The Best Weekend Trips From Vancouver

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We are very fortunate to be living in such a beautiful province like British Columbia. These past few months, Ash and I have been planning getaways close-by that don’t require long flights or endless hours on the road. 

The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.
G.K. Chesterton

Below you can find a list of our favourite getaways from Vancouver, starting with the more popular ones, before continuing with lesser visited places. 

We also provide unique things to do in each region, as well as our top place to eat and where to stay after a long day’s exploration.

Vancouver getaways Map

Victoria

Victoria Harbour

Victoria is British Columbia’s capital city. It is known as the ‘Garden City’, something which is evident from all the beautiful flowers found around the city. Victoria has kept much of its historic charm, with many heritage buildings still standing along the streets. 

One of the best ways to see Victoria is to cycle around, admiring the local sights. Ride along the harbour towards Beacon Hill Park; take in the ocean air; have lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf; or stop at one of the city’s many afternoon tea places.

Unique Things to Do in Victoria

The Royal British Columbia Museum
This is my favourite museum in BC and one worth a visit. Here, you can learn more about the province’s history, as well as about the indigenous peoples.

Have Afternoon Tea
In true Victorian style, afternoon tea is alive and well in the city. There are many places to enjoy this Victorian custom — but two of my favourite places are the Fairmont Empress and the Pendray Inn and Tea House.

Brunch - Breakfast
Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress

Visit Craigdarroch Castle
To call it a castle is a bit of a stretch but this historic building is still a sight to behold. The castle is a Victorian-era Scottish Baronial mansion that gives you a unique glimpse into 19th century life.

Where to Eat

10 Acres Bistro: A cosy, farm-to-fork place in central Victoria.

Where to Stay

The Magnolia Hotel & Spa: This is one of Canada’s best, luxury boutique hotels.

How to Get There

By ferry: It takes around 45 minutes to drive from Downtown Vancouver to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. Thereafter, it is a one-hour, 35-minute ferry ride to Swartz Bay, followed by a 30-minute drive to Downtown Victoria. Ferry check-in closes 30 minutes before departure.

TOTAL TIME: Three hours, 20 minutes.

V2V Vacations cruise
BC ferries

By seaplane: This is by far the quickest, easiest way to travel to Victoria. Seaplanes take off from Coal Harbour, Downtown Vancouver and arrive in Victoria Harbour some 35 minutes later. Seaplane check-in closes 30 minutes before departure.

TOTAL TIME: One hour, 5 minutes.

Tofino

Tofino is a surfer’s paradise and a favourite amongst Vancouverites. It’s one of those places where you can disconnect from everything and enjoy nature at its purest, while still having access to human comforts, such as luxury lodges and a thriving food scene. 

Apart from surfing, there are plenty of other things to do, such as whale watching, kayaking, canoeing, hiking and in winter, storm watching.

Unique Things to Do in Tofino

Storm Watching
In the winter season, Tofino is a great spot for storm watching. Because of the exposed coastline, the waves can roll in at up to 20 feet (in height).

Visit Hot Springs Cove
Take a boat or plane ride to Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, where you hike for some 30 minutes to the springs. 

Relax in the hot pools, which can get as hot as 50 degrees Celcius, and then cool down under the nearby waterfall.

Hike to a Crashed Airplane
Hike five kilometres through rainforest and bog to a Royal Canadian Air Force Canso 11007 that crashed here in 1945. 

The skeleton of the plane remains relatively intact, considering the crash and decades of souvenir hunters.

Tofino sunset beach

Where to Eat

The Pointe Restaurant: Located in one of Tofino’s best luxury lodges, The Pointe offers fine dining with sweeping ocean views.

Where to Stay

Pacific Sands Beach Resort: Located on one of the most popular surfers’ beaches, Pacific Sands offers private beach houses and hot tub suites, complete with ocean views.

How to Get There

By ferry: It takes around 25 minutes to drive from Downtown Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay. The ferry crossing from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo takes around one hour, 40 minutes, followed by another drive of two hours, 50 minutes in travel time. 

Don’t forget to visit Coombs Old Country Market to see the goats on the roof!

Ferry check-in time closes 30 minutes before departure.

TOTAL TIME: Five hours, 30 minutes.

