Vancouver, British Columbia is one of the most beautiful and fun cities to visit in the world. In addition to the delights of the city just outside the city and endless adventures to experience and explore. As a near neighbor to the south in Seattle, I’ve had the opportunity to spend lots of time in Vancouver and all over British Columbia. These are my absolute favorite day trips from Vancouver, almost all of them are great year round options.
This list is organized by day trips from Vancouver that you can easily get to on public transit and ones that are better with a car. There are plenty of options for both!
I’ve only included places that are within two hours of Vancouver, although depending on the ferry schedule it may take a bit longer to get to Victoria from Vancouver. I haven’t included Salt Spring Island here, while it is a wonderful place to go near Vancouver, I think it’s better for a weekend getaway.
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: North Vancouver has wonderful shops and restaurants for an urban experience as well as more nature and outdoors attractions such as Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Mt Seymour Provincial Park and Lynn Canyon are excellent options for hiking in summer, though you need a car for those. You can get to North Vancouver, Grouse Mountain and Capilano Bridge Park on public transit.
Travel time from Vancouver: The Seabus from Canada Place to Lonsdale Quay takes less than 15 minutes, add about 45 minutes for the bus ride to Grouse Mountain and about 30 minutes to bus to Capilano Bridge Park. If you’re driving, plan on a 30-60 minute drive depending on traffic.
Food in North Vancouver – from Gastropubs to breweries to many other options, this is a great place to eat!
Riding the Seabus is an excellent very short tour of the Vancouver Harbour
Grouse Mountain – if it’s a clear day, don’t miss this amazing view of the entire area from above
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a highlight of any trip to Vancouver.
To get the fun bridge feel and the epic forests, rivers and waterfalls without the crowds, try one of the many other trails in Lynn Canyon.
Best time of year: All year is good for this trip. A clear day is good for Grouse Mountain any time of year. If it’s raining enjoy the forests and suspension bridges in Capilano or Lynn Canyon instead.
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: Very close to downtown Vancouver, Dundarave has cute shops and places to eat (as seen on the Netflix series Virgin River) and beautiful trails, including Point Atkinson Lighthouse.
Travel time from Vancouver: 40-45 minutes on bus or driving.
Point Atkinson Lighthouse – short trail to a beautiful lighthouse and view of the Salish Sea.
Ambleside Park – beautiful walk along the water looking back towards downtown Vancouver
Check out a few shops in Dundarave, grab a meal with a view and explore Dundarave Beach.
Cypress Mountain Provincial Park – great place for a hike or for skiing in winter with amazing views
Best time of year: Excellent year round
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: A peaceful getaway a world away from the bustle of Vancouver and yet so close to it, let Bowen Island transport you to relaxation, from the ferry ride to the shops and restaurants to the hiking trails.
Travel time from Vancouver: About two hours, depends slightly on ferry times. You can explore the island by bus, or you can bring a car on the ferry (if you bring a car you need a reservation).
The ferry ride – getting there is seriously one of the best parts
Exploring tiny Snug Cove near the ferry landing – Doc Morgan’s Pub has a super cozy vibe
Hike to Mt Gardner for amazing views
Take a mellow walk to Killarney Lake
Have a picnic at Sandy Beach Park near the ferry landing
Best time of year: Excellent year round, summer is ideal for outdoor activities, though winter is much less crowded.
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: Victoria is a wonderful town and an excellent getaway from Vancouver. A smaller city with excellent food, beautiful parks and home to the British Columbia parliament, Victoria is unforgettable. This definitely makes a better weekend getaway, but if all you have is a day it’s still worth it! Read more here about all your day trip options for Victoria.
Travel time from Vancouver: 3-4 hours depending on traffic, ferry timing, etc.
The ferry ride to Vancouver Island
Exploring the Inner Harbour on foot
Butchart Gardens – one of the most beautiful gardens in North America
Beacon Hill Park or walking along Dallas Road by the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Best time of year: Excellent all year. Summer is very crowded in Victoria, spring has a nice combination of less crowds and beautiful spring flowers.
Electric Vehicle Charging: Plenty of EV charging in Victoria as well as in Sidney near the ferry terminal.
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: Whistler’s epic mountain views, wonderful hiking and lake beaches in summer and skiing in winter make it a year round playground and ideal getaway from Vancouver any time of year.
Travel time from Vancouver: An hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on traffic and road conditions in winter.
The drive on the Sea to Sky Highway along Howe Sound
Beautiful alpine lakes like Alta Lake for summer beach days
Skiing in winter
The food and drink scene in Whistler Village
Best time of year: Excellent all year. Ski season is the busiest and most expensive (late November through late March or early April). The snow free summer season is July through September. Much less crowds (but also more limited hours for businesses) in the spring and fall.
Electric Vehicle Charging: There is fast charging available in Squamish and Whistler.
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: Richmond is a suburb of Vancouver and deserves it’s own outing! The food here from all over Asia is incredible, along with the Fraser River. You can combine this with a visit to Steveston right next door, though it’s a bit easier to get to Steveston with a car (see below).
Travel time from Vancouver: About 30 minutes on the SkyTrain Canada Line.
Walk along the Fraser River from the Olympic Riverside Plaza
Eating is the primary highlight here! You’ll find food from all over Asia from the food court at the Aberdeen Mall to the many fine dining and hole in the wall restaurants all over town.
Best time of year: Eating is an excellent year round activity! The Richmond Night Market is an especially epic eating experience on weekend nights from spring through fall.
Best Day trips from Vancouver with a car
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: Located right next to Richmond, a visit to the waterfront in Steveston pairs great with eating in Richmond before or after.
Travel time from Vancouver: 30-45 minutes depending on traffic.
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: This is the ideal place for those who like mellow walks with water views and especially for birdwatchers. The bird watching along the trail at Boundary Bay is excellent.
Travel time from Vancouver: 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic
Highlights: The highlight here is to walk along the dyke path and check out the scenery while looking for birds. You can park at many places along the trail, I like to park at the Delta Heritage Airpark or just beyond it where the road ends.
Best time of year: The bird watching is excellent here all year.
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: Squamish is a fun town with a great brewery, lots of amazing hiking trails, views and a gorgeous waterfall a beautiful drive from Vancouver. This is an ideal day trip for outdoor adventurers.
Ride the Sea to Sky gondola for incredible views of the mountains and Howe Sound with plenty of hiking opportunities
Walk along the Squamish River and look for Eagles
Best time of year: This is a great year round destination and ideal on a sunny day when you can see the incredible views.
Electric Vehicle Charging: There are several fast chargers in Squamish.
Fort Langley National Historic Site
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: A must do for history buffs, Fort Langley brings visitors to the life of a 19th century Hudson’s Bay Company fort. This fort was one of a network of many around the Pacific Northwest during colonial times.
Travel time from Vancouver: 45 minutes -1 hour
Explore the historic buildings of an early 18th century trading fort
See the Métis canoe exhibit
Check out the view from the fort’s towers
Learn about crafts and trade in Canadian history
Best time of year: Excellent all year
Electric Vehicle Charging: Plenty of chargers in Langley and Surrey nearby.
Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: A great stop on the way to Harrison Lake near Harrison Hot Springs,
Travel time from Vancouver: 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours
Highlights: The highlight here is gorgeous Bridal Veil Falls, which crashes down 60 metres (200 feet) on a sheer rock face. Get to the viewing platform on a loop trail that is just under 1km (half a mile) from the parking area. There are also picnic tables near the parking area.
Best time of year: The park is closed in winter and opens sometime in April, closing in late October or early November. This is an ideal place to go in spring (April through June) when the water in the waterfall is especially impressive.
Electric Vehicle Charging: Plenty of fast charging in Abbotsford and Chilliwack.
Golden Ears Provincial Park
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: An excellent location for hiking, picnics and swimming near the city.
Travel time from Vancouver: 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on exactly where you go and traffic
Go for a hike – there are plenty of amazing hikes in Golden Ears Provincial Park
Go swimming at Alouette Lake
Rent a canoe or kayak at South Beach on Alouette Lake for even more summer fun
Best time of year: Summer – especially July and August for hiking and lake fun
Electric Vehicle Charging: Plenty of fast chargers in Langley and Surrey.
Harrison Hot Springs
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: This is a wonderful summer lake getaway from Vancouver. An important note is that you can only access the hot spring pools if you’re staying at Harrison Hot Springs Resort. If you want to experience them, you’ll need to stay the night here.
Travel time from Vancouver: 2 hours
All kinds of summer lake fun – swimming, kayaking, etc
Hiking is excellent near Harrison Hot Springs
Take a boat tour of the lake
Best time of year: Summer – especially July and August
Electric Vehicle Charging: Multiple fast chargers in Abbotsford and Chilliwack
Why it’s a great day trip from Vancouver: If you’re ready to head to a fun, outdoorsy town beside the bay in the US with great food, shopping, hikes, walks and breweries, Bellingham is for you!
Travel time from Vancouver: 1-2 hours depending on traffic and the border wait.
Drive Chuckanut Drive – this drive south of Bellingham to Mt Vernon has stunning island and water views on sunny days. Excellent sunset location
Food and drink – Bellingham has amazing restaurants of every kind and a vibrant craft beer scene
Walk the walkway between Fairhaven and downtown over Bellingham Bay
Explore historic Fairhaven – shops and food when you need to rest your feet. Don’t miss the epic Village Books. A must do for bookstore fans!
Whatcom Falls Park – a beautiful waterfall in a forested city park with many miles of trails and a dog park
Sehome Arborteum – forested trails on the campus of Western Washington University
There are lots of wonderful hikes near Bellingham, including Oyster Dome off Chuckanut Drive and lots of hikes near Mt Baker.
Best time of year: Excellent all year
Electric Vehicle Charging: There is fast charging for EVs in Surrey near the US border and several options in Bellingham.
Best Day trips from Vancouver in Winter
All of the day trips from Vancouver on this list are excellent year round destinations, with the exception of Golden Ears Provincial Park and Harrison Hot Springs. In my opinion these are better places to go during the summer (or late spring or early fall).
Whistler is of course an epic winter destination for skiing, but if you’re not a skier don’t let that stop you from going to check out delightful Whistler Village. Grouse Mountain is a great place for snowshoeing or checking out the view, not just for downhill skiing either!
Victoria and Bowen Island are both wonderful winter destinations if you like to stay away from crowds. Fort Langley National Historic Site is also a good option for winter.
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years and I still spend lots of time there every year. I've been a tour guide for many years in both Alaska and Washington and am a field editor for the Milepost. 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 adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!
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