If you’re looking for things to do in Squamish, this travel guide is for you!
Nestled at the crossroads of breathtaking natural beauty and exhilarating outdoor adventures, Squamish is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by intrepid travellers. Known as the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada,” this charming town is like a playground for nature enthusiasts and thrill-seekers. Imagine standing in awe beneath the towering granite walls of the Stawamus Chief, one of the world’s largest granite monoliths, or feeling the misty spray of the stunning Shannon Falls as it cascades down the rugged cliffs. Whether you’re an avid rock climber, an avid hiker, or simply a lover of stunning landscapes, Squamish offers an unforgettable escape into the heart of the Pacific Northwest’s wild wonders. So, grab your hiking boots, harness your adventurous spirit, and prepare for an amazing journey through Squamish’s outdoor paradise!
These are the top 25 things to do in Squamish!
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1. Ride the Sea to Sky Gondola
The Sea to Sky Gondola is one of the most popular things to do in Squamish, as it will give you some of the best views of the entire area. It’s the perfect activity if you don’t have time to hike, bike, and climb every trail around.
The gondola will take you up Mount Habrich, where you will see views of Howe Sound, Shannon Falls, and Squamish Chief Mountain. Spend some time at the top hiking trails, testing your height limit on the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge or standing on the 5,000-square-foot viewing platform. You can either take the gondola back down or adventure through the backwoods of Mount Habrich.
2. Mountain Biking
Loads of people come to Squamish to take advantage of the incredible mountain biking trails. It has a world-renowned trail system with hundreds of trails for all levels, so you know it’s good. This is one of the most popular things to do in Squamish during the summer months.
If you’re new to mountain biking, start with the beginner-friendly Wonderland Trail. It’s slow and easy and will give you a good taste of mountain biking in Squamish. If you want to turn things up a notch, the Half Nelson Trail is one of the best for all skill levels. There are not too many jumps, but it’s fast enough to pump your adrenaline. You can rent bikes or join a tour with one of the local operators, including this popular 2-3 hour e-biking tour to see coastal temperate rainforests, salmon spawning habitat, mountains, ancient volcanoes, Howe Sound (the southernmost fjord in North America) and the Squamish River estuary.
3. Visit Shannon Falls
With a height of more than 305 metres, Shannon Falls is the third tallest waterfall in British Columbia and one of the top things to see in Squamish. Powerfully cutting through the forest, these falls are stunning to see anytime during the year but are at their most powerful in the late spring and summer when melting snow causes a surge.
Shannon Falls is also a very convenient place to visit. They’re located just off the famous Sea-to-Sky highway, not far from Vancouver, and can be reached by a short, paved walk. You can also continue your walk on one of the many trails in the area or just admire the waterfalls with a delicious picnic.
4. Climb a Mountain Via Ferrata
Via Ferrata is a must-do in the area. It’s a beginner-friendly version of rock climbing, and it’s epic. You’ll climb up the massive granite walls surrounding Squamish and experience the thrill of hanging high over Howe Sound, all with the safety of being strapped into a harness. Although Via Ferrata mountain climbing is exhilarating and fun, it’s much more accessible to the general population as you get to climb an iron ladder built into the mountain.
The Via Ferrata is also conveniently located at the Sea to Sky Gondola base, so you can combine this climbing experience with a Gondola ride for a two-in-one Squamish experience. However, don’t forget to book gondola tickets separately!
5. Go Rock Climbing
If you aren’t big on heights, this one might not be for you, but if you’re up for it, Squamish is the perfect place to give rock climbing a try. Squamish is home to some of the best rock climbing in the world due to its gripable granite cliffs. From the iconic Stawamus Chief to the multi-pitch climbs by Shannon Falls, climbers of all levels can enjoy the sport.
For beginners or those who aren’t too confident scaling a cliff, you can join a half-day rock climbing tour to learn the basics and climb some of the best routes with an experienced guide. There are a variety of climbs to suit anyone’s abilities.
6. White Water Rafting
For one of the most thrilling things to do in Squamish, you’ll want to sign up to go white-water rafting on the Elaho and Squamish Rivers. This adrenaline-filled adventure takes you through Class 3-4 rapids, including the exciting “Devil’s Elbow” section, which tends to flip over rafts (don’t worry, it’s fun!) And with experienced professional guides, you’ll feel at ease even with the biggest rapids. Trips include transportation, gear, and a guide, making it a very easy way to have the thrill of a lifetime. Plus, you’ll see wild forests, glaciers, waterfalls, and more! It costs about CAD 190 but is worth every penny as one of the most adventurous things to do in Squamish.
7. Hike the Stawamus Chief
If you’re a big hiker, this needs to be at the top of your list of things to do in Squamish. The Stawamus Chief hike, which is also known simply as “The Chief,” is one of the most popular and challenging trails in the area. It has three different peaks you can hike to. The first peak offers a natural viewing platform with stunning cliffs on three sides, while the second and third peaks provide incredible viewpoints, including the North Gully with its soaring sheer cliff walls. Each route starts from the main Chief Hiking Trail near the Chief Campground and is well-signed. You can expect to hike roughly three hours to the first peak while the second and third peaks take roughly six hours.
You won’t get any other views quite like this one, and they feel so rewarding after making your way to the top.
8. Eagle Run Dyke
Although wildlife viewings are typically best during the summer months, that’s not the case with eagles in Squamish. Best seen in early winter, hundreds of eagles call Squamish home as they hunt the Squamish River for salmon. The best viewing spot for these incredible birds of prey is Eagle Run Dyke in the Brackendale neighbourhood. You can go on a tour, but they are easily spotted with binoculars as you’re walking along the park. Just make sure you look in the trees as that’s where they spend the bulk of their time.
9. Hike in Garibaldi Lake Provincial Park
Garibaldi Lake Provincial Park is a hiker’s dream, with over 90 km of hiking trails just waiting to be explored. The park is full of incredible landscapes, including meadows, lakes, and stunning Mount Garibaldi.
You can get to the park via different access points from the Sea to Sky Highway with many trailheads beginning at the various parking lots. The Diamond Head area in the southwestern part of the park is a fan favourite, so that’s a good spot to start. It includes Mount Garibaldi, Atwell Peak, Opal Cone, Garibaldi Neve, and Mamquam Lake. The lake has a stunning, vibrant blue colour, much like Cool Blue Gatorade, thanks to the glacial silt. Something like Lake Louise.
Please note that in September and October, Black Bears are common in this area, so make sure to be aware when you’re out in the park and carry bear spray.
10. Britannia Mine Museum
For one of the most educational things to do in Squamish, enjoy a family day out at the Britannia Mine Museum and discover the exciting history of mining in Squamish. This historic copper mine has been in operation since the early 20th century and was once one of the largest copper mines in the British Empire.
Get a fascinating look at mining’s evolution over the years as you’re taken on an underground tour and learn the story of this booming mine during the 1920s and 30s. Ride a train into the mine and experience what a day in the life of a miner was like, including a collection of interactive exhibits, films, and hands-on activities. One of the most popular activities at the museum is panning for gold and gemstones. Plus, if you find something, you get to keep it.
11. Go Golfing
Squamish offers two golf courses with breathtaking mountain and ocean views. Squamish Valley Golf Course features an 18-hole course winding through huge trees along the Mamquam River, while Furry Creek Golf Course gives you insane ocean views while teeing off. Whether you want to practice your swing or play a round with friends, golfing is one of the top things to do in Squamish.
12. Taste Some Local Beer
No trip to Squamish is complete without a couple of stops along the BC Ale Trail, a collection of craft breweries found all across the province. Squamish proudly holds two of the 21 stops, making it a great place to enjoy craft beer in the mountains.
Howe Sound Brewing, the first brewery in the area, remains popular with its Garibaldi Honey Blonde and Howe Sound Lager. Their back patio is very popular for taking in the views of Howe Sound and it’s the perfect afternoon spot after a long morning hike. Then there’s Backcountry Brewing, an apres ski-style brewery that offers an eclectic menu of craft beers and ciders. There seems to always be a party here during the winter months, which makes it a great place to get a warm-up after enjoying one of the many winter activities in the area.
