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day trip vancouver

Nov 09, 2023
Day Trips from Vancouver: Exploring Nearby Islands and Towns

Vancouver outdoor activities and recreation

Vancouver, positioned between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountains, serves not only as an urban hub but also as a launchpad for various day trips. The city’s location presents an abundance of options for those looking to take a break from the metropolitan pace. This guide will detail the array of day trips available, from peaceful island retreats to charming historic towns and nature-rich spots, all conveniently accessible from Vancouver.

Day Trips to the Nearby Islands

Bowen Island: The Serene Nature Escape

Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay, Bowen Island offers a convenient escape to nature. It is a destination for hiking enthusiasts who can traverse the network of trails amidst the island’s dense forests, as well as for kayakers who seek the tranquility of Howe Sound’s waters. The island’s village ambiance is characterized by a friendly community, with an array of local businesses offering goods and dining options. Visitors are encouraged to visit Crippen Regional Park for its scenic trails and to witness the evening hues over the water at Snug Cove. The island’s compact size makes it possible to enjoy these highlights even during a brief visit.

Salt Spring Island: The Artisanal Haven

This island can be reached via a scenic ferry ride, offering a creative enclave brimming with local art, crafts, and cuisine. It features an abundance of local artisans presenting their art and crafts, providing visitors with a firsthand glimpse into the island’s creative pulse. The area is also celebrated for its culinary offerings, with farmers’ markets that display a rich array of locally-sourced produce and goods. Among the must-visit spots for food lovers is the Salt Spring Island Cheese company, where one can sample and purchase a variety of handcrafted cheeses. Art enthusiasts have the opportunity to explore numerous studios scattered across the island, which offer a window into the work of resident artists. Additionally, the serene landscape of Ruckle Provincial Park offers a quiet retreat for those seeking relaxation in the midst of nature’s beauty.

Galiano Island: The Unspoiled Beauty

Accessible by BC Ferries, Galiano maintains a rustic charm and is less frequented, perfect for a peaceful day trip. The island offers numerous opportunities for exploration, including Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park, which features trails through diverse landscapes and provides campsites for those wishing to immerse themselves in the natural setting. The island’s numerous quiet beaches offer ideal spots for a serene picnic with views of the surrounding waters. For wildlife enthusiasts, Galiano Island is a prime location for whale watching, where the possibility of sighting orcas adds an element of excitement to the maritime adventure. 

Historical Day Trips in Vancouver

Steveston Village: Walk Through History

Just a short drive from Vancouver, Steveston feels like a step back in time. Key attractions include the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, a National Historic Site that provides insights into the fishing industry that once dominated the region. The Steveston Tram, another historic artifact, showcases the early transportation that facilitated the area’s development. For dining, the Fisherman’s Wharf presents a selection of vendors selling fresh seafood directly from the boats, offering a unique opportunity to taste the local catch. 

Fort Langley: The Birthplace of British Columbia

Known as the “Birthplace of British Columbia,” Fort Langley is an accessible and educational day trip destination, located just a short drive or public transport ride from Vancouver. Visitors to the Fort Langley National Historic Site can explore the reconstructed trading post of the Hudson’s Bay Company and engage with costumed interpreters who bring the mid-19th century to life. Beyond the historic site, the village of Fort Langley presents a quaint atmosphere perfect for browsing antique shops and unique boutiques. The local cafés offer a variety of dining options and pleasant views along the banks of the Fraser River. 

Outdoor Day Trips

Squamish: The Outdoor Recreation Capital

Often referred to as the Outdoor Recreation Capital, Squamish is situated along the Sea-to-Sky Highway, a route renowned for its breathtaking vistas of coastal forests, mountains, and ocean. The journey to Squamish is as visually rewarding as the destination itself. Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by a host of outdoor activities. The Sea to Sky Gondola offers a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding natural beauty, including the impressive Shannon Falls—one of British Columbia’s tallest waterfalls. For climbing enthusiasts, Squamish provides a wealth of options, from the iconic granite monolith of the Stawamus Chief to numerous other rock faces and bouldering spots. The area’s extensive trail networks cater to hikers and mountain bikers of all skill levels, while the waters of Howe Sound offer kayaking and windsurfing adventures. 

Whistler: More Than Just a Ski Town

Located a drive north of Vancouver, Whistler is recognized for its world-class ski facilities but offers a wide array of activities throughout the year. Beyond the winter season, the area transforms into a hub for outdoor recreation such as hiking and mountain biking, with trails suitable for various experience levels. The pedestrian-only Whistler Village is designed for leisurely strolls, providing access to an assortment of shops, restaurants, and cultural events that reflect the town’s vibrant community life.

The Peak 2 Peak Gondola is a notable attraction, operating year-round to connect Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. It boasts remarkable panoramic views of the alpine environment and is a must-visit for sightseers and photographers. Whether blanketed in snow or basking in the summer sun, the landscape seen from the gondola is consistently impressive, making Whistler a versatile destination not limited to its winter sports fame.

Cultural Excursions – Unique Communities

Deep Cove: A Quaint Waterfront Village

Deep Cove is a charming community situated on the shores of Indian Arm, northeast of downtown Vancouver. This waterfront village is known for its outdoor activities, particularly kayaking and paddleboarding, where enthusiasts can take to the waters with the dramatic backdrop of the North Shore mountains. For those who prefer land-based pursuits, the Quarry Rock hike, part of the Baden Powell Trail, is a popular route that culminates in sweeping views of the cove and surrounding waterways. Visitors can also explore the quaint streets, visit local boutiques, and enjoy the variety of cafes that serve the community.

Ladner Village: A Step Back in Time

Located within the municipality of Delta, Ladner Village is a small community that offers a break from the contemporary pace of city life. A manageable drive from Vancouver, this village maintains a historic charm with buildings and streets that hark back to earlier times. The Ladner Village Farmers Market, known for its selection of local produce, artisan crafts, and gourmet foods, is a popular destination during the summer months when it operates.

Wine and Dine – Gastronomic Getaways

Fraser Valley: A Foodie’s and Wine Lover’s Retreat

The Fraser Valley, extending east from the city of Vancouver, is recognized for its fertile lands and agricultural abundance. This region has become a destination for those who appreciate fine wine, craft beer, and fresh, locally sourced cuisine. Numerous wineries and breweries are scattered throughout the valley, many offering tastings and tours that provide insights into the production of British Columbia’s celebrated libations. The area’s farm-to-table restaurants serve dishes that highlight the seasonal produce grown in the valley’s rich soil. Visiting these establishments often affords a culinary journey that supports local farmers and showcases the region’s diverse food scene.

Day Trip to Cowichan Valley

Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island is celebrated for its viniculture, reminiscent of Napa Valley’s renowned wine country. Accessible via a picturesque ferry ride and a scenic drive, the valley offers a mosaic of vineyards and a distinguished food scene. Wine tours are a main attraction, allowing visitors to sample diverse local wines and learn about the wine-making process. For nature enthusiasts, the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve offers a tranquil escape, showcasing one of Canada’s most endangered ecosystems.


Whether you’re a long-time local or a curious visitor, the areas surrounding Vancouver serve up a diverse platter of experiences. From island retreats to mountain escapades and vineyard tours, there’s a day trip to match any interest. As you venture out, remember to check transport schedules, book necessary tickets in advance, and consider timing your trips for off-peak hours to get the most from your day trip discoveries. Happy exploring!

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