Feeling confined in the city? Then, it might be time to get out and explore some surrounding areas! This article will highlight some of the most incredible day trips from Vancouver to add to your bucket list. Whether you’re seeking adventure, quirky destinations, and family-friendly activities, you’ll find one or two or more activities on this list worth trying! Side note: most activities sit within a couple of hours from Vancouver.
Get lost in a sea of adventures in Squamish! Less than an hour from Vancouver and nestled along the Sea to Sky Highway, this quirky town is morphing into a boomtown for adventure. People often stop here for some snacks on their way to Whistler, but Squamish is evolving into an ideal getaway for hikers, climbers, kayakers, and mountain bikers. Its proximity to Vancouver and soaring mountains flanking the town (such as Stawamus Chief) and location on Howe Sound puts Squamish as the ultimate place to escape to the hush of the mountains for a day.
For water adventures, head to Howe Sound for a soothing kayaking or paddle boarding excursion, where stunning teal fjords mesmerize. If you want to work your legs instead of your arms, you’ll find a 100.0 km network of singletrack trails in and around Squamish. The biking scene is popular here! For a family-friendly route, try out the Wonderland Trail or increase the intensity and technicalities along Entrails. Climbers will have a blast in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, where you can find great routes around “The Chief.”
But that’s not all! Lace-up your hiking boots and spend a few hours immersed in nature. One of the more famous hikes in Squamish also centres around “The Chief”: the Stawamus Chief Hike. This moderate route is 6.3 km and takes between 2.5-4 hours. Those wanting a challenging day hike will fall in love with the mystical views cloaking the 17.1 km Watersprite Lake Hike. It’s a little outside of Squamish, but the drive from Vancouver is totally worth it. You can find more amazing hikes in Squamish here!
When it comes to adventure, Squamish doesn’t take shortcuts! What better way to escape city horns and skyscrapers than to go to the mountains and experience the vibes of another town. After navigating mountainous paths, fuel up with some food at one of the restaurants dotting Squamish, such as The Salted Vine, Zephyr Cafe, or The Copper Coil Still & Grill.
How to Get to Squamish from Vancouver
Squamish is usually a one-stop-shop for adventurers escaping Vancouver and heading to Whistler. Situated along the Sea to Sky Highway, Squamish is around a one-hour drive from Vancouver and 45 minutes from Whistler. Most people drive their cars, but you can also take public transportation. Just head to Horseshoe Bay and take the BC Connector for $24. You can reach Horseshoe Bay by taking the Line 250 or Line 257 bus from Westbound W Georgia Street. This costs $3 and takes 40 minutes to get to Horseshoe Bay.
Squamish pacific ocean shoreline
Sea to Sky Gondola
Just outside of Squamish sits the famous Sea to Sky Gondola, which attracts crowds of tourists and visitors! But don’t let the label of “tourist attraction” stop you from coming here. It attracts people for a reason! The Sea to Sky Gondola is a family-friendly activity that has you sitting in gondola cabins and winding high above Howe Sound, Shannon Falls, and Squamish’s renowned Stawamus Chief.
Once you’re at the top, you can check out the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, go on a walking loop, or you can find some more intense adventures.
How to Get to the Sea to Sky Gondola from Vancouver
You’ll follow the same route to reach the Sea to Sky Gondola as you would to get to Squamish. The quirky adventure town is only a few minutes past the stop for the Sea to Sky Gondola. Hop in your car and drive along the Sea to Sky Highway or take the Squamish Connector shuttle. Watch the views cloaking the Sea to Sky Highway roll by as you relax on your round trip to and from Vancouver. The shuttle allows you to stay at the Sea to Sky Gondola for 4 hours and usually has you back by 4 pm. Round-trip transport costs $40.
Sea to Sky Gondola viewing deck
A day trip to Whistler from Vancouver is one of the most epic, rewarding options on this list! Whistler pleases all visitors with year-round activities, such as snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, hiking, biking (check out Whistler Mountain Bike Park), and more. This ski resort is renowned worldwide for its cozy accommodation, welcoming bars and restaurants, and enchanting scenery.
A trip to Whistler makes for the perfect family-friendly day trip, where all ages can dapple in activities that suit their size, fitness levels, and abilities. While most people flock here to ski or snowboard, you can also do other adventures. For example, experienced hikers will fall in love with the layers of mountain views on the 9.7 kmBlackcomb Meadows Hike or a bright blue lake on the 16.6 km Cheakamus Lake Hike. And those seeking an easy excursion (or families) will enjoy the breathtaking views on the 5.1 km Lost Lake Hike. At the same time, cross country skiers and snowshoers will get a chance to bask in nature’s wonder in the myriad of trails carving through Lost Lake Park.
