Southern British Columbia’s scenic Sea to Sky region stretches from Pacific shores to the tips of the Pacific Range. Start your road trip on Vancouver Island with a stay in Victoria before rolling through the much larger city of Vancouver. Catch the Sea to Sky Highway for a journey to Squamish—and beyond—that features exhilarating adventures and landscapes along the way. Pack your gear and get up close and personal with the landscapes while rock climbing, backpacking, mountain biking, or just strolling the trails with your camera in hand.
Canadian Midas locations
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Make the trip before the trip to Midas and get $20 off a full-synthetic oil change. Request your appointment at Midas.com.
First up on this thrilling guide is the city of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. Located just across the Strait of Juan De Fuca from the U.S. (north of Washington state), this beautiful Canadian city has so much to offer: Take part in the multiple thrills of ziplining, kayaking, and hiking; enjoy cuisine inspired by creative locals; stay in scenic hotels; or explore museums, landmarks, parks, and Canada’s oldest local Chinatown. At the end of your visit, this area will leave you wishing you could extend your stay.
Beacon Drive In
Established in 1958, this old-school diner is a must when in the historic town of Victoria. Known for its amazing soft-serve ice cream, Beacon Drive In is a hot spot for locals and visitors alike, serving up traditional fare such as hot dogs and hamburgers, along with sweet treats. With these items in hand, walk to nearby Beacon Hill Park or the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm to enjoy your quick bites with friends and family.
The Butchart Gardens
Situated on more than 55 acres of gardens maintained by dozens of gardeners, the Butchart Gardens are a green thumb’s true paradise. Located just outside the town of Brentwood Bay, east of the Saanich Inlet, this stop is truly breathtaking—whether you have plant-based interests or not. The gardens overflow with every color of the rainbow. See bright blues, perfect purples, and priceless pinks alongside ever-changing arrangements that will captivate your gaze—and maybe even inspire you to go home and create your own green oasis. These gardens are home to more than 900 plant and flower varieties and host 1 million visitors each year.
Vancouver Whale Watch
Leave Vancouver Island and head to the mainland to explore the city of Vancouver—and the surrounding natural landscapes. Looking to see one of nature’s largest mammals in action? At the Vancouver Whale Watch, you get the opportunity to see magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, and you may even spot other animals as well, including bald eagles, seals, porpoises, and sea lions. Typically lasting 3 to 5 hours, these amazing whale watching tours have an uncommon 90 percent success rate of seeing whales, due to the preplanned and careful routes the boats take. Don’t forget to bring a snack and your camera.
Rockwater Secret Cove Resort
Rockwater Secret Cove Resort is a prime place to escape from everyday life, reenergize, reconnect with loved ones, or celebrate a great accomplishment. This beautiful resort presents multiple opportunities for visitors to experience the Canadian landscape, including hiking, mountain biking, touring the harbor, and kayaking, in addition to traditional resort offerings like golfing, diving, and yoga.
Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park
Tidal rapids, beautiful scenery, interesting local animals, and epic adventures are this next stop’s best qualities, so prepare yourself for a great time. Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park, named after the Chinook saying for turbulent water or rapid torrent, certainly lives up to its reputation. As water flows through the Narrows, rapid currents can sometimes pull the surface of the water down so far in the middle that the difference between the coastline and the center can be up to 2 to 3 meters, creating a fast current. If you head out on the waters, be very careful when paddling near these rapids. If you aren’t feeling quite that adventurous, don’t fret—the park also offers visitors the chance to observe different local marine life and waterfowl, while soaking in the beautiful Canadian landscape at Brown Lake. Hiking trails are located nearby, but be prepared to encounter wildlife (including bears) at all times.
Lighthouse Park is located just north of Vancouver in the West Vancouver district. Nestled in by the Burrard Inlet and south of Cypress Mountain, this location is home to a nationally-renowned lighthouse. The area around the lighthouse adds to its appeal: Picnic next to the shimmering water and soak in the warm sun and salty sea breeze, throw a frisbee to a friend, or take pictures of boats passing by in the inlet. This historic site has so much more to offer than its scenic lighthouse and is a must-see when in the Lower Mainland of Canada.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
This thrilling natural park has several once-in-a-lifetime experiences to check out. You can walk across the historic bridge that has been in existence since 1889, participate in cliff walks suspended above the Capilano Canyon, experience the Tree Tops Adventure to observe local wildlife, explore the museum dedicated to the Kai’palano people, and, if you stick around until the sun sets, take part in the Canyon Lights that give the suspension bridges an otherworldly glow.
Lynn Canyon Park
Opened to the public in 1912, Lynn Canyon Park is a national and local favorite. Located east of North Vancouver in the Lynn Valley, this park has a great deal to offer. Walk across its suspension bridge, relax in the scenery, go for a picnic with the family, or dine in the on-site cafe. The 617-acre park also offers the ability to hike or walk on some amazing trails that connect to other parks or areas, like Lynn Headwaters, Rice Lake, and Inter River Park. If you made the trip with kids and they are getting fussy, head to the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre, which offers a plethora of experiences to entertain them, including a puppet theater, hands-on activities, and special programs.
Brandywine Falls Provincial Park
Venture north on Highway 99 to follow the Sea to Sky Highway to Brandywine Falls Provincial Park. Though the drive is just over an hour, allow yourself more time to enjoy the scenery. Home to a famous 70-meter waterfall, Brandywine Falls is thought to have been named by two travelers who made a bet on how tall the falls were, with the winner earning a bottle of brandy wine. Cycle on the Lava Lake or Sea to Sky trails in the park, hike on the Brandywine Falls Trail, take a swim when the weather is warm, or visit the viewing platform for a relaxed way to see the falls. Bring along binoculars to view the local wildlife near Daisy Lake and surrounding mountains.
Round out your breathtaking Canadian trip by returning to Squamish, British Columbia. This town, located just north of Vancouver, is a basecamp for further adventures. It offers several mountain biking trails, the Britannia Mine Museum, numerous hiking opportunities, plentiful waters to kayak or canoe, and even epic rock climbing destinations, all close to the city. Squamish also is home to the famous Sea to Sky Gondola, which allows you to see the entire beautiful region from a bird’s-eye view. When you’ve had your fill of recreation, settle in a seat at a local brew pub or traipse through a farmer’s market to enjoy the riches of this beguiling town.
While you may have seen some of the best sites the Sea to Sky region has to offer, there’s still a lot more to explore in this scenic stretch of southern British Columbia. Head deeper inland to Garibaldi Provincial Park, take a winter trip to Whistler’s ski resort, or circle back to explore Vancouver Island’s rainforests. Whether you venture off the beaten path or follow the beloved Sea to Sky highway, you’ll be tempted to continue your stay in this wonderful western Canadian region.