British Columbia is an outdoor adventurer's paradise, so it stands to reason that the destination where residents of B.C. vacation provides tons of opportunities for recreation. Squamish offers just that, and loads more. In addition to mountain-climbing, hiking, biking, wildlife-spotting, river-rafting, snowmobiling, fishing, rock climbing, kite surfing, kayaking, and more, it also happens to be located at the end of the stunning Sea to Sky Highway, smack dab in a gorgeous bit of Canadian landscape. If you're looking for a vacation that's more relaxing than adrenaline-pumping, fear not. You can admire the glaciers and the fjords and the forests with minimal effort. Here's our guide to roadtripping to Squamish!
Grab your passports everyone, because first up on this thrilling guide is the city of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. Located just across the Straight of Juan De Fuca from the United States north of the state of Washington, this beautiful Canadian city has so much to offer anyone feeling up to experiencing it all. Feel free to take part in the multiple thrills of ziplining, kayaking, and/or hiking, enjoy cuisine inspired by lovely and creative locals, stay in wonderful scenic hotels, or even explore the many museums, landmarks, parks, and Canada's oldest local Chinatown. At the end of your visit, this wonderful area will leave you wishing you could extend your stay to take in all that this famous Canadian city has to offer.
Established in 1958, this local favourite is a must when in the historic town of Victoria. Known for its amazing soft-serve ice cream, Beacon Drive-In is a hot spot for locals and visitors alike. Grab a sweet treat or a quick bite to eat when stopping by. Some other legendary items up for purchase from Beacon’s historic menu are hot dogs, burgers, and other sandwiches to pair with that amazing ice cream. With these items in hand, walk to nearby Beacon Hill Park or the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm to enjoy your quick bites with friends and family. If you aren't quite up for the walk and need a break, the Drive-In also offers the opportunity to sit down and eat a great meal. This old-school diner can easily fit into your schedule at any time of day.
Situated upon over 55 acres of gardens and maintained by over 50 gardeners, The Butchart Gardens are a green thumb’s true paradise. Located just outside the town of Brentwood Bay, east of the Saanich Inlet, this stop is truly breathtaking whether you have plant-based interests or not. The gardens overflow with extravagant colours that hit every colour of the rainbow. See bright blues, perfect purples, and priceless pinks alongside wonderful arrangements that will captivate your gaze, and maybe even inspire you to go home and create your own green oasis. Additionally, these gardens are home to over 900 plant and flower varieties and host over one million visitors each year. With this being said, you cannot skip this popular attraction when in the Brentwood Bay and Victoria area.
Looking to see one of nature’s largest mammals in action? Then you are in luck! At the Vancouver Whale Watch, you get the opportunity to see magnificent creatures in action within their natural habitat, and if you're lucky you'll even see other animals like bald eagles, seals, porpoises, and sea lions on the tour. Typically lasting 3 to 5 hours, these amazing whale watch tours have an uncommon 90 percent success rate of seeing whales, due to the preplanned and careful routes the boats take. The company also offers a shuttle to and from the boats if you happen to need assistance moving, or would like to get the group to the boat all in one piece. There are various parking deals offered as well. Don't forget a snack and your camera!
This next stop can be the perfect getaway. Rockwater Secret Cove Resort is a prime place to escape from everyday life, reenergize, reconnect with loved ones, or celebrate a great accomplishment. This beautiful resort presents multiple opportunities for visitors to experience the wonderful Canadian landscape, like hiking, mountain biking, tours of the harbour, and kayaking, but the resort also offers golfing, diving, and yoga. The opportunities and scenery, right next to Halfmoon Bay are too good to pass up. If you aren't feeling quite that adventurous, that's okay. When scheduling your stay, take advantage of the multiple packages offered that fit you specifically, like couples’ massages and fancy dinners. With this being said, this trip may just be for the parents. (Sorry kids.)
Tidal rapids, beautiful scenery, interesting local animals, and adventure are this next stop’s best qualities, so prepare yourself for a great time. Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park, named after the Chinook saying for turbulent water or rapid torrent, certainly lives up to its reputation. As water flows through the Narrows, rapid currents can sometimes pull the surface of the water down so far in the middle that the difference between the coastline and the middle can be up to 2 to 3 meters. (That's a fast current!) Be very careful when paddling across these rapids; make sure you are an experienced paddler and pay attention to warnings. If you aren't feeling quite that adventurous, don't fret. The park also offers its visitors the chance to observe different local marine life and waterfowl, as well as soak in the beautiful Canadian landscape at Brown Lake. Here you can picnic on the wonderful land or enjoy the afternoon out with friends or family. Hiking trails are located nearby, but be prepared to engage with wildlife (like bears!) at all times.