By seaplane: Travel from Coal Harbour (Downtown Vancouver) and land one hour later in Tofino Harbour. Seaplane check-in closes 30 minutes before departure.

TOTAL TIME: One hour, 30 minutes.

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island Canada
Looking out over Ganges Harbour

Salt Spring Island is the largest of the Gulf Islands and lies situated between the mainland and Vancouver Island.

I would highly recommend exploring the island at a slow, relaxed pace. Driving from one end to the other takes around 45 minutes, so you have plenty of time to explore the many local businesses that you pass on the road. 

Ganges is the main town, which offers boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. It is a great starting point for your getaway. 

Sample exquisite cheeses at the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company; wander the lavender fields over at Sacred Mountain Lavender; or sample cider at Salt Spring Wild Cider.

Unique Things to Do on Salt Spring Island

Go on a Brewery-, Winery-, Cidery- or Cheese-Tour
You can find locally produced goats’ cheese, wine, cider and beer around the island. So why not go on a self-guided tour or even join a culinary tour to taste these local delicacies?

Wander through Fields of Lavender
From May until September, you can visit Sacred Mountain Lavender and wander around their lavender fields. Make sure to also visit their store, which has a wide selection of lavender products.

Where to Eat

Tree House Cafe: Tree House Cafe offers casual dining in central Ganges. A unique feature is the tree that grows in the middle of this cafe.

Rocksalt Restaurant & Cafe: Rocksalt offers local fare with 180-degree ocean view from the dining room.

Where to Stay

The Sanctuary: Here, you can experience Salt Spring from the treetops, as The Sanctuary offers treetop living. It is a unique, peaceful retreat.

How to Get There

By ferry: It takes around 45 minutes to drive from downtown Vancouver to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. The crossing to Long Harbour takes around one hour, 25 minutes, if you are taking the direct route. Ferry check-in closes 30 minutes before departure.

TOTAL TIME: Two hours, 40 minutes. 

By seaplane: The flight from Coal Harbour to Ganges takes around 35 minutes. Seaplane check-in closes 30 minutes before departure.

TOTAL TIME: One hour, 5 minutes.

Whistler

View on Whistler Mountain
View on Whistler Mountain

One of the most popular getaways for Vancouverites is a trip to Whistler. The village is a year-round tourist destination with excellent ski slopes for winter fun and mountain bike trails ideal for the summer months. 

You can enjoy epic mountain views from the top of both Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain. 

After a full day of activities in the mountains, Whistler offers plenty of après ski- and spa- experiences to wind down with.

Unique Things to do in Whistler

Hike the Train Wreck Trail
A short hike, crossing over a beautiful suspension bridge, takes you to the train wreck site. The train derailed in 1956 and a local logging company moved the boxcars further into the forest, where they remain to this day. Among the trees lie seven boxcars, decorated with colourful graffiti. 

Train Wreck Trail

Mountain Fondue
Snowmobile deep into the forest until you reach a remote cabin, where a feast for the taste buds awaits. Enjoy a unique dinner by candlelight.

Take a Ride on a Bobsleigh
Experience a part of Whistler’s 2010 Olympic Winter Games at the Whistler Sliding Centre. The centre is the only place in Canada where the public can ride bobsleigh and experience skeleton (racing head-first down an ice track on a tiny sled).

Snowmobiling Whistler
Snowmobiling in Whistler

Where to Eat

Rimrock Cafe: Rimrock is an upscale seafood restaurant with a rustic, yet intimate vibe.

Where to Stay

Nita Lake Lodge: Nita Lake Lodge is a boutique mountain resort hidden in a quiet area near Whistler.

How to Get to Whistler

It takes around one hour, 30 minutes by car.

Note: Winter tires are required from 1 October until 31 March.

Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh)

Forest in Squamish

Also known as the adventure capital of Canada, Squamish is an underrated town on the Sea to Sky Highway. Most people pass Squamish on the way to Whistler but it’s worth staying a little longer in this mountain community. 

For the adventurous souls among us, Squamish offers world-class hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and kiteboarding. If you’re looking for a more relaxed getaway, the Sea to Sky Gondola offers an easy trip up the mountain with stunning views over Howe Sound and Stawamus Chief. 

