The Ultimate Guide to B.C.’s Sea to Sky Highway
At the beginning of September (only 2 months after moving across the globe to Seattle) it happened — I got itchy feet again. I was scrolling through Pinterest (my guiltiest of all pleasures) and couldn’t help but dream of far-away lands that I missed dearly in Europe. Like any normal person with an itch, I scratched it (no pun intended) and booked the best last minute trip of all time — camping in British Columbia! As we drove up a few days later to Squamish, Canada (an hour north of Vancouver) we were taken aback by the impressive scenery creeping up around every corner along the Sea to Sky Highway. I quickly realized that I didn’t need to travel to faraway lands to scratch my travel itch and snapped my travel goggles back on for one of my favorite weekend trips of all time. Read on to learn why Squamish should be on your bucket list and tips for how to plan the perfect weekend in beautiful British Columbia.
What’s in this post?
Ultimate Map of the Sea to Sky Highway
What to see and do on the Sea to Sky Highway
Waterfall hunting, epic hikes, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, skiing… the list goes on! Here are the top spots along the Sea to Sky Highway that everyone should check out. Note: “things to do” are the blue dots on the map above.
Shannon Falls is the third tallest waterfall in British Columbia. This beautiful waterfall is located right off the Sea to Sky Highway with ample parking and a short walk to the viewing platform. There are two viewing platforms with the second one being a bit more impressive so keep walking past the first one up some stairs. We were pretty impressed with this waterfall and ended up having a small picnic at this spot to fully enjoy our surroundings.
Brandywine Falls is an impressive 229 feet tall with impressive views all around of Daisy Lake and surrounding mountains. The falls are thought to have received it’s name by two explorers who wagered a bottle of brandy on who could guess the height of the falls correctly. The explorer who won the bet ended up naming the waterfall Brandywine.
Pro Tip: After reaching the first viewing platform, keep walking to the next one to get a beautiful view of Daisy Lake.
We stumbled across Alexander Falls after trying to visit the Olympic Village near Whistler and boy were we glad we did. These falls were the most impressive we saw during our visit and surprisingly the least crowded. Despite the unrelenting rain the morning we visited we loved watching these falls from the comfort of our warm car.
Alice Lake is one of the best places to spend a sunny summer afternoon in Squamish. Paddle boarding, hiking, canoeing, cycling — you really can do it all here. We took a lovely hike on the Four Lakes trail and I played with the “Old Man’s Beard” (the mossy stuff that hangs from the trees). I even tested my balancing skills by walking out into the lake on a log. I would budget an afternoon or more to fully explore this peaceful park and enjoy it’s surroundings. I’m not lying when I say this was one of the most relaxing afternoons we’ve had all year long.
We unfortunately heard about this unique spot on our last day in Squamish, but after scanning through Instagram I had to add this to the list! The Train Wreck near Whistler is the product of an actual train wreck that occurred in the 1950s. Remaining boxcars from the wreck are now scattered in this forest and have turned into a work of art. Plan for a short hike to see this cool and unique site — we’ve added it to our must-do list for our next visit to Squamish.
Canadian Outback Rafting
I could go on and on about why whitewater rafting with Canadian Outback Rafting is a must-do during your visit to Squamish, but I’ll let my post on this amazing adventure speak for itself. If there is one thing you do during your visit to Squamish — please please go whitewater rafting with this awesome company. I absolutely loved my experience with them and know that you will too!
We only spent about two hours in Whistler, but I fell in LOVE. Mostly pedestrian only streets in the village center lined with adorable little houses and shops equated to pretty much the cutest town I’ve ever seen. We popped in and out of all kinds of shops and enjoyed our stroll around town immensely. If you’re interested in spending more time in Whistler here is a good post on what to do in the summer.
Sea to Sky Gondola
The Sea to Sky Gondola is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. We came for sunset and WOW. No words can describe how much we loved exploring here. It’ll cost you a pretty penny to visit (roughly 40 CAD during our visit), but check out their website for special deals. Since we visited for sunset we got a half off deal. Be sure to also watch for any of their special events during your visit. There was a special 3-course dinner and wine event that ended up being sold out for the weekend we visited.
Where to eat and drink
I’ll be honest… we fell into the trap of eating at the same place twice.. because it was SO good. So, our recommendation list is a bit short since we spent two amazing dinners gorging on amazing wild-caught salmon at Howe Sound Brewing. Can you really blame me though? WILD CAUGHT SALMON. 😀
- Fergie’s Cafe – Be ready to wait in line for this one. And bring a coat. It was chilly even in September. Amazing breakfast though. We had some of the best eggs benedict ever.
- Howe Sound Brewing – We came here on our first night in Squamish AFTER eating dinner somewhere else and after taking in the cheery atmosphere, sipping a few tasters, and enjoying each other’s company we found ourselves a bit hungry. We ordered a pizza to share and we were HOOKED. We came back the next night for full dinner and their salmon is TO DIE FOR. My mouth is watering thinking about it. So so so so good. Don’t miss out on this gem of a restaurant when in Squamish.
- Elements Urban Tapas Parlor – Another plate of phenomenal eggs benedict and one happy blogger. Note — this restaurant is located in Whistler village and I highly recommend getting a reservation beforehand. It took us over an hour to get a table and it was “not busy at all” according to the hostess.
Where to stay in Squamish
The Sea to Sky Highway has it’s fair share of amazing places to stay. We went camping (which I’ll talk more about it in a second), but also have saved on our “next time” list to stay in two other epic looking places that I’ve included below. If you end up staying in one do let us know what you think!
- Camping in Alice Lake Provincial Park – First things first — camping isn’t for everyone and don’t worry no judgement from us if you fall into that category. Skip over this paragraph and move on. 🙂 If, however, you are interested in camping in a family campsite read on! Alice Lake (as shown in the “what to do” section) is gorgeous. The campground is embedded in a beautiful forest with plenty of amenities available (bathrooms, showers, etc.). I personally loved waking up to the sound of birds chirping and the sweet condensation inside of our tent. But… word to the wise, these is by no means a “secluded” experience. The campsites are very close together and the “I’m alone in the woods” feeling never really happened. If this is something that sounds great to you then Alice Lake is meant for you! We were looking for a quieter experience so I think we’ll pass on a family campground next time.
Other options if a family campground doesn’t sound like your cup of tea:
This amazing AirBnB is high on our bucketlist for this year. I mean who could resist waking up with that beautiful view? #swoon
- If you’re traveling with a group the Sunwolf Cabins are a great place to base yourself. A friend of ours stayed here recently and highly recommended it.
Boots not Roots Tried and True Tips
- When to go to Squamish – Anytime! Seriously, any time in Squamish is a good time. If you love snowshoeing, skiing, etc. the winter is perfect. If you love mountain biking, kayaking, etc. any time from June to early September is perfect. I would love to go back in the winter after spending time in September.
- What to Bring – Outdoor clothing! A good pair of hiking boots, my favorite workout leggings, a few sweat resistant tops, and a fleece sweater would be perfect for a weekend in Squamish in the summer.
All in all this region of Canada is a perfect place to enjoy the outdoors and have a relaxing weekend vacation. Be sure to add Squamish and the Sea to Sky Highway to your bucket list!