A Weekend in Squamish | What to Hike, See & Eat
Squamish seems too good to be true. Barely 40 minutes outside the sprawling metropolis of Vancouver, there’s a mountain town built on a love of adventure. With an unbeatable location where the mountains meet the sea, Squamish offers an unbeatable range of things to do and places to visit.
Squamish isn’t just for adrenaline-junkies. It’s easy to try your hand at any of Squamish’s favourite things to do – from rock climbing to kayaking, mountain biking to kiteboarding. So if you haven’t made the short trip from Vancouver yet – what are you waiting for?! Hop in the car, head up the Sea to Sky Highway, and discover why Squamish is known as one of the best adventure towns in the world!
The Best Places to Visit in Squamish
If you’re planning your first-ever weekend visit to Squamish, here are a few of the top places to visit in Squamish. We’d recommend checking out at least one of these while you’re here (and then coming back to see more!)
- The Stawamus Chief – Almost as famous as the town itself, this dramatic rockface is a favourite spot for climbers and hikers. Keep reading for our full guide to how to hike to the summit of the Chief
- Shannon Falls Provincial Park – These stunning waterfalls are a perennial favourite with Squamish visitors and locals alike. And they’re right off the highway, so you’ve no excuse for missing them!
- The Howe Sound – The unique appeal of Squamish is that it’s both a mountain and an ocean town. Don’t forget to head down to the banks of the Howe Sound for wildlife spotting and watersports while you’re here
- Brohm Lake – Combining ancient old-growth rainforest with the perfect swimming spot, Brohm Lake is a favourite summer hangout spot. Go for a dip or lounge in the sun and get a taste for the Squamish way of life
Where to Stay in Squamish?
There’s plenty of places to stay in Squamish: here are our favourites for every budget.
- The Luxury Choice – Executive Suites Hotel
For a decadent retreat from city life, book a suite at the Executive Suites in Squamish. Choose from full-service studio, one-bed, and two-bed suites, all with full kitchens, balconies and beautiful scenic views. Take relaxation to the next level by booking a massage – in your room! And if you’re planning to get outside and adventure, the Executive Suites and perfectly positioned for exploring some of the best places to visit in Squamish’s, including the Squamish Chief.
- The Mid-Range Choice – Howe Sound Inn
The Howe Sound Inn offers a range of cozy double and queen rooms with some of the best views in Squamish, including the Squamish Chief, the Tantalus Range, and Mamquam Mountain. Plus, all rooms include a delicious continental breakfast in the downstairs restaurant. Even better, the Howe Sound Inn is part of the Howe Sound Brewing Company. So when you’ve tasted a few too many extra-strong IPAs, you can simply crawl upstairs to bed.
- The Affordable Choice – Squamish Adventure Inn
To max out the adventure, and minimize the expense, book a room or a bed at the Squamish Adventure Inn. The cheapest option is a bed in a shared dorm, but they also have private rooms and even a studio suite. As well as very affordable rates, the Adventure Inn also offers kayak, bike and SUP rentals and they’ll even help you get hooked up with some of Squamish’s best adventures, from rock climbing to kiteboarding.
- Bonus Option: The Secret Cabins at Sunwolf
If you really want to leave city life behind, you can’t do better than a weekend escape to the woodland cabins at Sunwolf. Located outside Squamish in 5 acres of woodland, on the banks of the Cheakamus River, these cabins combine rustic charm with excellent amenities. Perfect for a couples retreat, or a chance for the family to reconnect, Sunwolf gives you the chance to get slow down and get back to nature, the way Squamish was meant to be experienced.
Where to Eat in Squamish?
There’s so many things to do in Squamish, you might be tempted to skip lunch. But don’t, because there’s heaps of delicious food on offer. All of these restaurants are in our top places to visit in Squamish for tasty pre- and post-adventure treats.
Start your weekend right with a hearty breakfast from the Zephyr Cafe, a local community cafe that specializes in vegetarian and vegan food that doesn’t compromise on flavour. And grab one of their cakes for a mid-hike snack – they’re delicious! If you’re not in a rush, have a leisurely brunch at the Watershed Grill on Squamish’s only riverside patio. Serving good old fashioned, filling breakfasts and outstanding views every weekend, the Watershed is a very popular spot, so get there early!
