A city girl through and through, Vancouver is my place. But I also love to take day trips to play tourist and explore nearby areas and attractions — it’s so easy! Our location is not only ideal for its urban and outdoor scenery and activities, it is also a short drive, seaplane flight, or ferry ride away from the city’s neighbouring municipalities, beautiful outdoors, and relaxing island getaways. Here are eight day trip ideas for you to experience more of our beautiful province!
1. Get royal in New Westminster
Known as the ‘Royal City’, Downtown New Westminster was the ‘first’ downtown and and capital of British Columbia, and is the oldest city in Western Canada. The 19th-century architecture will enchant you while you browse for antiques and the waterfront will tempt your taste buds as you walk along the waterfront with its public markets and watch the tugboats and freighters as they parade along the Fraser River. Some favourite spots are the Great Wall Tea Co, the Fraser River Discovery Centre; and for nibbles, The Boathouse and Wild Rice for the patio views and food.
How to get there: New Westminster is a 20-25 minute (and very scenic) ride from Downtown on the SkyTrain Expo Line to King George or Production Way; get off at New Westminster Station.
2. Family fun in Steveston Village
Located in Vancouver’s suburb of Richmond, Steveston is home to what I firmly believe is the best fish and chips (I am partial to the wharf location of Pajo’s – it’s worth the lineup!) With its cute shops, scenic walks and parks, and great restaurants, it’s the perfect place for a family or date day trip. Make sure to visit the The Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site and check out some familiar places you’ll have seen on Once Upon a Time!
How to get there: Take the Canada Line from Downtown to Richmond-Brighouse station. Then transfer to the #402 or #407 to Steveston.
3. Have a girls’ Day in the Fraser Valley
The Fraser Valley is home to not one, but two tulip festivals, as well as to several picturesque wineries. Hop in the car or (if you’re going to visit the wineries) book a car or tour,(or both!) and spend the day with your girlfriends over a picnic surrounded by tulips and then some excellent BC wine at any of the wineries nearby.
- Abbotsford Bloom Festival (now through June 1)
- Chilliwack Tulip Festival (now through May 5)
- Fraser Valley winery tours (year-round)
How to get there: The Fraser Valley is approximately a one-hour drive east from downtown Vancouver. Times may vary depending on which town you are visiting.
4. Watersports and pampering in Harrison Hot Springs
A 90-minute drive east of Vancouver, Harrison Hot Springs is one of Vancouver’s great escapes. Settle back and relax in the warm mineral springs Harrison Hot Springs Resort is famous for or experience your heart’s desire of water sports on Harrison Lake. With it’s European spa-town vibes Harrison is a beautiful place to visit.
How to get there: Take Highway 1 east to Rosedale, then Highway 9 to Harrison.
5. Feel like you’re at the top of the world in Whistler
While many go up to Whistler for epic skiing or mountain-biking, there’s something to be said for après-ski at the spa, am I right? Scandinave Spa Whistler is an oasis of Nordic thermal baths and spa treatments offered in the heart of nature. If a spa day isn’t your thing, Whistler village is a treat to visit and the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb is an experience not to be missed. (Try to get the car with the glass bottom for an extra rush of adrenaline and bird’s eye view.
How to get there: Whistler is accessible via 1.5-2 hour car or tour-bus drive or short plane ride with Whistler Air. For more information, click here.
6. Relax on Bowen Island
With it’s close proximity to Vancouver, Bowen Island is a great day trip option with its laid-back, rural island vibes. With outdoor activities for all, cute boutiques, and tasty eateries, Bowen is the epitome of West Coast relaxation.
How to get there: Bowen Island is a 20-minute ferry ride away from Horseshoe Bay terminal in West Vancouver.
7. Soak up the coastal vibes in Gibsons
Located at the souther tip of the Sunshine Coast, Gibsons feels like it’s an island getaway because you have the take the ferry. But in reality, it’s part of the mainland; which makes it even more delightful to visit. Pop over on an early ferry to have breakfast at Molly’s Reach (famous from the classic Canadian television show, The Beachcombers), walk by the water, shop the boutiques, and re-fuel for lunch at one of the many seafood restaurants. Home to some award-winning craft breweries, including the field of dreams that is Persephone Brewing, it’s recommended that you pick up a growler to take back with you.
How to get there: Take Highway 99 to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal (45 minutes north of Vancouver). Take a 40-minute BC Ferries trip to Langdale.
8. Feel elegant Victoria
Known both as the Garden City and as the capital of British Columbia, Victoria is a unique mix of West Coast chic and ex-pat British elegance surrounded by scenic views, intricate heritage buildings, and cobblestone streets. Whether you’re looking to visit Butchart Gardens, go hiking, experience a foodie restaurant heaven, or have tea at the Empress, there’s something for everyone. You may even feel like you’re in London when you see or get on a red double-decker bus.
How to get there: Victoria is on Vancouver Island, 107 kilometres (76 miles) southwest of Vancouver. The trip by car and ferry, or bus and ferry, takes approximately 4 hours each way from downtown Vancouver. Alternatively, the trip is a 35 minute flight.