The wonderful world wide web describes Squamish as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada. That is a big title to carry in a country made for outdoor adventures. But I can’t disagree, as everywhere you turn in this town there is an activity waiting for you. I had a Squamish weekend this summer for the Squamish Valley Music Festival.
It is a perfect any-time weekend escape for Vancouver city dwellers as you can be there in under an hour via the Sea to Sky Highway. I don’t know how there are not more accidents on this stretch of road: the views out the window are just magical. I am lucky the few times I have travelled along the highway I have been in a bus.
Although I was one of the 30,000 people who took over the town for the festival, the tunes didn’t start until 2:30 pm, so my guest and I decided to see what the town had to offer in our spare mornings, which was a fantastic idea as this place has it going on. Here are a few ideas on how to do a summer Squamish weekend.
Visit the Squamish Adventure Centre
Okay, this has to be your first stop. Theis a huge visitor information booth directly on Highway 99. From here you can grab maps, ask the very helpful staff questions and book tours, bike rental, etc. Because we were on foot we couldn’t participate in any activities further out of town, but we still picked up a map of the township and the guy behind the counter pointed out a couple of places of interest we could see via walking.
Explore Downtown Squamish
The town’s CBD is so quaint you will want to move there immediately once you start walking down Cleveland Avenue. Adding to the street’s prettiness was the delicate buds of fuchsia, purple, yellow and white flowers bursting out of the hanging baskets on each street post. The main strip of rustic wood and brick buildings is back-dropped by towering, rocky mountains. A farmers market takes over on the weekend during the summer, selling some delicious-looking local produce. There are also a variety of cafes, local grocers and restaurants to decide between when hunger strikes.
Now, this is also easier if you have a vehicle, as I’ve been told there are some beautiful lakes on the outskirts of Squamish. But we went for a walk along a very secluded seemingly never-ending dirt track, passed industrial buildings that had us thinking, this could be used in a thriller movie, to the town’s beach. It was pretty, but the tide was out when we arrived so not much swimming was done. However, justifying the outdoor recreation capital tag is the fact there were about twenty kite-boarders in the water that day – it was definitely windy enough.
Sea to Sky Gondola
Once you arrive at the top you can head to the Summit Lodge to take photos of the view and stop for a snack and a peek in the gift shop. Next you can attempt to walk across the Suspension Bridge. I love when there are kids just strolling across it without a care in the world and I am gripping the rail so hard with one hand (the other had to be used for selfies obviously).
From here you can wander along the Spirit Trail which will loop you back to the Summit Lodge without having to cross the bridge again. There are great signs highlighting the First Nation’s (Canada’s Aboriginal people’s) history in Squamish and the animals they hunted in the area. Back at the start you can then take the Panorama Trail, which will give you more breathtaking views of mountains with a dusting of snow on top and the town below.
The Panorama Trail also loops back to the lodge where you can have a break, fill up your water bottles and maybe eat an ice-cream on a hot summer’s day. I really enjoyed the Sea to Sky Gondola and recommend it to visitors to Squamish, Vancouver and Whistler.
Tackle the Chief
All those adventurous people from Vancouver (aka most of the city’s bloody population) talk about the Stawamus Chief hike way too much. I am not a hiker so this was not on my must-do list, but if you love a challenge then check it out. From what I have heard it can take about six to seven hours. Don’t write to me when you can’t move the next day, okay?
Why I loved my Squamish weekend?
It was so cheap! We did a fair bit of walking: from our VIP campsite (I’m bragging because it was the best thing I’ve ever won) to the Adventure Centre, the downtown area, the beach and back again. If you were to substitute the beach for a visit to a lake, all you’d have to pay for is a little bit of fuel. Hiking the Chief is hectic but free. The gondola was the only thing that cost but it was so worth it. I mean, look at those pretty views.