For a healthy lunch that’s packed with amazing flavours and local, organic ingredients, check out the Crabapple Cafe. From colourful salads heaped with fresh local vegetables to farm-fresh burgers, wraps, and curries, there’s something for everyone – including one of the best kids menus in Squamish. A little less healthy but no less delicious is the pizza at Backcountry Brewing. Their wood-fired pizzas draw huge crowds on the weekends, but they’re worth the wait – especially when paired with one of their unique, fruity locally-brewed beers.
Just because Squamish is full of outdoorsy types, it doesn’t mean we don’t have good taste. And the Salted Vine exemplifies our fine taste, offering an upscale dining experience that highlights the finest BC produce and the best cocktail menu in Squamish. Or if upscale isn’t your thing, rub shoulders with the locals at the Shady Tree Neighbourhood Pub, a proper local pub that offers a broad and excellent menu of Canadian classics.
What to do in Squamish with kids?
Squamish is the perfect places for the kids to burn off all their endless energy. Here are a few of our favourite kid-friendly activities in Squamish.
- For Outdoor Adventures
Squamish is a brilliant place to give kids their first taste of mountain life (don’t blame us if they get hooked!). Why not book a rock climbing lesson for the whole family and get up close and personal with Squamish’s world-famous crags. Or hop on your bikes and test out the enormous network of mountain bike trails that surround Squamish. You can even rent canoes and kayaks so the whole family can paddle on the Howe Sound – an unforgettable experience for any budding adventurer.
- For High-Energy Indoor Fun
For rainy days or just kids who just can’t sit still, Squamish has got you covered. A trip to the Ninja Gym will have even the grumpiest teenagers grinning from ear to ear as they battle against classic Ninja Warrior obstacles, just like on the TV. And budding snowsports stars will love trying out their aerial skills at Airhouse trampoline and parkour training park. Fair warning: you might find them literally bouncing off the ceiling by the time they’re done.
- For Getting into Nature – Hiking, Wildlife spotting
You’ve escaped the big smoke, and it’s time for the kids to get back to nature. Take a hike around the straightforward trails at the Brohm Lake Interpretive Forest, and learn about the animals and plants of this beautiful forest. Brohm Lake is the perfect spot for a swim on a hot day too! Squamish is also an amazing place to view wildlife. Head down to Porteau Cove and see if you can spot sea otters, seals, porpoises and even whales in the Howe Sound. An eagle viewing tour is always an amazing experience too, especially in winter.
How to Hike the Chief (or Take the Sea to Sky Gondola)
If you’ve heard of Squamish, you’ve probably heard of the Stawamus Chief. The Chief – as it’s known locally – is the unmistakable wall of granite that towers 2,297 ft (700m) over the town, looking like something straight out of Yosemite valley. The vertical face of the wall is popular with rock climbers, but there’s a simpler and safer way for you to get to the top too.
- How to Hike to the Summit of the Chief
The classic hike starts a few kilometres south of downtown Squamish. You can park at the Chief trailhead, Shannon Falls or the Sea to Sky Gondola. Be prepared – while the hike up the Chief isn’t long, it is steep, and plenty of people are surprised by how challenging the first section is. But stick with it through the steep steps, and you’ll soon find the climbing eases a little. When you reach the fork in the trail, head left to reach the first peak of the Chief. The last section is steep and required a bit of scrambling, but it’s very achievable. From the top, you’ll be treated to panoramic views over the Howe Sound and the surrounding mountain ranges – and an incredible spot for your lunch!
- Bonus Hikes on the Chief
Once you’ve conquered the first peak of Chief, you can go to reach the second and third peaks by descending a little way and taking the alternate trail. These peaks are generally much quieter than the first peak, so can be a great choice on a busy day. Both peaks offer astounding views and some dramatic drop-offs – so be careful, especially with kids or dogs. The hiking isn’t technical though, and anyone relatively fit can reach all three peaks.
- Take the easy route: The Sea to Sky Gondola
There is a way to get all the views without any of the thigh-burning efforts: take the Sea to Sky Gondola. The gondola ascends a peak adjacent to the Chief and offers the same stunning vistas as you ascend high above the valley floor. When you reach the peak, you can meander around some of the shorter hiking trails, or sit back with a coffee and drink in the scenery. There’s also a suspension bridge and incredible viewing suspensions suspended over the edge of the mountain that are all easily accessible.
Still deciding what to do in Squamish? Come back next week!
To be fair, a weekend really isn’t long enough to explore everything that Squamish has to offer. In fact, there’s so much to do and see that it keeps most locals occupied for a lifetime. But once you’ve had a taste of the laid back pace of life, the unforgettable adventures, and the unbeatable views, we’re pretty sure you’ll be back for more before too long.