Unique Things to Do in Squamish

Go on a Brewery Tour
There are  three craft breweries, two cideries and one spirit distillery right in town.

Take a ride up the Sea to Sky Gondola
This is one of my favourite gondolas* in BC. Take a ride up to the summit while enjoying beautiful views over Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains. 

Sea To Sky Gondola
Sea To Sky Gondola

Once at the top, there are many trails and even a suspension bridge to enjoy.

*Disclaimer:
In the early hours of  14 September 2020, the main gondola cable was deliberately cut, sending cars crashing into the mountain. This is the second time vandals have cut the cable. 

In August 2019, the cable was cut for the first time, causing millions of dollars in damages and resulting in the gondola being suspended until February 2020. 

It’s heartbreaking to see this happening again, after all the efforts to rebuild such a beloved attraction in the Squamish area. Based on the damage done in 2019, I don’t expect the gondola to open again in 2020.

Eagle Watching in Brackendale

Eagle at Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park

Squamish is home to one of North America’s largest congregations of wintering bald eagles. 

Peak eagle viewing starts from mid-November and runs until mid-December. There are different eagle viewing tours available, from walking tours to horse riding tours and even float tours.

Where to Eat

Fergie’s Cafe: This cafe offers a menu designed around locally sourced ingredients. It is a charming, modern-style lodge with a large, picnic-type garden.

Where to Stay

Sunwolf Riverside Cabins: These rustic cabins are found right near where two rivers, the Cheakamus and Cheekye Rivers, converge.

Sunwolf Cabin in Squamish

How to Get to Squamish

Around one hour’s drive from Downtown Vancouver.

Note: Winter tires are required from 1 October until 31 March.

Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast view

The Sunshine Coast has it all: rugged coastlines, endless beaches, towering mountain peaks and a great culinary scene. 

You can decide to take it easy or fill your getaway with outdoor adventures. Base yourself in one of the many charming seaside towns and start exploring.

There are many places to go hiking, biking or kayaking or sit back and relax with a book on your private cabin patio.

Unique Things to Do on the Sunshine Coast

Visit Princess Louisa Inlet

Chatterbox Falls
Chatterbox Falls

Explore the six-kilometre-long fjord by boat and enjoy seeing as many as 60 waterfalls cascading down massive granite walls. 

At the head of the inlet, you come up close to Chatterbox Falls, a 40-metre-high waterfall. 

To view the stunning fjord from above, you can fly back by seaplane.

Watch the Tidal Rapids at Skookumchuck Narrows
Twice daily, you can marvel at the power of the ocean on display at Skookumchuck Narrows. 

Huge waves and whirlpools are created when the tide changes, creating a difference of nine feet between one side of the rapids and the other, while 200 billion gallons of water rush through the narrows.

Go on a Brewery Tour
The Sunshine Coast is home to some of BC’s most distinctive breweries. 

After a day filled with adventures, wind down with a craft beer at one of the popular breweries or buy a growler of your favourite beer and enjoy it back in your cabin.

Princess Louisa Inlet

Where to Eat

La Trattoria Italiana at Ruby Lake Resort: This eatery offers Northern Italian cuisine in a rustic setting, complete with a great view. Ingredients are locally sourced and most of the produce is grown right on the property.

Where to Stay

Backeddy Resort: Backeddy Resort offers unique accommodation in a remote part of the Sunshine Coast. Glamp it up in one of their geodesic domes or stay in an A-frame or waterfront cabin.

How to Get to the Sunshine Coast

The drive to Horseshoe Bay takes around 25 minutes. From there, you will take a 40-minute ferry ride to Langdale on the Sunshine Coast. Ferry check-in closes 30 minutes before departure.

TOTAL TIME:  One hour, 35 minutes.

E. C. Manning Provincial Park

backcountry snowshoeing EC Manning Park
Backcountry snowshoeing at E.C. Manning Park

E. C. Manning Provincial Park is an underrated gem located between Hope and Osoyoos. 

Touted as an all-year round destination, it offers excellent hiking trails in summer. It is also one of the few places in BC, outside of the Rocky Mountains, to see the golden larches during autumn. 

In winter, you can enjoy activities such as skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Stay in one of the cosy cabins at Manning Park Resort or choose one of the many campgrounds to pitch your tent.

