A WEEKEND IN
30 minutes down the road from Whistler lies the town of Squamish, a destination in and of itself. Squamish is unique in that it’s both mountainside and oceanfront. Its proximity makes it an ideal place to get out of the Whistler valley and enjoy a B.C. staycation. Biking, climbing, walking, boating, shopping, relaxing... you name it, Squamish has got something for you. With some fantastic spots to eat and drink, and some pretty awesome mountain scenery to boot, we've got your trip to Squamish covered.
If you're heading to Squamish from Whistler, you have two options: car or bus. Squamish is shaped really weirdly, hugging Highway 99 and spanning 6km North to South, so having a car certainly makes your trip easier for getting around. That being said, there is a local bus service, so if you can get a ride there via Poparide or the Squamish Shred Shuttle (which allows bikes), you can use the Squamish Connector Bus or ride your bikes to get from place to place. There are also 2 Modo cars available for rent in the downtown area, which you can pay for per hour! Modo has two hybrid vehicles on offer, both equipped with ski and bike racks for all those nearby adventures.
WHERE TO STAY
1. If you're happy roughing it, camp at the Municipality Campground, the new (but rustic) community-built Mamquam River Campground or Mountain Base Camp. You can also camp at the trailhead to the Stawamus Chief, a little further out of town but with a more wilderness feel.
2, Stay in an Airbnb. There are some adorable, affordable options on Airbnb, such as this tiny cabin on the water, or the mountain lover's retreat.
3. You can stay in a simple hotel downtown for around $110/night, such as the Howe Sound Inn or The Chieftain.
4. If you're after a little more luxury and mountain vibes, stay at the beautiful riverside Sunwolf Resort, tucked away in the lush green temperate rainforest of Squamish Valley. For seacape lovers, get cosy and gaze out looking for whales from this serene, rustic oceanfront cabin.
Now you're all set - here's 10 things to do during your stay in Squamish!
1. HIKE THE CHIEF
It is impossible to drive through Squamish without noticing the town’s most prominent landmark, the Stawamus Chief. Towering high above the town, The Chief a popular hiking destination that offers incredible views of both Squamish and the sprawling expanse of the Howe Sound . You'll find the trail signposted and located off Highway 99, accessible either from Shannon Falls or Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. Follow signs to the trailhead and get ready for a leg-burner! Don't forget to take a can from Backcountry Brewing to enjoy up top, and always pack out what you pack in! Our favourite way to do it is to pack a head torch and head up at dawn to catch the spectacular sunrise from the top. Read more about hiking The Chief here. If you want to do some more hiking in the area, check out the Squamish Adventure Centre for some serious outdoor intel.
2. VISIT A WATERFALL
Shannon Falls, just outside Squamish, is a must see when you're in town. Take a short stroll through beautiful old growth forests, where bright green moss and bracken illuminate the boardwalk. Shannon Falls tumbles down 330 metres over smooth granite, closely resembling the famous Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite. It is BC's third tallest waterfall and holds a magical mist in the air around it. You'll see Shannon Falls easily from the highway, it is well signposted with a lovely trail network connecting it to the Stawamus Chief and Sea to Sky Gondola parking lots. The walk to the falls is very flat, and is a lovely way to cool down the legs after your thigh-burner up The Chief or Sea to Sky Trail.
3. TAKE A BIKE RIDE
If you can't get your own bike to Squamish, you can rent one in town. Corsa Cycles, Flying Spirit and Sea to Sky Adventure Company all offer mountain bike rentals. Many will also offer guided tours of the local trails, which, if you're unfamiliar with the area or relatively new to mountain biking, are a great idea!
Years of trail development by an awesome community of local bikers and trail builders has earned Squamish the reputation of having Canada's best mountain bike trail network. The trails cater for all ages and abilities and are easily accessible for first timers and pros alike. With over 200 kilometers of singletrack, Mountain Bike Magazine named Squamish as one of the top 25 wildest places to ride in the world. Check out Squamish's trails and get pumped to go riding here.
4. HEAD OUT ON THE WATER
Take a leisurely afternoon on the most southerly fjord in North America (the Howe Sound) with one of Squamish's local boat captains. Squamish Harbour Marine Adventures offer 2 hour cruises for as little as $85 per person. For a more hands on sailing experience, check out Canadian Coastal.
If you want to get even closer to the water, take a kayaking or stand up paddleboard tour with Sea to Sky Adventure Co. to explore the unique waterways of the Howe Sound. Fancy taking the day at your own pace? You can rent your own vessels from them instead and be your own guide.
