The next time you find yourself on Canada’s Left Coast with a few days to spare, there are plenty of options to get you out of the big city. Vancouver is perfectly situated for a wide range of day trips and weekend getaways. A short drive outside of the city will take you to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Pacific Northwest and to some of North America’s top ski and snowboard resorts—not to mention picturesque villages and historic trails for shopping and hiking. Check out my recommnedations for five day trips or weekend getaways beloved by residents and travellers alike—all within easy reach of Vancouver.
Did you know that the capital of British Columbia is actually Victoria? It is a beautiful blend of historical architecture and modern indulgence. This city boasts pedestrian friendly shopping areas, scenic beaches, restaurants that know how to feature their local fare (hint: seafood!), and a Fisherman’s Wharf to boot.
Victoria at night. Photo courtesy Gregory Alin.
Located on Vancouver Island, you’ll need to hop a a ferry to get to Victoria—but you’ll have the opportunity to can soak up some great views along the way. In my opinion, Victorria makes a better weekend getaway than day trip; however, you can still get there and back via ferry in a day.
Located about a two-hour drive from Vancouver (via the incredible scenic “Sea to Sky” highway—which is a highlight in itself), Whistler is one of North America’s best ski and snow destinations. Brought to global attention during the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler is nevertheless a great place to visit regardless of the season.
Whistler at sunrise. Photo courtesy Nicki Varkevisser.
Whether you’re looking to ski some fresh powder in the winter, zip line between mountains and forge across creeks in the summer—or treat yourself to a relaxing day at the spa, this place has it all. To top it all off, Whistler Village is filled with a variety of shops and restaurants and a great nightlife to keep everyone entertained.
3. Grouse Mountain
Located just a 15-minute drive north of downtown Van, Grouse Mountain is another day trip that’s popular with both travellers and locals. If you’re looking to stretch your legs and hike a trail, the ‘Grouse Grind’ is waiting. Easy to get to from the downtown, the ‘Grind’ is commonly referred to by locals as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”.
The view from Grouse Mountain. Photo courtesy KR Woll.
Although the trail is only 2.9km long, allow yourself the entire day to explore the area. When you reach the top, you soak up some true Western Canadian culture and ‘get jacked’ at Grouse’s world-famous Lumberjack Show.
4. Steveston Village
About a 30-minute drive south of Vancouver, Richmond’s Steveston Village is a perfect for daytrippers looking for a little local flavour — and it tastes like fish! Located just south of the city of Richmond, this charming historical fishing village is a gem waiting to be explored.
The Villiage of Steveston. Photo courtesy Mark Faviell.
Filled with restaurants and unique independently owned shops, grab yourself a ice cream and walk around the village. Freshly caught salmon can also be purchased right off boats docked along the boardwalk.
5. The Stawamus Chief
Located in Squamish, this mountain is known for its granite face, which attracts both rock climbers and hikers alike. There are 517-hectares of parkland, which provide a myriad of rock climbing opportunities and draws an international crowd.
The Stawamus Chief. Photo courtesy Gary Smith.
Alternatively, hiking up this mountain is a lot of fun, as the sheer rock walls are incorporated with steel ladders and chains to help you clamber up, giving you a sense of great accomplishment at the top!
With some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Pacific Northwest on it doorstep, Vancouver is just a short distance to some of North America’s top ski and snowboard resorts — not to mention picturesque villages and historic trails for shopping and hiking. Has this post piqued your curiosity? Join a small group and explore British Columbia with G Adventures.