10 Best Weekend Getaways from Vancouver

Last Updated on January 16, 2023

One of the wonderful things about Vancouver is the all the other amazing places that are close enough for a weekend getaway (or an addition to your Vancouver Itinerary if you’re a visitor). In just a couple hours, you can be in a completely different landscape or climate, a world away from this amazing city! This article is about the 10 best weekend getaways from Vancouver, with a couple of bonus options a bit further away.

All of these getaways are wonderful year round and are less than 5 hours away from Metro Vancouver. They are all beautiful drives or ferry rides from the city. Bowen Island, Whistler, Victoria and Seattle are easy weekend getaways from Vancouver without a car.

Jump around to the getaway that’s most interesting to you (in order of travel time from Vancouver):

Where to Stay?

Most of these locations have lots of hotels and vacation rentals. If you go to Whistler without a car, make sure to stay in the Village so you can walk to everything. In Manning Park, the only lodging is at the Manning Park resort, or the BC parks campgrounds.

You can use this map to compare locations and prices of different hotel and vacation rentals (this is an affiliate link, which means if you book I get a small commission at no cost to you). Zoom out to see all the different places mentioned in this article.

Bowen Island

The calm waters of a small cove on Bowen Island surrounded by forest. The photo is taken from the deck of a ferry and you can see distant forested mountains across the water
Arriving in Snug Cove on Bowen Island

Why it’s a great weekend getaway from Vancouver: Bowen Island is so close to Vancouver and yet feels a world away from the city on this quiet and scenic island. This is an easy place to go without a car.

Travel time from Vancouver: Approximately an hour, it depends on the ferry schedule and whether or not you are bringing a car on the ferry. If you’re taking the bus and ferry from Vancouver, plan on two hours.

Highlights:

  • Ferry ride across Howe Sound from Vancouver
  • Hike around Killarney Lake
  • Have a beach day at one of Bowen’s 40 public beaches
  • Explore the village of Snug Cove and pretend you’re on the set of the Virgin River series

Best time of year: Bowen Island is a great year round destination. Summer is warm and dry, perfect for a beach day or a hike. Winter is quiet and less expensive and the shoulder season is a bit of both.

Watch out for: Long ferry lines if you are bringing a car

Electric Vehicle Charging: There isn’t any fast charging on Bowen Island, but distances are so short from Vancouver you probably don’t need it.

Whistler

mountains covered in glaciers on a sunny day
Summer view from the top of Whistler Mountain

Why it’s a great weekend getaway from Vancouver: Whistler is just a couple of hours from Vancouver, but takes you to a year round outdoor playground from skiing to hiking to biking. There’s a fun pedestrian only village full of shops and restaurants for the indoorsy too!

Travel time from Vancouver: 2 hours driving or by bus(sometimes more in winter conditions). It’s a snap to get here by bus without parking an expensive rental car in an expensive garage, since you won’t be driving once you arrive.

Highlights:

  • Skiing at the incredible Whistler Blackcomb (winter)
  • Cross country skiing (winter)
  • Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (year round)
  • Explore the Village (year round)
  • Hiking Whistler Blackcomb (summer)
  • Beach day at one of Whistler’s lakes (summer)
  • Peak 2 Peak Gondola (year round, but takes a break in spring and fall between seasons)

Best time of year: Whistler makes an excellent weekend getaway in either winter or summer. Shoulder season can bring some lower prices on lodging and some experiences, though there may be some things closed or with more limited options. Hiking in the high country is generally snow free from late July through early October. Ski season is generally late November through end of March or early April.

Watch out for: Very expensive lodging, especially mid December through March; difficulty parking a vehicle larger than a small car; parking in general; some operations (such as the Peak 2 Peak gondola) are not open during spring and fall

Electric Vehicle Charging: There is fast charging in Whistler at the Conference Centre as well as several fast chargers in Squamish.

Salt Spring Island

View of farmland, forests and more islands in the distance on a partly cloudy day.
View from Mt Maxwell on Salt Spring Island

Why it’s a great weekend getaway from Vancouver: A peaceful island away from it all but close to the city with farms, hikes, and island views.

Travel time from Vancouver: Allow three hours and make sure to make a reservation for the ferry, especially for vehicles.

Highlights:

  • Take a self guided farm tour – make sure to hit Salt Spring Vineyards, Sacred Mountain Lavendar Farm, Salt Spring Island Cheese Company and the farmers market as a start
  • Hike Mt Maxwell for the amazing view
  • Take a kayak tour
  • Rent an e-bike to explore the island

Best time of year: This is a perfect year round destination. Days are warmest and driest in summer and there are less visitors the rest of the year.

