Spring is a gorgeous time to be in Vancouver, a city located on Canada's west coast, just north of the border with the U.S. The season brings greater access to outdoor spaces which offer hiking, biking, kayaking, and other recreational activities, as well as beautiful blooming gardens. Whale-watching is a popular thing to do in the spring, and some of "Rain City's" most beloved annual special events take place, such as the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. If you are heading to Vancouver in March, April, or May, the whole family is sure to enjoy a trip to the region.
Smell the Flowers at Vancouver's Best Gardens
One of the best things to do in Vancouver in spring is to revel in the return to life of the city's best gardens (some of which are free). Enjoy roses in late March through April at the Stanley Park Rose Garden; revel in cherry blossoms at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden usually in April; and see the seasonal rhododendrons flourish at Stanley Park's Ted & Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden. For lush greenery and blooms throughout the season, head to the Quarry Gardens at Queen Elizabeth Park and the always lovely VanDusen Botanical Garden.
If you want to venture further afield, Victoria on Vancouver Island is only a 30-minute flight or a 90-minute ferry ride away. The city is home to many public gardens, including the world-famous Butchart Gardens, which is a delight any time of year, but especially in the spring.
Delve Into Color at Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival
For many, the soft pinks and whites of the more than 40,000 cherry trees blossoming every April really mark the start of springtime in Vancouver. The annual Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, held for several days each year in April, celebrates the blooms with a variety of events for all ages—including a concert in downtown Vancouver's Burrard SkyTrain station. Mini-events at venues across the city also take place, including the free Bike the Blossoms gathering starting at the south side of John Hendry Park (Trout Lake) and the Sakura Days Japan Fair in VanDusen Botanical Garden, which features traditional Japanese food, performances, and cultural arts.
Play Outside (Again)
It may still be raining, but with more afternoon and evening light and the weather not quite as cold as in winter, spring means it's time to get outside again to do some hiking, biking, camping, golfing, and kayaking. As soon as the sunshine arrives, you'll see Vancouverites rollerblading and biking the seawall, and people planning outdoor adventures.
There are plenty of places to explore within a few hours of the city, from the hiking trails of Whistler to a short stroll through the rainforest at Lynn Canyon Park, which features an exciting suspension bridge and lovely waterfalls. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and pack warm, waterproof layers if you're planning an overnight adventure.
Watch the Whales
Whale watching season runs from roughly April to October for Vancouver (and nearby Vancouver Island), and seeing some of the huge creatures is one of the best things to do in the spring. Visitors may spot grey whales (usually in April and May), orcas, and a wide variety of other sea mammals in Vancouver. You might also get lucky and see nesting eagles and foraging bears alongside the ocean. Whale watching tours run from Granville Island, Coal Harbour, and other locations range from open Zodiac high-speed boats to covered vessels. Most boats head out into Howe Sound towards Vancouver Island and the waters close to Victoria. The confluence of the Fraser River and the Pacific Ocean near the Vancouver International Airport in Richmond is often a rich wildlife-spotting area as whales gather to feed on the fish and other sea life that are attracted to the area. Local tour companies include Vancouver Whale Watch, Wild Whales Vancouver, and others.
Take in the Tulips
Springtime brings a plethora of color to local fields during the Abbotsford Bloom Tulip Festival, about an hour's drive from Vancouver. This 4-5 week event typically from the beginning of April through early to mid-May includes not only over 40 types of tulips but concession stands and food trucks (on weekends). Enjoy eating in a covered picnic area and taking the little ones to the children’s play area. If you can't get enough of the colors, you can buy tulips at the event's flower market.
Another colorful family outing is an approximately 80-minute drive from Vancouver: the 3-5 week-long Chilliwack Tulip Festival (also known as Tulips of the Valley). It's usually in April and sometimes lasts into May. The festival has fun components like tulip photo contests, kids' coloring contests and crafts, and a festival store which sells fresh-cut and potted tulips and hyacinths, photo cards, and more. The event has a few food trucks for visitors to frequent.
Enjoy a Day Trip to Breweries and Wineries
About two hours from Vancouver you'll find the Fraser Valley, with wineries, breweries, and farm shops—most are open year-round, but confirm before you head out. Check out the award-winning Old Yale Brewing in Chilliwack, where 15 beer varieties are on tap. In Abbotsford, Nature's Pickin's Market features fresh produce from local farms, including berries, apples, and other road trip snacks. Enjoy a meal from their deli, with great views of Mt. Baker from the patio in back.
Regional transit is not very extensive, so a car rental will help you make the most of the attractions. To get to your destination safely, don't drive if you are planning on drinking; instead, use a Rideshare App or take a cab. Guided tours of the region are also available; check out Destination BC for information about self-guided routes and tour options.