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hikers hiking near whistler bc on a day trip from vancouver

The 14 Best Day Trips From Vancouver Canada

Locals brag about our city being voted one of the best places in the world – but give us a second of free time, and we’re quickly saddled up for some of the best day trips from Vancouver.

Call it a weekend getaway, a Vancouver escape, or leaving the city behind – we’ve got some of the prettiest places in the country just hours away. And now I want you to get out there and enjoy them.

So, here’s my Vancouver day trip guide for those looking for BC day trips.

14 Best Day Trips from Vancouver

The Empress Hotel, in Victoria’s Inner Harbour

Cross the Salish Sea on a Tour of Victoria from Vancouver

The capital city of British Columbia holds the distinction of being Canada’s warmest city, so there’s that. In fact, with just one day below zero yearly, a trip to “the Garden City” is one of the best things to do in Vancouver in winter.

Over 3 billion flowers bloom here every year, making it a great stop to take in colonial architecture, have tea at the legendary Empress Hotel, and eat gourmet foods sourced from the area’s 1700+ farms. It’s no wonder this is one of the top weekend getaways from Vancouver.

The city is also home to Canada’s oldest Chinatown, the famed Butchart Gardens, and offers a host of fantastic Victoria whale watching tours. And it has taken home all sorts of accolades, including the Best City for Women, Canada’s Most Bikeable City, and the 2nd Best Small City in the World.

Getting to Victoria from Vancouver involves a 90-minute ferry ride to Vancouver Island.

Wanting a full tour package? Check the best Vancouver tours to Victoria.

Related: Best Things to do in Victoria

outdoor patio in winter in whistler bc canada

Enjoy a Whistler Day Trip from Vancouver

How many major cities have a world-class ski resort just 90 minutes from Vancouver city center? If you want an upgrade on Vancouver’s top ski mountains, this is one of the top places to visit from Vancouver for you.

Yes, Whistler has been voted Top Ski Resort in the World by various publications, and the 200+ marked runs famous for champagne powder make it a no-brainer for winter fun. But there are tons of things to do in Whistler besides skiing.

There are loads of great restaurants in Whistler, making it a gourmet foodie escape. It also offers great summer lake activities at Lost Lake, includes BC’s most beautiful hike at nearby Joffre Lakes, and is a top spa and mountain biking destination.

Looking for some culture? The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is the best window into local First Nations culture.

Related: Vancouver to Whistler: 6 Ways to Get There Fast

two bottles on a barrel at a fraser valley wine tour

Sip and Savour a Fraser Valley Winery Tour from Vancouver

Did you think we’re just a one-trick pony of snowy mountains and water activities? Well, think again. To the east of Vancouver, you’ll find temperate Langley and the prime wine-making region of the Fraser Valley.

Renting a car and taking a DIY drive is a great day trip escape from Vancouver. Vista D’oro is a great place to see old-school wine-making perfected, while Backyard Vineyards is a small-volume producer that makes some of the best BC VQA sparkling whites around.

Want to take the guesswork out of it? A winery tour can even pick you up at downtown Vancouver hotels and take you straight to the action in a Mercedes Benz Sprinter van.

The small group tours include stops at up to five wineries over 6 hours.

Related: Best Vancouver Food Tours

aerial view of bc ferries travelling in howe sound bc

Embark on a Howe Sound Boat Tour

This picturesque body of water between Vancouver and the outdoor playground of Squamish is surrounded by a network of towering fjords. This makes it a great place to explore by boat. Renting one at Granville Island or Sewell’s Marina in Horseshoe Bay is a good start.

Expect to pay about $150 for 4 hours, so this day trip is best done in company.

Bombing around Vancouver’s waters is fun just for the ride, but strapping up with fishing gear and trying to land a big spring salmon (they can reach over 80 pounds) is one way to experience the Sound.

