Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver
Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Whistler's Peaks and Trails
Whether you're an avid hiker or just looking for a scenic stroll, Whistler's vast network of trails has something for every ability and interest. This mountain paradise located just two hours north of Vancouver offers over 200 kilometers of hiking routes that zigzag through ancient coastal rainforests, traverse flower-filled alpine meadows, and lead to panoramic mountaintop vistas.
For those seeking a leisurely nature walk, try the Wedgemount Lake Trail. This peaceful path winds through lichen-draped trees and crosses burbling creeks on wooden footbridges along the way to a calm, jade-colored lake. Pack a picnic to enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks reflecting on the lake's glassy surface.
More experienced hikers can challenge themselves on the High Note Trail. True to its name, this strenuous route gains over 800 meters of elevation as it climbs above the tree line. You'll be rewarded with boundless views of emerald forests, glacier-capped mountains, and Whistler's famous ski slopes down below. Just don't forget your camera!
Of course, no trip to Whistler is complete without riding the record-breaking Peak 2 Peak Gondola. Spanning 4.4 kilometers between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, the gondola provides a thrilling overhead glimpse of the valley below as you travel in a glass-bottomed cable car. Once you reach the top, you can hike the alpine loop trails on either mountain, stopping frequently to soak in the stunning 360-degree vistas.
What else is in this post?
- Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Whistler's Peaks and Trails
- Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Wine Tasting Through the Fraser Valley
- Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Kayaking the Gulf Islands
- Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Ferry Ride to Victoria's Coastal Charm
- Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Hiking Ancient Rainforests on Vancouver Island
- Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Rugged Beauty of the Sunshine Coast
- Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Relaxing Hot Springs Getaway
- Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Adventures Up the Sea-to-Sky Highway
Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Wine Tasting Through the Fraser Valley
Swap skyscrapers for vineyards on a wine tasting adventure through British Columbia's lush Fraser Valley. Located just an hour east of Vancouver, this fertile floodplain nurtured by the Fraser River provides ideal growing conditions for producing some of Canada's finest wines. Meandering country roads connect family-run wineries where passionate winemakers are eager to share their craft one sip at a time.
Raspberry bushes and rose hips adorn the grounds at Township 7 Vineyards and Winery, a rustic estate known for artfully crafted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Pull up a seat at the tasting bar housed in a cozy log cabin to sample their small-batch vintages straight from the barrel. Savor buttery Chardonnay complemented by notes of orange blossom and honeysuckle. Then contrast its richness with the light body and red fruit flavors of silky Pinot Noir.
Further along, Emandare Estate Winery specializes in fruit-forward wines made from locally harvested blackberries, cherries, and plums. Their unique on-site restaurant overlooks the vineyards and offers shareable small plates perfectly paired with each wine. Sip vibrant plum wine while indulging in Camembert drizzled with blackberry compote and candied pistachios.
No winery hop is complete without stopping at Backyard Vineyards, hailed for producing gold medal Gewürztraminer. Pull up an Adirondack chair under willow trees in their Tuscan-style courtyard to sample Gewürztraminer bursting with lychee and grapefruit zest flavors. Pair it with a charcuterie board stacked with prosciutto, smoked gouda, and marinated olives.
Don't miss the picturesque bistro at Vista D'Oro Farms and Winery, nestled between rows of vines twisting around wooden trellises. Savor award-winning Cabernet Franc on their patio overlooking lush fields dotted with grazing horses. Its rich flavors of cherry and spice pair beautifully with their duck confit flatbread crowned with caramelized onion and fig jam.
Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Kayaking the Gulf Islands
Trading towers for tranquility, kayaking through British Columbia's scenic Gulf Islands makes for an unforgettable escape from the bustle of Vancouver. Located between the Strait of Georgia and Haro Strait, this archipelago of nearly 450 islands boasts sheltered waterways perfect for a day of paddling past sandy beaches, secluded coves, and coastal forests.
Glide your kayak across glassy waves as seals bob their heads curiously and sea lions laze on rocky shores. Paddle in the shadow of towering fir trees and get glimpses of bald eagles perched majestically overhead. Whether you're a novice paddler or seasoned pro, companies like Gulf Island Kayaking offer guided tours catering to all levels. Their knowledgeable guides will steer you away from strong currents and desolate exposed stretches to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience immersed in nature.
Kayak through zig-zagging channels to reach Pirate's Cove Marine Provincial Park, where curious starfish cling to pilings and plumose anemones sway hypnotically underwater. Pull ashore on a secluded beach scattered with driftwood to enjoy a picnic lunch and search for tiny creatures in tidepools. Peak your head into sea caves carved by the ocean's relentless waves.
Venture out to explore Saltspring Island, the largest among the Gulf Islands known as the 'island of artists'. Its rugged shoreline juxtaposed against lush inland forests and rolling pastures serves as the ultimate creative muse. Paddle by art studios built right at water's edge by creators drawn in by the island's raw, natural beauty.
