Discover Squamish: Extreme fun for the whole family

By Sheryl Gray, May 6, 2016

"How will you explore Squamish?" asks Tourism Squamish's current campaign? Why explore Squamish? Well, to start, the New York Times has named Squamish as one of the top 52 places to go last year. And of course, it's barely north of the Lower Mainland, so why not go and see for yourself?

Squamish is located north of Vancouver along the incredibly picturesque Sea to Sky Highway, the approximate halfway mark from Vancouver to Whistler. The highway takes a bend here, from following along the Howe Sound waters, now heading up into the mountains. The views are simply amazing, with nature towering far and wide in every direction – mountains, forests, ocean – our beautiful West Coast.

Known as the "Outdoor Recreation Capital" of Canada, Squamish offers outdoor activities for young and old, from birdwatchers to extreme thrill seekers. The Sea to Sky Gondola is a 10-minutes ride that takes guests to over 885 metres above sea level. This attraction elevates the scale of the breathtaking views to well over 10/10. For those who are looking to participate rather than be a passenger, Squamish offers rock climbing and mountaineering as hands-on experiences to reach new heights.

Squamish also boasts more than 600 trails that wind through forests, mountains and streams, perfect for hiking and fishing expeditions. The diversity of the trails, which provide a level of activity for everyone, was part of the draw for the New York Times, who cited an "unusual combination of wilderness and accessibility," as a factor in being recommended for travel.

Families are not only welcomed to Squamish, but arrive by the carload for annual events such as "Day Out with Thomas" and the "Polar Bear Express" adventures on rails. Kids of all ages can marvel at the colourful kite surfers at "The Spit," which is the windy, northern tip of the Howe Sound fjord. Boating, sailing and whitewater rafting are also popular water sports in the area.

More than an outdoor playground, Squamish offers an incredibly diverse place to live, work and play. Tourism Squamish's website features upcoming events that include rides aboard Thomas the Train; an indie market place of handmade, vintage and curated wares; and the "Ore Crusher," a multi-lap classic XC race that is part of the Test of Metal series. It's hard to imagine a "nothing to do" day in Squamish with so many activities and events happening on a regular basis!

Not everyone enjoys strapping on hiking boots or backpacks, and Squamish is equally friendly to residents and visitors who prefer to keep both feet on the ground. There is a wonderful local arts scene, with Squamish claiming the second-highest Canadian population of residents who are artists by profession. Skills in Squamish include brewing great craft beer, and the Howe Sound Brewery is open for tastings (and take home!), along with an on-site pub featuring regular live music.

As Squamish continues to grow and attract new businesses and developments, the local amenities also are expanding in scope. The town centre is quite centrally located in relation to the various residential neighbourhoods, and growing increasingly "urban" with each passing year. In addition to the Squamish General Hospital, there are also many shops, restaurants and services to explore.

Which returns us to the question, "How will YOU explore Squamish?" Check out exploresquamish.com for more ideas!