Photo credit: May Hung | Flickr
Sea to Sky Highway Weekend
There are few highways in the world with as much awe-inspiring scenery as the Sea to Sky Highway. Officially known as BC Highway 99, this legendary route from Vancouver to Whistler and beyond is a drive with incredible sights at just about every turn. It's also filled with fun stops, including outdoor destinations, cultural points of interest and historic sites. So grab your map, plot the course and head out for a weekend of adventure along the Sea to Sky Highway.
Head north from Vancouver on Highway 99 toward Whistler. Beginning at sea level and tracing a route along the shore of Howe Sound, the route weaves deep into the Coast Mountains and then climbs through old-growth rainforests before reaching Whistler 670 metres (2,200 feet) above sea level. It only takes about two hours, but with all the scenic stops along the way, it's easy to make a weekend out of it.
Make your first stop Whytecliff Park by Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, to take a breath of the fresh ocean air, and enjoy the views of the sound and the Strait of Georgia. Drive on about 15 minutes to Lions Bay. Take in the sleepy village's views and pick up supplies for a picnic. Be sure to stop in Britannia Beach at the Britannia Mine Museum, a National Historic Site that offers guided mine tours, gold panning and a myriad of exhibits. Also nearby is Shannon Falls, accessed via a 10-minute walk from the parking area just off the highway. It's the third-highest waterfall in British Columbia and a great place to take a break from the car and enjoy your lunch.
A few kilometres north is the old mill town of Squamish, known as a haven for outdoorsy types. Find a hotel room, B&B or rustic cabin to drop your bags, then hit the tracks on the area's world-famous mountain bike trails. There are more than 600 trails through the surrounding forests and mountains, as well as countless trails for hiking and streams for fishing. Alternatively, head high up above Howe Sound on the Sea to Sky Gondola. Take a 10-minute ride up to the Summit Lodge, 885 metres (2,900 feet) above sea-level, for a sweeping view of the coastal forest and surrounding mountains. Once up there, explore trails, a suspension bridge and climbing opportunities. Have dinner in one of Squamish's locally-owned restaurants and then finish the night with a locally- brewed beer at one of a few pubs. Most of them are within walking distance of each other, so you can easily find one that suits your mood.
After leaving Squamish, head north to Whistler. Along the way is the enormous Garibaldi Provincial Park. Park at one of the many designated trailheads and enjoy a hike among crystal-clear lakes, mountain vistas and alpine wildflowers.
Continue on to Whistler. Grab a quick bite in one of the year-round resorts cafés in Whistler Village before spending a leisurely afternoon at a spa or golf course, or get the adrenaline going with bungee jumping, ziplining, or rafting. If you're here in the winter, don't miss world-class skiing and snowboarding. The Whistler Visitor Center is located in the heart of the village, and they can assist with booking all kinds of Whistler adventures.
In the evening, go on a walkabout Whistler dining tour to four or five different stellar restaurants, indulging in one course at each. After dinner, settle into one the town's famous après-ski bars, which are the place to be, snow-covered ground or not.