Vancouver is the largest city on Canada's West Coast by a long margin and a beautiful and cosmopolitan place to explore. Although Vancouver is a relatively young city, it has a culture and atmosphere all its own and an incredible food scene thanks to generations of immigration to this still-growing town. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in downtown Vancouver, and you'll be ready to discover everything it has to offer.
One of the unique things about Vancouver is its setting. Located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by mountains, Vancouver feels very much like what it is: a big city in the middle of a sprawling unspoiled natural wilderness. And that means you can take some great day trips from Vancouver to see more of British Columbia.
Once you've seen the best museums in Vancouver, done some shopping on Robson Street, and tried some incredible food, it's time to consider trying one of the best day trips from Vancouver to see more of what this region has to offer. You don't need to go far to immerse yourself in the grandeur of the Canadian wilderness, and these day trips from Vancouver are some of the best things to do while you're in the city.
How to get out of Vancouver
As a relatively young city, Vancouver's public transport infrastructure doesn't compare to what you'll find in older cities on North America's East Coast, let alone in Europe or Asia. There is a useful public transit network within the city itself, and you can read more about how to get around Vancouver here. But step outside the city limits, and things get trickier.
Some of the best day trips in Vancouver are reachable by bus, especially if you're willing to take a tour bus. But for others, the best and maybe only way to get there is by car.
From Vancouver to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Metro Vancouver area, Capilano Suspension Cambridge Park is easy to reach from downtown Vancouver, even by public transit.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge was first built in 1889, and today is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vancouver. The bridge spans 450 feet (140 meters) across and 230 feet (70 meters) above the Capilano River and provides stunning views of the canyon below.
In addition to the bridge itself, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is also home to a number of other activities and attractions, including the Treetops Adventure, which features a series of suspended bridges high up in the Douglas fir trees, and the Cliffwalk, a series of cantilevered walkways that cling to the granite cliff face alongside Capilano River.
How to get to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
If you don't hit traffic on the Lions Gate Bridge that leads to North Vancouver, you can reach Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in less than 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver. Alternatively, you can take bus number 246, which takes around half an hour.
From Vancouver to Deep Cove
From downtown Vancouver, the towering mountains of North Vancouver are easily visible on a clear day, and it can be very tempting to explore them. As well as Capilano Suspension Bridge, the North Shore is home to another incredible location that offers one of the best day trips from Vancouver without going far from the city.
Deep Cove is a small community located at the head of a fjord on the east coast of North Vancouver. It's a popular spot for outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking, and rock climbing, and in the winter, it's also a great place to go for a snowshoe or cross-country ski.
Deep Cove is also home to one of the best bakeries in Vancouver, Honey Doughnuts & Goodies. This local institution has been serving up fresh doughnuts and baking since 1971 and is definitely worth a visit if you have a sweet tooth. It's the perfect end to a fun day trip and a good reward for all that healthy outdoor activity you've been getting.
How to get to Deep Cove
Deep Cove is only a 25-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. You can also take bus number 211, which will take around an hour.
From Vancouver to Squamish
Head north from Vancouver, and you'll find yourself on the Sea to Sky Highway. As the name suggests, this incredible highway hugs the mountains on one side and offers incredible views of the ocean on the other. In fact, the drive is so beautiful that the highway is almost an attraction in itself.
However, there's more to the Sea to Sky Highway than just beautiful views. About an hour north of Vancouver, you'll find the mountain town of Squamish, which bills itself as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada - and with plenty of justification.
Squamish is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes. In the summer, there's hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, white water rafting, and more. In the winter, the snow-capped mountains offer great opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and even heli-skiing.
There's also world-class kitesurfing at Squamish Spit, which is why the town has been nicknamed "Surf City." If you've ever wanted to learn how to kitesurf or are looking for a place to practice your skills, Squamish is the perfect spot.
Squamish is dominated by the sheer cliff face of the Stawamus Chief, and hiking to the top is a true British Columbia experience. However, if you prefer to take it easy, there's also a gondola that will take you to the top. While you're up there, don't miss the Sky Pilot Suspension bridge for a thrilling adventure with an incredible backdrop.
How to get to Squamish
The YVR Skylynx bus travels from Vancouver airport through downtown to Whistler, stopping at Squamish along the way. It takes around an hour and a half to reach Squamish from downtown, whereas driving yourself will take a little under an hour.
From Vancouver to Whistler
Keep traveling up the Sea to Sky Highway from Squamish, and you'll reach the mountain resort of Whistler. Undoubtedly one of the best day trips from Vancouver, Whistler is world-renowned for its great winter skiing and snowboarding and mountain biking and golfing in the summer.
However, there's more to Whistler than just outdoor activities. The town is also home to a number of excellent restaurants, bars, and shops. And if you're looking for some culture on your day trip from Vancouver, you can visit the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre to learn about the history and traditions of the First Nations people who have lived in the area for millennia.
