Squamish BC for families: Does it make a good vacation destination?
As local Vancouverites, Squamish is a place we’ve driven through time and time again but never stopped at because we were headed to a different destination. The towering Mining Museum always caught my interest (I’m a history nerd) and the dramatic views of the rock face of Stawamus Chief often made me crane my neck into uncomfortable positions to spot mountain climbers. But I never realized that you can truly spend an entire vacation in Squamish! Did you know it’s the outdoor recreation capital of Canada!? And the best part for us? We didn’t even need our passports!
If you’ve never driven the Sea to Sky Highway, it’s truly something to behold! People come from all over the world to witness the spectacular scenery of Howe Sound. You’re treated to views of the ocean and numerous islands as you wind your way up, down and through the side of the mountains and down into the Squamish district. If you are unsure of what to do first, stop in at the Adventure Center just off the highway. There you can grab a cup of coffee, watch a few films and figure out what exactly you want to do during your stay.
Thinking of taking your little kids? There’s tons for them too! Here are a few of the activities that we enjoyed during our weekend away!
Squamish BC for Families | What To See and Do
The Sea to Sky Gondola is a recently added tourist attraction and it was a real highlight for our family! Within seconds of stepping onto our gondola we were whisked high above the tree tops and given incredible views of Howe Sound! It took about 10 minutes to get to the top and from there you can take off in multiple directions. Consult a map and choose one of dozens of trails and hikes, get a photo at the lookout, walk across the suspension bridge or order a delicious meal in the Cafe! Noah loved going ‘higher higher up in the sky’ and looking for bugs amongst the trees. He also thoroughly enjoyed the french fries in the restaurant (PS – they make an awesome grilled cheese!)
Tip – Though it is stroller accessible, we found it easier to keep our toddler in a carrier so that we had our hands free to hold onto things (like our Preschooler.)
Are your kids obsessed with trains? How about Thomas the train specifically? If they are, West Coast Railway Heritage Park is a must stop for your family! We visited on a weekend when a Day Out With Thomas was taking place so that our boys could see a character they recognized and loved. We had the chance to go for a ride aboard his train, get our pictures taken with him and play at multiple themed stations! The toddler got his first temporary tattoo, we saw how mail use to be delivered by rail (totally a mobile mail sorting room – very cool!), viewed the Royal Hudson up close and watched mini trains go around giant electric tracks. Our Preschooler asked multiple times to return to see Thomas so I know he had an absolute blast at this event! There are other special events through out the year too so be sure to check out their site for more details.
Visiting this historic site has been on my bucket list for years! It’s very ominous when you pull up and makes you feel like you are stepping back into another time. I love that feeling! Noah immediately ran from one old machine to the next, but once he found the Gold Panning station he was in heaven! Though he didn’t quite grasp the concept of panning for gold, he loved digging in the sand with the shovel and watching everyone else search. To my surprise he was eager to wear a helmet and ride the mine car into the tunnels to see where all the magic happened! I could have spent hours here, but our visit lasted about 1.5 hours.
Tip – If you find yourself hungry, be sure to walk across the street to the Mountain woMAN. It’s a restaurant in a bright blue bus that makes some amazing fish, chips and burgers!
Picture this… you get out of your vehicle and are immediately greeted by the sound of crashing water. Within five minutes of walking you are engulfed in a sea of towering trees and see a fast flowing river to your right. And then, the trees part and you look up to see a massive water fall right in front of you. To say it will leave you breathless is a massive understatement! Because our kids are up early we headed out early and arrived not long after the gates opened at 7am. Other then the occasional hiker heading out on a days journey we had the whole place to ourselves! We were able to sit quietly and fully appreciate the amazing beauty of nature. I can’t urge you enough, you have to see this place!
Tip – There is a lovely picnic area on your way out of the park. We enjoyed a snack and let our toddler run around a bit on the grassy field. There are washroom facilities located right next to it for your use.
After so many go go activities, we put the boys in the stroller and did some wandering of the cute and eclectic shops located on the main street of downtown Squamish. There was gelato to be eaten, books to be peeked through and teas to be tasted! It had a very laid back feel and was a nice way to finish off our day. If we had arrived a few hours earlier we could have visited the farmers market, so go earlier in the day if you are visiting on a weekend!
We really only scratched the surface as far as Squamish BC for families goes! We had several other things on our ‘to do’ list such as exploring Porteau Cove, playing a round of Mini Golf at Whistle Punk Hollow and checking out Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park, but we just didn’t have the time! If we had a few more days there we would have loved to have taken a few more walks along the trails and gone for a bike ride too.
As we drove away, I told our nearly three year old to wave goodbye. His response? “No Mama. I not want to say goodbye to Squamish! Go back to Squamish!” I think that speaks volumes about what an amazing weekend we had! Don’t worry kid, with all the fun left to have, we’ll be back!
Squamish BC for families is definitely something you should consider doing!
Disclosure: We were provided with accommodations and site entrance tickets in order to facilitate this review. The opinions expressed are completely my own.