Nothing is better than experiencing the world through the eyes of your children. In their short time on earth, my kids have developed a wanderlust that has encouraged my husband and I to seek out and explore as much of the world as we possibly can with them. Seeing them enjoy familiar sights that I loved in my childhood is wonderful, but I love when we get to experience something brand new together and be surprised by what will await us on our journey.
Such was the case with the Sea to Sky Gondola that we scheduled during our recent Squamish, B.C. family trip. Being able to hop onto a gondola just above sea level and have it take you to breath-taking heights with the kids is an experience I will never forget. Seeing how excited they got when we didn't stop as we crested the first few hills and just kept going was so much fun as they exclaimed, "we're going into the clouds!"
The ride itself was longer than I expected. At 10 minutes long both ways it felt like a decent ride, even if you were simply riding it up and then immediately back down again.
It was also so much more scenic than I imagined. I mean, I knew the area was absolutely stunning, so that wasn't really a surprise, but I wasn't prepared for just how much we would be able to see during ascent and descent. At 885m above sea level, we were able to see all of Howe Sound, the famous Co-Pilot and Sky Pilot mountain peaks, and the surrounding coastal mountain range, and we were able to see climbers ascending Via Ferrata over Squamish's legendary granite walls beside the gondola, which was both thrilling and slightly panic-inducing. Once at the top, you can either go straight into the Sea to Sky Summit Lodge or you can explore around the summit a bit.
Here's some of the many summer activities you can find at the Sea to Sky Gondola summit:
1) The kids area on the Summit Plaza. The lower level of the summit houses the kids area with a playground, sand area, and slackline tight rope lines. Many of the trails start or end at the kids area, so it's a great place to relax either before or after a hike. 2) Enjoy the Sea to Sky Summit Lodge. Have fun shopping with the kids and enjoying the amazing views from inside the 9,000 square foot Summit Lodge.
3) Grab a bite to eat or enjoy a drink. Choose from the The Sea to Sky Eatery with casual self-service and the Co-Pilot Cafe with grab-and-go baked goods, sandwiches, pre-packaged snacks and more. You can also stop into the Edge Bar for a cocktail and sip it while enjoying the view. 4) Head out to the 5,000 sq ft Summit Lodge Viewing Deck. Not just a "deck", this is where much of the lodge action happens and where the views are amazingly clear. With a glass railing, even little ones can have a great view of the terrain below without needing to be lifted to see. It also makes for fun photo ops without much between you and the view below. 5) Conquer your fear of heights on the 100m long suspension bridge. I have to admit, the suspension bridge was much more terrifying than I thought it would be, which the rest of my family thought was hilarious. They did circles around me on the bridge while I slowly walked across, and then as soon as I touched dirt on the other side I was fine again. 6) Hop onto a trail or two. Whether you are looking for a serious hike or a walk in the woods, the trails around the Sea to Sky Lodge have you covered. Our favorite was the new Alpine Alley, a kids hiking trail that has slides, rope features, and learning opportunities at every turn. You can even find stroller-friendly trails if you have a little one that falls asleep and the rest of the family is still looking for adventure. Check out the trail maps here. 7) Catch a free or paid guided tour. From a guided tour of the newest kids trail to a beginning rock climbing class, there's a guided tour for just about everyone who wants to learn more about hiking, rock climbing, and the Sea to Sky region. 8) Join an interpretive walk. Go and be immersed in the natural beauty while learning about its significance to the Stawamus First Nations people.
9) Take a picture at one of the amazing panoramic lookouts. Or, just sit in awe at the stunning nature all around you while marveling about how high up you are. 10) Throw an axe, or two. Okay, okay, this one actually isn't for kids. But, they can watch, which I can confirm is actually fun, and so therefore it makes the list of family activities. Adults, however, can signup at the Axewood booth to learn how to throw an axe and then participate in an axe throwing competition. This was surprisingly fun to do, and hubby and I both agreed it was worth the money to participate. Want to find out more about axe throwing? Check out axewoodcrew.com.
11) Enjoy an ice cream cone. Basecamp Cafe has so much more than ice cream, but we loved it for a nice cool treat after our hike.
12) Find an event. Whether you came for the sunset, a yoga class, a wine tasting, some live music, or an outdoor event of some kind, the Sea to Sky Gondola fun seems to never end. Find an event here. 13) Explore the Sea to Sky Gondola Basecamp. Okay, so it's not at the summit, but it is worth mentioning that the basecamp has its own gift shop, kids play area, and large parking lot.
If you haven't experienced the Sea to Sky Gondola, you really need to add it to your must-see list. There's a good reason why families and outdoors enthusiasts alike love the Sea to Sky Gondola and come from all over to explore the lodge, the trails, and experience all the Summit Lodge has to offer. The Sea to Sky Gondola is now well known as one of British Columbia’s newest iconic tourist attractions. The gondola was featured in the New York Times' 52 Places to Go in 2015 list, where they cited the attraction’s “unusual combination of West Coast wilderness and accessibility." On January 16 of this year, less than two and a half years after opening, the gondola welcomed their 1 millionth guest.