The tranquil waters surrounding Wallace Island hold a wealth of wildlife. Peer down through crystalline waters for glimpses of jellyfish pulsing by and purple sea stars dotting the seafloor. Watch for river otters frolicking on the shoreline and BatchNormalization merging back into the shelter of swaying kelp beds. With so many islands to explore, each kayaking excursion promises new wonders waiting around every bend.
While days spent paddling the Salish Sea build up an appetite, the Gulf Islands are just as praised for farm-to-table culinary offerings as their captivating landscapes. Indulge in island-grown oysters fresh from the sea at the acclaimed Pilgrimme restaurant or sample organic produce from locals like Foxglove Farm. Support island artisans like Salt Spring Island Cheese, where traditional cheesemaking techniques have been passed down for generations.
Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Ferry Ride to Victoria's Coastal Charm
Trade skyscrapers for historic architecture and urban energy for coastal calm with a scenic ferry ride from Vancouver to charming Victoria. As British Columbia's capital, this port city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island feels a world away from Vancouver's glass towers and bustling streets. Wander cobblestone paths to discover colorful Victorian storefronts and wander lush gardens in this slice of old England on the edge of the Pacific.
Hop aboard a BC Ferries vessel offering panoramic views of forested islands dotting the Strait of Georgia on the 1.5 hour sailing from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay. Enjoy mile after mile of tranquil sea and wooded islets before docking just 30 minutes from downtown Victoria. Ditch the car and walk or take public transit into the city center to embrace the laidback island vibe.
Meander narrow alleys like a local rather than following tourist maps. Pop into homey cafes and indie boutiques hidden down brick lanes draped in flowering vines. Grab a scoop from Rogers' Chocolates, Victoria's beloved chocolate shop doling out homemade ice cream since 1885. Indulge in their specialty flavor, Chocolate Garden Cream, bursting with dark cocoa swirled with cherry – the perfect fuel for an afternoon of urban exploring.
Of course, no visit to Victoria is complete without touring their stately Parliament and soaking in the grandeur of the Fairmont Empress Hotel. But instead of just viewing the exterior, step inside its regal lobby. Chat up the kilted doorman with a friendly Canadian accent and he'll surely share stories from his decades welcoming dignitaries and celebrities. Snap a selfie with afternoon tea service rattling by on a silver cart before toasting your Victoria getaway with a craft cocktail in the wood-paneled Bengal Lounge.
When you've had your fill of Victoria's refined side, embrace the carefree vibe of Fisherman's Wharf. Make a beeline for the floating fish and chips bars bobbing along the docks as old fishing boats chug in and out. Grab piping-hot halibut fried to crispy perfection and chat with flannel-clad boat hands taking a load off after a long day at sea.
Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Hiking Ancient Rainforests on Vancouver Island
Trading busy cityscapes for the timeless tranquility of old growth forests, Vancouver Island's ancient groves offer the ultimate retreat into nature. Under a towering canopy draped in mood moss, it feels as if you've stepped into a fairytale as beams of light filter through the trees to reveal massive trunks and nurse logs carpeted in vibrant chartreuse. From easy walking trails to challenging summit treks, lace up your boots and step into Vancouver Island's ancient rainforests to experience their mystical allure.
For effortless immersion in old growth splendor, head to Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew. This awe-inspiring forest was named for its resemblance to the surreal world depicted in the movie Avatar. Meander over bridges and along boardwalks winding gently uphill under colossal trees adorned in emerald fern fronds and wispy lichen dangling like tinsel. Weave between moss-embossed trunks and gaze up at giants like the Canada Creek Giant, a breathtaking 73-meter Sitka spruce. Its sheer magnitude evokes a newfound respect for the passage of time and perseverance of nature.
Just up the road lies Big Lonely Doug, hailed as Canada's second largest Douglas fir tree. While its neighboring old growth trees were logged, Doug was spared thanks to the tireless efforts of conservancy groups. Standing solitary on this clear-cut hillside, Doug's stoic presence is a reminder of the irreplaceable grandeur of original forests. Pay your respects by picking up any garbage around its base and reflecting on what we stand to lose if logging continues.
For a more challenging trek through relatively untouched old growth, tackle the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail's China Beach to Sombrio Beach segment. Wander over moss-draped nurse logs as shafts of sunlight stream through the ancient canopy. Cross bubbling creeks bridged by a single fir trunk and weave through groves of Sitka spruce adorned in chartreuse lichen beards. Along the way, ephemeral waterfalls appear through the trees after rain, a fleeting glimpse of the forest's hidden wonders. Pitch a tent near Sombrio Beach to awaken to misty Pacific vistas as eagles circle above.
Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Rugged Beauty of the Sunshine Coast
Trading busy highways for forgotten byways, a day trip up British Columbia's Sunshine Coast serves up rustic seaside villages and tranquil landscapes. Located along the southern mainland coast, this winding coastal route feels worlds apart from Vancouver's urban pace. One glimpse of its rugged wilderness coastline and all thoughts of city life fade away.
Venture up the meandering seaside route of Highway 101 to discover charming communities like Gibsons, home port for the iconic Vancouver-based TV series The Beachcombers. Pop into the charming cafes, indie galleries, and laidback pubs that line Gibsons' harborfront boardwalk. Nearby Roberts Creek offers a bohemian vibe with log cabin coffee shops, yoga studios, and artisan galleries tucked along sleepy side streets.
Further up the coast, Sechelt's rugged oceanside setting inspires its thriving arts scene. Duck into local pottery studios and try your hand at the wheel, learning from seasoned ceramicists. Check out mindfulness workshops offered right on the beach, culminating in tranquil meditation against the rhythmic roar of waves. Don't miss grabbing fish tacos and a local craft beer on the deck at Sharky's Cantina, hailed for their seriously fresh seafood straight off the boat.
Beyond the villages, the Sunshine Coast's isolated parks and beaches summon your inner explorer. Walk among old growth giants in Cliff Gilker Park's Cathedral Grove, escaping into the mystical quiet of ancient forest. For breathtaking ocean vistas, make the steep trek up the Skookumchuck Narrows trail where water churns violently through the rocky channel below. Or stroll the sandy curve of Porpoise Bay as mighty cargo ships float silently by – it feels lightyears away from Vancouver's bustle.
Pack a picnic and make a day of visiting Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park's picturesque arc of sand dotted with rocky outcrops. Sunbathe on the beach under swaying pines or rent a kayak and paddle out to Ireland's Eye, watching for eagles and seals along the way. Let the hours melt away as you comb the beach for polished sea glass, meander along headlands blanketed in sagebrush, and inhale the restorative ocean air.
Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Relaxing Hot Springs Getaway
Trading frenetic energy for tranquil renewal, British Columbia’s healing hot springs offer the ultimate mind-body reset and a chance to soak up the province’s untamed natural beauty. Scattered throughout the wilderness just outside Vancouver, these steamy geothermal pools provide the ideal destination for washing your cares away. As stress and tension dissipate in the soothing mineral waters, you’ll return home feeling wholly renewed.
Make the pilgrimage to the sacred springs of Skookumchuck Hot Springs, located along the bumpy logging roads of the Cheakamus Valley. While reaching the springs requires navigating a tricky gravel road, the adventure getting there just enhances the payoff. As you soak in the steamy streamside tubs or wade into the warmer pools of the Harrison River, majestic mountains ripple across the horizon. Let the radiant heat penetrate weary muscles as the scent of cedar and fir mingles with the springs’ mineral essence. As one soaker raved, “I felt like I was in the ultimate natural hot tub!”
For stunning seaside views, visit Sechelt’s black rock-lined Sunshine Coast Hot Springs. Nestled hillside in a forest of tangled salal bushes, the serene pools offer panoramic vistas of Georgia Strait stretching off into the misty horizon. The saltwater soaks infuse skin with over a dozen nourishing minerals. “After a long week, my mind finally stopped racing once I slipped into the top pool’s perfectly hot water,” remarked one devoted visitor. The pools’ tiered layout lets you find the ideal temperature while faster-flowing sections provide a soothing aquatic massage.
Escape the City: 10 Epic Day Trips to Take from Vancouver - Adventures Up the Sea-to-Sky Highway
Trading congested highways for scenic byways, a day trip up British Columbia's thrilling Sea-to-Sky Highway serves up cliffside vistas, roaring river valleys, and alpine adventures. This iconic route from Vancouver to Whistler packs 100 kilometers of nonstop nature immersion. One jaw-dropping lookout after another beckons you to pull over and soak up the views. From family-friendly activities to heart-pumping excursions, the Sea-to-Sky corridor delivers an unforgettable dose of BC's adrenaline-fueled wilderness.
Just 45 minutes from Vancouver, stop at the Britannia Mine Museum to strike gold panning in antique troughs. This former copper mine provides a fascinating glimpse into British Columbia's rugged pioneering past. Take the multi-media underground tour to experience the claustrophobic tunnels where miners toiled. The Headframe Train then whisks you out of the gloomy mine for stunning aerial perspectives of the Coast Mountains.
Further north, pull off at Murrin Provincial Park to behold the breathtaking vista of the Stawamus Chief. This sheer 700-meter granite monolith towers over Howe Sound, beckoning rock climbers scaling its vertical cliffs. While pros tackle tough routes like Grand Wall and the Apron, families can scramble up easier paths to the first or second peak. After your pulse-quickening hike, take the gondola down for a well-earned beer tasting at Squamish's Britannia Brewing.
Next, feel the mist on your face standing before stunning Shannon Falls. At 335 meters, it's the third tallest waterfall in British Columbia. This thundering spectacle tumbles down a sheer rock cliff framed by vibrant green forests. For more adrenaline, join a rafting tour to navigate Class IV rapids on the Cheakamus River below. Hold on tight as your heart leaps out of your chest plunging down churning chutes with names like Deliverance.
Cap off your drive in Whistler by soaring between mountain peaks on the record-breaking Peak 2 Peak Gondola. Suspended 436 meters above the valley, the gondola's moving floor lets you stand right at the edge for thrilling cliffside views. Cross from Whistler to Blackcomb Mountain in just 11 minutes without skis or crampons! Once you reach the top, alpine hiking trails let you soak up 360-degree vistas of the Fitzsimmons Range's peaks rippling to the horizon.