Watch out for: Ferry lines, especially in summer and at holidays

Electric Vehicle Charging: No fast charging on Salt Spring Island, but you probably won’t need it as it’s so close to Vancouver.

Victoria

A colorful Orca sculpture in Victoria's inner harbor, with boats and the parliament building in the background on a sunny summer day
Victoria’s Inner Harbor

Why it’s a great weekend getaway from Vancouver: A classic Vancouver getaway, Victoria has all the pleasures of city life and also has plenty of access to the outdoors in town and around it. This is an ideal car free weekend getaway from Vancouver with plenty of bus service to the ferry on each side. If you bring a car, make sure to get a ferry reservation.

Travel time from Vancouver: Allow 3 hours if driving on the ferry and 4 hours if taking the bus on each side.

Highlights:

  • The ferry ride to Vancouver Island
  • Strolling spectacular Butchart Gardens
  • Wander the Inner Harbor
  • Shopping on Government Street
  • Have afternoon tea
  • Royal BC Museum

Best time of year: Victoria is a great city all year. Summer days have many more tourists, but also the sunniest and warmest weather. Butchart Gardens is a must do in any season – spring has gorgeous bulb flowers, mid summer has all the blooms, fall has fall flowers and colors and they do a wonderful holiday display.

Watch out for: Ferry lines, especially in summer and at holidays

Electric Vehicle Charging: There are lots of fast chargers in Victoria and the Victoria area

Harrison Hot Springs

An outdoor pool surrounded by rocks and deck chairs and a forest.
The hot springs pool at Harrison Hot Springs Resort. Photo Credit: Tourism Harrison River Valley/Andrew Beaumont

Why it’s a great weekend getaway from Vancouver: Super relaxing hot springs and spa getaway in a peaceful mountain setting not far from town. No need to leave the property all weekend!

Travel time from Vancouver: 1 hour 30 minutes

Highlights:

  • The hot springs pools are only open to resort guests, so make sure you are staying here
  • Spa treatments
  • Relaxing and getting away from it all!
  • If you do want to leave the property, there are lots of hiking and kayaking opportunities

Best time of year: Another year round winner, I think it’s especially magical in winter.

Watch out for: Make sure to stay at the resort in order to access the hot springs

Electric Vehicle Charging: Fast charging in Agassiz, Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Manning Park

A lodge with carved wooden animals at the entrance and a pointed metal roof. The roof and walkway are covered in snow.
Manning Park Lodge in winter

Why it’s a great weekend getaway from Vancouver: Tucked into the Cascade Mountains, Manning Park provides outdoor adventure all year long from hiking and paddling to skiing and snowshoeing.

Travel time from Vancouver: Allow 2.5 hours in summer and 3 hours in winter.

Highlights:

  • Cross country skiing, snowshoeing or downhill skiing (winter)
  • Hiking and paddling (summer)
  • Enjoy a meal or a drink by the roaring fire at the Bear’s Den in winter or the Pinewoods Dining Room Patio in summer

Best time of year: This is an excellent winter getaway and it is also fantastic in summer and fall. Manning Park is not ideal in spring between the end of winter season and when everything melts out, or after the fall colors have gone but before the snow.

Watch out for: The road up to Manning Park is winding and can get very icy in winter. It’s well maintained, but give yourself extra time for winter driving.

Electric Vehicle Charging: Fast chargers are available in Manning Park, Hope, Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Seattle, WA

The Space Needle against the blue sky with a yellow glass sculpture in the foreground.
Chihuly Gardens and Glass at the base of the Space Needle

Why it’s a great weekend getaway from Vancouver: Seattle and Vancouver are each fantastic getaways from each other. These cities have a lot in common, despite being in different countries! If you’re looking for a short International getaway from Vancouver and want a car free getaway, this is a great choice.

Travel time from Vancouver: Approximately 3 hours, can vary quite a bit based on traffic in both cities and the border wait. The train trip on the Amtrak Cascades takes about 4 hours and the Bolt Bus takes about 4 hours also.

Highlights:

  • Taking a ferry across to Bainbridge Island for shops, restaurants and great views of downtown Seattle
  • Exploring Pike Place Market
  • Do the Underground Tour in Pioneer Square
  • Olympic Scultpure Park
  • Museums – Chihuly Gardens and Glass, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Experience, Museum of History and Industry, Museum of Pop Culture
  • Take in a great view at the Space Needle (best for the glass floor and icon status, Sky View Observatory (best view overall) or Smith Tower (best for a unique vibe)

Best time of year: Seattle is a great city to visit any time of year. Pike Place Market and the waterfront are busier during the Alaska cruise ship season (late April through early October). Summer outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking are best in the summer, while winter sports are good December – March (similar to Vancouver).

