British Columbia is a beautiful part of Canada with green forests, impressive mountains and a long and rugged coastline. While you should definitely spend a couple of days in Vancouver, there are lots of great day trips around Vancouver.
It doesn’t matter if you are looking to spend some time at a lovely lake, overcome your fears while walking a 70 meter (230 ft) high suspension bridge or hop on a short ferry ride to explore quaint little Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast, this post with the best day trips from Vancouver has got you covered!
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The best day trip from Vancouver
In this article you will find a list of the best day trips to take from Vancouver, British Columbia. These day trips are all within (driving) distance and can be comfortably visited in one day. Included are:
- Allouette Lake
- Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
- Garibaldi Lake
- Grouse Mountain
- Harrison Hot Springs
- Horseshoe Bay
- Ladner Creek Trestle
- Lynn Canyon Park
- Porteau Cove
This post has been created in collaboration with several other travel bloggers, who have kindly shared their expert advice about their favorite Vancouver day trips.
Please note all prices listed in this article are in Canadian dollars ($).
Each of the Vancouver tours mentioned in this post can be visited independently (by car, ferry, coach or public transport). However, if you prefer, there are also really good guided tours available via Get Your Guide.
Driving distance from Vancouver: 1 hour (70km)
Why you should visit Abbotsford
Claudia from The Travelling Mom: situated in the agricultural heart of the Fraser Valley is the sprawling community of Abbotsford. As one of the fastest growing cities in British Columbia, Abbotsford proudly maintains its farming roots with orchards and U-Pick blueberry fields lining the back roads and highways.
Abbotsford’s small and walkable downtown has seen an influx of millennial entrepreneurs opening up coffee shops, bakeries, chic boutiques and excellent farm to table restaurants that are still, for now, local secrets.
Spend a day trip sipping high tea at Tracycakes or nourish the body with a fresh juice from the Habit Project.
Linger over a leisurely brunch of creamed mushrooms on toast and fluffy pancakes at Little Brother, where everything from the butter to the yogurt is made from scratch.
Wander the curated aisles of Spruce Collective, a treasure-trove of housewares and gifts, cruise the stacks at Hemingway’s Books, or find your next favorite outfit at Montrose & George General Store.
Walk off the day’s feasting with a stroll around the lake at Willband Creek Park. Keep an eye out for the more than 230 species of birds that frequent this wild space, including blue herons, ducks, finches, and bald eagles!
Where to stay in Abbotsford
If you decide to spend more than one day in Abbortsford, the Brookside Inn is a lovely boutique hotel just out of town.
Alternatively, the Sandman Hotel and Suites is located in the city center of Abbotsford and rooms have a fully equipped kitchen, washer and dryer.
2. Allouette Lake
Driving distance from Vancouver: 1 hour 15 minutes (65km)
Why you should visit Alouette Lake
Bailey from Destinationless Travel: one of the best short trips from Vancouver is Alouette Lake. You see, contrary to popular belief, swimming in a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains isn’t just an activity done in Whistler. Alouette Lake is actually located right in Maple Ridge!
From Vancouver city center it takes a little over an hour (by car) to get to Alouette Lake, making it an ideal day trip without having to do too much driving. In fact, Vancouver’s Park Bus operates from downtown Vancouver to Alouette Lake so you don’t even need a car!
Alouette Lake is a pristine fresh water lake perfect for swimming, picnics, fishing, or even boating. There is actually a designated swimming area near a beach with both a grass and sand area. There are picnic tables and bathroom facilities and it is common to see many families hanging out for the day with BBQ’s set up.
Alouette Lake is located within Golden Ears Provincial Park. Within the park there are many hiking trails and even campgrounds. So, if you want to turn your day trip into a weekend trip, you can!
Important note: in summer the park can get very busy and the parking lots fill up quickly. So it’s best to head to there in the morning to beat the crowds!
Where to stay around Alouette Lake
If you are planning to spend more than a day around Alouette Lake, there are several beautifully decorated apartments on Airbnb, such as this one or this one. Both apartments are located in/near Maple Ridge.
Accommodation discount: if you have never traveled with Airbnb before you can get €30 of your first Airbnb stay with this link!
3. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Driving distance from Vancouver: 10 minutes (9km)
Why you should visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge
Carol from Wandering Carol: the Capilano Suspension Bridge (pictured above) is much more than a bridge, it’s a step into a West Coast rainforest of towering evergreens, fragrant cedars, boardwalks, canyons and ponds.
