the sea to sky viewing platform perched above the snowy howe sound in british columbia

12 Scenic Day Trips from Vancouver for Adventure Seekers

If you’ve thoroughly covered all the highlights on your Vancouver itinerary and are curious about what’s outside the city limits, you’ve come to the right place! 

From short jaunts to longer road trips, there are plenty of scenic options you will want to check out. Whether you’re a nature lover or an adventure seeker, these 12 day trips from Vancouver offer a variety of activities, from hiking and kayaking to exploring charming small towns and scenic drives. 

Get ready to spend a whole day exploring!

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Vancouver Day Trips You’ve Got to Add to Your Itinerary

#1 Ski, hike, & shop in the ritzy ski town Whistler, BC

This swanky little town is home to one of the largest ski resorts in North America and is one of the most popular day trips from Vancouver! It beckons visitors in the winter to come and ski (you can snowboard, tube, and snowshoe, too) on the slopes that once hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. In the summer, it becomes a lush playground for mountain biking and hiking (over 300 km of trails). Even if you’re only coming for the day from Vancouver, a visit to Whistler is still worth it! 

If you want to hit the slopes (you have options on two mountains — Whistler and Blackcomb), arrive early to make the most of your day and enjoy the Après-ski atmosphere afterward. The charming village surrounding the mountains is filled with cafes, shops, and restaurants — if you’re vegan, no worries, there are vegan and vegan-friendly spots in Whistler too. 

Now if you don’t have any interest in taking part in Whistlers’ vast array of outdoor activities, that’s ok; there’s still more to check out! For epic views of the area (no matter the season), hop in the Peak 2 Peak Gondola — the record-breaking gondola is the longest lift system in the world! On top of that, there are multiple museums worth checking out — The Whistler Museum, Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, and Audain Art Museum.

Getting to Whistler from Vancouver is under two hours by car and takes you along the gorgeous Sea to Sky Highway. Multiple tour and bus companies visit the area if you’d prefer not to drive. If you want to stay longer than one day, check out the eco-friendly Nita Lake Lodge in Creekside.

#2 Enjoy gorgeous views from the Sea to Sky Gondola

Looking for epic mountain views only 45 minutes from Vancouver? Look no further! After a scenic drive along the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99 offers stunning coastal scenery), you’ll arrive at the Sea to Sky Gondola, which takes you up over 800m above sea level for dramatic views of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountain ranges. No matter the time of the year, the views are picture-perfect!

Once you get to the top, the beauty doesn’t end there! The summit has multiple viewing decks and a suspension bridge for more dramatic views. After you’ve filled your camera roll, you can head into the lodge for a bite to eat or check out the various seasonal activities. The mountain turns into a gorgeous wonderland in the winter and offers backcountry skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, and tubing, but the fun doesn’t end when winter is over. During the summer, this area has some of the best hiking trails. 

Just behind the lodge, you’ll find the Spirit Trail, only .4 km, and the slightly longer (a little more scenic) Panorama trail, which is a 1.3 km loop. In addition to those two, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you could always hike up the Sea to Summit trail, but be prepared; it is strenuous and will take approximately 3-5 hours. It is 6.5 km one-way with a 918 m elevation gain. 

Getting to the Sea to Sky Gondola from Vancouver is easy by car, or you can check out multiple tours that visit this area along with Whistler Village. 

views of the howe sound from the sea to sky summit during the winter in british columbia on a vancouver day trip

#3 Explore Vancouver Island 

Just a few hours away from the city via ferry, Vancouver Island is a charming place to explore on a day trip from Vancouver. The best way to experience Vancouver Island is by driving your car on the BC Ferry from Vancouver to Swartz Bay near Victoria. The ferry runs frequently and costs $18.50 for walk-on passengers and $63.95 for vehicles one way. 

The hour-and-a-half ferry ride takes you through the Georgia Strait and the Gulf Islands, which is part of the adventure. If you are lucky, you might spot whales or other marine life along the way. Driving on the ferry allows you the maximum freedom to explore Victoria and the surrounding areas, but you can also book a guided day trip from Vancouver.  

You can drive from the Swartz Bay ferry dock or take a taxi into Victoria, BC’s charming capital city. Victoria is a thriving international city with a small-town feel. Enjoy Middle Eastern street food or grab a drink at an Irish pub before wandering through the oldest Chinatown in Canada. And don’t miss high tea at the famous Empress Hotel (they might be able to accommodate vegans if you call ahead), which has been serving English tea in a Victorian-style tea room for over a hundred years. After tea, check out Victoria’s Parliament Buildings or stroll through Beacon Hill Park.

