14 free or cheap things to do in Squamish, BC
Squamish is a haven for travellers looking for a good adventure, breathtaking scenery, and a vibrant outdoor community. This laid-back, small town located between Vancouver and Whistler is the best place to simultaneously experience the mountains and ocean with its towering coastal peaks and shimmering Howe Sound waters. Squamish has something for outdoor adventurers, artists, foodies and everyone in between—even if you’re on a budget! Here’s our guide on how to make the most of your time in Squamish. B.C. while making your dollars stretch.
1. View the Eagle migration
Every year, between November and February, over 1,300 bald eagles migrate to the Squamish area to feed on the spawning salmon in the streams and rivers. It’s spectacular to watch the eagles swoop and dive to catch their prey from the Eagle Run dike. The interpretive signs at Eagle Run Vista Point allow you to learn more about the eagles and the chum salmon on which they feed. Don’t forget your binoculars and camera to capture these impressive birds of prey!
2. Shop at the Squamish Farmers Market
The local market runs every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. between April and December. Support local farmers and vendors by purchasing local produce, baked goods, beverages, prepared foods, lifestyle products and more! And don’t miss out on any opportunities to eat fresh, local produce and give your body the energy it needs for the adventures ahead. The market also has community tables, kids' crafts and local musicians so it’s a great place to walk around on the weekend and enjoy some entertainment, even if you don’t end up buying anything.
3. Witness B.C.’s third tallest waterfall
Shannon Falls is an impressive 335-metre-tall waterfall located on the Sea to Sky Highway just outside Squamish. The waterfall is free to access and only requires a short walk from the parking lot, making it a must-visit while in Squamish! Shannon Falls Provincial Park has many trails (ranging from easy to hard) and lots of picnic areas so you can plan to be there just for an hour or pack a picnic and spend half the day.
4. Hike in the coastal mountains
Squamish has no shortage of incredible hiking trails, ranging from beginner to expert and one hour to multi-day. That makes it the perfect spot to explore at your own pace and via your own two feet. The Stawamus Chief and Smoke Bluffs are two great options very close to town. The Stawamus Chief is the iconic granite monolith that looms over downtown Squamish. The views from the top are remarkable but the hike is only recommended for advanced hikers. If that sounds like you, don’t miss it! The Smoke Bluffs are a great alternative if you want to enjoy the lush forests and breathtaking views of the Howe Sound with an easier hike.
5. Walk the 4 Lakes Trail
If you’re hoping to experience Squamish’s nature without too much strenuous activity, the 4 Lakes Trail is the perfect 6.5-kilometre loop to walk. The trail leads through a second growth forest, past four mountain lakes and even gives you a peek at Mt. Garibaldi. If visiting in the summer, be sure to bring a bathing suit for a dip in Alice Lake!
6. Enjoy the downtown murals
Downtown Squamish is full of beautiful murals that give a glimpse into the local cultures and history of the town. The Squamish Mural Walk is a free, self-guided tour that allows you to check out the murals at your own pace. Every summer, more murals are added to the collection during the Squamish Mural Walk Festival so there are more to enjoy every year you visit!
7. Check out the art at the Brackendale Art Gallery
The Brackendale Art Gallery has been operating as a theatre, teahouse and art gallery for over 50 years. They host a variety of concerts, artist workshops, exhibitions, and theatre performances throughout the year making it a unique place to experience local culture.
8. Get active indoors
Although Squamish is known for outdoor activities, the Brennan Park Recreation Centre offers a variety of indoor activities for sports enthusiasts and families. (Plus, it’s a great plan B for if and when the weather disagrees with previously planned activities like a hike or lake day). The centre has a wide variety of indoor and outdoor sports facilities, picnic areas, playgrounds, and community gardens. It is a great place to spend a rainy day swimming, rollerblading, ice skating or playing other sports.
9. Visit the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre
The center is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history and culture of the Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations, two neighbouring Indigenous groups with distinct languages, traditions, and stories. Visitors can see traditional carvings, woven baskets, and beadwork, as well as contemporary art and artifacts. It also hosts various workshops, guided tours, and cultural performances.
Cheap(er) Eats & Drinks
10. Zephyr Cafe
This downtown shop has a variety of delicious breakfast and lunch items, as well as hot drinks and smoothies. They pride themselves on serving tasty vegan, raw and gluten-free dishes to satisfy any dietary needs.
11. Carte Diem – Sieze the Souvlaki
This spot is a Greek food truck that serves a variety of tasty pork, lamb, and chicken souvlaki dishes to-go with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. The food is made fresh and fast, making it a great stop as you walk around downtown Squamish! The location changes, so be sure to check for the most up-to-date location and hours on their website.
Pizzalicious is your go-to local restaurant that serves pizza by the slice and tasty donairs. This one is a great place to check out if you’re looking for a casual food stop or food to-go before an adventure.
13. Mags 99
This Mexican cantina has giant burritos, fried chicken and other Mexican-style meals, all with very large portions at a reasonable price. (So basically, it’s your ultimate place for post-hiking refuelling.) Pro tip: call ahead to order your food to be picked up at the drive-through and take it to a local park to enjoy outside!
14. A-frame Brewing
There’s no shortage of breweries found on Squamish’s Craft Tasting Trail but if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, A-frame Brewing is the way to go. They encourage you to bring your own food so you can make a meal or snack and bring it to enjoy with a local brew! Name a better way to unwind.