In addition to crossing the dramatic suspension bridge, which is 137 meters (450 feet) long and hovers 70 meters (230 feet) over the Capilano River, you can catch your breath from the jaw-dropping views on the Cliffwalk.
This cantilevered walkway curls around a granite cliff high over the Capilano Canyon. Or try the Treetops Adventure, which will give you a bird’s eye view of the forest floor.
Prices to enter this 27-acre park range from $16.95 for children to $53.95 for adults (kids under six go in free).
The easiest way to get here is with the free shuttle that leaves from specific downtown pickup points including Canada Place and runs year round.
One of Vancouver’s top attractions, the suspension bridge is only 20 minutes away from downtown, but it feels like a dreamy world away!
4. Garibaldi Lake
Driving distance from Vancouver: 1 hour and 30 minutes (100km)
Why you should visit Garibaldi Provincial Park
Erika from Erika’s Travels: Garibaldi Provincial Park lies an hour and a half north of Vancouver, along British Columbia’s Sea to Sky Highway.
Featuring turquoise lakes, alpine meadows and evergreen forests, the park is a popular refuge for nature-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Garibaldi Provincial Park contains over 90km of hiking trails, the area’s most popular hikes begin at the Rubble Creek trailhead.
Mountain-ringed Garibaldi Lake is undoubtedly the most popular attraction in the provincial park. For stellar views of the blue-green water, many day-trippers choose to hike to the top of Panorama Ridge.
The hike to Panorama Ridge is a 34 kilometer (21 mile) round-trip haul that affords stunning views of Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk Mountain.
Due to the hike’s length and moderate level of difficulty, day-trippers from Vancouver should arrive at the trailhead by sunrise. Alternatively, campsites along the route cater to hikers who wish to spend multiple days in the area.
Though the hike to Panorama Ridge is a challenging climb to accomplish in a day, Garibaldi Lake’s jaw-dropping scenery has made the park an increasingly popular day trip from Vancouver.
Where to stay near Garibaldi Lake
If you want to spend more than a day exploring Garibaldi Lake (and you really should!), my recommendation is to make a reservation at one of the campgrounds. Alternatively, you could opt to book a hotel in Whistler or stay in Squamish.
5. Gibsons (Sunshine Coast)
Distance from Vancouver: 30 minutes to Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal (by car) followed by a 40 minute ferry ride to Gibsons.
Why you should visit Gibsons (and the Sunshine Coast in general!)
Gemma from Two Scots Abroad: the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia is a delightful all-season escape from the city. In fact, locals will joke that once you visit, you won’t want to go back to Vancouver.
Your coastal day trip starts with a forty-minute ferry ride from Vancouver to Gibsons. The ride is stunning in summer and in winter. You can choose a top deck seat to watch the scenery.
Gibsons is quite a big town in comparison to others on the coast. There are plenty of restaurants to dine at, some shops and a handful of craft breweries.
Sechelt, BC is another big town. One of my favorite things to do here is to watch the seaplanes arrive and depart while drinking a cold beverage. There is also a great paddle board area just out of town.
You can get around all the little towns and villages on the coast but you have to rely on public transport timing unless you rent a bike or travel by car. If you have a car, you can head far north, making pitstops at the many lakes.
Where to stay in Gibsons
If you decide to spend more than a day on the Sunshine Coast (and once again I recommend that you do;-), what better place to spend the night than a castle?
The North American Noble Castle is a 5 star hotel just out of town where you can relax or take a dip in the indoor pool.
6. Grouse mountain
Driving distance from Vancouver: 30 minutes (12km)
Why you should visit Grouse Mountain
Priya Vin from Outside Suburbia: take a leisurely Skyride to Grouse Mountain and you will be rewarded with a spectacular view of Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean.
If are up for the challenge you can hike the grueling and challenging Grouse Grind mountain.
Once on top of the mountains, you can see of grizzly bears at the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, ravens and eagles.
Don’t miss lumberjack show where they compete against each other showcase their skills in log rolling, a 60-foot tree climb and axe throwing among others.
There is plenty to do on the mountain, from ziplines to guided nature walks and hikes. Our favorite was the open chairlifts to the summit, soaring to an altitude of 1250 meter high (4100 feet) above sea level.
This scenic Peak Chairlift that will transport you to the apex of Grouse Mountain. At the summit, the panorama is just a spectacular panorama.
You can easily spend half a day or more here. Tickets to Grouse Mountain are $59 per adult and $32 for kids (5-16 years). A family ticket (2 Adults/2 Children) is $159.00.
You can drive here from downtown Vancouver in about half an hour or take the free shuttle (only in summer) from Canada Place. Read more about the shuttle here.
7. Harrison Hot Springs
Driving distance from Vancouver: 90 minutes (132km)
Why you should visit Harrison Hot Springs
Lesley from Freedom56travel: Harrison Hot Springs is an excellent day trip from Vancouver! An easy 90 minute drive from Vancouver, this little community is perched on the edge of beautiful Harrison Lake in the picturesque Fraser Valley.
I suggest taking Highway 7 out to Harrison Hot Springs instead of Highway 1, the drive is much nicer and less busy too!
A day trip in the summer is always a treat because you can swim in Harrison Lake. There’s also great paddling via kayak and canoe in the lake and you can rent your watercraft at the Harrison Resort dock.
One of the biggest attractions in Harrison Hot Springs is their Sasquatch, of course. Described as ‘a bi-pedal mammal of exceptional size’, this hairy beast is known to roam the Harrison Hot Springs area, with many reported sightings. The Sasquatch is a beloved fixture in the oral tradition of the local First Nations people.
There are lots of great places to eat in Harrison Hot Springs, especially along Esplanade Ave in front of the lagoon. Try the Muddy Waters Café, near the Sasquatch statue.
8. Horseshoe Bay
Distance from Vancouver: 30 minutes by car or 44 minutes from Waterfront station by train/bus.
Why you should visit Horseshoe Bay
Alex from The Swedish Nomad: Horseshoe Bay is a lovely town and an easy day trip from Vancouver.
There are many quaint little shops and restaurants, where you can pick up a souvenir or two. The Butter Lane Bake Shop and Tea House is one of my favorite places, they serve some of the finest teas and mouthwatering freshly baked goods.
If you are looking for a nice restaurant, I suggest eating at the Boathouse restaurant or Troll’s.
One of the most popular things to do in Horseshoe Bay is to explore the network of fjords by boat, either your own or on a small cruise.
Furthermore, you can go scuba diving, kayaking, animal spotting or simply enjoy the beautiful views. From Horseshoe Bay, you can also visit lovely Bowen Island and the Howe Sound.
9. Ladner Creek Trestle
Driving distance from Vancouver: 2 hours (180km)
Why you should visit the Ladner Creek Trestle
Roxy from The Coastal Campaign: the Ladner Creek Trestle near Hope is an epic little hike that makes for a great day trip from Vancouver!
The hike itself is relatively easy and it takes around 30 minutes to reach the old trestle bridge that used to form part of the Kettle Valley Railway. The trestle is a beautiful old bridge tucked away in the mountains, curving high over Ladner Creek and surrounded by pine trees.
The journey to the pull out on the Coquihalla Highway takes just over two hours from Vancouver. To hike to the Ladner Creek Trestle, hang out and enjoy the view and make the return journey to the car park, should take 1.5 – 2 hours.
Important note: while the trail is relatively easy, it is best done in summer to avoid snow on the ground or slippery terrain.
This hike is one of British Columbia’s best kept secrets, meaning you shouldn’t have to share the trail with too many other people. The view of this beautiful bridge is well worth the journey from Vancouver!
10. Lynn Canyon Park
Driving distance from Vancouver: 30 minutes (16km)
Why you should visit the Lynn Canyon Park
Claire from Backpacking Bella: the best day trip from Vancouver on our cross-Canada adventure was to the beautiful Lynn Canyon Park.
While you should also visit the famous Capilano Suspension bridge (mentioned earlier in this post), you can also find a suspension bridge in Lynn Canyon Park. This one is less crowded and (as an added bonus) totally free!
Lynn Canyon Park is located in North Vancouver, about half an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver. Don’t worry if you don’t have a car, you can also get there with public transport (a journey by bus takes just over an hour).
Sure enough, Lynn Canyon Park has a suspended walkway where you can cross 50 meters above a scenic, tree-covered canyon, as a waterfall crashes far beneath you. But there is much more to this park besides the bridge!
