trips Vancouver

10 top-notch day trips from Vancouver

Within easy reach of Vancouver are some of British Columbia’s most interesting and beautiful destinations. Picturesque island towns and the provincial capital of Victoria are just a ferry ride away. A drive on the famous Sea-to-Sky-Highway leads past Squamish and up to the famous ski resort of Whistler, one of the sites of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Inland, towards the Fraser Valley, are Bridal Veil Falls; Fort Langley National Historic Site; and Harrison Hot Springs, known for its hot pools, beach, and small-town atmosphere. For those looking to venture across the border into the US, Mount Baker is a short drive away, offering hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

1 whistler


The scenic drive along the Sea-to-Sky Highway (Highway 99) is enough to make a day trip to Whistler worthwhile. The views over Howe Sound and the scenery along this stretch of highway are outstanding. At the end of the drive is the famous ski resort of Whistler; a year round destination offering golf, skiing, hiking, shopping and dining. In the summer, this is a wonderful place to wander the streets, take a walk, mountain bike or play a round of golf. In the winter, the town has a very different feel, with an electric atmosphere, as skiers from all over the world descend on this world-class ski resort to explore the slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains . And for non-skiers, the Peak-2-Peak gondolais a great way to see the mountains in both summer and winter. Without traffic, the travel time to Whistler is about an hour and a half, but heavy traffic, particularly around Vancouver, can add time to the journey.

Read also: Canada’s Hidden Gems

2 Victoria

trips Vancouver


Less than two hours by boat from Vancouver is the capital of the province of Victoria. This quaint seaside town, with its compact town centre, is the perfect place to explore on foot. The waterfront is graced by the historic Empress Hotel , famous for its afternoon tea service. Visitors can stroll along the Inner Harbor to see street performers, relax on a park bench, or admire the city’s parliament buildings. One of the big highlights, just outside the city, is the stunning Butchart Gardens . Located in what was once an old quarry, this is a year-round attraction, with particularly fantastic displays from early spring to late autumn. Victoria is also home to theRoyal British Columbia Museum , one of Canada’s finest museums of natural and cultural history.

Visitors can walk through or take their car on the ferry to Victoria. At peak times, and particularly around holidays, there can be a long queue for cars wishing to board the ferries, so travelers should plan accordingly.

3 squamish


On the drive from Vancouver to Whistler, along the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Squamish is an easy and fun day trip from Vancouver that is often overlooked by travelers. Just under an hour’s drive from Vancouver, the town sits picturesquely at the end of Howe Sound before the road climbs up into the mountains. While this was once a town with seemingly little reason to stop, over the years it has gradually grown into a popular destination, with plenty of reasons to spend some time here. One of the area’s most popular new additions is the scenic Sea-to-Sky Cable Car , and at the top of the ride, the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge , both offering stunning views of the area.

Outdoor recreation rules the day in this town, and rock climbers flock here to scale the sheer cliff faces. The giant granite monolith known as Stawamus Chief Mountain is an incredible site and one of the most important climbing areas in this region. There are also great mountain biking trails, hiking trails, and campgrounds with eight provincial parks in the Squamish area.

Shannon Falls , just two miles south of Squamish, is also worth a stop. This is the fourth highest falls in BC, falling 335 meters and the easy access makes it very popular. Short hiking trails in the area lead through the forest and there are picnic facilities on site. Visitors can also see the falls from the Sea-to-Sky Gondola.

4 Harrison Hot Springs

Harrison Hot Springs
Harrison Hot Springs

Just over an hour and a half from Vancouver, the small town of Harrison Hot Springs is a great escape from the city. Nestled among forest-covered mountains on the shores of beautiful Harrison Lake, this resort is known for its hot springs, but it offers much more than just hot pools. For a dip in the spring water, visitors can stop at the public pool in the center of town or at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa. During the summer months, many people come here to enjoy the beautiful beach that runs along the town’s waterfront and overlooks the islands and mountains across Harrison Lake. The area is well developed for tourists, with a wide range of activities including golf, hiking, boat trips, fishing and more.