If you have extra time, journey outside Victoria to immerse yourself in nature. There is no shortage of incredible things to do nearby, from taking a dip in the beautiful blue swimming holes at Sooke Potholes Provincial Park to hiking through verdant forests at Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. 

sunset on a rocky beach on vancouver island on a vancouver day trip
Credit: Annie from Your Friend the Nomad & Whales and Morels

#4 Hike in one of the most beautiful places, Garibaldi Provincial Park

One of the best day trips north of Vancouver is visiting Garibaldi Provincial Park. Located just 70 km north of Vancouver in the beautiful Coastal Mountains, this BC Park is home to the very popular Mount Garibaldi and its stunning glacial lakes. 

While Garibaldi Provincial Park is one of the most popular natural sites close to Vancouver, making it to the top to see Lake Garibaldi isn’t for the faint of heart. You’ll be in for at least an 18km (approximately 11 miles) roundtrip hike, and you can expect to spend at least 6.5 hours hiking up and down. You don’t have to be an avid hiker, but you do have to be fit and ready for the challenge.

Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning mountaintop views of green meadows, rock peaks, and bright blue glacial waters. The sights you’ll see here look like they’ve been plucked straight off a postcard you’d find as a Canadian souvenir.

When planning your trip to Garibaldi, make sure you plan to arrive at the park early in the morning. With a long trek ahead, you’ll need all the sunlight you can get so that you can take your time at the top before needing to head back down. There are also many excellent campsites in the park, and many visitors spend multiple days exploring the trails that meander through the surrounding mountaintops. 

Getting to Garibaldi Provincial Park is easy, as it’s located just off Highway 99, heading north from Vancouver to Whistler. If you’re heading back to Vancouver after your hike, try to set out before it gets too dark; you’ll be tired after all that exercise. There is also an opportunity to take a guided small group hike with a photographer.

gorgeous turqois lake on a hike through the garibaldi park on a vancouver day trip
Credit: Everywhere Ontario

#5 Go kayaking in Deep Cove

Kayaking in Deep Cove is a perfect day trip from Vancouver. Located in the District of North Vancouver, it’s about a 20–30-minute drive and offers many activities to do while you’re there. Deep Cove is home to stunning scenery where you can kayak through calm waters surrounded by lush forests and majestic mountains. The water in the bay is incredibly calm, so even inexperienced kayakers can confidently explore.

You’ll likely spot some wildlife, including seals, bald eagles, and sea lions.  There’s a free kayak launch at the Deep Cove Kayak Centre. If you don’t have your own kayak or paddleboard, plenty of rental options are available at local shops in the area. Some even offer guided tours where you can learn about the history and geography of Deep Cove while paddling along.

You can even take a night kayaking tour to paddle beneath the stars! After kayaking, stop into the town for a coffee from the doughnut shop Kate Winslet is obsessed with (the donuts aren’t vegan, but they do have vegan options), or pack a picnic and hike to Quarry Rock for a higher viewpoint.

The best way to get to Deep Cove from Vancouver is by car. Rent a car and drive north through Stanley Park, across the bridge, then west through North Vancouver. You’ll likely spot deer early in the morning.

the still lake in the morning before kayaking in deep sea cover in vancouver
Credit: Nina of Nina Out and About

#6 Spend a day in Seattle, Washington

If you love cities, head down to the Emerald City for a great day trip from Vancouver. Seattle is a fun town that anyone could appreciate. There’s something for everyone to enjoy between its relaxed vibes, waterfront views, coffee culture, and interesting things to see and do.  

No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to Pike Place Market. Walk through the market and browse the fresh flowers and food stalls (if you’re looking for vegan options in Seattle, no worries, there are many). While you’re there, enjoy Mexican eats at El Borracho and swing by the Gum Wall. It’s a quintessential Seattle experience!

After exploring Pike Place, stop by the Space Needle to see the view of Seattle from above. And for a great view of the Seattle skyline and Space Needle, head to Kerry Park.  If you’d like to spend time at a museum, The Museum of Flight is highly recommended. This private air and space museum rivals the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC!

Seattle is best reached from Vancouver by car and has a good public transportation system. So, you could always find parking when you arrive and then take public transportation for the rest of your visit.  

Recommended by Chelsea from Adventures of Chels.

the seattle skyline including the space needle on a sunny day in seattle
Credit: Chelsea from Adventures of Chels.

#7 Enjoy the dramatic scenery of the North Cascades

If you’re looking for epic hiking around Vancouver, the North Cascades in Washington provide some of the most dramatic mountainscapes on the planet — glaciers, rugged peaks, and mountain goats galore.

