Nothing says vacation like a road trip. From Vancouver to Whistler, Highway 99 is your road to adventure. Besides being one of the most scenic drives we’ve seen, this highway weaves through beautiful west coast terrain leading you to some of BC’s favorite local spots.
Though you can zip from Vancouver to Whistler and back again in a day, we recommend spending at least a weekend in Whistler and Pemberton enjoying amazing culinary experiences, the local vibe, and adventures of all types.
Stop 1: Vancouver
Starting in Vancouver, you’ll want to kick start your day with a sunrise at Queen Elizabeth Park. At the top, you’ll be situated above beautifully landscaped gardens with an expansive view of the city set out before you. Once you’ve captured the colors of the morning sky, tour the Quarry Gardens and the various sculptures around the park. Then it’s time to stock up on snacks for the day.
Head west towards Granville Island to explore the Public Market. Here, you’ll find fresh produce, legendary donuts, chewy bagels, and everything else hand-made and local. Grab some fruit for a healthy snack, and a pastry, because you deserve it. Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time to grab a quick breakfast before hitting the road.
Stop by local coffee roaster, Pallet Coffee for a freshly brewed cup and a delicious, hand-crafted breakfast. Made-to-order, these eats are the perfect way to kickstart your day of exploring — plus the quaint, yet modern decor makes this East Vancouver spot an excellent place to hang out for a while. Once you’re fully caffeinated, head north over the Ironworker’s Memorial Bridge to North and West Vancouver.
Stop 2: North and West Vancouver
It’s time to get moving. North Vancouver is known for its natural beauty, and Lynn Canyon Park is the perfect place to discover tall trees and flowing waterfalls. Go for a quick hike if you’re up for it, or just walk around the park and visit the Ecology Center. If you’re looking for more, check out Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and experience the thrill of being high above it all.
In the mood for another great view? Head further west on the highway and make a quick detour to Cypress Mountain. Don’t worry, you’re not in for another hike. Instead, by taking Exit 8, you’ll climb part way up the mountain (in your car of course!) and see yet another breathtaking view of the city. A favorite spot for photographers, you’ll definitely want to snap a selfie to show your friends back home.
Stop 3: Squamish
After completing the first stretch of Highway 99, you’ll end up in Squamish. Though this town can be easy to drive through, it’s really worth a stop. Formerly a hotbed for industry, this mountain town has now made a name for itself in outdoor adventure and tourism. Plus, Squamish offers a bevy of food to eat, people to meet, and things to do.
On your way into town, check out Squamish from above at the Sea to Sky Gondola. Enjoy the ride up, then explore a network of trails, enjoy the pilot bridge, or have a drink on their deck with a view. With some activity of your own under your belt, head to “The Spit” and watch a flurry of kite surfers hop and jump between the waves of Howe Sound. Be warned, however, that the road to get down to where these athletes launch is unpaved. If you’re looking for a smoother ride, view the kite surfers from Nexen Beach.
Continue towards Whistler along the highway, but don’t leave town without paying a visit to Fergie’s Cafe. Tucked between two rivers, this little cafe is a local favorite, not only for its food, but also for its picturesque location. Order a house-made breakfast hash and eat at a picnic table in a small meadow. Trust us, it’s pretty perfect here.
Stop 4: Whistler
You made it! Whistler. A quintessential mountain town with even more to offer than just your typical winter fare. Our first suggestion? Rent a bike in the Village and head out on the Whistler Valley Trail. With 25 miles to explore, you’ll love seeing the lakes, trees, and mountains of Whistler from your bike. Make sure you stop by the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre to immerse yourself in the rich culture of the area’s First Nations people. Not only is the building beautiful, but you’ll also be able to partake in workshops and crafts to truly connect with local culture.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Whistler Brewhouse for, well, brews — and a good deal on brews at that. In fact, if you’re looking for a good deal in Whistler, check out Whistler Bites, a website that will let you in on all kinds of local secrets. More into fancy fare? Indulge at Rimrock Cafe. We recommend the fixed 3 course meal, though all of their local offerings — that focus on fish and game — are sure to please even the most refined palates.
Still looking for something to do? Whistler offers world-renowned nightlife. Check out one of the many pubs and clubs to rub shoulders with the locals and dance the night away.
If you're planning to be out late, make sure you book into one of Whistler's awesome accommodations. Trust us—you'll want to spend more than a day in the bustling Village and beautiful outdoors.
Bonus Stop: Pemberton
Now we know fitting in one more stop on this already fully packed day might be a stretch, but we had to include Pemberton as a bonus stop. This town in the Pacific Coastal Mountains makes up for its small size in charm.
Head to the Pemberton Distillery to sample local, handcrafted and organic spirits. From vodka and gin, to whisky and other spirits, you’ll love sampling the beverages crafted from the land you just traveled through. Stop in for a tour and be sure to take a bottle home.
If you’re keen to explore the outdoors, head to North Arm Farm and wander the fields. As a bonus, visit the animals, have a snack in the cafe, or grab some fresh produce. Enjoy the views and breathe in that fresh mountain air. Into something more extreme? Head 4000 feet into the air and go tandem paragliding. Taking off from five different locations, you’ll be able to see scenery like you’ve never seen before. You can also head out onto Birkenhead river for a fishing tour. While navigating the crystal clear glacier-fed water, you might catch yourself some dinner — like trout in the spring or salmon in the summer.
Now that’s a perfect West Coast day (or two). And if that’s not enough, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for viewpoints and lookouts along the highway and visit Hello BC. Set out on this drive during the daytime hours to truly enjoy the coastal beauty of Howe Sound, the Pacific Ocean, and the surrounding forests and mountains.