The ever serene and equally gorgeous British Columbia is home to some of the most stunning natural locations in Canada, favoured by many for its excellent alpine conditions and skiing destinations.
Many of these are easily reachable from Vancouver, making it an ideal base from which to take day trips to either the mountains, or the pristine coastline where you can find endless islands and archipelagos to explore.
From hot springs to small, quaint towns and towering mountainscapes, the area around Vancouver is so diverse that it’s a pleasure to travel around in both winter and summer.
Let’s now check out some of these best day trips from Vancouver:
The journey up to the world-renowned ski resort is actually one of the highlights of the trip, as it takes you along the Sea-to-Sky Highway, a stretch of alpine roads with some of the most astonishing views in the world, full of pine trees and shocking ice-blue lakes.
Once you pass through the beautiful Howe Sound, you’ll arrive at the world famous ski resort town of Whistler, which attracts visitors to stay for months at a time, let alone a single day.
If you do spend a day here however, winter is the perfect time to go skiing as the snow is ideal and the town is full of energy and skiers from all over the world.
During the summer, Whistler is a gorgeous place to explore, with hiking, mountain biking, dining and golfing all on offer.
2. Vancouver Coast
A mere 30 minutes from the confines of the city, you’ll find Vancouver’s wonderfully pristine coastline that has an abundance of diverse places to discover and explore.
Known as one of the best kept coasts in the country, you’ll find quaint little beach towns like Deep Cove, which is snugly nestled between gorgeous pine forests and the charming beach itself.
All along the coast you can find places like this where you can indulge in hiking, kayaking, sailing or simply just unwinding on the beach and relaxing.
You can get to the province’s capital city of Victoria by taking a picturesque ferry ride from Vancouver that takes less than two hours and feels like its a whole world away.
The charming waterside city is an ideal place to travel on foot as you soak in the sights and sounds of the Inner Harbour, famous for its street performers or marvel at the city’s parliament buildings.
If you’re looking to learn a little more about the capital, then you can’t miss the Royal British Columbia Museum, one of the most impressive and fascinating in the country.
4. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
A day trip that combines breathtaking rainforest scenery with a rare insight into the culture of the First Nations People, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is the ideal destination for either keen hikers or cultural buffs who want to learn about the indigenous population.
Home to some beautiful forest trails and river walks, there are endless photo opportunities before even arriving to the impressive suspension bridge.
The First Nations Cultural Center is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to their history and you’ll also have the chance to view the world’s largest totem collection built within the forest itself.
5. Harrison Hot Springs
Less than two hours away from Vancouver, you’ll find the tranquil village of Harrison Hot Springs built on the shores of the beautiful Harrison Lake.
Wildly popular with health enthusiasts and intrepid travellers alike, the hot springs here are amongst the most mineral-rich in the world due to their heat and particularly high sulphur concentrations.
If you don’t want to spend the entire day here, you can also explore the picturesque marina, catch an art festival or take a stroll through Sasquatch Provincial Park.
6. Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park
Though it’s a bit of a trek through some pretty rugged country, for lovers of majestic natural scenery, the 90-mile drive from Vancouver to Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park is nothing short of breathtaking.
The park consists of more than 250,000 acres of undisturbed watershed in British Columbia and features a variety of natural and historical attractions along the Stein River.
The park’s amenities are on the sparse side, so those who plan on spending a day hiking or a night or two at a rustic wilderness campsite will have to bring in all the food and gear they’ll need.
Highlights include amazing mountain views, archaeological sites, and a number of pictographs created by the Nlaka’pamux people generations ago.
7. Visit Abbotsford
For its relative proximity, abundant activity options, and all-around charm, there’s really no better day trip destination than Abbotsford.
Though Abbotsford is BC’s 5th largest municipality, it has a decidedly small-town feel compared to its big-city cousin to the west.
Fishing is one of the town’s most popular outdoor recreation options; its rivers and streams are teeming with hearty game fish like trout, salmon, and massive sturgeon.