13. Explore Smoke Bluffs Park
Smoke Bluffs Park in Squamish is a must-visit for anyone who likes to be in nature. The park has loads of climbing routes ranging from beginner to expert, and for those who want to keep their feet on the ground, there is a scenic hiking trail that offers lookout points, picnic areas, and playgrounds—the best of both worlds. The loop trail takes around 30-45 minutes to complete and starts near the Squamish Adventure Centre on Loggers Lane.
14. Alice Lake Provincial Park
If you want to live as the locals do, head to Alice Lake Provincial Park, located just north of Squamish. The park has a little bit of everything, from breathtaking mountain views to lush forests and pristine lakes. It’s one of the top day stops on the way to Whistler, allowing you to easily enjoy scenic walks, biking trails, canoeing and kayaking.
And if you want to stay longer than just a day, snag one of their campsites and spend a few days soaking up the atmosphere.
15. Go Kayaking
Kayaking is the perfect chilled-out activity in Squamish. You can rent kayaks from local outfitters and even take a guided tour to explore the area’s coves and bays. The calm waters of Howe Sound and the scenic Squamish Estuary make for perfect kayaking conditions, so it’s easy for beginners to get out on the water. If you’re more experienced and want something a little more thrilling, you can try some of the area’s whitewater kayaking spots, but make sure you know your limits and go with a professional guide.
16. Go Sailing
See the Coastal and Tantalus mountain ranges, the Stawamus Chief, and Shannon Falls, all from the front end of a sailboat. This three-hour adventure sails through Howe Sound and offers the chance to take the helm and sail across the bay, possibly spotting beautiful orcas or dolphins along the way.
Most sailing trips cost around CAD 180 per person, and you’ll want to book it in advance as spots can be very limited.
17. Go Kiteboarding or Kitesurfing
Kiteboarding and kite surfing are extremely popular in Squamish because of the strong winds that blow through the area. During the summer months (May-September), when the wind is strong and consistent, you won’t find a better place to catch some air.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kiter, you’ll be able to kitesurf here. The Squamish Spit, located at the mouth of the Squamish River, is the most popular spot for kiteboarding. You’ll find multiple schools and rental companies that offer lessons, gear, and guided tours to help you get out on the water.
18. Stop at the Tantalus Lookout
The Tantalus Lookout is a must-visit spot along the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler. With stunning views of the Tantalus Range mountains and the river below, it’s one of the top things to do in Squamish on a road trip. Keep an eye out for the turn-off, as it comes up quickly along Highway 99. However, please note that the lookout is only accessible when driving towards Vancouver from Squamish.
19. Enjoy an Eagle Float
During the winter season, whitewater rafting companies provide float trips that offer a unique opportunity for eagle-watching. The river is moving at a slow pace, so you’ll get to take in the beauty of the scenery without getting wet. The guides will help you spot the many bald eagles perched in the trees or soaring in the sky. Just make sure you dress warm!
20. See Squamish From the Sky
If you think Squamish is beautiful from the ground, imagine how it looks from the sky! Explore Squamish from a whole new perspective with this 35-minute flightseeing tour. It’s the perfect way to get a full view of the majestic mountains, ocean, and lush forests that make up this world-renowned area. Marvel at gigantic glaciers, shimmering alpine lakes, snow-capped peaks and plunging valleys across the Tantalus, Alpha, Ossa and Omega mountain ranges as well as flying high over the breathtaking Garibaldi Provincial Park, nestled in the hills between Squamish and Whistler. As you admire some of the best scenery Earth has to offer, your pilot will shed light on the region’s fascinating geology. For more adventure, consider taking the 50-minute tour that takes you deeper into the backcountry.
21. Go Snow Tubing
If you happen to be exploring Squamish in the winter, one of the most popular things to do is snow tubing. Right at the base of the Ski to Sky Gondola, you’ll find a tubing park that only costs $5. Grab your tube and hold on as you speed down the mountain. Sadly, there is no tube tow, so you’ll have to grab your tube and hike it back up to go again, but hey, at least you’ll get some exercise too. If you’re travelling with kids, this should be at the top of your list.
