Vancouver Convention Centre with North Vancouver, Stanley Park, and a seaplane in the background | Grant Harder

5 Days to Transformation: Vancouver & Beyond

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Vancouver Convention Centre | Grant Harder

BC’s largest city sits at the doorstep of wilderness. This closeness to nature shapes the people who live here—and those who choose to visit—offering a deeper connection to the natural world. Here, a rainforest stirs as the ocean ebbs and flows, and mountains rise high behind downtown skyscrapers. This city is just the beginning of the adventure, and the experiences that lie beyond can take you even deeper into the wild. 

Vancouver: Where The Journey Begins

(Minimum 2 Nights)

Spend just a little time in Vancouver and it’s easy to see why people are drawn to this corner of the world. Breathe in the fresh ocean air on an 10-km (6.2-mi) Stanley Park Seawall cycle or join Talaysay Tours for an interpretive forest walk with Indigenous guides, visit the Museum of Anthropology to see the art of living Indigenous cultures at the UBC endowment lands, stroll the beaches of Kitsilano, wander a rainforest canopy at Capilano Suspension Bridge, or tackle 2,890 stairs on the Grouse Grind hiking trail to scale the side of an iconic North Shore mountain. This multicultural destination is also a hot spot for international cuisine, with award-winning restaurants serving up food fusions and unique dishes. 

Go beyond, and discover what else there is to see in BC. Take five days or more and discover the experiences in nature, ready to transform you.

Sea-to-Sky Highway to visit adventure-laden Squamish, Whistler, and Pemberton 

(Minimum 2 Nights)

It may be cliché, but sometimes the journey is better (or just as good) as the destination. A drive along the famed Sea-to-Sky Highway, from Vancouver to Pemberton, is one of those journeys. 

This scenic stretch of road hugs the edge of the Coast Mountains and overlooks the Howe Sound Átl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound Biosphere Reserve, with otherworldly views from every window. Stop at the Cultural Journey kiosks along the way and learn about Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations, who have been connected to and lived on this land for over 10,000 years. Eager to go underwater? Suit up at Porteau Cove Provincial Park for a dive, with two sunken shipwrecks and a reef of west coast sea life to explore. 

Stay overnight in Squamish and head up the Sea to Sky Gondola for sprawling views of the Coast Mountain peaks. Stroll the Panorama Trail to a viewing platform that perches over a cliffside, or go a bit deeper into nature and tackle Al’s Habrich Trail, an 8.4-km (5.2-mi) trek that leads to views of towering Sky Pilot peak.

For relaxation, book a private 90-minute natural spa experience at newly opened AIKA Spa. This hot and cold therapy retreat is located deep in the dense rainforest of the Squamish Valley, with a wood-fired sauna, cold plunges, and outdoor relaxation areas. Post-spa, fuel up with fresh, locally sourced brunch at Fergie’s Cafe alongside the confluence of the Cheakamus and Cheekeye rivers. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can book a guided whitewater rafting trip with Squamish Rafting Company.

About an hour away from Squamish, continuing up the Sea-to-Sky Highway, is the four-season resort destination of Whistler, where 2,000-metre (7,000-foot) mountains surround the outdoor adventure town. Join a 4×4 bear-viewing tour with trained wildlife guides who can take you to the best places to spot and safely view bears in their natural habitat. Or take the Whistler Gondola and record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and look down for your chance to spot bears roaming the grassy areas under the lift lines.

To connect deeper with the land and those who have lived here since time immemorial, wander the halls of the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre to learn about the local First Nations cultures from local Indigenous guides.

For relaxation and rejuvenation, soak in soothing hot and cold pools at Scandinave Spa. In Pemberton, just a 25-minute drive north, roam the landscape on a half- or full-day horseback riding adventure with Copper Cayuse Outfitters. 

Make It Happen

From Vancouver, travellers can rent a car to journey up the Sea-to-Sky Highway and make stops along the way for overnights in Squamish, Whistler, and Pemberton. Or you can opt to book a Vancouver to Whistler shuttle and enjoy more time in both cities. Whistler’s pedestrian-friendly village makes it easy to get around via public transport and ride-sharing options.

Scenic Highway 7 East to Explore Fraser Valley farms and the BC Ale Trail

(Minimum 1 Night)

Follow the winding and mighty Fraser River from Vancouver through BC’s Fraser Valley to the mountain town of Hope.

En route, tackle the Coquitlam Crunch Trail to get the heart rate up, or choose from several hiking trails in Golden Ears Provincial Park, just outside Maple Ridge. This park is one of the largest in the province, with an extensive network of hiking trails, camping areas, and options to boat, canoe, or swim in Alouette Lake.

In the Harrison River Valley, wander along the Circle Farm Tour to visit artisan cheese makers, potters, lavender growers, coffee roasters, and more. For natural healing, head to Harrison Hot Springs to soak in the mineral waters at Harrison Hot Springs Resort. Or join a Rainbow Falls Jet Boat Tour with Harrison Eco Tours for a cruise along Harrison Lake to cascading waterfalls; keep your eyes peeled for swimming seals and soaring bald eagles.

End your trip in Hope and tackle some mountain biking trails at Skawahlook Adventure Park, located on the traditional territory of the Sq’ewá:lxw First Nation. The park includes 4,000 metres of walking and biking trails, a skills park, and viewing platforms. Celebrate your tricks with brews at newly opened Mountainview Brewing Co.

Make it Happen

The simplest way to experience this trip is via car. You can pick up a rental directly from Vancouver International Airport or in downtown Vancouver. Follow Highway 7 from Vancouver, through the Fraser Valley, and along the Fraser River toward Hope.

Highway 3 to BC’s Wine Country 

(Minimum 3 Nights)

The drive from Vancouver along Highway 3 is full of historic railway trails, fertile orchards, and sweeping landscapes, all leading to local wineries in the Similkameen, the Okanagan Valley, and Naramata, some of Canada’s most fertile wine growing regions. 

Along the way, stop in E.C. Manning Provincial Park to explore the Cascade Mountains. Wander the trails in the park and choose from short, 15-minute journeys to multi-hour hikes deep into the backcountry. Paddlers can hop in a canoe and explore picturesque Lightning Lake (tip: Lakeside rentals are up for grabs). For overnights in the Cascade Mountains, book a cabin or bungalow at Cathedral Lakes Resort, sitting 2,000 metres (6,800 feet) above sea level in Cathedral Provincial Park.

In Princeton, walk or bike along the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, through the valley of the Tulameen River. Continue along Highway 3 and through the Similkameen Valley to pick up local fruit and vegetables from the dozens of fruit stands that line the highway. Designate a driver and indulge at wineries en route, including Orofino Vineyards in Cawston. They have an on-site winery suite for those who want to stay a little longer.

Once you hit Penticton, sunbathe at Skaha Lake Park, bike the Three Blind Mice trail network, or join another wine tour in one of three regions—Naramata, Summerland, and Okanagan Falls—all within a 20-minute drive of Penticton. Journey on to Kelowna for more sun-kissed beaches, wineries dotting the shores of both sides of Okanagan Lake, and more outdoor fun.

Make It Happen

The easiest way to experience this trip is via car. Pick up a rental directly from Vancouver International Airport or in downtown Vancouver before hitting the road. Follow Highway 3 from Vancouver east towards Osoyoos, then Highway 97 north to Kelowna.

Want to journey a little farther? Follow the path to the Canadian Rockies via Kelowna here.

BC Map