Billing itself as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada, Squamish is located on the Sea to Sky Highway about half way between Whistler and Vancouver.
Squamish is a community of about 17,000. It’s home to some exceptional places to visit. There are also lots of great outdoor recreational activities to do in the area.
Squamish calls itself the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada”, and for good reason. The region is world famous for mountain biking and hiking, as well as for both snowmobiling and back-country skiing in winter. The town is also well-known in the summer for wind and kite surfing around Squamish Spit.
What to See in Squamish
Driving from Vancouver, just before you reach Squamish, there is beautiful Shannon Falls which is great for photos, a walk and picnics. There is also the Stawamus Chief which is a giant granite rock mountain that’s excellent for climbing. The mountain has routes for experts as well as for regular folk who want a challenge.
The waterfalls at Shannon Falls Provincial Park are a sight to see, being one of BC’s highest. The view from the top of the Stawamus Chief is equally stunning as well. It’s well worth the climb (from the easier back route, not the one straight up the cliffs at the front). Right close by too is the Sea to Sky Gondola, in case you don’t want to walk up to see the views.
An interesting tourist attraction that’s more or less right in Squamish is the Railway Museum of BC (formerly called the West Coast Railway Heritage Park). It has Western Canada’s largest collection of heritage trains and railway equipment. If you like trains and history, this is a good place to visit.
Squamish’s newest attraction is Rope Runner. It started up in 2017. It’s a really fun adventure park with ropes course-style elements.
Another place with historical buildings and interesting large-scale pieces of equipment is the Britannia Mine Museum. It’s just a few minutes away (back towards Vancouver). Admission to the museum includes a train ride underground into the mine.
Other Outdoor Activities
Excellent campgrounds not too far from Squamish include Paradise Valley (on the Cheakamus River towards Brackendale), Alice Lake Provincial Park (which is also popular for canoeing, swimming and fishing) and Porteau Cove (which is right on the ocean). There is also camping at Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, although the facilities there are more rustic.
Another popular spot that doesn’t having camping facilities is Murrin Provincial Park. This is the place with the tiny lake that you’ll see at the side of the highway between Squamish and Britannia Beach.
If you are in the Squamish area between mid-November and mid-February and you like bird watching, then check out Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park. It’s world famous for bald eagles in winter.
If you like the outdoors, or if you’re on your way somewhere up the Sea to Sky Highway, then Squamish and its surrounding area is a good place to visit.
Hotels in the area include the Howe Sound Inn and Executive Inn Squamish, among other places.
Squamish Calendar of Events
In years when there isn’t a pandemic, the following events typically occur in Squamish:
- Squamish Farmers Market – a great weekly farmers market that takes place at the corner of Cleveland Avenue and Victoria. You can visit it on Saturdays from 10 am until 3 pm between April and October.
- Squamish Street Market – a once-a-month all-day Sunday market on Cleveland Avenue in the summer.
- Canada Day – July 1st in Squamish usually features a short morning parade and then live music, a beer garden and festival activities until late at night.
- Squamish Constellation Festival – a large music festival in July.
- Squamish Arts Festival – an arts festival in late July or August.
- KiteClash – the Canadian Freestyle Kiteboarding Championships at Squamish Spit in the summer.
- Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival – a community festival celebrating the local logging industry. It’s held during the first few days of August over the BC Day Long Weekend.
- The Polar Express – a special Christmas-themed event based on the animated movie The Polar Express. It lights up the Railway Museum of BC in late November and December.
Squamish Pubs and Breweries
Squamish is well-known for its beers. The town even has its own beer festival.
Below are some interesting places to check out for food and drinks. And if you’re in the area in July, be sure to visit the Squamish Beer Festival (unless you don’t like beer).
- A-Frame Brewing – a craft brewery located at #1-38927 Queens Way. They have a tasting room and a patio.
- Backcountry Brewing – in addition to being a nice place for beer and a bite to eat, this venue is also a sponsor of KiteClash which is a Squamish’s big windsurfing competition in the summer.
- Backyard Brewing – located at 1907 Maple Drive, this place has a patio and serves great craft beer.
- Howe Sound Brew Pub – this place is famous for its craft beer. Made on premises at its Squamish location, you can buy their brews at liquor stores all over the Lower Mainland. Located at 37801 Cleveland Avenue, the brewery’s pub has an exceptional patio. The Howe Sound Inn is run by the same people. It’s in the same building and a great place to stay.
- Norman Rudy’s – unlike the other places, this venue is a pub, not a brewpub. They serve craft beers, but don’t make them. They have a great outdoor patio though with views of a park and the mountains. It’s located at the Executive Hotel Squamish at 40900 Tantalus Road.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Whistler Village
- Sea to Sky Region
- Lower Mainland Parks and Nature
- Outdoor Recreation in the Lower Mainland
- Day Trips from Vancouver