Vancouver is perfectly situated for a wide range of day trips and weekend getaways. The Best Vancouver Day Trips take you to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Pacific Northwest, to some of North America's top ski and snowboard resorts, to picturesque villages and historic cities for shopping and strolling, and to the best spots for outdoor recreation, including camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and more.
Use this list of the Best Vancouver Day Trips & Weekend Getaways to get the most out of living in or visiting Vancouver.
See also: Romantic Getaways from Vancouver
The number one destination for Vancouver day trips and weekend getaways has to be Whistler, one of North America's best ski and snow-sport destinations. Located about two hours north of Vancouver (via the famously scenic "Sea to Sky" highway), Whistler is home to the the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort, plays host to major music and cultural festivals, including the World Ski & Snowboard Festival, and is just as fun in the summer months, when families can zip line, hike, or take ecological tours.
Situated just 15 minutes north of Downtown Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is another Vancouver Day Trip that's equally popular with visitors and locals: it's a ski-and-snowboard destination in the winter and an outdoor adventure and entertainment venue in the summer. Facilities on top of Grouse Mountain include restaurants and hotels, sports and recreation, a mountain bear refuge, lumberjack shows, and incredible views of the city.
You can combine your trip to Grouse Mountain with other North Vancouver attractions, including the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge (see below): Top 5 Attractions in North Vancouver.
Deep Cove / Indian Arm
Located about 30 minutes from Downtown Vancouver, Deep Cove is one of the most beautiful destinations in all of the Lower Mainland (the southern portion of British Columbia). Best in summer, kayaking in Deep Cove brings you close to nature--eagles, seals and sea lions are common--and keeps taking your breath away with the sheer glory of this tranquil spot.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Just a short drive away in North Vancouver, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of the most popular and unique Vancouver Day Trips. The swaying, scenic suspension bridge, which stretches 137 metres (450 feet) across and 70 metres (230 feet) above the Capilano River, is amazing to cross, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is home to a lots of family activities, including rainforest trails and treetop adventures.
Steveston Village & Richmond, BC
About a half-hour drive south of Vancouver, Richmond's Steveston Village is a great Vancouver Day Trip for anyone looking for local salmon flavour. The quaint fishing village has reinvented itself as a foodie destination in the summer months, hosting the annual Canada Day Salmon Festival (July 1) as well as artisan and food markets, cannery tours, and live music.
Richmond, BC, is a great day-trip destination, too:
Vancouver camping season runs from mid-May through September and is an enormously popular way to enjoy an inexpensive weekend getaway. There are lots of options for camping within a two-hour drive of Vancouver, including gorgeous provincial parks with lakes, hiking trails, fishing, and more.
As the capital of British Columbia and the biggest city on Vancouver Island (see below), there's so much to see and do in Victoria that it makes a better weekend getaway than Vancouver Day Trip, though you can get there and back (by ferry) in a day (if you squeeze). Among its many attractions, Victoria is home to the famous Butchart Gardens, the historic Fairmont Empress Hotel--where you can indulge in high tea--and loads of antique shops and bookstores, perfect for strolling.
Victoria is not the only place to visit on Vancouver Island. In fact, there is so much to see and do on Vancouver Island that you could easily spend two weeks exploring it!
There are luxury spas in Tofino, 800-year-old trees in Cathedral Grove, wine tours of Cowichan Valley, gorgeous beaches, outdoor sports, and, of course, whale watching, among the many, many Vancouver Island attractions.
Family Friendly Day Trips from Vancouver
Have kids? Even very young kids will love these choices for Family Friendly Day Trips from Vancouver, which include the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, kids' activities in Whistler, and the Reifel Bird Sanctuary near Ladner.
Best Beaches near Vancouver
Along with Deep Cove (above), there are several incredible beach and waterfront destinations around Vancouver, including sandy beaches and warm-water beaches (on Savary Island and Hornby Island), that make ideal weekend getaways. Top nearby beaches include beaches on Vancouver Island, along the Sunshine Coast, and along Indian Arm.
Seattle & Washington State
Crossing the southern border into the U.S. is a popular way to spend the day or take a weekend getaway from Vancouver. (Passports are required; so be prepared!) The drive from Vancouver to Seattle is about three hours, or you can take the scenic Amtrak Cascades train or Quick Shuttle bus. Enjoy Seattle's nightlife and shopping or explore the beauty of Washington State's coasts, mountains, and state parks.
Skiing, Snowboarding & Snow Sport Resorts
Cyrpress Mountain is just 30 minutes from Vancouver. Cypress has 52 ski trails, served by 9 lifts, and has the highest vertical rise of the North Shore Mountains. Cypress also has one of the most diverse cross country ski areas near Vancouver, as well as night skiing and riding.
Cypress Mountain is just one of five world-class skiing and snow-sport destinations near Vancouver. Use my guide to the Best Skiing & Snowboarding Resorts Near Vancouver for details on Cypress Mountain, North Vancouver's Mount Seymour, and resorts on Vancouver Island.
Sun Peaks Resort
Located in the B.C. interior, Sun Peaks Resort is one of the top ski and summer sports resorts in B.C. About a five hour drive from Vancouver--or a short, 40-minute flight from Vancouver to Kamloops--Sun Peaks offers an amazing array of winter and summer activities in a charming, family-friendly atmosphere. In winter, skiers and snowboarders can enjoy ski-to-door access and lifts without wait times. In summer, visitors can choose from an array of outdoor adventure options, from fabulous downhill mountain biking to golf, canoeing, horseback riding, kayaking, and hiking.