22. Eat at the Crabapple Cafe
After a day of adventure, or perhaps a “fuel” stop before heading outdoors, it’s hard to beat homecooked-style food. This is where the Crabapple Cafe comes in. As one of the top restaurants in town, they serve locally sourced dishes and the best brunch around. The cafe is warm and cozy and feels like home. Whether you’re stopping by for coffee or an all-day brunch, it’s a great spot to relax and enjoy the friendly Canadian hospitality. Try the Pastrami Hash or the Smoked Salmon Benny.
Squamish is home to some of the most beautiful birds in all of British Columbia. From Bald Eagles soaring overhead to intimate songbirds nestled in the trees, your bird-watching experience here is going to be epic. If you really want to get the most out of your visit, you’ll probably want to opt for a guided tour. These professional birders will show you the local trails and help you find all the different species of birds that would be very hard to find on your own.
24. Head to Rope Runner Aerial Adventure Park
Rope Runner is a thrilling outdoor adventure park in Squamish. The park offers an exciting multi-level aerial course with 50 different obstacles. It’s the perfect thing to do in Squamish for daredevils of all ages. From climbing walls to suspended bridges, and monkey bars to cargo nets, your day will be full of adrenaline and excitement.
The heights of the courses range from 4.5 meters to 18 meters, so it’s a great way to test your courage and challenge yourself. Don’t worry though – you’ll be attached to a safety harness, and experienced guides will be with you at all times.
25. Take a day trip to Whistler
Whistler is located just a short drive from Squamish and is one of the most popular destinations in Canada. The town offers a ton of activities all year round. In the winter, you can hit the slopes at Whistler Blackcomb or opt for budget-friendly cross-country skiing at Whistler Olympic Park. Seriously, people from all over the world come to Whistler to go skiing and snowboarding and it’s the largest ski resort in the country.
However, it’s not just winter activities that attract people to Whistler. In the summer, explore the stunning alpine lakes, hike the picturesque Joffre Lakes trail, or relax at beautiful Lost Lake. Whether you only have a day or can make a weekend of it, Whistler is the perfect place to get a little adventure in.
26. Brandywine Falls
If you’re headed to Whistler, then you have to make a stop at Brandywine Falls. It’s one of the most beautiful—and accessible waterfalls near Squamish. It’s a stunning 70-metre waterfall that is easily reached on a short, 1km walk from the parking lot. The path is well-maintained and flat, making it great for those who aren’t that keen on hiking.
27. Go Fishing for Salmon and Trout
Regardless of the time of year, fishing is one of the best things to do in Squamish. There are many rivers, lakes, and streams in the area, giving you the chance to experience freshwater or saltwater fishing.
The area is known for its monster-sized salmon, steelhead, and trout. As a visitor, however, the easiest way to go fishing is to join a guided tour. They’ll have all the permits you need and will take you to the best place to reel one in. Typically, a half-day tour is all you need, as it includes five hours of fishing in the morning, which tends to be when the fish are most active.
Please note that If you’re going without a guide, you’ll need to obtain a fishing license and be aware of catch-and-release regulations.
28. Horseback Riding
In Squamish, horseback riding is a great alternative to its typical thrill-inducing outdoor activities. You can experience the same breathtaking views of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains without all the steps. Whether you are an experienced rider or riding a horse for the first time, guided tours will provide you with everything you need and make you feel comfortable on the back of these majestic animals.
29. Visit the Railway Museum of British Columbia
If you’re looking for something a bit more low-key, then take a visit to the Railway Museum of British Columbia. The museum is located on a 12-acre railway station, and it’s the perfect way to explore the area’s past. Learn about local railroad history and view artifacts from over 100 years ago. You can also take a ride on an old steam locomotive and toot the horn like a real conductor.
For an extra special treat, consider visiting during the Christmas season. This is when kids can join the North Pole Express for a train ride from Candyland Station to the North Pole, delivering wrapping paper and bows to Marshall Mellow, the Polar bear in charge of Santa’s workshop. They will love it!
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