Getaway Guide: Squamish and Whistler
Twin mountain towns are made for a weekend of outdoor adventure paired with great dining—and a little downtime.
Whistler may have been named Ski Magazine‘s top North American resort three out of the last four years, but the mountain village—and neighbouring town of Squamish—are worth visiting during the spring season, too (because there’s more than snowy slopes and après-ski bars to enjoy).
In Squamish, the Sea to Sky Gondola hasn’t been open long, but already it’s an icon of the region and a perfect first stop on your way from Vancouver. Take the scenic 10-minute ride up (keep an eye out for bears ranging below) and then spend the morning exploring the pretty walking trails and sweeping viewpoints available at the top. If sea level is more your speed, take an easy hike on the Four Lakes Trail, a gentle six-kilometre walk through red cedar and Douglas fir trees that winds around, surprise, four lakes (Alice, Stump, Edith and Fawn, if you were wondering).
Ziptrek Eco Tours will take you buzzing through the canopy of Whistler’s forests—including one 2,400-foot zipline with a 30-storey descent. Or if your adventure comes more in the shape of which spa treatment to order, Taman Sari is a Javanese-style spa that will transport you into tropical relaxation. The Four Seasons Spa is probably the best place to deal with any post-hike aches—the Sports Recovery massage is specifically designed to perk up overworked muscles, utilizing custom elements like invigorating eucalyptus oils and some serious hip stretches to nurse you back to health.
5 Best Hikes in Whistler
Fergie’s is the best breakfast in Squamish—chef Jason Nadeau, formerly of Cioppino’s, serves up a seasonally influenced menu packed with locally sourced produce and house-smoked meats. Order the pulled pork hash (we love the smoked potatoes) and make sure to grab a homemade brownie for the road. The Howe Sound Inn and Brewing Co. is the best brew pub in Squamish—never mind that it’s the only brew pub—and it’s run by one of B.C.’s stalwart craft brewers. It’s about elegantly executed pub fare: think burgers piled with caramelized onions or chorizo firebread.
To reward yourself for the drive from Squamish to Whistler, pop into the original Purebread location in Function Junction, a cluster of shops in an industrial area off the Sea to Sky highway, just 18 kilometres past Garibaldi. Fuel up on salted caramel bars or strawberries-and-cream sugar buns before (and/or after) hitting the trails.
For something a little more removed from the rowdy village square in Whistler, duck into the Green Moustache, a health-conscious, gluten-free spot with a focus on Ayurvedic foods (a diet based on the holistic principles of Ayurveda, which recommends foods that include six basic tastes—sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent—in every meal).
Caramba Restaurante is a Whistler Village staple that’s taking on a new culinary direction. Nightly features often include mouth-watering rotisserie porchetta and handmade pasta, but you can never go wrong with fresh-from-the-wood-oven pizza like their pesto, roasted garlic, goat cheese and pine nut pie.
And for your week’s end splurge, Araxi restaurant is Vancouver magazine’s perennial Best Whistler award-winner. The ever-changing menu features all that is local, seasonal and sustainable in B.C. Great bar, deep wine list.
Check in to the Logger’s Shack at Sunwolf in Squamish, a reclaimed historic cabin just north of town filled with rustic wood beams and plenty of sunlight. The lodge is run by a charming British couple and their adorable toddlers, and the personal touch gives the property a homey vibe—when you’re en route to the hot tub, you’ll likely find them ladling homemade stew into bowls for rafting groups.
In Whistler, Nita Lake Lodge’s location right on the lake is only part of its appeal: it pairs boutique style with great amenities, including a luxe spa and the lovely Aura restaurant—and Fix Café for your morning boost. Fairmont Chateau Whistler is a classic, and its killer brunch buffets are worth a visit whether you’re staying with the hotel or not. (Grab a smoothie of the day, a side of bircher muesli, and you’re set.)