Looking to explore as part of a package? Then click the link below:

Related: The Top Vancouver Whale Watching Tours

a group of people sitting on muskoka chairs at the top of grouse mountain vancouver bc canada

Enjoy a Mountain Getaway at Grouse Mountain

Those towering North Shore Mountains that frame our city skyline aren’t just for show.

In fact, a 2800 metre gondola ride up from North Vancouver will transport you to a mountain paradise – complete with lumberjacks, bears, and beaver tails – but enough of the Canadian stereotypes.

Of course, the Wildlife Refuge and its star grizzlies, 30-minute lumberjack shows, and massive tail-shaped donuts are just the beginnin. Some of my favourite things to do at Grouse Mountain are:

  • Having a cold beer at Altitudes Bistro overlooking the city
  • Going up to the highest point of the city at the Eye of the Wind
  • Swinging through the Mountain Ropes Adventure

In winter, this is the area’s most accessible ski mountain, and in Vancouver in summer, you can hike up the mountain on the legendary Grouse Grind.

Related: How to Get to Grouse Mountain from Downtown Vancouver

hikers atop the stawamus chief in squamish bc

Visit Canada’s Outdoor Playground Squamish

Are you already taking a fun day trip up the legendary Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler (one of the world’s top-rated road trips)? About halfway up, you’ll come across this picturesque, sporty mountain town just 70 minutes from downtown Vancouver.

The name of the game here is outdoor adventure. Just look up at the imposing granite monolith that dwarfs the city. The Stawamus Chief offers a 4-hour intermediate hike with one of the best panoramic view rewards in the entire province.

Some other top things to do in Squamish include Via Ferrata climbing adventures (optimal for first-timers), some of the greatest white water rafting in the Lower Mainland, and a 2-hour Ropes Course Adventure.

You’ll also find Shannon Falls, British Columbia’s third-highest waterfall. Don’t forget too that there’s some amazing craft beer made in the area, the optimal nightcap for all that adventure.

Related: Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

a craft shop and restaurant patio on salt spring island bc

Relax at Tranquil Salt Spring Island

This tiny island in the Salish Sea which is just 80 minutes by ferry from Vancouver, has a huge amount of character. This is one of the best places to visit from Vancouver if you’re seeking peace and quiet.

‘Canada’s Island of the Arts’ is a place to buy things that are fresh or made by hand. There are over 200 organic farms here, forming the base of British Columbia’s best little Artisan Market – some local farmers even provide their grass-fed lamb to the Queen.

Other highlights include small-batch smoked salmon, artisan gin, and apple pie moonshine. The 120 artisans here also sell jewellery, woodwork, pottery, fine art, body care, clothing, and more.

Don’t forget camping at Ruckle Park, tastings at Salt Spring Wild Cider, and visiting Salt Spring Island Cheese Company – grabbing an Airbnb overnight and coming back with the trunk full of goodies is a Vancouver tradition.

Related: Best Time to Visit Vancouver

Fishing boats sit in the harbour at dusk, Steveston BC

Head Out to Historic Steveston Village

This is one of the best day trips from Vancouver without a car. Yes, in just 40 minutes by Vancouver public transit, you can be whisked away to this tiny fishing village along the Fraser River.

On the fringes of the suburb of Richmond, this place has yet to be corrupted by big chain shops and six-lane highways.

Visiting Steveston gives great insight into the early economies of the area, in particular through the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Museum – a retrospect on the salmon industry of British Columbia and the many immigrant communities (primarily Japanese) that helped build the province.

Beyond this, a trip through Steveston is about artisan gift shops, fresh-off-the-boat seafood stands, and the obligatory load-up of fish and chips at the legendary Pajo’s. Not to mention, it’s a great place to take a Steveston whale watching tour.

Related: Best Vancouver City Tours

the seattle skyline with mount raineer in the background

Cross the border on a Seattle Day Trip from Vancouver

It’s hard to put this American supercity on the list because, let’s face it, you need way more than just a day. That said, I’ve probably done this day trip from Vancouver 20+ times in my life. You can take the Vancouver to Seattle Bus, the Amtrack Cascades Train, or even a Vancouver to Seattle Seaplane flight.