How to get to Whistler
The previously mentioned YVR Skylynx bus can get you to Whistler from downtown Vancouver in about two hours. Alternatively, it will take about an hour and a half to drive yourself.
From Vancouver to Bowen Island
Just a short ferry ride from downtown Vancouver lies Bowen Island, a beautiful and peaceful island that makes for a great day trip.
Although it's only a 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay, Bowen Island feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of Vancouver. It's the perfect place to go for a hike, swim, or just relax on one of the many beaches.
Art lovers will also enjoy a visit to Bowen Island. The island is home to a number of galleries, including the Artisans' Guild Gallery, which features the work of local artists. The Gallery at Cove Commons also has rotating exhibitions of both local and international art.
How to get to Bowen Island
You can reach the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal from Vancouver in around 40 minutes by car or an hour by bus. Then hop on the ferry from there.
From Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs
Heading East out of Vancouver toward the interior of British Columbia offers just as much adventure as going north into the mountains. Follow the highway along the Fraser River, and you'll reach beautiful Harrison Lake and the village of Harrison Hot Springs.
Harrison Hot Springs is a popular spot for summer swimming, boating, and fishing. In the winter, Harrison Hot Springs is a great place to enjoy some snow activities in British Columbia, such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
The hot springs themselves are also worth a visit. There are three different springs to choose from, each with its own unique set of minerals. The waters of the springs are said to have medicinal properties, so soak away your troubles and come out feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
How to get to Harrison Hot Springs
An hour and a half of highway driving will get you from Vancouver to Harrison Heart Springs. Public transportation in the Fraser Valley leaves something to be desired, so a car is the best way to get here.
From Vancouver to the San Juan Islands
Another great day trip from Vancouver is a ferry ride to the San Juan Islands. These islands, located just off the coast of Washington state in the United States, are a beautiful and relaxing place to spend a day.
There are a number of different ways to explore the islands, but one of the best is by kayak. Many companies offer guided kayak tours, or you can rent a kayak and explore on your own. Whichever way you choose to do it, be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife as you paddle around. The San Juan Islands are home to seals, sea lions, dolphins, and even orcas!
If you'd rather stay on dry land, there are plenty of hiking trails to explore on the islands. Or you can just relax on one of the many beaches and enjoy the stunning views.
How to get to the San Juan Islands
You can reach the San Juan Islands by ferry, but the quickest and easiest way to explore is with a private tour company. A 20-minute drive will bring you from Vancouver to Steveston, and from there, you can catch a boat to see the islands. Many companies offer pickup from downtown Vancouver hotels, too.
From Vancouver to Grouse Mountain
Another fantastic place to visit in North Vancouver is Grouse Mountain. This popular tourist destination is just a 30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. In the winter, Grouse Mountain is a great place to go skiing or snowboarding. And in the summer, you can hike or take the gondola up to the top of the mountain for some breathtaking views.
Grouse Mountain is also home to a number of other attractions, including the Wildlife Refuge, where you can see grizzly bears, wolves, and other animals in their natural habitat. There's also an Adventure Ropes Course, as well as a number of restaurants and shops.
So whether you're looking to hit the slopes or just enjoy some stunning views, be sure to add Grouse Mountain to your list of places to visit on the best day trips from Vancouver.
How to get to Grouse Mountain
It's a 20-minute drive to the Grouse Mountain parking lot or an hour's bus ride. From there, you can take the gondola to the top or walk if you're feeling energetic.
From Vancouver to Golden Ears Provincial Park
Golden Ears Provincial Park is another great option for a day trip from Vancouver. This massive park in Maple Ridge is a popular spot for hiking, camping, and picnicking.
There are over 60 miles (100 kilometers) of trails to explore in Golden Ears Provincial Park, so you can find a hike perfect for your skill level. And if you're feeling adventurous, there are also some great spots for rock climbing and mountain biking.
After a day of exploring the great outdoors, you can relax at one of the many lakes in the park. Alouette Lake is the largest and most popular lake in the park, and it's perfect for swimming, canoeing, or just lounging on the beach.
So if you're looking for a day trip that's packed with activities, Golden Ears Provincial Park is the perfect place to go.
How to get to Golden Ears Provincial Park
A 45-minute drive from Vancouver will bring you to this urban wilderness.
For all the great things there are to do in Vancouver, the fact remains that day trips are some of the best experiences you can have. Seeing more of what British Columbia has to offer is never a bad idea, and these day trips from Vancouver offer endless hiking trails, scenic vistas, great food, and everything else you need to have a fantastic holiday.
Leave your bags in the city with Bounce and get ready to explore some truly amazing destinations in and around Vancouver. Whether you're looking for adventure or relaxation, there's a day trip from Vancouver that's perfect for you. So get out there and explore all that this beautiful province has to offer!