As the western most province in Canada, British Columbia is a playground for those who enjoy both the tourist attractions that are famous the world over, and for those who enjoy something off the beaten path. Many stunning landscapes and fun excursions lay a short road trip from Vancouver, so if you’re looking for something fun to do, here is our list of the 10 best day trips definitely worth your while.
Victoria (approx 3.5 hours’ drive)
- If you haven’t been, Victoria (located on Vancouver Island) is a city that will capture your heart and entice you to stroll the streets from sunrise to sundown. Victoria is a wonderful mix of historic, gingerbread laced houses and the best of what modern amenities have to offer. If you love fine dining, make your choice from a wide variety of delicious cuisine, many of which offer their diners a fantastic ocean view and an array of seafood delights. If you’ve packed a picnic lunch, tuck into your basket among the beautiful scenery at the Butchart Gardens and be sure not to miss the rose pavilion. You can take afternoon tea in the Fairmont Empress hotel, or if you’re on the hunt for breakfast, grab a seat at John’s Place. Victoria is the perfect staging point for your whale watching tour; if you’re lucky you’ll catch sight of the resident orcas!
Deep Cove (approx 30 minutes’ drive)
- From downtown Vancouver it will only take a short half hour drive to experience all that Deep Cove has to offer. Quarry Rock Hike trailhead is located just past the public waterfront and will take you about an hour and a half to complete, with a 100 meter ascent and plenty of terrain to get your heart rate up. Make sure to bring some snacks and water; the hike isn’t treacherous and won’t tax those who are used to a bit of outdoor activity, but most hikers enjoy a refuel at the top while they take in the view. You’ll also have the opportunity to rent kayaks, stand up paddleboards or canoes for a paddle around the Deep Cove water or sit and dip your toes for a cool down!
Whistler (approx 2 hours’ drive)
- Whistler’s Peak to Peak Gondola is only about 1.75 hours from Vancouver and offers visitors an absolutely spectacular view like nowhere else. Once at the top, head to the Peak Express Ride, which is an open chair lift which will give you even more opportunity for incredible birds-eye views of glaciers and tree lines.
Salt Spring Island (approx 2.5 hours’ drive)
- A mix of road trip and boat trips (or check out the alternative floatplane service) can get you to Salt Spring Island’s Ganges Harbour. Home to Salt Spring Vineyards, Salt Spring Ales, and Moonstruck Organic Cheese, if you’ve brought your appetite, you’ll certainly leave the island with a full belly. The island’s Saturday market is well worth your time with more than 100 stalls to choose from. Be sure to check out Ganges’ galleries and if you’re feeling adventurous, opt for their daily boat tours.
Bridal Falls Provincial Park (approx 1.5 hours’ drive)
- Although there is no camping available at this provincial park, you can certainly enjoy a full day hiking and use the picnic facilities (bathrooms are available) at beautiful Bridal Falls. Grab some lawn chairs or use the picnic tables, take along your Frisbee or a softball and don’t forget to hike along the creek all the way to check out the falls that give this park its name. If you’ve got kids along for the ride, check out nearby Bridal Falls Water Park.
Maplewood Flats Conservation Area (approx .5 hours’ drive)
- If you’re looking for something of a more peaceful nature, Maplewood Flats Conservation area might be just the ticket. If you’re a birdwatcher this is the place to be, and less crowded than other bird watching areas around the Vancouver area. Even if you’re not on the lookout for the woodpeckers, bald eagles and osprey that can be found here, Maplewood Flats offers plenty of lovely walking paths through forest and along the beach for a tranquil day before you head back to reality.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (approx 4.5 hours’ drive)
- Looking for something more upbeat? Pacific Rim National Park Reserve could be right up your alley. If you really want to test your mettle, book yourself in for a 6 day hike along the West Coast Trail, or if you’re short on time, sign yourself up for a surf lesson on Long Beach. The oldest trees on the planet await you just a short water taxi away to Meares Island, or you can take a seaplane to Hot Springs Cove to take the ache out of tired muscles.
Harrison Hot Springs (approx 1.5 hours’ drive)
- If you want to fit some relaxation time into your road trip, you can’t do much better than the healing waters of a hot spring. The Harrison Hot Springs offer visitors 8 minerals including Epsom salts, alum, iron and magnesia. Soothe aching muscles in a natural setting! Take in some of the history of the area at the local Visitors Center or even try your hand at a paddle around Harrison Lake.
Granville Island (approx 10 minutes)
- We’re not sure if a 10 minute drive quite counts as a road trip, but when visiting the Vancouver area, you won’t want to miss stopping at famous Granville Island for some shopping therapy and a tour around the delights of its public market brimming with fresh food from baking, fruits and veggies, and the freshest food the sea has to offer.
Cowichan River (Vancouver Island) (approx 3.5 hours’ drive)
- Don’t forget the beer before you take off to Cowichan River on Vancouver Island. This river is the ultimate lazy road trip destination as you float for 2.5 hours through sections of slow and fast currents. You don’t have to worry about floaties or how to get back to your vehicle; the Tube Shack can take care of all your rental and shuttle needs.