Heading from Vancouver to Whistler? You are in for one of the most stellar highway drives in the entire country. The Sea to Sky Highway is simply a breathtaking trip. Plus the corridor is full of amazing stops that are well worth the detour. Take a look through our list of the top Sea-to-Sky stops and plan your trip to Whistler with a few pitstops on the way!
Top Vancouver to Whistler, Sea-To-Sky Stops
Murrin Provincial Park
1. Cypress Lookout | Burrard Inlet Viewpoint
The Cypress lockout is stop #1 on your Sea to Sky journey from Vancouver to Whistler. The stellar viewpoint is located on the switchback that heads up Cypress Mountain. From this height you’ll gain a vantage overlooking Downtown Vancouver, the Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, and the Burrard Inlet. On a clear day you’ll see deep into the distance seeing far into Metro Vancouver and as far as Mount Baker (which is in the US!)
Horseshoe Bay is more than just a ferry terminal stop on your way to Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, or Bowen Island. Horseshoe Bay is a thriving community nestled between the ocean and mountains. The cove hosts a variety of great local shops, restaurants, and cafes. The ferry terminal provides a vibrancy and activity that is somewhat electric. While in Horseshoe Bay put your feet in the Pacific Ocean, this represents the “Sea” of Sea to Sky. Soon you’ll be deep in the mountains!
Porteau Cove is located on the shores of the Howe Sound. This provincial park is tiny but still fits in a great amount of things to do in the small space. The cove is a renown for is scuba diving, there are artificial reefs and sunken vessels below the waves that are perfect for under water exploration. While in Porteau you’ll find a ferry terminal that can be explored. This terminal is for emergency use but doubles as a great tourist attraction and stop along the Seat to Sky Highway.
Britannia Beach is an old copper mining and smelting community that is in a current state of development and revitalization. The Britannia Mine Museum is impossible to miss when journeying through the region. You’ll notice the mine hugging the cliffside and a giant yellow dump truck on display next to the road. When visiting the museum you’ll get to venture deep into the arms of the mine while riding mine cars.
To your left, heading north from Vancouver to Whistler, you’ll notice a lake lining the Sea to Sky Highway. This active spot is Browning Lake part of the micro Murrin Provincial Park. In addition to Browning Lake this park hosts trails that give elevated views into the inlet and some great picnicking spots. The area is a volcanic zone, part of the Garibaldi section of the Cascade Volcanic Arc. When visiting the lake you’ll be greeted by fishermen and an array of colourful floating rafts with day trippers enjoying the sunshine.
Before your entry to Squamish you’ll notice signs for Shannon Falls Provincial Park. Shannon Falls is a quick stop off the Sea-to-Sky Highway. The trails in the park lead to an unreal waterfall comprised of 335 metres of cliffs. You don’t need to get very close to start feeling the mist off the waterfall sprinkling your face. The Shannon Falls network of trials also connects up with the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park which is part of the towering rock face that shades the community of Squamish.
Following Shannon Falls you’ll come across the green gondola cars of the Sea to Sky Gondola. Suspended over cliffs and trees the Sea to Sky Gondola takes you on a trip up to the peak of the Chief. The peak hosts a restaurant, suspension bridge, and hiking trails. The views provide unobstructed sightlines of the Howe Sound Inlet and Coastal Mountains. The Sea to Sky Gondola is a must see on your journey through the corridor and entry to Squamish.
The adventure capital of Canada doesn’t disappoint. The community of Squamish is situated between the rock base of the Chief and the foot of the Howe Sound Inlet. An adventurers paradise, Squamish is a great place for rock climbing, mountain biking, kite surfing, whitewater, or simply enjoying a Sea-to-Sky beer. Not to limit the appeal of the community, as a destination in and of itself, Squamish is also a great stop for gas, snacks, and coffee if you are continuing on to Whistler.
The favourite park of Squamish locals, Alice Lake is a family and visitor friendly destination. Surrounded by mountains, evergreens, and grass the park is a perfect rest stop and day trip for travelers heading from Vancouver to Whistler. The park region is actually an interconnected trail network that connects four local lakes (Alice, Edith, Fawn, and Stump). The variety of lake options ensures that you’ll be able to find your own private little space.
North of Squamish is Brohm Interpretive Forest and Lake. The region has hiking trails, for intermediate hikers, that ring the lake. While here you’ll notice the preserved natural beauty. A deliberate attempt to protect the cultural, environmental, and spiritual significance of the region. The interpretive forest lives as a representation of the natural living beauty of the corridor. When visiting this space, respect the nature around you, enjoy the scenic atmosphere, and leave nothing but foot prints.
The Tantalus Mountain Range is unbashfully stunning. These enormous glaciers stretch across the mountainous landscape in the distance seen best from the Tantalus Lookout. The rugged landscape of cedar trees, cliff, and mountain is only truly enjoyed with a quick stop. Spend some extra few moments to stop and visit the viewpoints scattered throughout the Sea-to-Sky Highway. You’ll be greeted by mountain fresh air and the vast, rugged, BC landscape.
This legendary glacier waterfall is unlike Shannon Falls, instead of seeing the waterfall from the bottom, like Shannon, why not look at a waterfall from the top! The viewing point of Brandywine is at a height of this ledge waterfall, 70 metres (250 feet) up. The falls descend into the valley basin of the Brandywine creek. Not only do you have an amazing view of the falls you also have elevated views into the valley, meadows, and creek.
Among the top things to do while in Whistler is visiting the legendary Graffiti Train Wreck! This historic train wreck is suspended over cliffs deep in the forests of Whistler. Park in Cheakamus and head down Train Wreck Trail the trail capstones with a suspension bridge over whitecapped rapids and your final destination. The area is home to abandoned box cars that are living, evolving, and vibrant art pieces. Atop the cars and snaking through the trees are well-defined extreme mountain bike paths and jumps.
You’ve reached your destination! Congrats you’ve made it to Whistler, now the fun begins. Whistler has a limitless amount of things to do. Consider trekking up the mountains, visiting the local restaurants, hitting the clubs, or even exploring further north to Pemberton. Whistler can’t be beat, it’s a vibrant community of thrill seekers, chill locals, and great experiences. Get the most of your tip to Whistler but don’t be too sad when you need to return home, the drive from Whistler to Vancouver is even better than the drive up!