Howe Sound and the Sea to Sky Highway.
The Chief sits high above the town of Squamish and can be seen from just about anywhere. Some of the best views are from the Smoke Bluffs trail and Mount Crumpit trail, or simply from the Sea to Sky Highway.
The Stawamus Chief Provincial Park offers several trails including the 1st, 2nd and 3rd peaks of the Chief along with the Upper Shannon Falls Trail.
5) Shannon Falls Provincial Park
Shannon Falls is a favourite pit stop for visitors heading north of Vancouver. This waterfall sits 335 metres high and can be seen from the highway, it is BC’s third tallest waterfall.
There are easy walking trails surrounding the falls as well as some parks and areas to sit and enjoy a picnic. If you’re feeling adventurous you can head next door to the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park and tackle the upper Shannon Falls trail.
6) Rock Climbing
Squamish claims to be the Adventure capital of the world, and when it comes to rock climbing, it really is. Squamish is famous for it’s abundance of rock climbing opportunities. People come from all over the world to climb the famous Squamish granite.
Popular places for rock climbing include the Stawamus Chief, Murrin Park, Crumpit Woods and the Malamute. If you’re not quite ready to try rock climbing, Via Ferrata at the Sea to Sky Gondola is a good alternative.
7) White Water Rafting
The Squamish and Cheakamus rivers offer some of the best white water rafting in the Sea to Sky corridor. There are many tour options to choose from including those suitable for the whole family.
8) Murrin Provincial Park
Situated just 10 kilometres south of Squamish, Murrin Provincial Park offers activities such as hiking, rock climbing and simply lounging by Browning Lake. Although on the smaller side of BC’s Provincial Parks, Murrin Park is home to one of the most stunning hiking trails in the Sea to Sky.
The Jurassic Ridge trail is on the easier side and rewards you with stunning vista’s of Howe Sound and the Sea to Sky Highway. I like to refer to this hike as the “mini Chief” because it’s 10 times easier but features similar views.
9) Tantalus Lookout
The Tantalus Lookout is one of the most popular lookout points along the Sea to Sky Highway. On a clear blue bird day the Tantalus mountain range can be seen for miles and miles in the distance. The Tantalus Lookout is located 18 kilometres north of Squamish.
It’s easy to see why this spot is so popular, on weekends in the summer the small parking lot is most likely going to be full, so go early to avoid disappointment. It’s also worth noting that if you’re driving north from Vancouver, this lookout is on the left hand side and the lookout can only be accessed from the opposite direction, so you’ll need to turn around somewhere and turn back to pull in.
10) Squamish Estuary
If you are seeking local walking trails to enjoy your morning (or midday!) coffee, head to the Squamish Estuary. This area is popular among locals for walking, running, biking and dog-walking, and showcases some of the best views of the surrounding mountains. The trailhead to access the estuary is located along Vancouver Avenue in Downtown Squamish.
The Squamish Spit is located on the other side of the Estuary just off of Government Road and connects to Howe Sound for activities such as windsurfing.
11) Brohm Lake
Brohm Lake is another popular place to take a dip and cool off on a hot summers day in Squamish. This lake is around 15 kilometres north of Squamish and is frequented by both locals in the Sea to Sky and visitors. Parking in the area is limited so it’s recommended to come as early as possible to enjoy this lake. There are also walking/hiking trails in the Brohm Lake Interpretive Forest that you can explore too.
12) Brackendale Eagle Run
Brackendale, Squamish, becomes home to hundreds of Bald Eagles during the winter months and the best area to spot them is Eagle Run. There is no guarantee of spotting Bald Eagles here but if you are in luck you can spot groups of Eagles along the riverbank.
Some days we have stopped and seen nothing and others we have seen over 40 Bald Eagles. Also keep a look out high up in the trees on the drive to and around Brackendale as sometimes you can spot them from the Highway.
14) Squamish Adventure Centre
The Squamish Adventure Centre is hard to miss. I remember passing this building the first time I came to Whistler on the Greyhound (remember those?)
This building is your go to for all your visitor services and into to all that Squamish has to offer. The Squamish Adventure centre also houses a gift shop, café and theatre. Explore the grounds to learn more about the area with the ornate signs displaying information about the origins of the town.
15) Take A Scenic Flight
Squamish is surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains. One of the nearby mountain ranges in the Tantalus range, visible from the Sea to Sky Highway. Why not experience these majestic peaks from above on a sightseeing tour in an airplane! Flying over the mountains is the best way to see them!
16) Go Exploring!
There are tons of areas in Squamish to get outdoors and explore, many of them are off the beaten track! While there are many popular and well-known areas with stunning scenery, there are just as many that you discover just by exploring on your own. Take a trip down a Forest Service Road and you might just find your own hidden gems.
Where To Eat In Squamish
1) Alice & Brohm Ice Cream
Alice and Brohm is a quaint ice cream shop tucked away behind the big Canadian Tire in Squamish. It is situated in a cute courtyard along with other local businesses. This area is really nice and offers lots of outdoor seating and hanging outdoor lanterns.
2) Cloudburst Café
The Cloudburst Café is located in the same courtyard as Alice & Brohm and offers freshly ground coffee from local coffee roasters. This vibrant establishment also offers sweet treats and snacks and there is plenty of indoor and outdoor patio seating available.
3) Sunflower Bakery & Café
For all your freshly baked sweets and cakes head to the Sunflower Bakery and Café. This downtown bakery is a favourite among locals and bakes the best donuts in town.Their menu also features coffee from Vancouver’s 49th Parallel as well as several vegan items.
4) Galileo Coffee
Galileo Coffee is famous for being the coffee shop that was housed in a old house on the side of the Sea to Sky Highway at Britannia Beach. They have since had to move on from this iconic location into their new spot in Downtown Squamish. Their coffee is famous locally an across the province and it’s pretty darn good!
5) Sunny Chibas
Probably one of my favourite places in the world, Sunny Chibas caters to fried chicken and burrito lovers, two of my favourite types of food! I dream about this place it is that good!
Sunny Chibas used to be the old Megs 99, which as everyone in the Sea to Sky knows, was famous for it’s fried chicken. Megs 99 closed and Sunny Chibas took over it’s place. The location is a tad random as there’s not really much else around the building, but it’s visible from the highway, which means you really can’t miss it! The building is super colourful and stands out and I love how 80’s this place is, it’s definitely a throw back.
6) The Wigan Pier
For an English girl missing traditional fish and chips, the Wigan Pier is the next best thing! The Wigan Pier is tucked away behind the London Drugs in Squamish and is set out like a traditional British chippy/pub. I’ve tried a fair few fish and chips while living in North America but this is hands down the best I’ve had. The prices are really good for this area also and portions are huge!
7) Craft Breweries
Squamish is home to several craft breweries worth making a stop at. Howe Sound Brewing is a local’s favourite situated in the downtown core, while A-Frame Brewing and Backcountry Brewing can be found a stones throw away. If beer is not your thing, why not head to Northyards Cider Co, just across the street. All come complete with an outdoor patio perfect for a sunny day!
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