Boulders and tree stumps are ready to be jumped on, serene swimming holes beg to be dived into and you can hike one of the many winding trails in this century old forest.
Lynn Canyon Park is open daily all year round, except for Christmas and New Year. It has some great picnic spots and a cafe, though this is closed during the winter.
The park also has an ecology center which is great for kids. Make sure you bring comfortable shoes so you can properly explore this naturally stunning place!
11. Porteau Cove
Driving distance from Vancouver: 30 minutes (45km)
Why you should visit Porteau Cove
Riana of Teaspoon of Adventure: one of the best day trips from Vancouver is Porteau Cove. Porteau Cove Provincial Park is a beautiful campground and beach area between Vancouver and Whistler.
I love Porteau Cove because it’s super close to the city (only a 30 minute drive!) and has some of the most incredible views over Howe Sound and to the mountains. It’s an ideal campground because of its location and beauty.
There’s a ton to do (when you’re done taking in the beautiful views). You can swim on the beach, go kayaking or canoeing, or even go scuba diving, as there is a man-made reef and sunken ships to explore.
There are trails and a small hill to hike. And at night, this place has the most stunning and bright view of the stars, completely unobstructed from the city lights. What’s more: visiting the park for the day is free of charge!
Where to stay in Porteau Cove
If you have more time available, I would suggest booking a campsite for a couple of nights at Porteau Cove. Many of the sites are right on the water! Camping fees are between $18 and $43 per night, depending on the time of year and type of site.
Driving distance from Vancouver: 60 minutes (65km)
Why you should visit Squamish
Lori from the Voyage Writers: one of the best day tours from Vancouver is Squamish! Located an hour from Vancouver, Squamish B.C. is often referred to as ‘the outdoor recreation capital of Canada’. There are outdoor activities for every season and whether on the water or on land, there is something for everyone!
A popular activity is the Sea to Sky Gondola. Open all year round, the 10-minute gondola ride to the summit will take your breath away.
Through the floor to ceiling windows of the gondola, you’ll have sweeping views of the waters of Howe Sound, the coastal forest and surrounding mountains.
Furthermore, there are hiking trails, a suspension bridge and viewing platforms. Tickets range from $15.95 for children (age 6-12) to $43.95 for adults.
Feeling hungry? There is a cafe at the Summit Lodge. Alternatively, head into town and check out the Squamish Tasting Trail for samples of cider beer, coffee, food and dessert.
If you are driving, take the Sea to Sky Highway/Highway 99. Alternatively, there are shuttles and tours leaving from Vancouver.
Whatever you choose to do while in Squamish, you will surely appreciate the beautiful nature British Columbia has to offer!
Where to stay in Squamish
If you want to spend more time in Squamish, there are several hotels, motels, cabins, hostels or campgrounds for overnight stays.
Driving distance from Vancouver: 30 minutes (16km)
Why you should visit Steveston
Toni from Enchanted Serendipity: Vancouver has some really great day trip options, which makes heading out of it a very hard decision! Where do you go?
That’s where I have you covered! Steveston, a seaside town, south of Vancouver ’s CDB, should be at the top of your list for any day trip out of Vancouver. Steveston is accessible from Vancouver through driving a car or using public transport. So anyone can easily make it out here!
From Waterfront Station (which operates a skyrail), you need to take the Canada Line (light blue) to Richmond – Brighouse Station. And then catch a bus (#402) until you reach Steveston Village.
There are other buses which get you to this area besides the #402 so I always use Google Maps for up to date transport information. One way, it is a minimum journey of 45 minutes, but can sometimes take just under an hour.
So why do people make the effort to get down to Steveston? The entire town of Steveston is just quaint and charming and historic, but it’s not the only reason…
For some, it is the awesome marina views the harbor offers, I don’t think I have ever seen a more pretty seaside setting. Or the fish market which allows customers to purchase fresh fish right off the fishing boats themselves.
But for me and many like me, it is the filming locations which can be found here. Steveston features as the charming town Storeybrooke in the ABC drama ‘Once Upon A Time‘. In fact, 90% of exterior shots from the show were filmed here!
The shooting locations can be found along Moncton Street, if you are a fan of the series you will immediately recognize it the minute you arrive.