How to Get to Whistler from Vancouver
To get to Whistler from Vancouver, you’ll continue driving for 45 minutes past Squamish! One public transport option includes Skylynx, an express bus that travels from Vancouver for just $20 one-way. Or you can look at Snowbus.com for a detailed schedule for all the different buses and routes going to and from Vancouver to Whistler.
Whistler Blackcombe skiing snowboarding
Discover a snowy paradise in Callaghan Valley, situated just 25-30 minutes away from Whistler. Pack your cross country skis or snowshoes and head to Whistler Olympic Park or Callaghan Country!
Whistler Olympic Park acted as the Nordic grounds for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, so you know the cross country skiing or snowshoeing here will be phenomenal! There are even dog-friendly trails here, so your pup can get some much-needed fresh air and exercise, too.
Callaghan Country offers a similar experience to Whistler Olympic Park! Both give you the chance to immerse in a snowy winter wonderland and get some exercise (with your pup, too). You can rent equipment at both locations if needed.
How to Get to Callaghan Valley from Vancouver
Callaghan Valley isn’t too far from Whistler. For some perspective: Callaghan Valley is 110.0 km from Vancouver, 14.0 km from Whistler Village, and 44.0 km from Squamish! Callaghan Country is the first access gate along Callaghan Valley Road, and Whistler Olympic Park is the second access gate.
Whistler Olympic Park in Callaghan Valley
Not in the mood to drive to Whistler to get your skiing or snowboarding fix? No problem. Cypress Mountain is only a 50-minute drive from Vancouver. This is a great ski hill for more experienced riders and skiers, especially compared to the other resorts near Vancouver (Mount Seymour Resort and Grouse Mountain). You can also go cross country skiing, snowshoeing, or tubing here!
It only takes 30 minutes to drive from Vancouver to Cypress Mountain! No vehicle? No problem. Take the bus or Skytrain to Waterfront Station, where you’ll take the Seabus to the Cypress Mountain Express Bus at Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver! A round trip costs $25.
Cypress Mountain ski resort lodge
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Enjoy the fresh smells swirling around the rainforest and catch glimpses of the culture of the First Nations People. Walking around the network of trails spanning Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a great way to get outside and discover more about Indigenous peoples. Head to the First Nations Cultural Center to gain some knowledge and walk to the stunning suspension bridge, snapping a montage of photos en route.
How to Get to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park from Vancouver
You don’t have to set aside much time to travel to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park as it’s only 15 minutes from Vancouver. People without a car can take the free shuttle from select locations or hop on the SeaBus and go to Lonsdale Quay. And here, you’ll take the #236 bus!
Capilano suspension bridge
Just 25.0 km northwest of Vancouver sits the chilled-out, relaxing Bowen Island. It doesn’t take too much effort to get away from it all and reach this island. Despite its small size, which spans just 6.0 km in width and 12.0 km in length, Bowen Island is jam-packed with outdoor ventures: kayaking, hiking, boating, and mountain biking. Or, you can laze on the beach, soaking in the natural scenery and sounds of the ocean. People tend to flock to Tunstall Beach, Sandy Beach, or Bowen Bay. And some popular hiking routes are the 9.0 km Killarney Lake Trail or the 17.0 km Mount Gardner.
How to Get to Bowen Island from Vancouver
To get here, just hop on a ferry at Horseshoe Bay, travel for 20 minutes (or take a water taxi from Granville Island), and boom: you are away from city sounds. You can reach Horseshoe Bay from Downtown Vancouver by taking either the 250 Horseshoe Bay and 257 Horseshoe Bay Express bus. Check TransLink for the schedule.
Bowen Island off pacific coast of vancouver
Harrison Hot Springs
Go for a therapeutic dip in the mineral-pumped hot springs in the charming village of Harrison Hot Springs. But you don’t even need to spend all your time at the hot springs (your body may overheat…), get out and meander the nearby Sasquatch Provincial Park or stroll around the marina.
How to Get to Harrison Hot Springs from Vancouver
Follow the Trans-Canada Highway to reach Harrison Hot Springs! Expect to drive for around 1 hour and 45 minutes by car from Vancouver. You’ll also find public transport options from Waterfront Station but be warned that this option may take you just under 4 hours.