It’s a little cumbersome, but it’s one of the best places to visit from Vancouver for locals due to:

  • Major league American sports like the NFL, NHL and MLB
  • A much more diverse concert and live music scene
  • American brand-name shopping and discount outlet centres
  • Unique tourist attractions like the Space Needle and Museum of Pop Culture
  • Pike Place Market

Driving from Vancouver to Seattle for day trips takes just over two hours, more than doable with an early start.  If you’ve got a bit of extra time on your Vancouver itinerary and want a little piece of Americana, this is the best cultural day trip you can make.

Related: How to Plan the Perfect Day Trip to Vancouver from Seattle

sunbather relaxing at harrison hot springs resort near vancouver bc

Chill out at Harrison Hot Springs

This small Fraser Valley resort community is just 90 minutes from Vancouver. It has been one of the top day trips near Vancouver since 1886 when the Canadian Pacific Railway brought its lakeside springs within reach.

The two relaxing, rejuvenating springs heat up to 65 °C (149 °F). Harrison Hot Springs Resort is the star of the show here, creating five different pools of different temperatures for the ultimate spa getaway experience. With two restaurants on-site, this is the ultimate ‘not lift a finger’ Vancouver day trip.

You can rent a cottage out here to soak in the hot springs. But you can also take a lovely forest hike alongside numerous waterfalls along the Miami Bridges Walk. And, of course, taking part in any number of fishing or boating activities on Harrison Lake is also a fine option.

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds of Vancouver’s best beaches in the summer, taking day trips to the lakeside beach here is a much better swimming option.

a gondola climbing up mount habrich in squamish bc canada

Sea to Sky Gondola

An hour from Vancouver, this Swiss-style ski gondola whisks passengers 885 meters up Mount Habrich, providing amazing views of crystal blue Howe Sound and our Coast Mountain paradise.

The Sea to Sky Gondola is a mountain adventure wonderland that can be as hardcore as you want. Taking in the three panoramic view platforms and walking the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge is included in every ticket.

Of course, if you’re willing to get a little more advanced on your day trips from Vancouver, you can go off on backcountry hiking tours, snowshoeing and tubing (winter), and even rock climbing (summer).

Throw in interpretive tours on the ecology of the area and the rich history of the local Skwxwu7mesh Nation, and this outdoor escape gets educational.

There’s also a licensed bar, and the Sky Pilot Restaurant offers live music, wine tastings, and all sorts of events. So this Vancouver day tour has it all.

RelatedCapilano Suspension Bridge vs. Sea to Sky Gondola: Which is Better?

craft beer bar at the seaside promenade gibsons bc

Soak in the Rays on the Sunshine Coast

A quick hour ferry hop across Howe Sound from Horseshoe Bay brings Vancouverites to the Sunshine Coast, famous for low annual rainfall and long, sunny summers. If you need a beach here, then Savary Island is Canada’s answer to Bermuda (don’t laugh).

This 180 km stretch of coast is famous for its laid-back attitude, unspoiled beaches, arts and crafts, and sneaky good culinary scene that rivals some of Vancouver’s best restaurants.

Most folks head to Sechelt for the galleries and boutiques along Cowrie Street, which also offers all sorts of vintage shops, tap houses, and gourmet restaurants.

Lovers of paddle sports also find plenty to do here. The Powell River Canoe Route is a solid way to spend a day on the water, but kayaking along the fjords of Desolation Sound is probably the best bet.

A family enters mine no.3, Britannia Mine Museum
Instagram: @britanniaminemuseum

Pan for Gold at the Britannia Mining Museum

This historic mine near Squamish makes for a fun day trip from Vancouver for those visiting town with children. The Britannia Mining Museum was once one of the largest copper ore mines in the British Empire.

Since closing up shop, this imposing 20-storey building has transformed into a fully interactive museum that’ll put you in the boots of a turn-of-the-century miner.