Watch out for: Very expensive hotels, especially in summer. Crowds at Pike Place Market. Be ready for rain and wind storms, especially November through February. Seattle can be quite hot in July, August and September and many places do not have air conditioning.

Electric Vehicle Charging: There are lots of fast charging opportunities in Seattle as well as Shoreline, Everett, Marysville (Seattle Premium Outlets), Mt Vernon and Bellingham.

Sunshine Coast

Blue water with a ferry wake stretching back to a port town with buildings and pilings and distant mountains on a sunny day
Powell River from the ferry to Vancouver Island

Why it’s a great weekend getaway from Vancouver: There’s plenty of variety and room to spread out year round on this stretch of mainland accessible only by ferry. Take a short hop to Sechelt or go all the way up to Powell River.

Travel time from Vancouver: Allow at least 2.5 hours to Sechelt and at least 5 hours to Powell River (involves two ferries). The ferry waits may take longer at busy times. Make sure to have a reservation for your vehicle.

Highlights:

  • The ferry ride, or ferry rides, depending on how far you go
  • The Sunshine Coast trail near Powell River
  • The many protected coves for kayaking
  • Walking along the beach
  • Day trip to Savary Island – a dreamy sandy beach

Best time of year: Another great year round destination, the warmest and sunniest weather is in summer and prices are more affordable than many other places on this list, even in high season.

Watch out for: Ferry waits and timing, especially if taking both ferries and going to Powell River

Electric Vehicle Charging: Fast charging is available in Powell River and Sechelt.

Kamloops

A lake partly in shadow and partly in the light of the setting sun.
Sunset on Lake Kamloops

Why it’s a great weekend getaway from Vancouver: If you’re in need of sun, this is the perfect getaway as it’s very dry in Interior BC! There are plenty of hiking trails and wineries to explore year round, as well as excellent cross country skiing in winter.

Travel time from Vancouver: 4-5 hours, depending on weather conditions (especially in winter)

Highlights:

  • Wineries – Kamloops has several excellent wineries at the northwest side of BC’s wine country
  • Sun Peaks – world class skiing without the crowds of Whistler! (winter)
  • Hiking or cross country skiing (depending on the time of year)
  • Walking along the river
  • Kekuli Cafe – best breakfast!

Best time of year: Kamloops is a great year round destination, but it’s especially wonderful in spring and fall when it’s warm and sunny while it’s often gray and chilly in Vancouver.

Watch out for: Kamloops is very hot in the summer

Electric Vehicle Charging: Fast charging is available in Kamloops, Merritt, Hope, Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Tofino and Ucluelet

A sandy beach on a sunny day with a few surfers near Ucluelet and Tofino on Vancouver Island
Long Beach between Ucluelet and Tofino

Why it’s a great weekend getaway from Vancouver: These two communities on the West Coast of Vancouver Island next to Pacific Rim National Park are dream destinations on the wild Pacific Coast for visitors from all over the world, but they are close enough for a weekend trip too!

Travel time from Vancouver: Allow at least 5 hours and make sure to have a reservation for the ferry to Nanaimo. Driving time from Nanaimo is about 2.5 hours (not including weather and construction).

Highlights:

  • The drive from Nanaimo to Tofino
  • Watching surfers (or joining in!) at the beach
  • Hike on the Wild Pacific Trail
  • Explore the Beaches
  • Take a tour to Hot Springs Cove

Best time of year: This is another excellent year round destination. Visiting in late fall, winter or early spring can make lodging a bit more affordable. Most things are open all year in this popular destination

Watch out for: Expensive lodging, including camping; frequent construction on the highway; ferry wait times

Electric Vehicle Charging: Nanaimo, Port Alberni and the visitor centre outside of Ucluelet all have fast charging.

Bonus: Kootenay Hot Springs Loop

If you’ve got a little more time and want to explore even more of British Columbia’s diverse landscapes, don’t miss the Kootenay Hot Springs Loop!

This 5 day road trip takes you to 7 hot springs in the Kootenay Rockies of Southeastern British Columbia!

Bonus: Northern Vancouver Island

Visiting remote Northern Vancouver Island is another trip that you can do in a few days but really needs more than a weekend. 5 days is about perfect to check out Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill and Port Hardy. You could do it in 4 days if you only went to one of those places. If you like remote places far from cities, you’ll love Northern Vancouver Island!

You can even expand your trip to road trip all around Vancouver Island if you have more time.

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Jennie Flaming
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!