View from Harrison hot springs sailboats on Pacific ocean
Suppose you’re stopping by Vancouver and don’t have time to spend a few days on Vancouver Island. In that case, we highly recommend taking the Vancouver (Tsawwassen) to Victoria (Swartz Bay) ferry route to Victoria. It takes 1 hour and 35 minutes to traverse the ocean, but it’s worth the journey and the hassle of getting to the ferry. Victoria’s attractive Victorian-era architecture fused with sea-salted air makes for an epic day getaway. Some great activities you can do are walking along the Inner Harbour, checking out the Parliament Buildings, shopping at Market Square, and more.
How to Get to Victoria from Vancouver
Head to the Tsawwassen terminal, located 36.0 km from downtown Vancouver, and then take the ferry to Swartz Bay in Victoria. Get off from there and take a bus (or another form of transportation) to downtown Victoria. It takes just over 30.0 km to get there. This entire journey can take around 2.5-3 hours, which might be a bit much for a day trip from Vancouver, but it’s worth the time! You can always look into staying overnight if you need to!
The Sunshine Coast may not be the sunniest in the world, but it exudes sunny vibes (and if we have to say sunny enough times in one sentence, maybe you’ll believe us when we say: it’s worth the day trip). A day trip here would likely include exploring either Langdale or Hopkins Landing. Soak in scenic West Coast views from Hopkins Landing, where a beach, vistas of the North Shore mountains, and kayaking and swimming will keep you entertained.
How to Get to Sunshine Coast from Vancouver
Although Sunshine Coast is located on the mainland, you can’t reach this area by car! You can only get there via water, which adds to the adventure, doesn’t it? You can take the Langdale Ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Sunshine Coast. There’s a new ferry departing here every 2 hours, and it takes around 40 minutes to travel by water.
Sunshine coast dock and ferry
Pack a picnic lunch and get ready to fall in love with the roaring Bridal Veil Falls, backed by dreamy forest scenery. Spend some time relishing in this natural wonder in summer or winter! In winter, the falls freeze, providing the perfect image of a snowy wonderland.
How to Get to Bridal Falls from Vancouver
Hop in your car and travel east along the Trans-Canada Highway to reach Bridal Veil Provincial Park. Expect to drive for 1.5 hours. It’s best to drive here!
Garibaldi Provincial Park
Garibaldi Provincial Park is where staggering scenery, bright blue mountain-tucked lakes, and soaring peaks embroider the rugged wild with surreal beauty. Those craving hours and hours below a canopy of trees will get what they want in Garibaldi Provincial Park. You’ll find a lot of long but incredible day hikes here, including the super challenging 26.1 km Black Tusk Hike (near Whistler). You can turn this hike into a short backpacking trip! Other day hike options are the 15.6 km Wedgemount Lake Hike or the 10.7 km High Note Trail Hike.
Turn your day trip into a 2-night wilderness exploration and try out the Panorama Ridge Hike, which may be one of Canada's most unreal hikes. You can spend a night at Taylor Meadows. Be sure to book before you go. Some people dare to attempt this 30.9 km hike in a day—talk about a rewarding endeavour!
How to Get to Garibaldi Provincial Park from Vancouver
The Black Tusk/Garibaldi Lake entrance sits almost smack-dab between Squamish and Whistler. If you don’t have a car, you can always look into public transport. Parkbus is a great public transport option!
Garibaldi Provincial Park Lake in winter
Lighthouse Park is the epitome of a postcard-painted spot. Admire the lighthouse overlooking waves crashing rocks and visitors exploring the area. Try to time a trip here during sunset when the purple sky contrasts perfectly with the white and red lighthouse! It’s an excellent place for a romantic picnic or a family trip outside of the city.
How to Get to Lighthouse Park from Vancouver
Lighthouse Park is around 35 minutes from Vancouver. For public transportation, take bus #250, and you’ll get dropped off along Marine Drive, and you’ll have to walk a super short distance to the entrance.
Lighthouse Park on the Pacific coast Vancouver
Adventurous locals flock from Vancouver to Grouse Mountain for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing adventures, as well as for the Grouse Grind, a challenging hike that spikes in 853 m elevation over just 2.9 km. Grouse Grind is nature’s answer to the Stairmaster—if you choose the hiking route. Or, you can watch people struggle below as you ride up the mountain on the gondola!
