Top 5 Day Trips From Vancouver

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Vancouver is not only an incredible place to visit, it’s a great jumping off point to explore more of BC. In three hours or less, you can be walking along Victoria‘s beautiful Inner Harbour, hanging out on a patio in WhistlerVillage or relaxing on a gulf island. You can also be sea kayaking on the Sunshine Coast, or driving through the picturesque landscapes of the Fraser Canyon. With so many options, it can be difficult to choose how to spend your time. To help you out, we asked our Facebook fans for their favourite day trips from Vancouver. Here are their top five:

5. Fraser Canyon

View of the Hell’s Gate Airtram and foot bridge over the Fraser River in the Fraser Canyon.

View of the Hell’s Gate Airtram and foot bridge over the Fraser River in the Fraser Canyon. Photo: Vagabond Quest

Kicking things off at number five is BC’s beautiful Fraser Canyon. The Fraser Canyon is located at the end of the Fraser Valley, about three hours from Vancouver. The journey there comes with gorgeous views of picturesque farmlands and mountains around every corner. Once you arrive in the Fraser Canyon, you’re treated to pristine mountains, rivers, lakes, valleys and hidden tunnels, making it an outdoor lover’s paradise. There’s no better way to gain a true appreciation for the beauty of the landscape then stopping in at Hells Gate Airtram to take a ride over the white water of the mighty Fraser River. This area is a huge river rafting destination, if you’re up for an adventure!

4. Sunshine Coast

The densely vegetated Sunshine Coats and a dark blue ocean.

Sunshine Coast from above. Photo: Darren Robinson

The Sunshine Coast comes in at number two. This is a popular getaway spot for both local Vancouverites and visitors. Just 40-minutes from Vancouver via ferry, the Sunshine Coast is widely considered Vancouver’s best kept secret. The coast stretches 180 km (112 mi) from Gibsons to Lund, with quaint coastal communities in between to explore. Stroll along the sandy beaches, visit the waterfront stops, or stop for a west coast lunch with a view. Get adventurous and hike the Sunshine Coast Hut-to-Hut Trail, paddle around the natural wonders of Howe Sound’s protected waterways, or head to the mountains for some epic mountain biking. If you’re into art, sign up for a guided art tour and watch painters, potters, sculptors, and Aboriginal artists at work. With so many places along the Sunshine Coast to explore, you may just need more than one day!

3. Bowen Island

People stroll through a brightly coloured market.

Strolling through a market on Bowen Island. Photo: Imohux via Flickr

In at number three is Bowen Island, a forested paradise just 25 km (15.5 mi) northwest of Vancouver. To get there, you can take a 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, or a water taxi from downtown’s Granville Island. If you’re looking to spend your time outdoors, the island’s waters are perfect for swimming and sea kayaking, with sheltered bays and sandy beaches around every corner. If you’re up for a hike or mountain bike, there are endless trails to explore, from steep hills to relaxing strolls. For those looking to experience the island’s culture, Bowen is full q shops, restaurants, cafes, and art galleries just a short stroll from the ferry in Snug Cove. It’s Canada’s fourth-most artistic community per capita, so be sure to check out the work of the talented local artists! The people on Bowen Island are also known for their laid-back living, so you’ll be feeling relaxed in no time (20-minute to be precise).

2. Whistler

View of a luxury spa in Whistler that is nestled in a dense forest.

The Scandinave Spa in Whistler. Photo: Rachel Rilkoff

It’s no surprise that Whistler, just two-hours north of Vancouver, made the list. The drive along the Sea-to-Sky Highway is worth the trip in and of itself. It’s hard not to be in awe of this scenic highway stretch; watch as the Coast Mountain range rises from the glittering waters of Howe Sound and look for snow-capped peaks, canyons and waterfalls en route. Popular stops include Porteau Cove, the Sea-to-Sky Gondola, and Brandywine Falls to name a few. Once you arrive in Whistler, sit back and relax on one of the many village patios, hit the trails with your mountain bike, or visit Scandinave Spa for a day of rejuvenation. Have some fun in the sun with a paddle down the River of Golden Dreams, a zip-lining adventure, or a day at one of Whistler’s beautiful lakes, such as Nita Lake or Lost Lake. Our fans also recommended heading past Whistler to Joffre Lakes to hike glacier-laden peaks and stare out over the turquoise water.

1. Victoria

A Harbour Ferry in front of the Fairmont Empress at Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

A Harbour Ferry in front of the Fairmont Empress at Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Photo: Destination BC

Our fan’s number one choice for a Vancouver day trip? BC’s capital city, Victoria, on Vancouver Island. There are several options to get to Victoria, each more scenic than the last. Hop on the one hour and forty minute-ferry, or take a scenic 35-minute float plane ride. Some whale watching companies combine a day trip to Vancouver with sightseeing. Whichever you choose, there will be no shortage of breathtaking scenery along the way. So what did our fans recommend to do in Victoria? If you love gardens, head from the ferry to the world-famous Butchart Gardens to stroll the magnificent gardens and discover why people come back year after year. If you’d prefer to get right into the action, head straight for downtown where you can stroll along the lovely Inner Harbour, stop in at one of the waterside restaurants, or do some shopping along Lower Johnson Street (known as ‘LoJo’ to the locals). Check out the exhibits at the Royal BC Museum, or rent a bike and head to one of Victoria’s many iconic spots, such as Fisherman’s Wharf, Beacon Hill Park, or Dallas Road. Our fans also recommended heading up island from Victoria to Nanaimo or the Cowichan Valley and taking the ferry back to Vancouver via the Departure Bay Ferry in Nanaimo for another amazing coastal route.

Did we miss one of your favourite day trips from Vancouver? Share it with us in the comments below!  

Featured image: Parliament Buildings lit up at night in the Inner Harbour with boats in the marina. Photo: Reuben Krabbe