Manning ski resort mountains
Manning mountains

Unique Things to Do in E. C. Manning Provincial Park

See the Golden Larches
Larches are the only coniferous, deciduous trees and their leaves turn golden-yellow around mid- to late-September. You can hike the Frosty Mountain Trail to see these stunning trees in autumn.

Stargazing
There’s very little light pollution in Manning Park, which makes it the ideal place for stargazing. Manning Park Resort organises several Dark Sky Events each year and you can even rent telescopes at the resort!

Where to Eat

Pinewoods Dining Room: The only place to grab something to eat is at Manning Park Resort. Pinewoods Dining Room offers classic dishes in a rustic setting. After dinner, head over to the Bear’s Den Pub for a nightcap.

Where to Stay

Manning Park Resort: The resort offers a variety of accommodation options, everything from luxury cabins to basic lodge rooms. There are also several campgrounds found around the park.

Manning Park Lodge
Manning Park Resort

How to Get to Manning Park

The drive from Vancouver takes around two hours, 15 minutes

Note: Winter tires are required from 1 October until 31 March.

Pemberton

Pemberton is a less visited, yet equally beautiful destination at the end of the Sea to Sky Highway. Known for its legendary music festival in July, it’s also a great place to visit in winter. There are plenty of adventures to be had here: from horse riding to white water rafting. 

For those seeking a more subdued getaway, Pemberton has a selection of homegrown breweries, a distillery and a number of u-pick farms to keep you busy all day.

Unique Things to Do in Pemberton

U-pick Farms
North Arm Farm is a family-owned, certified organic farm where you can pick strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and pumpkins. You can also find loads of farm produce and baked goodies at the on-site store and bakery.

Horse Riding
Pemberton offers the perfect backdrop for a scenic horse ride. There are many horse trails and guided tours for both beginner- and experienced-riders alike.

Fun fact: Pemberton has more horses per capita than any other area in British Columbia.

Joffre Lakes
At the end of a 30-minute drive from Pemberton, you will find one of the most popular, scenic hikes in BC: Joffre Lakes. 

On the hike, you pass three turquoise-coloured lakes, with views of a hanging glacier and towering mountains as a reward at the end of the hike.

Joffre Lakes Gray Jay
Gray Jays are everywhere around Joffre Lakes

Where to Eat

The Pony Restaurant: This is a local’s favourite that serves meals made using locally produced and ethically raised ingredients.

Where to Stay

Pemberton Valley Inn: This is a boutique-style inn with stunning mountain views.

How to Get to Pemberton

It takes around two hours to drive from Downtown Vancouver to Pemberton.

Note: Winter tires are required from 1 October until 31 March.

Agassiz

Bear Creek Waterfall

Located in the Eastern Fraser Valley, Agassiz is a well-kept secret. Surrounded by mountains, lakes and the mighty Fraser River, Agassiz offers something all year round, from skiing at Sasquatch Mountain Resort to fishing on Harrison River or the Fraser River. 

Go on a self-guided Circle Farm Tour, which allows you to visit several, unique agri-tourism destinations or explore the region’s history at Kilby Historic Site or Agassiz-Harrison Museum & Visitor Information Centre. 

For the more adventurous among us, the area also has two, world-class hang gliding jump-off points.

Unique Things to do in Agassiz

Kilby Historic Site
A once-thriving mill town, Kilby Historic Site features several buildings from the early 20th century. Costumed staff guide you through the past while you explore the five-acre site.

Circle Farm Tour
Circle Farm Tour is a road map of self-guided farm tours that take you through unique agri-tourism destinations in the Fraser Valley. It’s a great way to discover local produce, support businesses and take home unique products. Around Agassiz, you can find a lavender farm, an artisan cheese farm and hand-crafted pottery barn.

Where to Eat

The Broken Whisk: At The Broken Whisk, you can enjoy comfort food in a warm, inviting setting.

Where to Stay

Fraser River Lodge: Fraser River Lodge is a luxury lodge overlooking both the Fraser River and Mount Cheam. 

Fraser River Lodge

How to Get to Agassiz

It only takes one hour, 30 minutes to drive from Downtown Vancouver to Agassiz.

Comox Valley

Comox
Comox Harbour

Comox Valley is another great destination for the outdoor adventurer. 

