Vancouver day trips range from adventurous to purely scenic and relaxing. If you have some extra time, why not explore the Vancouver region by taking one of these 12 Vancouver day trips.
Part of the beauty of this Vancouver day trip is getting there. The Sea to Sky Highway that connects Vancouver and Whistler is one of Canada's most beautiful drives. This stunning piece of highway offers views of lakes, mountains, fjords, inlets, a waterfall, all in under two hours by car or try the day-long Rocky Mountaineer train trip.
Once in the year-round resort of Whistler, enjoy skiing, hiking, zip lining or wandering the shops and boutiques of Whistler Village.
Personalized, private tours of Whistler from Vancouver are available and last about 8 hrs.
Located among southwestern BC's magnificent mountains and the sandy beaches of Harrison Lake, the village of Harrison Hot Springs draws visitors not only for its warm natural spring waters but also for golf, water sports and more.
There are several places to stay in town, but the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa has the sole water rights to the hot springs, piping them to its five mineral pools directly from the source almost a quarter of a mile away.
This quaint fishing village sits at the mouth of the South Arm of the Fraser River in Richmond - still officially part of greater Vancouver. Since the 1870s, Steveston has been home to salmon canneries, attracting Japanese, Chinese and European immigrant workers there. Today, the town retains a heritage charm due to the preservation of many historic buildings but has also grown to accommodate an increasing population and tourism industry.
Steveston is also known for its annual Canada Day Salmon Festival and as a whale watching destination.
Bowen Island is the most accessible island getaway from Vancouver. Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver or half an hour by water taxi, Bowen Island offers respite from the big city of Vancouver by way of kayaking, sandy beaches, inlets, hiking and mountain biking. The 52sq km/20sq mi island, like many of BC's island communities, is residence to many painters, jewelers and other artisans willing to sell their wares.
The Sunshine Coast comprises a number of communities along a 180 km stretch of land north of Vancouver. Though not an island, the Sunshine Coast has no road access, so visitors need either take the 40 min BC Ferries ride from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, a sea taxi from Granville Island or seaplane. En route, enjoy views of the Vancouver skyline and surrounding mountains. Once on the coast, you'll notice the temperate climate and laid-back feel. Activities include browsing artists shops and boutiques, fine-dining, hiking, kayaking.
For skiers, Cypress Mountain is one of the most accessible mountains to get to from downtown Vancouver, only 30 minutes away. Aside from downhill skiing, Cypress offers a snow tube park, snowshoe tours, and cross-country trails.
The stunning views atop Cypress Mountain are available year-round. In summer, hike or cycle the trails of the three mountains that comprise Cypress Provincial Park.
It's almost a shame to list this capital of BC city as a mere day trip. Victoria and Vancouver Island have so much to offer that several days or more is ideal. Something else to consider when planning a Victoria day trip is that the BC Ferries ride alone is just over an hour and a half, not including the travel time to and from the ferry terminals. Another option is to travel by helicopter, a quick, comfortable, convenient but more expensive way to go.
Some ideas for visiting Victoria include
- Victoria by Seaplane and Ferry (Book this tour with Viator)
- Seaplane Flight to Victoria & Whale-Watching Cruise (Book this tour with Viator)
- Vancouver to Victoria and Butchart Gardens Tour by Bus (Book this tour with Viator)
Like Victoria, Nanaimo is located on Vancouver Island and is a ferry ride away from Vancouver - possibly stretching the definition of a "day trip" as you're looking at four hours travel time. More time on the island is ideal, nevertheless, the ferry ride itself is scenic and comfortable, so it's not wasted time. Nanaimo offers plenty in the way of swimming, scuba diving, hiking and more. Be sure to try the Nanaimo bars, for which the town is famous!
This year-round park - one of the largest in the province - offers many recreational activities, typical of a provincial park: hiking, camping, horseback riding. The freshwater lake is popular for canoeing, fishing, windsurfing, etc.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is more than just a bridge; there's actually a whole park with activities, history, and culture. The park is a 20-minute drive outside of downtown Vancouver.
Built in 1889, the Capilano Suspension Bridge stretches 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River. The park offers guided nature tours, the Kids' Rainforest Explorer program, and Living Forest exhibit.
Combine a day trip to Capilano Suspension Bridge with a visit to Grouse Mountain; they are close to one another in North Vancouver.
An organized tour may be a good way to go if you don't want to figure out public transit or rent a car.
Though Grouse doesn't measure up to Cypress in terms of a ski experience (Cypress has more lifts and slopes), it is still a popular spot for reasonably priced skiing. Many people visit Grouse Mountain just to go up the gondola and get the best view of Vancouver. Grouse Mountain is also famous for the Grouse Grind, a 2.9-kilometre trail up the mountain face. Other activities include zip-lining, a visit to the Grizzly bear refuge and dining.
Canadians love their cross-border shopping, and between Vancouver and Seattle off of Highway 5, you'll find plenty of it. The closest spot to hit is Bellingham - about a half hour south of the Canada/U.S. border - where Bellis Fair Mall features Target, Kohl's, Abercrombie & Fitch and more. Continue south another half hour and you come to Burlington/Mt. Vernon, where outlet stores include GAP, Coach, and J.Crew among others.
Be sure to consult the allowances for cross-border shopping.