Vancouver is a wonderful city to live in, filled with amazing things to see and do. But there may be times when you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and enjoy some new surroundings. A short trip from Vancouver is just what the doctor ordered.
Fortunately, Vancouver is in a prime spot for day trips and weekend getaways. No matter whether you want a romantic weekend somewhere quiet, a ski trip, an island escape, or something totally different, here are some of the top short trips to take from Vancouver.
It’s impossible to talk about the best short trips from Vancouver without mentioning Whistler. Less than two hours away, this is one of the closest and most convenient places for your next excursion. All you have to do is follow Highway 99 north out of the city for a little over 70 miles.
So, what can you do here? Whistler is well-known as one of Canada’s premier winter sports destinations. Host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, it’s perfect for skiing with a range of routes and trails to explore. There are also gondola rides to enjoy that offer breathtaking views of the mountains.
Even when it’s not ski season, Whistler is still a great place to go. There are plenty of lakes, meadows, and hiking trails to enjoy, as well as Whistler Mountain Bike Park, which is perfect for cycling fanatics. For the water lovers, there are plenty of kayak and canoe trips to try.
In terms of cost, expect to pay close to $450 for a typical day trip here. You may be able to save some money by travelling during the less crowded times of year. And don’t forget to compare travel insurance plans to protect you when skiing, riding bikes, or engaging in other intense activities during your time in Whistler.
Estimated cost of a day trip to Whistler from Vancouver for 2: $450
|Two round-trip tickets on the Whistler Shuttle Box||$40|
|Meal for two at Rimrock Cafe in Whistler||$150|
|Canoe trip for two with Canadian Wilderness Adventures||$260|
Interested in seeing a different kind of city life? If so, one of the best short trips from Vancouver is a journey over the border into Seattle. It only takes about three hours in total to get to Washington state’s biggest city, and there will be plenty of fun things to enjoy once you arrive.
Seattle is a beautiful and pleasant city for a day trip, filled with boutiques, bars, restaurants, and green spaces. First-time visitors will most likely want to snap a few photos of the city’s iconic Space Needle, a relic left over from the 1962 World’s Fair. You may also pay a visit to other must-see landmarks like the Museum of Pop Culture or Chihuly Garden.
You could also take a trip around Pike Place Market to try some of Seattle’s famous seafood, or visit one of the city’s music hotspots or bars. Seattle is also a great place to shop, with a mixture of department stores and independent boutiques offering something for everyone. Make sure you’ve got the best travel credit card to buy yourself some souvenirs before you leave.
In terms of costs, this is potentially one of the cheaper trips from Vancouver available, as there are flights, buses, and trains that can take you to Seattle for as little as $100. If you choose to spend a night or two in the city and dine out, you could spend significantly more on your stay, depending on the accommodation you choose.
Estimated cost of a short trip to Seattle from Vancouver for 2: $500
|Amtrak train tickets for two||$130|
|One night at The Baroness Hotel||$170|
|Chef-guided tour of Pike Place Market||$140|
|Meal at Cafe Munir||$60|
Looking for something a little closer to Vancouver? Perhaps you’re planning a day trip and don’t want to drive too far, or maybe you want to take a short trip from Vancouver without even necessarily needing your own car. If so, you can plan a trip to Bowen Island, less than half an hour away from downtown Vancouver.
It’s easy to get to Bowen Island on a 20-minute ferry journey from Horseshoe Bay. The spot is the perfect escape from the noise and crowds of the big city. It’s an idyllic island paradise, allowing guests to feel at peace and connected to nature throughout their stay.
There are a surprising amount of things to do on the island. You can take a tour of one of the island’s natural spaces like the Bowen Island Ecological Reserve or Apodaca Provincial Park to watch for wildlife or hike the trails. Or, for something more relaxing, plan a stay at one of the island’s wonderful yoga retreats.
So, how much will this all cost? It depends on how long you stay and what you do, but you can plan a day trip to Bowen Island for as little as $115.
Estimated cost of a day trip to Bowen Island from Vancouver for 2: $115
|Two ferry tickets||$55|
|Meal at Doc Morgan’s||$60|
Squamish is one of the most beautiful destinations to consider for your next short trip from Vancouver, and it’s not too far away from the city. Located to the north of Vancouver, Squamish is only about an hour’s drive away, making it possible to complete the visit in one day, or you can plan a weekend getaway.
One of the best things about Squamish is that it blends the amenities and conveniences of a town with the stunning scenic beauty of nature. Surrounded by mountains and fabulous views, this is a great place for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers, with a variety of hiking trails and mountain climbing routes.
The town itself also has some fun attractions, such as the Britannia Mine Museum, along with great boutiques and some super coffee shops. Plus, one of Squamish’s most iconic landmarks is the Sea to Sky Gondola, which gives you the chance to enjoy the awe-inspiring sights around you. The gondola offers jaw-dropping views of Shannon Falls as it lifts you up into the mountains.