Fans of the series ‘Supernatural’ will also recognize Steveston from key episodes. Other productions from ‘X-Files’ to ‘Sliders’ have used cute little Steveston as a filming location too. When you’re walking around the town it’s easy to see why.
Filming locations aside, Steveston is just a beautiful place. It holds so much history within it, given it was founded in the 1880s. History buffs will get a lot out of a visit here.
No matter what you decide to do there, an afternoon or full day here is a real highlight. I lived in Vancouver and Steveston was one of my best memories from all of the exploring I did, as well as that of my friends!
Where to stay in Steveston
If you decide to spend more than a day in picturesque Steveston, Steveston Village B&B is located right in the center.
Distance from Vancouver: 45 minutes by car plus 90 minutes by ferry plus another 45-60 minutes by bus.
Why you should visit Victoria
Victoria was my favorite city in Canada, and we visited quite some cities during our 2.5 month Canada road trip!
I admit it’s quite a journey for one day (so why not spend a weekend in Victoria) but it is doable. From Vancouver it takes approximately 45 minutes by car to drive to Tsawassen where the ferry departs to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island.
The ferry takes 1 hour and 30 minutes, however, it’s an activity in itself as the scenery is stunning. If you are very lucky you may even spot a killer whale!
From Swartz Bay it’s another 45-60 minutes to downtown Victoria by bus (bus 70 or 72). Altogether, expect to the journey to take at least 4 hours.
Alternatively, you can book a cruise from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria. This scenic cruise through the Southern Gulf Islands cruise takes 3.5 hours, with beautiful coastal views along the way!
Once you have arrived in Victoria, visit the beautiful British Columbia Parliament Building. You can do a free tour or visit independently.
Walk along the Inner Harbor and soon you will arrive in the historic center of Victoria, with beautiful old buildings, colorful street art (especially in Chinatown) and lots of cute shops and cafes.
Families with kids should visit the petting zoo and playgrounds in Beacon Hill Park, while nature lovers can join a whale watching tour.
Take a stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf or visit Craigdarroch Castle, an impressive mansion built by Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish-Canadian coal mine developer.
Before you head back to Vancouver, eat some tacos at Tacofino or grab a beer at one of the many breweries.
Where to stay in Victoria
If you decide to spend more than a day in Victoria (again, you should because Victoria is amazing and fun) there are lot’s of accommodation options, suitable for any budget.
Luxury travelers will want to stay at the aforementioned five star Fairmont Empress Hotel. The Helms Inn and this lovely one bedroom heritage apartment in Chinatown are excellent mid-range options.
Driving distance from Vancouver: 1 hour and 40 minutes (120km)
Why you should visit Whistler
Whistler is also called British Columbia’s best outdoor escape and with reason. No matter the season of your visit, there are always lots of things to do in Whistler!
From hiking one of the many trails in summer to riding the snowy slopes from the end of November until late April. From fun festivals in autumn, such as the Whistler Village Beer Festival and Whistler Writers Festival, to the annual World Ski & Snowboard Festival in April, Whistler is fun all year!
An absolutely spectacular activity is a glacier tour by seaplane. On this 30 minute flight you can admire green alpine meadows, rugged snow-capped peaks and the blue waters of Garibaldi Lake from the sky..
Whistler’s center is a pedestrian-only area with colorful houses, restaurants and shops. Go for a stroll, take your picture at the Olympic Rings (see above) or get an ice cream at Cows.
A great (and very affordable) place to grab some lunch is Purebread, a family bakery with an extensive selection of freshly baked goodies.
Where to stay in Whistler
If you want to spend more time in and around Whistler, the Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel is a great option right in the village center.
Day trips from Vancouver: map and printable checklist
On the map above you can find all the day trips mentioned in this post. Furthermore, you can download the Vancouver day trip checlist below. Happy day tripping!
Also read my other Canada posts:
- 10 things to do in Calgary in winter
- 15 beautiful places in Canada
- 20 great winter activities in Canada
- 25 most charming small towns in Canada
- 40 things to do on Vancouver Island
- Canada travel budget
- Buy a car or camper van in Canada as a tourist
- Niagara Falls with kids
- Toronto with kids
- Ottawa with kids
- The best things to do along the Sea to Sky highway
- The best things to do in Drumheller
- The best things to do in Vancouver
- The best things to do in Winnipeg
What’s your favorite Vancouver day tour?