The Ultimate Travel Guide to Squamish, British Columbia

You know those towns you drive through on the way to another destination and promise yourself you'll be back to visit one day? Well, that was Squamish, British Columbia. I honestly didn't even know the name, just knew that it was home to the Britannia Mine Museum, a large National Historic site that you can't miss as you drive through town. I had the opportunity to explore Squamish, BC on a quick 48 hour trip with my teenage son. We had so much fun, that the other people in our family got jealous and are begging us to plan a trip they can join us on. I'm sure after reading this, you're going to want to start planning too. So here you go, the ultimate travel guide to Squamish, BC. 

squamish country club

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Squamish, British Columbia

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A little bit about Squamish, BC

Squamish is located on the ocean at the tip of the Howe Sound. You can find plenty of outdoor adventures all within 10 minutes. Seriously, everything is just that close! You don't have to decide if you want to explore the beach or the mountains, you can literally do both and on the same day! Squamish is a short 45-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. 

Squamish is in Canada, so you will need a passport for entry. If you are traveling by land into Canada, children under 15 and under require an original copy of their birth certificate. The requirements are different if you are arriving by air. It's complicated, so to err on the safe side, I'd suggest getting a passport. It's not hard!

Find out everything you need to know to get your first passport.

Traveling solo with my son, I also brought a notarized letter from my husband letting any interested parties know that I had permission to cross the border with him. Probably slightly over-prepared because I wasn't asked for it, but if they had asked for it, I had documentation. 

We have NEXUS and it's the best thing we could have done. It includes an expedited security line at the border as well as global entry and TSA pre-check for our other travels. 

Learn more about TSA pre-check and Global Entry and why we settled on NEXUS.

Squamish is the home to the Sea to Sky Gondola

You'll find the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, reopening in spring of 2020 after a terrible act of vandalism causing the lift to be inoperable. You can read more about the incident and get updates here. This changed our plans a bit and I hope to explore this amazing area soon! 

visiting the sea to sky gondola
photo credit Tara O'Grady

What can you do at the Sea to Sky Gondola

Riding up in the gondola will provide you with some amazing views of Howe Sound, the forest and surrounding mountains. You might even catch a glimpse of  bald eagles. At the top, you can explore walking and hiking trails, viewing platforms, amble across the Sky Pilot Suspension bridge, rock climb and gain access to the backcountry. 

I'm keeping my eyes peeled for the opening of the new elevated tree walk that should open sometime in 2020. I can only imagine the views from up there!

Photo from Paul Bride

Where to Stay

I like to stay somewhere centrally located and when traveling with my family, I also like plenty of space. When traveling with teenagers, the key is to have a place where everyone can have room to decompress and take a break from each other because family time can be a lot. I found that Executive Suites Hotel ticked off all those boxes. And if we were staying longer, it had a full kitchen we could use. The rooms were spacious in this all-suite hotel, with a beautiful outdoor patio that provided even more space. It was tucked away and felt secluded but was literally minutes from everything we wanted to explore. 

You can rent bikes in the lobby or bring your own, and you'll have easy access to some of the best dining and shopping just down the street. 

executive suites

Where to Eat

Norman Rudy's is the on-site pub at Executive Suites Hotel. There are beautiful views of the mountains, pond, and forest and I'm told if you are lucky, you might see the resident bear and otters. You'll find farm fresh food and a menu that will please everyone. 

Pepe's Chophouse is a great choice for dinner. They have been a local favorite since 2004 winning awards for their pasta, steak, and tapas. Every ingredient on the menu is hand-selected and cooked to perfection. There are a few wild card items on the menu that have you wondering what lane the restaurant is driving in, but sometimes it's nice to have a variety to choose from. I had the absolute best butter chicken I've had since making a trip to Bangladesh a few years ago and my son enjoyed the ribs. Kind of a random selection of food items, but both were delicious. You can't go wrong heading to Pepe's Chophouse for dinner. 

where to eat in squamish, bc

We entered the Squamish Valley Golf and Country Club at around 7:30 in the morning for breakfast and it was a ghost town. The only other person there was a young gal behind the counter. The country club restaurant is a random tucked away banquet room with the most amazing views of the golf course and surrounding mountains. The unassuming tables and chairs had me wondering what we would be getting ourselves into for breakfast, but once I saw the menu I was quite surprised. I had a delicious espresso {not even listed as an option on the menu} and the most amazing omelet. It left me thinking that this place was one of Squamish's' hidden gems. 

seasonal flowers in canada

If you want to go where the locals go, hang out at Zephyr Cafe. This place was hopping in the downtown Squamish area. Supporting local farmers and businesses, the cafe serves fresh, local ingredients with a limited {but delicious} menu. There are plenty of reasons to sit and stay for a while here, from the swinging hammocks on the porch to the stack of board games in the back. Check their website or Instagram for more information about open mic night if you love live music as much as I do.

Howe Sound Brewing is the locals watering hole, perfect for winding down after an adventurous day. Grab a local beer or try a seasonal favorite from the on-site brewery. Chase it down with family favorites from the brewpub menu. Try the oven-fired pizza, it's some of the best around! 

What to Do

There is plenty to do in Squamish, BC. If you are looking for adventure, you don't have to look far. 
Squamish is a popular spot for bouldering and rock climbing, mostly because of how easy it is to access the climbs. Most of the climbing can be found within a five-minute walk or 10-minute drive from the downtown area. You'll also find a no-experience-required vertical adventure called the Via Ferrata located at the Sea to Sky Gondola. 

photo by Paul Bride

Novice hiker? Here are 5 safety tips for the beginner hiker!

Mountain Biking

Squamish also has a network of trails just waiting to be explored. Find a hike that fits your skill and ability level or enjoy the trails with a guided mountain bike tour from Dialed in Cycling. You can rent a bike, or I'd suggest taking a guided tour {the family ones are awesome!} so you can leave your trail map behind and enjoy the old-growth forest and amazing views all around.

dialed in cycling

White Water Rafting

Explore one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, and leave with an adventure you can talk about for years to come when you take a white water rafting trip with Canadian Outback Rafting. Raft down the Elaho and Squamish rivers with professional river guides. If you are a little less adventurous but still want to take a nice little float down the river, they offer gentle family-friendly floats so you can take in the breathtaking scenery of the area.

Aerial Adventure Park

Step out of your comfort zone and get empowered at the Rope Runner Aerial Adventure Park. This park is fun for all ages and since it's self-guided, you can create your own route challenging yourself {or not} and have plenty of shared quality experiences that will help bond your family or group. 

squamish bc ropes course

squamish ropes course adventure

Slow down the adventure-seeking and trade it in for another kind of rush. Head to the Britannia Mine Museum to pan for gold and gemstones {anything you find, you can keep!}, take an underground mine train and learn all about this National Historic Site. 

squamish mine museum

When is the best time of year to visit Squamish BC?

howe sound from sea to sky gondola
Photo from Topo Films
The summer months tend to be the busiest because there is so much to explore outdoors. Despite it's close proximity to Whistler, BC, there is less snow in the Squamish area in the winter and more rain, probably due to the fact that it's located on Howe Sound. There are beautiful views year-round despite the weather and still plenty to do, see and explore all year round. 

Plan your trip to Squamish, BC today! 

Check out this video with some highlights from our trip!

Pin now and plan later
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disclaimer: I got to experience and explore Squamish, BC as a guest of Tourism Squamish. As always, all my opinions are my own. I wouldn't tell you about something I didn't love. Promise.

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