12 Top Things to Do in Vancouver in Spring

Vancouver, British Columbia

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Spring is one of the best times to visit the city of Vancouver: The weather begins to warm up and bring Vancouverites out of winter hibernation but it's before the crowds of tourists arrive in the summer. 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.

01 of 12

Head to the Outdoor Markets

Vancouver, BC public market
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Most outdoor activities go on hiatus during the cold and rainy winter months, including Vancouver's many different markets. But once the warm weather of spring starts to arrive, the open-air markets around the city begin to re-emerge after hibernation. You can pick up produce from a farmers market, browse vintage knickknacks at an antique fair, or taste different cuisines from a food truck event.

The Vancouver Farmers Market has locations around the city that change based on the day of the week, but the biggest ones are on the weekend at Riley Park and Kitsilano. The Eastside Flea is a biweekly event where you can find one-of-a-kind artisan crafts. The largest seasonal market is the Richmond Night Market, which takes place on weekend nights and is considered one of the top attractions in the city. On the opposite side of the city, the Shipyards Night Market in North Vancouver is especially well-known for its wide array of food trucks.

Each market sets its own dates, but most of them start in early May and run until early fall.

02 of 12

Hit the Slopes for Spring Skiing

Couple spring skiing in Canada mountains
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Around Vancouver, the ski season doesn't end with winter. In fact, the nearby Whistler Blackcomb ski resort has one of the longest seasons in North America, often staying stay open until the end of May. It also hosts the World Ski & Snowboard Festival in mid-April every year. If you visit later in the season, you may not experience fresh powder snowfall, but nothing beats a day on the slopes with blue skies and sunshine.

Whistler is only about 90 minutes away from Vancouver, but there are some closer mountains where you can enjoy spring skiing as well. Apart from Whistler, Cypress Mountain is the biggest ski resort in the area. Other nearby mountains include Mount Seymour and Grouse Mountain. Since these don't have the high altitude that Whistler does, their seasons are usually over by mid-spring as they close in April.

03 of 12

Smell the Flowers at Vancouver's Best Gardens

A dragon statue fountain at Butchart Gardens

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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.

04 of 12

Delve Into Color at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry Blossoms in Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver

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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.

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05 of 12

Play Outside (Again)

Suspension bridge at Lynn Canyon Park in Vancouver

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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 later-season 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.

06 of 12

See Wildlife at Charming Deep Cove

Deep cove, north vancouver

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Deep Cove in North Vancouver is one of Vancouver's most scenic attractions and one of the highlights for nature enthusiasts. It's also one of the most accessible, only 20 minutes from downtown by car and just across the Burrard Inlet near North Vancouver. The region is loved for its scenic beauty and wildlife such as sea lions, seals, and eagles, all of which can be seen in a day of hiking.

How you visit depends on the weather and personal preference. For later season visits when the days are warmer, visitors can rent a kayak to explore the area by water. Otherwise, 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 short Cates Park gravel paths along the water and through the forest, where you can see First Nation totems and a canoe.

Inside the area known as Deep Cove is a small town with the same name, a cute seaside village with boutiques, a theater, galleries, and a selection of local restaurants.

07 of 12

Go to Maplewood Farms With the Kids

Mom and daughter walking with chickens

Maplewood Farms

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 buy some fresh products grown at the farm to bring home.

Throughout March, the farm is open every day of the week except Mondays. Beginning in April, it's open seven days a week.

08 of 12

Stroll Around Granville Island

Granville Island and Downtown Vancouver

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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.

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09 of 12

Explore Historic Chinatown

Chinatown Millenium Gate, Vancouver

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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. Stop off at the Sam Kee Building at 1 East Pender Street to see what's called the narrowest building in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records; the width varies by floor, but in some parts, you can't even extend your arms without touching both walls.

10 of 12

Drive the Scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway

Sea-to-Sky Highway

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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 an hour and a half from downtown Vancouver to the ski town of Whistler, and it easily falls into the group of the most scenic drives in all of Canada.

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 First Nations tribes of the area by stopping at some Cultural Journey interpretive kiosks. There are seven of them along the route that highlight important sites to the Indigenous Squamish and Lil’wat tribes, so you can add some cultural context to your scenic day out.

11 of 12

Take in the Tulips

Colorful tulip fields in British Columbia

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Springtime brings a plethora of color to local fields during the Chilliwack Tulip Festival (also known as Tulips of the Valley). The Tulip Festival lasts about three to five weeks depending on conditions for the specific year, but you can also see daffodils and hyacinths throughout the spring. Chilliwack is just over an hour outside of Vancouver and the peak tulip bloom usually starts in early or mid-April and lasts until early May.

The festival has fun components like kids' coloring contests and crafts plus a festival store that sells fresh-cut and potted tulips, hyacinths, photo cards, and more. When you get hungry, you find food trucks parked nearby on weekends to refuel before exploring more of these vibrant gardens.

12 of 12

Eat Spot Prawns

BC Spot Prawn Festival in Vancouver

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Late spring is the time to enjoy the short-but-sweet spot prawn season around Vancouver. These tasty little crustaceans begin appearing on menus around the beginning of May and are only available fresh for about six weeks, after which they're frozen to enjoy later and export around the world.

The annual Spot Prawn Festival is held at Granville Island every May, where you can either buy some directly from the boats that fish them or order them already prepared to enjoy on the spot. Local stalls in the market and restaurants around the island serve them up in all kinds of creative styles, from spot prawn pea soup to savory spot prawn Korean pancakes.