When it comes to cost, you can enjoy an inexpensive day trip to Squamish for a day trip if you drive. You can enjoy most of the city’s sights for free, making this a great option for budget-conscious travellers. Or, you can enjoy some of the city’s attractions and gourmet restaurants for some extra cash.
Estimated cost of a day trip to Squamish from Vancouver for 2: $335
|Drive from Vancouver||$15 in gas|
|Two tickets on the gondola||$120|
|Dinner at The Salted Vine||$100|
Harrison Hot Springs
Next up on our list is Harrison Hot Springs. This is a small village located on the southern banks of Harrison Lake in British Columbia, about two hours form Vancouver by car.
As the name implies, Harrison is famous for its natural hot springs, which are open and accessible to the public. You can soak away your troubles in soothing, warm water and enjoy the peace and quiet of the small town.
The area also offers plenty of spa services to help visitors relax, including manicures, pedicures, massages, and more. But if you’re looking for something a little more exciting, there are also some great kayaking and parasailing opportunities in the area.
In terms of cost, expect to spend at least $850 on a short stay in the area. Costs can quickly add up if you enjoy the resort’s fine dining and spa services.
Estimated cost of a two-night stay in Harrison Hot Springs from Vancouver for 2: $850
|Train from Vancouver||$100|
|Two nights at Harrison Hot Springs Resort||$550|
|Dining at the Lakeside Cafe for two days||$200|
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If you’re willing to venture a little further away on your short trip from Vancouver, you might like to consider a ride out to Osoyoos, a picturesque town situated in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. It can take four to five hours to get there, but it’s worth the drive.
Osoyoos is a stunning place, perfect for romantic weekend getaways and trips for two. It offers unique scenery and fascinating geography that you can’t really find anywhere else in Canada, including deserts, vineyards, mountains, and the cool, crisp waters of Osoyoos Lake.
The area has some stunning resorts as well, which can make Osoyoos a pricey place to visit. Many of the resorts offer luxurious accommodations and sublime spa services, along with fine dining. Plus, while in the area, you can book tours and tastings at local wineries or enjoy other activities such as golf or kayaking on the lake.
While this trip could be quite expensive if you stay at one of the luxury resorts, there are some more affordable options. There are plenty of motels in the area and you can have fun renting kayaks on the lake and enjoying local food.
Estimated cost of a one-night trip to Osoyoos from Vancouver for 2: $310
|Bus from Vancouver||$160|
|One-night stay at Sahara Courtyard Inn||$100|
|Kayak rentals at Osoyoos Lake||$50|
There’s no shortage of beautiful places to visit on short trips from Vancouver, and the Sunshine Coast, or its full name the Sunshine Coast Regional District, is one of the best. The coastal area is located just a couple of hours away via the ferry from Horseshoe Bay.
One of the most stunning locations in all of British Columbia, the Sunshine Coast covers close to 1,500 square miles of land. The Coast Mountains make up a large part of the region, and there are some lovely parks to explore, including Mount Richardson Provincial Park and Tetrahedron Provincial Park.
Visitors can hike along a variety of trails, including the 112-mile Sunshine Coast Trail. You can also relax on beaches such as Palm Beach or Bonniebrook. Kayaking and paddleboarding are popular in this part of Canada, as well as bookable boat tours. For food, the area has some prime seafood restaurants worth exploring.
The price you pay will depend on what kind of accommodation you choose. There are some relatively budget-friendly hotels in the area, as well as more expensive vacation rentals.
Estimated cost of a day trip to Sunshine Coast from Vancouver for 2: $400
|Ferry to Langdale for two||$100|
|Boat tour for two with Sunshine Coast Tours||$300|
If you like the idea of a beach getaway as your next short trip from Vancouver, you could also consider a trip to the town of Sooke. Situated on the southern end of Vancouver Island and only a short drive out of Victoria, Sooke is located roughly three to four hours away from Vancouver. You can also take a ferry from the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal.
Known as the place where the rainforest meets the sea, Sooke is a genuine haven for those who love nature and want nothing more than peace, quiet, and gorgeous surroundings. There’s so much to do here you might want to book an extra night or two, just to make the most of it all.
Visitors can explore local beaches like Gordon’s Beach and Sombrio Beach for swimming or surfing, hike the trails of the East Sooke Regional Park, snap stunning photos along the East Sooke Coast Trail, or take a fishing trip and try to reel in your very own salmon. There are even whale-watching tours in the area.
This may be one of the more expensive short trips from Vancouver due to the cost of travel, accommodation, and activities. A typical trip that includes a hotel stay, food, and some activities will cost around $500. However, it’s possible to save money by planning your own hikes and avoiding paid tours.