With Vancouver Island’s only full service ski and summer resort at Mount Washington Alpine Resort; excellent scuba diving along the rugged shoreline; and outstanding mountain bike facilities, you won’t experience a dull moment during your visit. 

If you’re a foodie, you will find several farmers’ markets throughout the region, as well as several restaurants that focus on farm-to-table dining and wineries, distilleries and craft breweries.

Hiking Paradise Meadows at Mount Washington

Unique Things to do in Comox Valley

Kayaking around the Royston Shipwrecks
In the late 1930s, 14 ships were intentionally shipwrecked to create a breakwater, needed to calm the waters of Comox Harbour. 

Some of the ships were historic ships, such as the Riversdale and the Melanope, both of which were three-masted windjammers. 

Today, you can kayak around these rusting shipwrecks in what has since been declared a registered archaeological site.

Winery Tour
Even though Comox Valley is a fairly new wine region in BC, award-winning wineries are already making their mark here.

What better way to explore this new wine region than on a winery tour of Comox Valley’s four wineries?

Wine tasting in the Comox Valley

Where to Eat

Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa: This resort offers upscale dining with beautiful mountain- and ocean-views. 

Where to Stay

Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa: The resort offers an on-site spa, beautiful gardens and stunning views. Make sure to book one of their new ocean courtyard rooms.

How to Get to Comox Valley

By ferry: It takes around 25 minutes to drive from Downtown Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay. Ferry check-in time closes 30 minutes before departure. 

The ferry crossing from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo takes around one hour, 40 minutes, followed by another drive that is some one hour, 15 minutes in duration.

TOTAL TIME: Three hours, 50 minutes.

By seaplane: Travel from Coal Harbour (Downtown Vancouver) and land some 50 minutes later in Comox Harbour. Check-in closes 30 minutes before departure.

TOTAL TIME: One hour, 20 minutes.

Campbell River

Waterfall - Watercourse
Elk Falls in Campbell River

Known as the ‘Salmon Capital of the World’, Campbell River has an abundance of Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Pink and Chum salmon. 

Naturally, there are many salmon-focused adventures to be found here. These include viewing salmon from river floats and on snorkelling adventures; watching bears catch salmon; and touring salmon hatcheries. 

Apart from salmon-related experiences, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy here too. Scuba diving and kayaking are popular activities and both nearby Elk Falls Provincial Park and Strathcona Provincial Park offer many hiking trails and spectacular waterfalls to enjoy.

Unique Things to Do in Campbell River

Quinsam River Hatchery
The hatchery has been in operation since 1974 and today, it is one of Canada’s largest salmon-rearing facilities. 

The hatchery provides visitors with information about the salmon life cycle and conservation. 

Elk Falls Provincial Park
The park features many hiking trails, as well as an impressive waterfall with a 25-metre drop. This can be viewed from several viewpoints and a suspension bridge. 

Strathcona Provincial Park
As the oldest provincial park in BC and the largest on Vancouver Island, Strathcona Provincial Park is a must-visit local attraction. 

You can spend several days in this park, as you hike, chase waterfalls and enjoy lake activities.

Mount Scenery - Fjord
Strathcona Provincial Park

Where to Eat: 

Beach Fire Brewing and Nosh House: This eatery offers casual fare in a relaxed environment. All beers and food is made in-house.

Where to Stay: 

Painter’s Lodge Resort: This resort offers guests rustic rooms and cabins with views over Discovery Passage.

How to Get to Campbell River

By ferry: It takes around 25 minutes to drive from Downtown Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay. Ferry check-in time closes 30 minutes before departure. 

The ferry crossing from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo takes around one hour, 40 minutes and is followed by another drive of one hour, 35 minutes.

TOTAL TIME: Four hours, 10 minutes.

By seaplane: Travel from Coal Harbour (Downtown Vancouver) and land 50 minutes later in Comox Harbour. Check-in closes 30 minutes before departure. Drive for 40 minutes from Comox to reach Campbell River.

TOTAL TIME: Two hours.

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Lies

Lies

Hi! I'm a Belgian travel blogger currently living in Vancouver, Canada after living in the UK for 7 years. I have a keen interest in responsible travel, volunteering and archaeology and I'm always on the lookout for new adventures around the world!

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