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Weather you are looking for a local getaway, day trip or planning travels to BC, Squamish offers so much for families. Located along the Sea to Sky highway, just an hour from Vancouver, Squamish sits on Howe Sound with the majestic monolith, “The Chief” rising above the town.
While it doesn’t receive as many visitors as its big brother down the highway (Whistler), it’s more moderate climate, proximity to Vancouver and plethora of outdoor activities, make it a great place to visit with kids. If you are headed to Whistler, be sure to check out our Whistler with kids guide.
Here are 8 great things to do in Squamish with kids. We have included a mixture of outdoor activities, learning opportunities and of course some yummy food suggestions.
Sea to Sky Gondola
The Squamish Sea to Sky Gondola offers epic views of Howe Sound, the coastal forest and of course, the mountains. Once at the top you can enjoy family-friendly hiking, a fun suspension bridge, restaurant and instagram-worthy lookouts. There is also a great playground at the top that the kids will love.
Littles will like the 400 m Alpine Valley trail which scavenger hunt cards. The 1.3 km Panorama Trail leads to an awe-inspiring lookout bridge and the 400 m Spirit Trail takes you through a cultural journey of the First Nations people.
Family tickets cost $121 (2 adults, 2 kids 6-18 years old, 5 and under are free). The gondola operates daily 9-5. This was one of our favourite things to do in Squamish with kids (or without!)
Sadly, this gondola was severely vandalized in 2019 and 2020, however, the attraction re-opened June 2021 and is one of the best things to do in Squamish with kids.
Britannia Mine Museum
If you have spent any time on the Sea to Sky highway, you have probably wondered about the massive white building attached to the cliffs, just before Squamish. For over 70 years, this was the site of the Britannia copper mine (the largest in the British Empire) and while the mine, no longer operates, it is now a Museum and National Historic Site.
The Britannia Mine Museum is really impressive and our kids loved all of the interactive activities. There are numerous buildings that you can explore to learn more about the geography, environment, mining and mining life. For most of the mines’ life, it operated as a company town only accessible by water from Howe Sound. My teenage daughter really liked seeing all the festivities, recreation activities of the community.
However, the real excitement for the kids was the train tour into the mine with a wonderful tour guide. The whole family gets to don hard hats for your journey underground and learn about how the miners worked. The tour finishes with a visit to the Mill, the multi-story building you see from the highway. The kids loved “BOOM”, a light and sound show and also liked hearing about the movies that have been made here.
Another huge highlight for the kids was panning for gems. The kids are taught how to use a pan to sift through the sand, where they will find a number of minerals and stones, that they can take home. I had to tare the kids away from this area!
We were really impressed with this museum and are so glad we visited. Entrance is $135/family (2 adults, 3 children), $36.95/adult, $19.95/child 5-12, $28.95/youth 13-17, kids under 5 are free. It is best to book your admission time online in advance as walk-ups cannot always be accomodated. Museum is open daily 9-5. Plan to spend 1.5-2 hours+ there.
Squamish is a biking mecca and there are a wide variety of trails suitable for families of all abilities. Bring your bikes or rent bikes from one of the bike stores and spend a few hours exploring Squamish’s vast trail network.
Younger kids and beginners will enjoy the green Wonderland trail which winds through lush rainforest. The SORCA mountain bike skills park located at Brennan Park is a great place for kids to practice on the pump track, jumps and technical features.
For those with older or more experienced riders in the family, the Diamond Head and Alice Lake trail networks offer a plethora of trails. Our kids love the fast and flowy classic – Half Nelson – a machine build blue trail at Diamond Head. The climb is a challenge for them (9 and 11), but doable. Psudo-Tsuga is another flowy trail that was a hit with the whole family.
For nearby Alice Lake trails, park at Garibaldi Highlands School (only after 4:30pm and on weekends during the school year) and climb Mashiter. Leave of Absence, Of Mice and Men, 50 Shades of Green are all great blue trails. Trailforks has all the details on the trails, routes and access and parking.
Alice Lake Beach & Swimming
Alice Lake is the perfect place to visit on a hot summer day. Kids will love the sandy beach, comfortable temperature for swimming and floaties and docks for SUPing, canoeing or kayaking. The park is free to visit; park in the Day Use parking lot (fills quickly on hot weekends). The Park is located a 5 min drive past Squamish.
Visit Porteau Cove Provincial Park
This gorgeous, small Provincial Park is located right on Howe Sound and offers waterfront campsites that are incredibly popular. However, there is also a Day Use area, perfect for a picnic and great swimming on the pebbly beach. Kids will also enjoy checking out all of the marine life on the beach, especially at low tide. Our kids spent hours walking along the logs on the beach (way better than any playground!). Porteau Cove is about 10 minutes before Squamish on the Sea to Sky highway.
Hike “The Chief”
This massive monolith towers over Squamish from all angles and is a favourite for rock climbers. If your family is up for the challenge, the views are spectacular of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains range. I wouldn’t attempt this hike with kids under 6 because it is a ton of stairs and quite the grind. Hiking to the First Peak is only 4 km round trip, but plan 2-3 hours due to the steepness. The hike starts right away with endless staircases going up, up, up. The upper sections are on rocks and the very last section requires a ladder and chain rope. Once you get to the top and those panoramic views, watch the kids because there are steep cliffs, but don’t let that discourage you from this classic Squamish hike.
This is a very popular hike and free reservations are required for the summer months. “As of June 23, 2021, free day-use passes will be required to visit Stawamus Chief Provincial Park – Chief Peaks/Backside Trail. Reserve your free day-use pass at Discover Camping. Passes are available to book starting at 7am, one day in advance of your planned visit.” – Parks Canada
Visit Shannon Falls
You can see this majestic waterfall from the Sea to Sky highway, but it is definitely worth stopping in at this small Provincial Park to get a better view. At 335m, it is the third highest waterfall in BC and it is an easy 350 m boardwalk from the parking lot to the viewing platform. This is a great easy activity to do in Squamish with kids. The falls are located 5 km before Squamish and right before the Sea to Sky Gondola, which make for a great combined day trip.
We are still talking about the amazing and inventive pizzas from Joe Pesto’s Wood Fired Pizzeria. Weather you get takeout or dine-in, don’t miss this little gem. I loved the “In a Pickle” pizza with pickles, dill, and mustard – yes pickles on pizza – so good! If you aren’t up for pickles on pizza, there are so many fun ones like a burger pizza, reuben pizza, Joe-tziki. Only open for dinner 4-8 pm.
If you still have room, head over to Alice & Brohm for some delicious real-fruit, NZ style ice cream. They have two locations – one downtown and one on Mamquam Road.
If you are craving Mexican or fried chicken, the highway-side Sunny Chibas will hit the spot. They have yummy tacos and burritos and fried chicken poutines that our kids loved.
Squamish with Kids Verdict
Squamish truly embodies the unique “Sea to Sky” topography of coastal British Columbia and with its close proximity to Vancouver, makes a great daytrip or weekend getaway. The hiking and biking is world class and there are many fun family activities that the whole family will enjoy.