Vancouver sits on the west coast, not too far over the Canadian border. The city is overwhelmingly amazing, with endless things to do, like exploring districts such as Gastown and Chinatown, which are filled to the brim with interesting food, drinks and experiences. Luxury hotels feature rooftop pools, on-site spas and gourmet restaurants, making for the most amazing spots to base any vacation. With all the city has, it’s hard to imagine venturing beyond, but there’s so much out there. Check out these top day trips from Vancouver yourself!
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Home to Whistler Blackcomb Resort, Whistler Mountain sits right next to, you guessed it, Blackcomb Mountain, which leaves over 8,000 acres of terrain at visitor’s disposal. Ski marked runs, or even glaciers, after only driving 1 hour and 45 minutes out of the city. Spring brings hiking and mountain biking like many other resorts, and there’s a peak to peak gondola, suspension bridge, bear viewing, ecology tours and mountain top summer feasts. The village has a wealth of shopping, nightlife and 200 restaurants serving everything from apres to barbecue.
Rich with culture and wildlife, Vancouver Island is vastly different from Vancouver the city. Of course, a lot of things to do, such as concerts, festivals and golfing, but there’s a more extreme beauty created by the mountains and beaches. Accommodations have the wow factor, with Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort and the luxurious Qualicum Beach Ocean Suites being great examples, which might even convince you to stay longer than the day. Because of the ferry trip required to get out to the island, total travel time comes in just over five hours. Float planes are the quickest way to make it to the main city of Victoria.
Anywhere with a “Sea to Sky Gondola “ is going to be worth a visit. With impeccable views of Howe Sound from the gondola or from the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, Squamish is home to an array of family-friendly attractions. Cafes, coffee shops, a mountain top lodge and other eclectic restaurants are at your fingertips, and you have to try a Frostbite snow cone. Take an underground train tour at the Britannia Mine Museum, visit cascading waterfalls, hike the gorgeous trails, horseback ride—there’s only so much we can squeeze into a paragraph. The town is a beautiful hour drive up the coast, and definitely should be on your Vancouver bucket list.
Porteau Cove Provincial Park
Porteau Cove Provincial Park used to house a ferry terminal, but now it’s a striking pier for those wanting to take in the views of mountains and ocean. Artificial reefs made of sunken ships have created particularly awesome scuba diving waters, and an array of beaches also stretch along the park.
Garibaldi Provincial Park
Glacier runoff is responsible for the milky blue lakes that make Garibaldi so stunning. It’s hard to believe this magical natural spectacle is just 1 hour and 30 minutes from bustling Vancouver. Hiking trails in the park are the top thing to experience, and if you’re lucky you can snag an open camping spot, which cannot be reserved in advance. If you have to pick one thing to do, hike the Garibaldi Lake Trail.
Topping out at nearly four hours to get there, Seattle is so noteworthy, it warrants crossing the border and making the trek. Where to start? Well, you could head to the historic Pike Place Market to roam the antique halls loaded with fish and fresh produce vendors along with local eateries serving the best seafood. Of course, there are iconic sites like the Space Needle and the very first Starbucks as well. The city is a wormhole, and once you start exploring you’ll find yourself tunneling through one new avenue after another.
Horseshoe Bay, the ferry town you depart from when heading to the island, is actually a pretty cute stop itself, with quaint little eateries and lovely views of Howe Sound. After making the boat ride over to Bowen, you’ll immediately feel disconnected from city life, however, there’s a surprising amount of things to do. Bowen is best for peacefully paddling in a kayak, biking, hiking—anything outdoors. But the addition of cozy cafes, shopping and art museums make for a truly unique escape. Grab a panini on fresh bake bread at Artisan Eats Cafe, or organic chocolate, old fashioned candy, ice cream and a list of fresh sourced cuisine around town. It takes just under an hour to reach the slice of land, from central Vancouver.
North Shore Mountains
This group of mountains off northern Vancouver is a mere 30 minutes from the heart of downtown. Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour and Cypress Mountain are the more accessible peaks and feature a wide range of activities to meet the needs of families or extreme adventurists. Top notch skiing, winding summer hiking trails, restaurants, cafes, scenic aerial trams—between these proximal mountains, there’s just about everything one could want in an elevated escape.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Barely outside of the major parts of Vancouver, Capilano Bridge may be one of the best and closest day trips from Vancouver. Cliffwalk is the latest addition to the park and allows access to views that before 2011, weren’t accessible. State of the art suspended walkways hug around the jagged rock edges while hovering hikers over the river—pretty intense for a day wandering in the woods. The Park also has a treetop adventure park, educational history sites, a story center and scenic boardwalks all surrounded by centuries-old Douglas-firs.