5 Salt Spring Island

View from Mount Maxwell on Salt Spring Island
View from Mount Maxwell on Salt Spring Island

A trip to Salt Spring Island on a sunny day is a perfect escape from Vancouver. Ferries depart from Tsawwassen in Vancouver and land in Long Harbor on Salt Spring Island. The best option for day trips is to catch a non-stop ferry if possible, although options may be limited in winter. Salt Spring is a quirky island, with small farms and artist studios dotted around the island. Visitors can stop at some of these family-owned businesses to sample and buy cheese and other specialty items, or head to a studio to watch an artist work. to see. The main city is Ganges, a pleasant waterfront community, with restaurants, shops and galleries. On Saturdays, during the summer months, Ganges has a popular market, where the locals sell their crafts and other goods.

6 Mount Baker, Washington

Mount Baker, Washington
Mount Baker, Washington

On clear Vancouver days, you can see the gleaming snow-capped peak of Mount Baker in the distance. Despite its obvious presence, few people think to make the day trip to explore the mountain up close. Those that do will find quaint towns on the approach, nearby hiking trails in the summer, and great skiing in the winter. Numerous hikes in the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forestaround Mt. Baker offers access to beautiful mountain scenery, with alpine lakes and incredible wildflower displays in late summer. In winter, Mt. Baker gets incredible amounts of snow, usually ranging from 16 to 20 meters. In 1998/99, the mountain set the record for the most snow in a single season in the US with a total of 1,140 inches, nearly 90 feet. The drive from Vancouver takes less than 2.5 hours, but driving times may vary depending on waiting times at the Canada-US border.

7 Fort Langley National Historic Site

Fort Langley National Historic Site Ruth Hartnup / photo modified
Fort Langley National Historic Site Ruth Hartnup / photo modified

About an hour’s drive east of Vancouver is the old tenant trading post of Fort Hudson of the Hudson’s Bay, established in 1827. The fort was the site of much activity in the 1800s, from the fur traders to the Fraser River gold rush of 1857 , and the establishment of the colony of British Columbia. Today at the site, visitors can explore the fort’s history, watch the 1800s come to life with interpreters and demonstrations, and try their luck at gold. The fort is open all year round and is a popular family attraction.

8 Bridal Falls en Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park

trips Vancouver
Bridal Falls en Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park

The town of Bridal Falls is located east of Chilliwack, about an hour and a half from Vancouver. The most famous site in the area is the 60-foot Bridal Veil Falls, in the provincial park of the same name. This is a day use area, where people can picnic and hike to the base of the falls. In winter, when the temperature drops, the falls turn to ice and take on a completely different appearance. Also worth checking out, depending on the time of year, are the 32-acre Minter Gardens , the Bridal Falls Waterpark , and the trails and birdwatching opportunities found in the Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park .

9 Britannia Mining Museum

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Britannia Mining Museum Kenny Louie / photo modified

Just off the Sea-to-Sky-Highway, about 45 minutes from Vancouver, is the Britannia Mining Museum, a National Historic Site of Canada. This tiered twenty-story building has been an impossible place to avoid along the highway for decades, but between 2005 and 2010, the building underwent massive restoration work and was renamed the BC Museum of Mining to the Britannia Mining Museum. The museum is the site of the former Britannia mine and visitors can see some original early 20th century equipment, pan for gold or take an underground tour.

10 Hell’s Gate Airtram

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Hell’s Gate Airtram

From spring through fall, the Hell’s Gate Airtram takes visitors across the raging waters of the Fraser River in a tram that connects both sides of the canyon. Hell’s Gate is uniquely situated at a narrowing point in the Fraser River, where the fast-flowing water is pushed through a section just 33 meters wide, creating a colossal white water spectacle. The aerial tram covers a distance of 500 feet and drops visitors to the other side of the river, where there is a restaurant, gift shop, gold panning area, and information center. There is also a suspension bridge that crosses the river here. The drive to Hell’s Gate is very scenic and part of the attraction of this day trip, which takes between 2.5 and 3 hours in each direction.

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 Places to Visit in Canada

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