The Best Day Trips From Vancouver
Located close to the United States border on Canada’s west coast, there are many amazing day trips to take from Vancouver. Ideas include going north to the mountains, south to the States, or west to Vancouver Island. Keep reading to learn more about the 10 best Vancouver day trips.
Whistler is definitely the most popular day trip from Vancouver, as it’s less than two hours away. One of the trip’s best aspects is the drive along the picturesque Sea to Sky Highway. When you reach Whistler, explore Whistler Village first and check out its many excellent pubs, restaurants, and retail stores. Then head to the top of the mountain via the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, visit the local lakes, or go hiking. For another excellent view, stop by the Sea to Sky Gondola on the way back to Vancouver.
Most day trippers will immediately head to Victoria on Vancouver Island. But if you want to see more of the island and enjoy cycling, Viator does a terrific tour that includes lunch and wine. The trip begins with cycling along the Lochside Regional Trail, which connects Victoria to the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. There’s wine tasting involved, with lunch provided at a local farm-to-table café. After lunch, you will cycle around Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park. About 55 kilometers (34 miles) of cycling is involved in the tour.
Bowen Island is a quick 20-minute ferry ride from West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay terminal. It lives up to its slogan: “Within Reach. Beyond Comparison.” It’s known for its beautiful beaches and bays for swimming and kayaking, as well as its hiking and mountain bike trails. Bowen Island is also home to many artists, and you can browse several artisan stores around the Village Square. For a meal, check out the dining options around Snug Cove, which is close to the ferry terminal.
British Columbia’s capital city is Victoria, which sits off the coast on Vancouver Island. With a 90-minute ferry ride from the mainland, it’s a long day, but a Victoria day trip is definitely doable. If you only have a day, an organized tour may be the best way to see Victoria’s main attractions. There are tours that include free time in downtown Victoria, as well as a trip to the award-winning Butchart Gardens before returning to Vancouver. If you’re after a more luxurious day trip experience, there’s also an alternative helicopter and seaplane tour to Victoria. Getting a seaplane to the city is an item that’s definitely on most local bucket lists.
The Sunshine Coast is another great summer day trip option from Vancouver. Your trip starts with a ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver that takes you through the beautiful Howe Sound. Once in the Sunshine Coast, you could spend your day hiking, and eating, in Gibsons, which is where the Canadian TV series The Beachcombers was filmed. Alternatively, spend the day at the beach in Sechelt, the Sunshine Coast’s largest community.
Harrison Hot Springs
Harrison Hot Springs is a small lakeside community located 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Vancouver. It’s perfect for both romantic getaways and family-friendly fun. Things to do in the area include spending time by the lake, which has a sandy beach and sheltered waters that are perfect for kayaking and boating. Go on the self-guided Agassiz-Harrison Mills Circle Farm Tour and eat all types of local food. The most popular thing to do in the area though is enjoying the hot springs at the public pool. There’s also an indoor and outdoor hot spring pool for guests at Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa.
Squamish is a coastal town located just south of Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway. If you have time, you could combine the two towns into one day trip, but there’s also plenty to see and do in Squamish alone. Firstly, the town’s best asset is the impressive Sea to Sky Gondola, which offers amazing views of Howe Sound. The town is also Canada’s self-proclaimed Adventure Capital. Activities that Squamish is known for include rock climbing, kiteboarding, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and hiking. The Britannia Mine Museum is a must-visit for families too.
Most people don’t realize that there are many award-winning wineries located in the Fraser Valley around Langley, which is about a 45-minute drive from Vancouver. Altogether there are seven wineries and two breweries to visit in the region. Go on a self-guided winery tour, or do a private tour with friends so that no one has to be the designated driver. While in Langley, don’t miss stopping at the Fort Langley National Historic Site, and browse the shops at Fort Langley Village.
Although North Vancouver is technically in the Greater Vancouver Area, there’s so much to do in the city that it’s a perfect place for a convenient and adventure-filled day trip. The two main attractions are Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Grouse Mountain, which are both fun to explore in winter and summer. Other things to do in North Vancouver include visiting Lonsdale Quay Market, checking out the free suspension bridge in Lynn Valley, kayaking in Deep Cove, or hitting the slopes at Cypress Mountain in the winter.
Less than 1.5 hours south of Vancouver, Bellingham is the largest and closest city over the border in the United States. Many locals love venturing south to the coastal city of Bellingham to visit the shops at Bellis Fair Mall, as many aren’t available in Canada. Other things to do in the region include exploring Whatcom Falls Park and Lake Padden Park, visiting the Fairhaven Historic District, and learning more at the Whatcom Museum and the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention.