As the biggest city in British Columbia, Vancouver is a vibrant metropolis full of incredible art galleries, museums, and restaurants. There's no shortage of things to do in the city itself, but there's even more adventure to be had outside the city limits. Take the Sea to Sky Highway up to Whistler for a day of outdoor fun, visit the Fort Langley National Historic Site to learn about the province's history, or head to Harrison Hot Springs for some relaxation. If you're willing to ferry across to Vancouver Island, you can also visit the charming city of Victoria or a beautifully wild West Coast beach.
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Sitting in the middle of the beautiful Howe Sound, Bowen Island is a tranquil retreat from Vancouver's busy streets. The island is an outdoor paradise, and some of the most popular activities here include sea kayaking, strolling along the forested walking paths, and hiking up Mount Gardner to admire the spectacular view. However, it offers a surprising number of other attractions as well, including a handful of local art galleries and studios, a working pottery studio, a small local museum, and a golf club. There's also an excellent selection of restaurants and cafes serving up tempting treats and delicious meals.
2.Harrison Hot Springs
Set at the southern end of Harrison Lake, Harrison Hot Springs is a fantastic place to go for a day of relaxation and outdoor fun. This beautiful little resort village first became famous thanks to its natural geothermal hot springs, and while the springs are still one of the area's biggest attractions, there are now plenty of other things to do here as well. Many of the best activities are centered around the lake; the sandy beach is perfect for swimming, scenic boat cruises leave from the dock in town, and a floating obstacle course is set up on the water in the summer.
Widely regarded as one of the top outdoor destinations in the entire province, Squamish is a small town surrounded by imposing mountains and incredible views of the nearby Howe Sound. You won't have a hard time finding something to do; visit the beautiful Britannia Beach to take photos and visit the mining museum, stop by the stunning Shannon Falls, or hike up the Stawamus Chief for some of the best views in the area. If you want the views without having to do a big hike, take the Sea To Sky Gondola, which brings riders to 2900 feet above sea level.
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Located right outside Greater Vancouver, Abbotsford is a vibrant agricultural city that seamlessly blends into the countryside. It's a great place to go if you're interested in learning about Canadian farm culture, and there are several working farms open to visitors, including a honey farm, a goat farm, and dairy farm with more than 50 ice cream flavors on offer. If you'd rather stay in the city, you can admire the artwork at the Reach Gallery Museum, hunt for antique treasures at the Abbotsford Flea Market, or take a tour of one of the city's three wineries.
5.Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park
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Only an hour and a half outside of downtown Vancouver, Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park is a beautiful 32-acre park that was established to protect the spectacular 200-foot Bridal Falls. A short hiking trail leads from the parking lot to a viewing platform at the base of the falls, and there is also a day-use area with picnic tables for visitors to have their lunch. The entire waterfall sometimes freezes in the winter, and when this happens, visitors are advised to stay away from the base of the falls in order to avoid falling ice.
Rosedale, BC V0X 1X0, Canada, Phone: 604-986-9371
6.Capilano Suspension Bridge and Cliffwalk
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If you want to experience nature in a truly breathtaking way, you need to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Cliffwalk. The original suspension bridge was built here in 1889, and it stretches for 450 feet over the Capilano River, allowing visitors to admire the natural beauty of the water and the surrounding old growth forest from a height of 230 feet. The Cliffwalk is a much newer attraction, but it's no less thrilling; it consists of a series of suspended walkways that jut out from the canyon wall. The park is also filled with beautiful walking trails, and short informative tours are sometimes offered.
Cascade Falls isn't as well-known as some of the other attractions in the area, but it's a spectacular spot that's well worth the drive. The beautiful waterfall tumbles down a 100-foot cliff into a picturesque green pool, and it can be reached by a short trail that starts in the parking lot. The best place to view the falls is from the suspension bridge that stretches across the river, but there are several other viewpoints as well, including a viewing platform at the end of the main trail. Several longer hiking trails continue into the park from the base of the falls.
8.Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park
Nestled in the Chilliwack River Valley, Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park boasts a beautiful lake and rugged mountain slopes covered with old growth forests. Approximately 25 miles of trails meander through the park, providing plenty of opportunities for hiking and wildlife watching, but cyclists and horseback riders are asked to stay on the roadways. The park's namesake lake is its biggest attraction, and it offers a day-use area with a sandy beach and a boat launch. The water is typically too cold to swim, but it's perfectly suited to boating, windsurfing, and canoeing, although the park recommends that only experienced paddlers go out on the lake.
Tucked in between the Kootenay Mountains and the Okanagan, Christina Lake is a wonderful spot for outdoor recreation, particularly in the summer. The lake is known for being one of the warmest in the province, which makes it a popular spot with swimmers and divers, but it's also an excellent place to fish, boat, and stand up paddleboard. If you'd rather stay on dry land, you can explore the forested area around the lake on foot, by mountain bike, or on horseback. During the winter, the trails are open to cross-country skiers, snow shoers, and snowmobilers.
, Michigan beaches
10.Fort Langley National Historic Site
As the birthplace of British Columbia, the Fort Langley National Historic Site is the perfect place to visit if you want to step back in time to the 1800s. Originally established as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post, it consists of both restored and reconstructed historic buildings, including a blacksmith shop with a working forge, a storehouse built in the 1840s, and a majestic Big House. Self-guided tours of the site are available in a number of different languages, and visitors will often have the opportunity to watch live demonstrations of activities like barrel-making and gold panning.
23433 Mavis Ave, Langley City, BC V1M 2R5, Canada, Phone: 604-513-4777
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A rugged gorge that was carved out by the Fraser River, the Fraser Canyon is a scenic driving route that stretches for approximately 50 miles along the Trans-Canada Highway. You'll start driving through the canyon shortly after leaving the town of Hope, when the valley narrows to a canyon with steep rock walls. The drive itself is spectacular, but there are plenty of interesting stops you can make along the way; consider taking a ride over the river in the Hell's Gate Airtram, visiting the railway yard in Boston Bar, or learning about the area's history in the Yale Historic Museum.
12.Garibaldi Provincial Park
Named for Mount Garibaldi, the iconic 8,800-foot peak the park protects, Garibaldi Provincial Park is a popular destination for outdoor fun year-round. It's an excellent location for rock climbing, and there are plenty of hiking trails, which are particularly beautiful in the summer when the alpine wildflowers are in bloom. Many of the hiking trails lead to secluded picnic areas, while others lead to beautiful glacial lakes that are perfect for swimming in on scorching summer days. When winter comes around, the park is transformed into a snowy wonderland that attracts hundreds of enthusiastic skiers and snowshoers who want to explore the pristine backcountry.
BC-99, Brackendale, BC V0N 1H0, Canada
Horseshoe Bay is best known as the home of the ferry terminal that connects the Lower Mainland with the city of Nanaimo, but it's a charming little village that's worth a visit in its own right. There are plenty of excellent restaurants in town, but when the weather's nice, most visitors opt to get take-out fish and chips and bring it to the waterfront park. If you have time to spare after strolling through the village, you can rent a boat at the local marina and get out on the water to fish or to simply explore the surrounding area.
Langley is technically part of Metro Vancouver, but it's a peaceful agricultural community that feels worlds away from Vancouver's downtown core. It's informally known as the horse capital of Canada, and visitors often come here to watch show jumping tournaments and go for horseback trail rides at the local ranches. If you'd rather stay in town, the pedestrian-friendly streets are lined with trendy boutiques, beautiful art galleries, and excellent eateries. Visitors can also participate in the Circle Farm Tour, which provides the opportunity to explore the area's farms and taste award-winning fruit wines, milk cows, and meet friendly alpacas.
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Encompassing approximately 185 acres in West Vancouver, Lighthouse Park a spectacular piece of old growth coastal forest. The most iconic spot in the park is Point Atkinson, which is where the lighthouse that gave the park its name can be found, but there are plenty of other things to do in the park as well. Wear good hiking shoes if you want to explore the many short trails, or bring a blanket and find a picturesque spot to have a picnic. The area also attracts a wide variety of birds, including bald eagles and cormorants, which makes it a popular spot with birdwatchers.
4902 Beacon Ln, West Vancouver, BC V7W 1K5, Canada, Phone: 604-925-7275
If you have your passport handy, Washington's Mount Baker is a wonderful day trip to do from Vancouver. The mountain is primarily known as a ski destination, but it's an excellent place to visit no matter what the time of year. Skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are the best ways to enjoy the mountain in the winter, but during the warmer plans, plan your trip around visiting spots like Nooksack Falls, Picture Lake, and the Artist's Point lookout. Because the area receives so much snow, the roads are sometimes closed even in June, and visitors are advised to check the road conditions before leaving Vancouver.
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Located an hour and a half outside Victoria on Vancouver Island, Mystic Beach is the perfect place to get a taste of the Pacific Northwest's wild beauty. It's not the area's best beach for swimming, but its spectacular sandstone cliffs and fascinating tide pools ensure there's plenty of things to do. During the spring and fall, visitors often spot migrating grey whales. The beach itself can only be accessed by hiking along a short 1.25-mile trail from the parking lot, so bring good shoes and plan to carry everything you'll need for the day down to the beach.
Dating back to the early 1900s, the Othello Tunnels were originally intended to be part of a railway system connecting the coast with the Kootenay Mountains, but they're now a popular destination for hikers and cyclists. There are five tunnels that visitors can walk through, which are connected by a flat gravel trail just over two miles long. The trail also passes over bridges that cross the rocky canyon and the Coquihalla River below, providing some truly spectacular scenery and photo opportunities. Visitors should be aware that the tunnels are closed during the winter to protect visitors from falling ice and rocks.
Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, Hope, BC V0X 1L1, Canada
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Another beautiful spot on Vancouver Island, Oyster River is a tiny rural community located just outside Campbell River. The quaint downtown offers a handful of restaurants and amenities, but the true draw of the area is the surrounding nature, which offers endless opportunities for swimming, hiking, and fishing. In the fall, visitors can also see salmon spawning in Black Creek and in the Oyster River. The area around the town is also a center for agricultural, and visitors can take an interactive tour of the local farms or stop by one of the wineries for a tasting.
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20.Porteau Cove Provincial Park
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Found on the eastern shore of Howe Sound, Porteau Cove Provincial Park is a waterfront paradise that primarily lures in visitors who want to enjoy water-based activities. The rocky beach is perfect for picnicking and enjoying the views of the surrounding mountains, and although swimming is possible, the water is better suited to boating, canoeing, and windsurfing. If you're planning to bring a boat, two paved boat launches can be found at the beach. The park is also a popular destination with scuba divers, and there are two sunken ships and a series of artificial reefs to explore right off the shore.
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21.Salt Spring Island
Nestled between Vancouver Island and the mainland, Salt Spring Island is one of the most popular Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia, and for good reason. The island is known for its vibrant arts community, and no trip here is complete without spending some time browsing the local artists' galleries and studios. A particularly good time to visit is on summer Saturdays, when the island hosts a large market full of local vendors selling everything from wool products to artisan jams and jellies, but there are plenty of beaches, hiking trails, and boutique shops to explore even when the market isn't on.
22.St. Mark’s Summit
Part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail, St. Mark’s Summit is a popular hiking trail of intermediate difficulty. The trail is just under 7 miles long, and it brings hikers through the forest, along the ridgeline, through peaceful alpine meadows, and up several steep, rocky sections. If you want to take a break before you reach the summit, Bowen Lookout is a great spot to have a snack and take a few photos. The best time to come is between May and October, and the hike takes between three and five hours depending on your pace.
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23.The Sunshine Coast
Only accessible by boat or plane, the Sunshine Coast is a gorgeous 110-mile stretch of coastline cut off from the rest of the province by a rugged mountain range. It's dotted with artsy villages, picturesque parks, and secluded beaches, so there's truly something for everyone to enjoy. Art lovers can spend the day browsing some of the 100 unique art galleries, while outdoor enthusiasts can kayak down the Powell River or hike along one of the area's many trails. Before heading back to Vancouver, stop by Persephone Brewing’s “beer farm” to enjoy a cold beer and a beautiful view.
The capital of British Columbia, Victoria is a welcoming city overflowing with British charm, lush gardens, and bohemian eateries. It boasts the perfect blend of history, nature, and culture, and visitors can choose from an incredibly diverse range of activities, including whale watching and adventure kayak tours, touring the majestic Parliament Buildings and the neighboring Royal B.C. Museum, and whiling away the afternoon in a local craft brewery. The downtown Beacon Hill Park is a must-see as well, but if you have a bit of extra time to spare, you can also visit the spectacular Butchart gardens outside town.
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Home to one of the largest and best-known ski resorts in all of North America, Whistler is an inviting ski village that provides luxurious amenities and easy access to some of British Columbia's most impressive natural beauty. Skiing and snowboarding are the activities of choice during the winter, but when the warm weather rolls around, the mountains are transformed into a summertime playground full of opportunities to hike, mountain bike, and swim. However, the pedestrian-friendly village offers plenty of things to do as well, including full-service spas, world-class shopping, and fantastic restaurants and bars with welcoming patios.
25 Best Weekend Getaways and Day Trips from Vancouver
- Bowen Island, Photo: Alex Lyubar/stock.adobe.com
- Harrison Hot Springs, Photo: edb3_16/stock.adobe.com
- Squamish, Photo: nalidsa/stock.adobe.com
- Abbotsford, Photo: Siegfried Schnepf/stock.adobe.com
- Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park, Photo: Loui Photo/stock.adobe.com
- Capilano Suspension Bridge and Cliffwalk, Photo: ink drop/stock.adobe.com
- Cascade Falls, Photo: Ferenc/stock.adobe.com
- Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park, Photo: kate_n/stock.adobe.com
- Christina Lake, Photo: smjoness/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Langley National Historic Site, Photo: Pamela/stock.adobe.com
- Fraser Canyon, Photo: Wolfgang Zintl/stock.adobe.com
- Garibaldi Provincial Park, Photo: JJ/stock.adobe.com
- Horseshoe Bay, Photo: Andrew/stock.adobe.com
- Langley, Photo: hpbfotos/stock.adobe.com
- Lighthouse Park, Photo: Marius M. Grecu/stock.adobe.com
- Mount Baker, Photo: hpbfotos/stock.adobe.com
- Mystic Beach, Photo: edb3_16/stock.adobe.com
- Othello Tunnels, Photo: hpbfotos/stock.adobe.com
- Oyster River, Photo: cromary/stock.adobe.com
- Porteau Cove Provincial Park, Photo: Alex Lyubar/stock.adobe.com
- Salt Spring Island, Photo: ppa5/stock.adobe.com
- St. Mark’s Summit, Photo: Rawpixel.com/stock.adobe.com
- The Sunshine Coast, Photo: illuminaphotographic/stock.adobe.com
- Victoria, Photo: minichka/stock.adobe.com
- Whistler, Photo: Simona/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Debbie Ann Powell/stock.adobe.com