Spring is a gorgeous time to be in Vancouver, a city located on Canada's west coast, just north of the border with the United States. The season brings greater access to outdoor spaces that 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 the trip.
Smell the Flowers at Vancouver's Best Gardens
One of the best things to do in Vancouver in springtime is reveling in the return to life 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 at any time of year—but especially in the spring.
Delve Into Color at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival
For many, the soft pinks and whites of the more than 40,000 cherry trees blossoming every April 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 activities 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 light in the afternoon and evening and the weather not quite as cold, 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 along 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 these huge creatures is one of the best things to do in the spring. Visitors may spot gray 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 on the shore. Whale watching tours run from Granville Island, Coal Harbour, and other locations, and tour companies use boats such as Zodiac high-speed vessels and covered boats. Most boats head out into Howe Sound toward 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 there to feed on the fish and other sea life attracted to the area. Tour companies include Vancouver Whale Watch and Wild Whales Vancouver.
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 all year, 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 rental car will help you make the most of the attractions. 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.
Deep Cove in North Vancouver is one of the Top 10 Vancouver Attractions, loved for its scenic beauty and wildlife such as sea lions, seals, and eagles. Visitors can rent a kayak at Deep Cove Kayak Centre or hike the 25-mile (41-kilometer) rugged Baden Powell nature trail from Burrard Inlet in Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. For an easier walk, try the 6-kilometer (3.7-mile) Cates Park gravel paths along the water and through the forest, where you can see First Nation totems and a canoe.
The cute seaside village has boutiques, a theater, galleries, and a selection of restaurants with everything from pizza and Japanese food to Greek cuisine.
To see about 200 domestic farm animals from goats and horses to donkeys and rabbits, head to Maplewood Farm—the last remaining farm on Vancouver’s North Shore—for a nice spring outing. Hold and feed bunnies, chickens, and ducks; watch a cow milking demonstration; go on pony rides (starting in April and requiring a reservation at least a month in advance); take self-guided tours; eat in a covered picnic area; and see the visitor center store.
The attraction is open seven days a week from April–October. It is closed on Mondays during the month of March.
A great activity for a spring day is to visit Granville Island, the popular international tourist attraction and 37-acre island located on False Creek, an inlet in the middle of Vancouver with views of downtown. Stroll the colorful market to see about 300 businesses, including restaurants, shops, and theaters, as well as the beloved Granville Island Public Market, where you'll find delicious foods sold by more than 50 vendors.
While Granville Island has a milder climate than Vancouver, it does get windy, so grab a windbreaker for your fun day out. Awnings and covered walkways will help you stay mostly dry in case of a rainy day.
Vancouver's Chinatown, one of the biggest in the whole Western Hemisphere and the largest in Canada, definitely warrants a day to walk around. The approximate borders are Hastings Street to the north, Taylor Street to the west, Georgia Street to the south, and Gore Street to the east.
The safe, pedestrian-friendly Vancouver Chinatown, which came to life in the late 1800s, is a great spot to eat authentic Chinese food and check out historic monuments and nightlife. Shop for clothes, groceries, souvenirs, toys, and even fancy Chinese antiques. One unique destination is the Sam Kee Building at 1 East Pender Street, called the narrowest building in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records—the width varies depending on the floor.
Spring is the perfect time to take a gorgeous drive, soaking up views of the ocean and mountain ranges along Highway 99, known as the Sea-to-Sky Highway. The route takes about 1.5 hours from downtown Vancouver to the ski town of Whistler.
Visitors can glance at lovely waterfalls and even golf a bit north of Porteau Cove at Furry Creek Golf and Country Club, which boasts views of islands, mountains, and the ocean.
Along the way, whether you're heading north or south, learn about the local indigenous people of the area by stopping at some Cultural Journey interpretive kiosks (download the map and audio on the website for an easy, educational trip).
Take in the Tulips
Springtime brings a plethora of color to local fields during the Abbotsford Bloom Tulip Festival, about a one-hour drive from Vancouver. This four- to five-week event, which typically runs from the beginning of April through early to mid-May, includes more than 40 types of tulips, along with 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 three- to five-week 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 kids' coloring contests and crafts, plus a festival store that sells fresh-cut and potted tulips and hyacinths, photo cards, and more. The event has a few food trucks for visitors to frequent.