How to Get to Grouse Mountain from Vancouver
Grouse Mountain is only 22 minutes from Vancouver by car. For public transportation, take the SeaBus to Lonsdale Quay before hopping on the #236 bus, which winds to Grouse Mountain. Expect to arrive at Grouse Mountain just 25 minutes after getting on the bus at Lonsdale Quay.
Grouse Mountain gondola
You don’t have to travel far to reach a throng of hikes carved into the mountains in Vancouver’s North Shore. While we’ve talked about two mountains on this list already—Grouse and Cypress— and some other locations and parks—Lighthouse Park, Horseshoe Bay, Capilano Suspension Bridge, we also want to give North Shore a section on this list. The massive area boasts of a compilation of epic, bucket-list-worthy hikes spanning the area.
The 30.1 km Howe Sound Crest Trail is a legendary trail tailored for experienced hikers seeking phenomenal views. You can turn this long, challenging adventure into a 2-day trip by staying at one of the many backcountry camping options: Plateau above Enchantment Lake, Magnesia Meadows, Brunswick Lake, or Deeks Lake.
A more moderate hiking route may look like the 14km Norvan Falls (391 m elevation gain) in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park or the popular, local-favourite 4.9 km Dog Mountain Hike in Mount Seymour Provincial Park.
How to Get to the North Shore from Vancouver
The North Shore covers a large area and includes various jagged peaks and provincial parks, such as Cypress Provincial Park, Grouse Mountain, Seymour Provincial Park, Mount Seymour, Cypress Mountain, Horseshoe Bay, Lighthouse Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge. Therefore, it’s best to look into directions for these specific places before you go. If you want to reach Howe Sound Crest Trail, you’ll head towards Cypress Mountain Ski Area. For Norvan Falls, you’ll drive along Lillooet Rd, and for Dog Mountain, you’ll follow Mount Seymour Road until you reach the ski hill area. Thankfully, we’ve attached directions on how to get to all of the North Shore hikes listed on our website!
Vancouvers North Shore sunset
Wine Tasting in Langley
Let your taste buds explore a range of wine! Langley is home to various vineyards, such as Backyard Vineyards, Chaberton Estate, and more. This may not be a super adventurous activity, but it’s a great way to pass the time when you want to escape the city, admire lovely views, and you aren’t in the mood for a heart-pumping exercise.
How to Get to Langley from Vancouver
It takes around an hour to reach Langley by car! You can also find several buses leaving from the Waterfront Station. On average, a ride to Langley via public transport amounts to around 1.5 hours. Backyard Vineyards is 12 minutes from Langley City by car, and Chaberton Estate Winery is around 15 minutes from Langley City.
Langley Wine Tasting vineyard grapes
Explore the soaring fjords jetting high around Howe Sound via boat! You can rent a boat from Sewell’s Marina and cruise to secret gems sprawled around Howe Sound. The best part is that you don’t need a boat license—you can use your driver’s license instead. It’s also not too expensive to rent one. To rent a boat (big enough for five adults) for four hours, it costs $312, adding up to $62.4 per person!
Howe Sound rocky pacific shoreline
How to Get to Howe Sound from Vancouver
By car, it takes just over 30 minutes from Vancouver to reach Howe Sound. And around 25 minutes to get to Sewell’s Marina! Head to Waterfront Station for public transport options. You’ll probably travel for about an hour by bus to get to Sewell’s Marina.
While Vancouver is a hustling and bustling city with a range of activities and things to do, it’s always fun to change the scenery and explore new places and try new adventures! If you’re looking for fantastic hikes to do around the city (which make for great day trips), check out our article on the 24 Greatest Hikes Around Vancouver!
Fort Langley National Historic Site
Travel back a couple of centuries when you visit the Fort Langley National Historic Site. This Hudson Bay Company fur trade post came into fruition in 1827. Back in the 1800s, this post attracted a lot of foot traffic, thanks to the Fraser River gold rush and the fur traders. Nowadays, interpreters recreate the 1800s, giving visitors a real feel for what it felt like to come to the Fort Langley National Historic Site a couple of hundred years ago. This is a great family-friendly day trip from Vancouver.
How to Get to the Fort Langley National Historic Site
To get to the Fort Langley National Historic Site from Vancouver, take Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 E before taking exit 61 for 216 street. Stay on 216 street and then take a right onto 88 Ave, which becomes Hudson Bay Street. Then, go right on Royal Street, followed by a slight right onto Fort-to-Fort Trail/Mavis Ave.
Which day trip from Vancouver do you want to try first?