There’s also an amusement park nearby that’s a big hit with traveling families, and an ever-popular flea market that has been an iconic weekly social event for more than four decades.
Less than an hour from Vancouver but a world away in terms of atmosphere, Squamish is a small town on the Sea-to-Sky Highway on the way to Whistler, but is sometimes overlooked as a place to spend the day.
However, its idyllic location at Howe Sound at the base of a breathtaking mountain range makes it an unmissable place to visit if you’re in Vancouver.
Popular among rock climbers looking for dramatic rock faces to climb and other adrenaline seekers indulging in biking and hiking routes, Squamish is an incredibly convenient trip for a few hours of fun.
9. Salt Spring Island
A wonderfully homely island, Salt Spring is teeming with farms, homesteads and even a number of artist’s studios who have moved to the green and hilly haven.
On a sunny day it really is a pleasant escape from Vancouver’s city life and you can reach it by catching a non-stop ferry from Tsawwassen.
Activities on Salt Spring Island range from sampling local produce at family-owned farms, to visiting walk-in art studios and seeing some artists at work.
For some city comforts, should you miss them, head to the main town of Ganges where you can explore the waterfront community and check out the shops, restaurants and galleries there.
10. Mount Baker, Washington
With a peak visible from Vancouver itself, Mount Baker isn’t always the first on the list of day trip ideas – but at just over two hours away it’s one of the most worthwhile excursions to take if you’re looking for incredible mountain scenery.
Offering hiking in the summer and some world-class skiing in the winter on account of the amount of snow that falls here, Mount Baker has something for everyone.
One of the highlights is during late summer, when the wildflower displays are in full bloom and for a few weeks, are incomparably beautiful.
11. Fort Langley
Popular among families on account of panning for gold and re-enactments from the 1800’s, Fort Langley is a former fur trading post that’s steeped in history and only an hour from Vancouver.
A true gold rush outpost, you can lose yourself in the wild stories of the first British Columbia colonies as you walk around the old fort that’s open all year round.
12. Bridal Falls
Less than two hours from Vancouver, you’ll find the town of Bridal Falls that proudly caters for visitors looking to explore the base of the famous Bridal Veil Falls.
A wonderful place to have a picnic in the summer, the 60m high falls are beloved by locals and travellers alike on account of the serene setting tucked away in the forest.
The highlight however is during winter when the temperature plummets and the falls themselves freeze, causing an icy dreamscape that attracts just as many fascinated visitors as in summer.
13. Britannia Mining Museum
An ideal day trip for those looking to learn more about British Columbia’s rich, industrious past, the Britannia Mining Museum is a fascinating insight into the 19th Century gold rush and more.
Asides from this, the building itself has long been an unmissable landmark on the Sea-to-Sky Highway, with over twenty-tiered storeys towering over surrounding pine forests.
From the location of the former Britannia Mine, you can do everything from going on a guided underground tour, to panning for gold, or seeing some original 20th Century equipment.
14. Hell’s Gate Airtram
Take a scenic drive up to Hells Gate which lies around 2 hours away from Vancouver and is home to one of the area’s most impressive spectacles.
The iconic Fraser River narrows to a point where the water is forced through a small, rocky section and the resulting flow of raging white-water is truly a sight to behold.
Taking you even closer to the action is the Hell’s Gate Airtram, that between spring and fall will take visitors on a hair-raising ride directly over the churning water and safely to the other side.
Complete with a gift-shop, restaurant and information center, Hell’s Gate is a great day out for families who want to see something a little different and want an exciting way to see it.
15. Lighthouse Park
Conveniently located in a residential area a mere 40 minutes from the center of Vancouver, Lighthouse Park is a wonderfully picturesque spot at the base of a classically designed lighthouse overlooking the water.
Popular amongst couples on account of its romantic settings, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic at sunset and close enough to town that you won’t need to hurry back.
For those looking to do something more active, there are also numerous hiking trails in the area, as well as a number of rock climbing sites.