Squamish has some awesome food options. One of our favourites is the English style chip shop, Wigan Pier. Open 12-8pm, they serve awesome fresh local seafood, deep fried and battered English style. Boasting cute decor and traditional English drinks, they make great home style pies and offer a very generous haddock and fries special.
Got a Tex Mex craving? Heads to Mags 99 for a mind blowing, watermelon sized burrito. Our favourite is the Chimichanga Loco with Mags'n'Cheese.
The Howe Sound Brew Pub serves up delicious comfort food - their house cheddar and ale soup with beer bannock is to die for! For a slightly more upmarket evening, head to The Salted Vine for some Pacific Northwest style fare.
6. TAKE THE SEA TO SKY GONDOLA
Squamish has done a great job of making their main tourist attraction not too touristy. Sleek, modern and exciting - the Sea to Sky Gondola is a great experience for all. The ride up offers some awe-inspiring views as well as access to some more remote trails for those keen mountaineers. With a bar and restaurant up top, you can make an afternoon of it. This activity is awesome as it makes the spectular aerial views of Squamish accessible to everyone - regardless of ability or fitness level. Regular return tickets from the parking lot are $43.95 online, and a little more at the window on the day. Locals tip: if you go on a Saturday evening, tickets are 50% off at the ticket window! Just ask for the Sunset Saturdays price, anytime after 5pm. To make it even cheaper, you can walk up the Sea to Sky trail and catch the back gondola down for just $15.
7. HAVE A BEER
Craft brewing is now as much a part of the Pacific North West as flannel shirts and campfires, a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed in Squamish. Backcountry Brewing, whilst being the new kids on the block, have taken Squamish's beer scene by storm. They have an exceptional hazy beer selection - our personal favourites being their signature IPA, the Widowmaker and the Trailbreaker Pale Ale. They are also quickly gaining a reputation for making the best pizzas in Squamish. Just down the road is A Frame Brewing, who brew some wonderful West Coast inspired seasonal beers, often with an unexpected fruity finish. Howe Sound Brew Pub is the third and final brewery, and plays host to a delightful pub atmosphere. Try the Hazy Daze for a refreshing summer beer, or the King Heffy for something totally different! For non beer drinkers, Geo Cider, Cliffside and Northyards are Squamish's local cideries.
8. GO DANCING
The Shady Tree pub has pool tables and a nice woodsy vibe for some late night beers (they open until midnight). Rumour has it they have the best wings in town.
The Howe Sound Brew Pub has great chill vibes and live music every weekend. The Chieftain is usually rockin' on a Friday night with their weekly kareoke.
For a local dive bar, head to Cliffside Pub. If you really wanna bust out some of your favourite dance moves, head to the Knotty Burl, the only real late night venue in Squamish. They often have DJ's and themed nights, open until 2am Thursday through Saturday!
9. GRAB COFFEE AND BREKKY
Woken up with a sore heard? Stroll down to quirky local spot Zephyr Café for a morning smoothie or hot cup of java. They serve Counterpart Coffee, which is locally roasted in Squamish. They also have a mean breakfast menu, including homemade granola, bennies and breakfast burritos.
If you're after a more greasy deal, head to Big D's for a good old morning fry up.
Another local's favourite is the Crabapple Café, which serves hearty, healthy breakfasts until 3pm daily. Try the Garden Hash!
Want to reward your body with healthy, plant-based goodness after your outdoorsy weekend? Head to The Green Moustache for Banana Buckwheat Waffles and a Matcha Tea Latte.
10. GO SHOPPING!
Squamish’s main street is called Cleveland Avenue and is home to independent fashion stores, bakeries, art galleries and the Squamish Farmers Market - a great place to meet some awesome local vendors! The market is on every Saturday from 10am until 3pm, featuring everything from Pemberton grown butternut squash to craft hot sauce to Indonesian street food. You'll also catch Westerly Creations selling their beautiful handmade beeswax food wraps there.
From cute independent boutiques to die hard outdoors stores, the Squamish has a lot to offer. If you want your adventure gear fix, check out Valhalla Pure Outfitters or Escape Route. Wild and Heart, a bohemian-style boutique cabin, has recently opened on Cleveland Ave, carrying edgy international and Canadian brands such as Stone Cold Fox and The Market Bags. Head to Locavore food truck at The Joinery for a spot of lunch, then check out Nootka & Sea next door for all your locally made apothecary and skincare items. Nip into Pearl's Value and Vintage for some quirky, vintage goods and garms that support the Howe Sound Women's Centre, an amazing local charity. Also, maybe hit up Walmart and The Independent and take advantage of their cheap groceries and toiletries before you hit the road back to Whistler!