Vancouver to Whistler: A Classic Road Trip from Sea to Sky

British Columbia's Sea-to-Sky Highway, from surf to snow

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The drive north (Hwy 99) from Vancouver to Whistler is stunning. It’s dubbed the Sea to Sky Highway and although it’s only a two-hour trip, we recommend taking all day because of the stellar must-see attractions en route.

Britannia Beach & Shannon Falls

In addition to many “Kodak moments” (or iPhone moments as the case may be), stop at the BC Museum of Mining at Britannia Beach, which is otherwise just a handful of homes and a diner. But the museum is a neat spot, especially if you’ve kids in tow. The mines were once the largest copper producers in the British Empire.

Next, keep an eye open for Shannon Falls, the third largest fall in British Columbia. It’s a short walk from the highway amidst Western hemlock, Douglas fir, and Western red cedar trees.


Halfway to Whistler, you’ll see turn-offs to Squamish, a five-minute drive from the highway. Train buffs detour here for the West Coast Railway Heritage Park and its collection of train equipment and restored compartments.

Because this logging community is the only town of size en route to the mountains, Squamish is where backpackers and other outdoorsy folks stock up on climbing gear and snacks before pressing onward. Many are heading to The Stawamus Chief, a humongous granite monolith (only Gibralter is larger) that lures rock climbers and hikers. A much easier way to appreciate the Chief? Via the breathtaking Sea to Sky Gondola.

A stunning mountain photo spot lies just north of Squamish at the Tantalus pullover.

Whistler & Beyond

It’s time to park and stroll in Whistler: follow our Perfect Day in Whistler itinerary or stay overnight to really enjoy the alpine resort’s all-season activities.

To explore farther, continue north to Pemberton (about a 30-minutes). The one-time logging town has undergone a startling transformation into a hip West Coast outdoor playground. Cheaper than Whistler, Pemberton is far more pristine and authentic. Plenty of inns, B&Bs, and fine-dining establishments have sprung up here, as well as a winery (with on-site accommodation) and many farms selling produce and baked goods.

At A Glance

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