The train ride through the historic haulage tunnel is the highlight. But any of the over 7000 artifacts (some brought to life by in-person demonstrations) really kick things up a notch.

Think it looks familiar? The museum has been featured in everything from The X-Files to Scooby Do 2: Monsters Unleashed.

Visiting here also puts you on the Sea to Sky Highway, a scenic attraction in itself.

Related: The Vancouver Attractions Passport: Your Passport to Savings

aerial view of mount garibaldi with blue lake

Take a Hiking Vancouver Hiking Tour at Garibaldi Provincial Park

The enormous Garibaldi Park is situated about halfway between Squamish and Whistler along the Sea to Sky Highway. While it takes about an hour to reach, it’ll feel like you’re days from civilization.

The area’s rugged mountains are covered in over 150 glaciers, contrasting with the dense Douglas fir and red cedar forests. It’s simply a paradise for those seeking a quick Vancouver hiking tour.

Some must-do hikes include Garibaldi Lake Trail (18 km, about 5 hours) and Black Tusk Trail (28 km, about 10 hours). Both are packed full of full of strata volcanos, turquoise blue lakes, and viewpoints galore.

Other local highlights include nearby Elfin Lakes, Cheakamus Lake, and Wedgemount Lake.

Related: Is Grouse Mountain Worth it?

Vancouver Day Trips FAQs

Where can I go for a day trip near Vancouver?

Many places for a quick Vancouver day trip are technically located in the Greater Vancouver Regional District. The North Shore offers the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain, which is a year-round outdoor mountain playground.

You can hit up the charming fishing village of Steveston for its small-town vibes and great seafood. And the nearby Fraser Valley offers a number of wineries that are perfect for tasting some of BC’s greatest wine.

Where do locals go for a weekend getaway from Vancouver?

In the summer, locals looking for a weekend getaway from Vancouver typically go to Vancouver Island or the Okanagan, in the interior. Weekend getaways across the border to Seattle are also quite common.

In the winter, the world-class ski resort of Whistler is the most popular spot for weekend trips from Vancouver. But don’t sleep on the Sea to Sky Corridor in the summer. This picturesque region is packed with outdoor activities for active travellers.

What are the best day trips from Vancouver?

The best day trips from Vancouver allow you to take advantage of the area’s breathtaking natural beauty. The most popular Vancouver day trips include Whistler and the Sea to Sky Corridor, Victoria and Butchart Gardens, Harrison Hot Springs, and the Sunshine Coast.

Can you do a day trip to Whistler from Vancouver?

Yes, Vancouverites often take day trips to Whistler. The average drive from Vancouver to Whistler is 90 minutes, which is more than doable.

In fact, people from Vancouver often drive to Whistler for the day for skiing and mountain biking and return later in the day.

Can you do day trips from Vancouver to Seattle?

Yes, taking a day trip from Vancouver to Seattle is extremely common. The average drive time (not considering border waits) to Seattle from downtown Vancouver is 2.5 hours.

Many people from Vancouver head to Seattle fairly regularly. We do so to catch concerts, watch sports, take advantage of American shopping, or take in any of Seattle’s top attractions.

What is the best way to take a day trip to Victoria from Vancouver?

Taking a day trip from Vancouver to Victoria is a fantastic way to explore the beauty of British Columbia. However, you’ll need to take two ferry trips across the Salish Sea to make it happen. As a result, we recommend taking an organized tour. Or you can take the popular Vancouver to Victoria seaplane to be as efficient as possible.

Any Questions on Day Trips from Vancouver?

I’ve laid out some of my favourite places to visit from Vancouver, but maybe you’re in need of something a little more custom?

Don’t be afraid to reach out in the comments below if you’ve got any questions – I’m here to answer any questions about visiting our beautiful city or escaping it on a day trip from Vancouver.

Life is a highway🛣️


I've lived in 5 countries and created content for travel websites like eDreams and Amex Essentials, but here I finally get to work my passion project - my hometown, Vancouver!

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