Lighthouse Park is an amazing park, located just north of Vancouver in the West Vancouver district. Nestled in by the Burrard Inlet and south of Cypress Mountain, this wonderful location is home to a nationally-renowned lighthouse that presents opportunities for taking phenomenal pictures or simply gazing in awe of the structure's beauty. The area around the lighthouse adds to its appeal. Picnic next to the shimmering water and soak in the warm sun and salty sea breeze, throw a frisbee to a friend, or take pictures of boats passing by in the inlet. This historic site has so much more to offer than its wonderful lighthouse and is a must-see when in the Lower Mainland of Canada.
After stopping by the relaxing Lighthouse Park, maybe you would like to mix things up and feel more adventurous. If so, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in North Vancouver is certainly the place to go. This thrilling natural park has an insane amount of once-in-a-lifetime experiences to check out, and we strongly encourage you to visit. Within this park, you can walk across the historic bridge that has been in existence since 1889, participate in cliff walks suspended above the Capilano Canyon, experience the Tree Tops Adventure on seven smaller suspended bridges to observe local wildlife, check out the museum dedicated to the Kai'palano people that were here before it all, and also, if you stick around until the sun sets, take part in the Canyon Lights that line the suspension bridges and make you feel like you are in another world. When planning to visit this park, be sure to give yourselves plenty of time for the large variety of thrilling things to do.
Opened to the public in 1912, Lynn Canyon Park is a national and local favourite. Located East of North Vancouver in the Lynn Valley, this park, like nearly all the others in Canada, has a great deal to offer. Take part in walking across its suspension bridge, relax in one of several special spots in the park, go for a picnic with the family, or even relax in the cafe on-site. The 617-acre park also offers the ability to hike or walk on some amazing trails that connect to other parks or areas, like Lynn Headwaters, Rice Lake, and Inter River Park. After hiking, or relaxing in secluded spots, if you made the trip with kids and they are getting fussy, the park is also home to the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre, which offers a plethora of experiences to entertain them. One of the better options here with children-- and puppet show lovers of all ages-- is the chance to catch an entertaining puppet show within the Centre. Last but not least, the park now also offers tours with entertaining hosts that share the history and secrets of the area.
Next up is the Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, which is situated smack dab in the middle of Mount Brew and Whistler Mountain. Home to a famous 70-metre waterfall, Brandywine Falls is thought to have been named by two travellers who made a bet on how tall the falls were, with the winner earning a bottle of brandy wine. In addition to its richness in history, this area is also rich in activities to do with friends or family. Cycle on the Lava Lake or Sea to Sky trails in the park, hike on the Brandywine Falls Trail, swim, or even hike the two cycling trails. If you are feeling something more leisurely, check out the falls from a newly-established viewing platform built in 2006, to truly soak in the wonderful sights this area has to offer. If the falls aren't enough, bring along your binoculars to view the local wildlife near Daisy Lake and the surrounding mountains. After visiting, this legendary park certainly will be a memory you won't forget.
Rounding out your breathtaking Canadian trip is Squamish, British Columbia. This town, located just north of Vancouver, will certainly leave you wanting more at the end of your trip. Squamish is the place to be if you love adventure because it offers several mountain biking trails, the Britannia Mine Museum, several hiking trails, areas to kayak or canoe, and even areas to rock climb. In addition to these wonderful things, Squamish also is home to the famous Sea to Sky Gondola, which will allow you to see the entire beautiful region from a bird’s-eye view. If you are feeling more competitive, the area is also home to the Canadian National Kite Boarding Championships, the Squamish Off-Road Triathlon, and a Marathon Mountain Bike race. As you can see, if you are looking to soak in the sights and relax, up your competitive edge, have an adventure, or simply want to be out in nature, then Squamish is the town for you.
Any trip where you'll have just as much fun on water as you will on land is a plus in many adventurer's books. Squamish is a getaway that offers not only any kind of outdoor activity you can think of, but who wouldn't love getting to do all of that while soaking in some insane scenery? This pocket of the country is somewhere worth travelling to whether you live across the continent or right next door. You'll always be welcome and pushed to get outside and do activities you've maybe wanted to try, or just do more of, so adventure on road trippers, this place was made for you.
In the Canadian Dream, it's our experiences that make us richer. That's why we're encouraging all Canadians to get out and experience everything that Canada has to offer. You don't have to go far. Incredible, engaging experiences are all around us, all you have to do is start exploring.