It’s impossible to get bored in Vancouver, but if you’re itching to get out of the city, check out these fun day trips from Vancouver.
Where are the best day trips from Vancouver?
This postcard-perfect fishing village is only a 20-minute drive south of Vancouver, but it feels worlds apart. It’s easy to reach by public transport and bicycle too. Located at the mouth of the Fraser River, Steveston was once the largest fishing port and cannery on the West Coast. Its canneries are no longer in operation, though it’s still home to the largest salmon run in North America. A heritage zone since 1960, most of the buildings have changed little since they were built. Many Japanese immigrants contributed to the industry here, and a stroll around the Britannia Shiping Yard offers a fascinating insight into how they once lived. You’ll also find twee shops, like Steveston Best of British, and some of the best fish and chips on the coast.
2. Bowen Island
Just a 45-minute water taxi from Granville Island or a 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, Bowen Island is the region’s most accessible island from the city. The island has long held a reputation for relaxation, but there’s plenty to keep visitors occupied too. There are some seriously superlative hikes here – Mount Gardner and Killarney Lake are two of the best – as well as kayaking, yoga and wildlife watching tours.
This former logging town has soared in popularity in recent years thanks to its snow-capped mountain hikes, sparkling turquoise lakes and lovely, laid-back downtown. It’s home to some of the Sea-to-Sky Highway’s superstar sights, including the Sea-to-Sky Gondola. This 10-minute ride soars 885-metres above sea level and offers jaw-dropping views over the Howe Sound and coastal mountains. It’s also home to Shannon Falls — B.C’s third tallest waterfall, the Stawamus Chief and a handful of brilliant breweries. To reach Squamish, you’ll either need to hire a car (or an Evo) or hop on a coach. Squamish is around an hour’s drive north of Vancouver.
Most people hop on the ferry to reach Salt Spring Island, but if you’ve only got a day we recommend taking the floatplane. Departing from downtown Vancouver, this 35-minute journey offers spectacular views over the sparkling Pacific Ocean before touching down in Ganges. From here, you can explore some of the island’s best-loved studios, producers and breweries. If you’re visiting on a Saturday, don’t miss the Saturday market. Around 100 local producers descend on Ganges to sell everything from Salt Spring soap to goat’s cheese. And, if you get hungry, hotfoot to Buzzy’s Luncheonette for The Hungry Jew, a sandwich packed with the best-smoked meat outside Montreal and topped with two crispy latkes and homemade horseradish. It takes ten days to cure the meat, followed by an eight-hour smoking process and three-hour steam.
British Columbia’s charismatic capital deserves far more than a day, but if you’re short on time it’s still worth making the trip to Victoria. It’s roughly a 45-minute drive to Vancouver’s ferry terminal at Tsawwassen, followed by a 90-minute ferry ride, so you’ll need to set your alarm clock for an early wake-up. It’s worth the effort though. You might even spot orcas and humpbacks on the ferry journey over. Take a stroll down North America’s narrowest street at Fan Tan Alley, explore the collection at British Columbia’s most prestigious museum, the Royal BC Museum and tuck into a feast at the Fisherman’s Wharf. The last ferry departs from Victoria at around 9:00 pm.
Set against soaring mountains and sandy beaches, Harrison Hot Springs is around an hour’s drive from Vancouver. It’s renowned for its warm spring waters, now part of the Harrison Springs Resort & Spa. These springs were once popular gathering places for the Salish First Nations people and people have flocked here to experience the water’s healing powers for centuries. It also offers acres of hiking, paddling, biking, golfing and kayaking adventures.
Whistler is well known for being the world’s largest and best-equipped ski resort, but there’s plenty to do here beyond skiing, snowboarding and apres. It’s also one of Canada’s premier golf destinations, home to Canada’s longest zipline and boasts the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, which stretches between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains and offers 360-degree views over volcanic peaks, coastal rainforests and ancient growth. There are well over 50 km of hiking trails surrounding the town too. To reach it, you’ll need to head north for two hours along the Sea-to-Sky Highway. If you’ve got the time, why not check out the seven best stops on the Sea-to-Sky Highway while you’re at it?