Estimated cost of a one-night trip to Sooke from Vancouver for 2: $520
|Bus and ferry from Vancouver||$90|
|Half-day hiking tour with Mystic Beach Adventures||$160|
|Meal at Route 14||$50|
|One-night stay at Prestige Oceanfront Sooke||$220|
Salt Spring Island
The Gulf Islands are a special part of Canada, situated in the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the mainland. All kinds of wildlife can be found here as well as some charming small towns. If you’re looking for an island that blends nature and man-made fun, head to Salt Spring Island, just two to three hours from Vancouver by ferry.
One of the best things about Salt Spring Island is its main town of Ganges. Despite being quite a quiet place, there are many things to see and do. Ganges boasts a variety of nice independent shops, some wonderful art galleries, and great places to eat.
Art is a big part of the local culture. Visitors can take self-guided tours of the town’s galleries or try their hand at pottery. If you’re looking for something a little different, the island has its own brewery and vineyard, both of which offer tastings and tours.
The cost of the trip will vary depending on your itinerary. You can fly to Salt Spring Island, or you can take a ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay and then another ferry to the island. Once there, you can enjoy a free walk or drive around, or you can pay for food, souvenirs, and activities, depending on your budget.
Estimated cost of a day trip to Salt Spring Island from Vancouver for 2: $130
|Ferry from Vancouver||$90|
|Wine-tasting at Salt Spring Vineyards||$10|
|Snack at Salt Spring Coffee||$30|
As well as islands, beaches, and natural landscapes, there are also several cities you can visit for quick trips from Vancouver, including Victoria. Situated about 70 miles away, Victoria is accessible from Vancouver within three hours, courtesy of the ferry from Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal.
The capital of British Columbia, Victoria is situated on the southern end of Vancouver Island. Victoria is filled with gardens, parks, and amazing architecture, as well as all of the usual amenities and attractions one would expect from a major urban area.
Some of the best things to do here include visiting the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, Craigdarroch Castle, and Christ Church Cathedral. Victoria is also a hub of culture and live entertainment, with lots of fun festivals throughout the year, so it’s worth taking a look at the events calendar to plan your trip.
Thanks to the abundance of affordable accommodation around Victoria, it’s possible to have a short stay in the city on a budget. Or you can arrange a fun-filled day trip for under $200.
Estimated cost of a day trip to Victoria from Vancouver for 2: $190
|Bus and ferry to Victoria||$120|
|Tickets to Royal BC Museum||$10|
|Meal at Pagliacci’s||$60|
Next, let’s look at another possible short trip from Vancouver that takes us over the border and into the U.S. This trip takes you to the charming island town of Friday Harbor, situated on San Juan Island in Washington state. It takes three to four hours to get here from Vancouver.
An ideal place to base yourself for exploring the surrounding San Juan Islands archipelago, Friday Harbor is a truly one-of-a-kind place, appealing to both couples in need of a romantic weekend getaway and families looking for something a little different.
You can take a walk around the harbor and watch the boats sailing in and out, or visit some of the town’s landmarks, such as the San Juan County Historical Museum or Palace Theatre. Lime Kiln State Park is also a great place to explore nearby, home to orcas and birds.
Estimated cost of a day trip to Friday Harbor from Vancouver for 2: $275
|Drive from Vancouver||$25 in gas|
|One night at The Orca Inn||$170|
|Dinner at Cask & Schooner||$80|
North Cascades National Park
If you feel in need of a break from the big city and want to submerge yourself in nature, head to North Cascades National Park in Washington state. It’s less than three hours away from Vancouver via Highway 99, and it’s one of the most picturesque places in North America.
Stretching across more than half a million acres, the North Cascades is huge. With so many miles of hiking trails to enjoy, there’s no shortage of activities to keep you busy here.
Thrill-seekers can take a tough hike all the way to Desolation Peak to enjoy some of the best views, while families with younger kids might prefer something a little simpler, such as the Blue Lake Trail. You can also take a road trip and drive along sections of Highway 20 through the park, stopping off to take photos and admire the views as you go.
There are a couple of campsites dotted throughout the park that you can enjoy or you can reserve your own vacation rental.
Estimated cost of a short trip to North Cascades from Vancouver for 2: $110
|Drive from Vancouver||$20 in gas|
|Two nights at Gorge Lake Campground||$40|
|Bringing your own food and drinks||$50|
About The Author: Arthur Dubois
Passionate about personal finance and financial technology, Arthur Dubois is a writer and SEO specialist at Hardbacon. Since his arrival in Canada, he’s built his credit score from nothing.
Arthur invests in the stock market but doesn’t pay any fees because he uses National Bank Direct Brokerage online broker and Wealthsimple’s robo-advisor. He pays for his subscriptions online with his KOHO prepaid card, and uses his Tangerine credit card for most of his in-store purchases. When he buys bitcoins, it’s with the BitBuy online platform. Of course it goes without saying that he uses the Hardbacon app so that he can manage all of his finances from one convenient place.
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