Eternally peaceful and equally beautiful, British Columbia is home to some of Canada’s most stunning natural attractions, favored by many for its superb alpine conditions and ski destination.
Many of these are easily accessible from Vancouver, making them ideal bases for day trips to the mountains or pristine coastline, where you’ll find endless islands and archipelagos to explore.
From hot springs to quaint small towns and towering mountain views, the area around Vancouver is so diverse that traveling in both winter and summer is a joy.
Now let’s take a look at the best day trips from Vancouver:
The journey to the world famous ski resort is actually one of the highlights of the trip as it takes you along the Sea to Sky Highway, a stretch of alpine road with some of the most stunning views in the world, full of pines and stunning Ice blue lake.
After passing through the beautiful Howe Fjord, you’ll arrive at the world-famous ski resort town of Whistler, enticing visitors to stay for months at a time, let alone a day.
But if you do spend the day here, winter is the best time to go skiing, as snow is ideal and the town is full of energy and skiers from all over the world.
In summer, Whistler is a great place to explore, with hiking, mountain biking, dining and golf all available.
2. Vancouver Coast
Just 30 minutes from the city, you’ll find Vancouver’s wonderfully pristine coastline, where there are so many different places to discover and explore.
Known as one of the best-preserved coasts in the country, you’ll find quaint beach towns like Deep Bay, nestled among beautiful pine forests and stunning beaches.
Along the coast, you can find places where you can indulge in hiking, kayaking, sailing or just relaxing on the beach.
You can take a picturesque ferry ride from Vancouver to Victoria, the capital of the province, in less than two hours, and it feels like a world away.
The charming waterside city is ideal for a walking tour, soaking up the sights and sounds of the Inner Harbor, famous for its street performers, or marveling at the city’s parliament building.
If you want to know more about the capital, you can’t miss the Royal British Columbia Museum, one of the most impressive and fascinating museums in the country.
4. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Combining breathtaking rainforest scenery with a rare insight into Aboriginal culture, a day trip to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is the ideal destination for keen hikers or culture lovers who want to learn about Aboriginal people.
There are some beautiful forest trails and river walks, and endless photo opportunities before reaching the impressive suspension bridge.
The Aboriginal Cultural Centre is a source of knowledge about their history, and you will also have the opportunity to visit the world’s largest collection of totems in a forest.
5. Harrison Hot Springs
Less than two hours from Vancouver, you’ll find the peaceful Harrison Springs Village built on the shores of beautiful Harrison Lake.
Very popular with health lovers and intrepid travelers, the hot springs here are among the most mineral-rich in the world due to their heat and exceptionally high sulphur concentration.
If you don’t want to spend the whole day here, you can also explore the picturesque marina, attend an arts festival or take a stroll in Sasquatch Provincial Park.
6. Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park
While it’s a bit of a trek through some rugged country, for lovers of majestic nature, the 90-mile drive from Vancouver to Stan Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park is nothing short of breathtaking.
Comprising more than 250,000 acres of undisturbed watersheds in British Columbia, the park features a variety of natural and historical attractions along the Stein River.
The park has few amenities, so those planning a hike or a night or two at the country wilderness campground will have to bring all the food and gear they need.
Highlights include stunning mountain views, archaeological sites and the many hieroglyphs created by the Nlaka’pamux people generations ago.
7. Visit Abbotsford
With its relative proximity, abundance of activity options and all-around charm, there is no better day trip destination than Abbotsford.
Although Abbotsford is British Columbia’s fifth largest city, it has a distinctly small-town feel compared to its big-city cousins to the west.
Fishing is one of the town’s most popular outdoor recreational activities. Its rivers and streams are filled with hearty game fish such as trout, salmon and giant sturgeon.
There’s also an amusement park nearby, popular with traveling families, and a popular flea market that’s been a signature weekly social event for over four decades.
Less than an hour from Vancouver, but an out-of-this-world place in terms of atmosphere, Squamish is a town on the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, but sometimes overlooked as a place to spend place for a day.
However, its idyllic location on Howe Sound at the foot of breathtaking mountains makes it a must-see in Vancouver.
Popular with rock climbers who like to climb spectacular rock faces and other adrenaline junkies who enjoy biking and hiking routes, Squamish is a very convenient trip that can be enjoyed for hours of fun.
9. Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring is a very homey island full of farms, homesteads, and even many artist studios that have moved to green and hilly havens.
It’s really a great escape from Vancouver’s city life on a sunny day, and you can get there by taking a direct ferry from Tsawwassen.
Activities on Salt Spring Island include tasting local produce at the family farm, visiting walk-in art studios and seeing the work of some of the artists.
If you miss some urban comforts, head to the main Ganges towns where you can explore seaside neighborhoods and visit the shops, restaurants and galleries there.
10. Mount Baker, Washington
A mountain visible from Vancouver itself, Mount Baker isn’t always the first on a day trip plan – but if you’re looking for incredible mountain views, it’s just over two hours away and it’s It is one of the most worthwhile places to visit.
With a lot of snow here, offering hiking in the summer and some world-class skiing in the winter, Mount Baker has something for everyone.
One of the highlights is in late summer, when the wildflowers are in full bloom, for a few weeks, so beautiful.
11. Fort Langley
Popular with families thanks to gold rushes and reenactments of the 1800s, Fort Langley is a historic former fur trading post just an hour from Vancouver.
A true gold rush outpost, as you stroll around the old fort, which is open year-round, you may be immersed in the wild tales of British Columbia’s first colonies.
12. Bridal Falls
Less than two hours from Vancouver, you’ll find the town of Bridal Falls perfect for travelers looking to explore the base of the famous Bridal Veil Falls.
The 60m-high waterfall is a great spot for a summer picnic and is beloved by locals and travelers alike for its peaceful setting tucked away in the forest.
The highlight, however, is in winter, when temperatures plummet and the waterfall itself freezes, creating an icy dreamscape that attracts as many fascinated tourists as it does in summer.
13. British Mining Museum
An ideal day trip for those wishing to learn more about British Columbia’s rich, industrious past, the Britannia Mining Museum is a fascinating insight into the 19th century gold rush and more.
In addition to this, the building itself has long been an unmissable landmark on the Haitian Highway, with twenty stories towering over the surrounding pine forest.
From the former Britannia Mine location, you can do anything from take a guided underground tour, to panning for gold, or visit some original equipment from the 20th century.
14. Hell’s Gate Sky Train
Drive to Hell’s Gate, about 2 hours from Vancouver, one of the most impressive sights in the area.
The iconic Fraser River narrows to a point where the water is forced through a small rocky section and the resulting turbulent white water flow is indeed a sight to behold.
Bringing you even closer to the action is the Hell’s Gate Aerial Tramway, where between spring and fall, visitors will take an eerie ride straight over the churning waters and safely to the other side.
With a gift shop, restaurant and information center, Hell’s Gate is a great day out for families looking to see something a little different and watch it in an exciting way.
15. Lighthouse Park
Conveniently located in a residential area just 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver, Lighthouse Park is a picturesque attraction at the base of a classically designed lighthouse overlooking the water.
Popular with couples due to its romantic setting, it’s the perfect spot for a picnic at sunset, and it’s close enough to town that you don’t need to rush back.
For those looking to do something more active, there are also many hiking trails in the area, as well as some rock climbing spots.
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