You can explore various trails in this area, including Yellow Aster Butte, which provides jaw-dropping views of Mount Baker, the third tallest mountain in Washington, and the surrounding Cascade mountains. This trail is especially spectacular in autumn when the alpine shrubbery that carpets the surrounding mountains bursts into vibrant shades of scarlet, burnt orange, and gold. Other nearby hikes worth exploring include Heliotrope Ridge and the Park Butte Lookout, with a historic fire lookout from 1932 perched on a rocky outcropping that overlooks Mount Baker.

You’ll need to drive to the trailhead of your choosing, which will require you to cross the U.S./Canada border — don’t forget your passport! You’ll also need a valid Northwest Forest or America the Beautiful Pass, given these trailheads are located on U.S. National Forest land. Beyond these passes (and the gas to get there), you can enjoy the spectacular scenery for free!

It’s worth mentioning that this area can be one of the snowiest spots in the contiguous United States, so the peak hiking season is generally between July through early October. Outside this window, you should expect the possibility of running into snow or ice. 

beautiful view of mount baker in the sun on a hiking trail in the north cascades
Credit: Jessica from Uprooted Traveler

#8 Explore the budget-friendly suspension bridge at Lynn Canyon Park

Discover a lush oasis just a short distance from downtown Vancouver at Lynn Canyon Park & Suspension Bridge. This 617-acre park offers a fun day trip from Vancouver for those looking to immerse themselves in nature.

The Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is definitely more of a hidden gem compared to its neighbor, the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The Capilano Bridge is one of the most recommended day trips from Vancouver, but at over 60 CAD per person, that can take a big bite out of your budget, especially for a family. You can have an incredible experience at Lynn Canyon for a more budget-friendly price.

You’ll enjoy an absolutely stunning walk through the woods, a spine-tingling suspension bridge, and cascading rivers for the cost of a suggested $2 donation; that’s a pretty good deal. Plus, it has the major bonus of being a regional park, so your leashed dog can join you on the trails!

One of the park’s main attractions is the 50-meter-high suspension bridge, which provides thrilling views of the canyon and the rushing waters of Lynn Creek. One of the other huge benefits is that it’s less crowded compared to the more famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, making it the perfect spot for a serene day trip.

While visiting, explore the park’s vast network of hiking trails, ranging from leisurely walks to more challenging treks. Stop by the beautiful 30 Foot Pool, a popular swimming hole, and take a moment to appreciate the impressive Twin Falls. The Ecology Centre offers educational exhibits, making this a great family-friendly destination.

Getting to Lynn Canyon Park is relatively easy, and you can even use public transportation (bus 227 from Phibbs Exchange) to get from downtown Vancouver to the park in about an hour. If you have your own car, you can drive. It is also possible to join an organized tour. Many tours also include other North Vancouver attractions so that you can check out more of the area.

the lynn canyon suspension bridge with one person in the middle at dusk on a vancouver day trip

#9 Check out BC’s newest suspension bridge and Cascade Falls 

The newest suspension bridge, Cascade Falls, in Mission, BC, is a great day trip from Vancouver. It is one of the easiest family-friendly Vancouver area hikes and is accessible year-round. Nestled within the lush greenery of the Fraser Valley, this hidden gem is a 1.5-hour drive from Vancouver. 

The hike is short but steep, making it a moderate-level hike suitable for most fitness levels. The sight and sound of the rushing waters are beautiful, making it a perfect spot for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike. To enhance the experience, in addition to a large viewing platform, there is a suspension bridge that spans across the falls, providing another vantage point to take in the panoramic views of the surrounding forest and canyon.  

While in the area, you should visit the Powerhouse at Stave Falls, which includes interactive exhibits on hydroelectric power generation and a guided tour of the power generating station and dam. The mission is surrounded by natural beauty, with numerous parks, lakes, and trails to explore. Rolley Lake Provincial Park, Hayward Lake, and the Devil’s Lake area all have trails of varying difficulty and great views. 

The Blackberry Kitchen in Fraser River Heritage Park is known for its farm-to-table cuisine, featuring locally sourced ingredients and creative, seasonal dishes. The cozy ambiance and scenic views of the Fraser River make it a popular spot for lunch or dinner.

the beautiful cascade waterfall and suspension bridge in vancouver
Credit: Bella Bucchiotti

#10 Scale Vancouver’s local mountain, Grouse

Just a few minutes from Downtown Vancouver is the imposing Grouse Mountain. A short gondola ride offers visitors stunning views of Greater Vancouver, the lakes, and the mountains surrounding the city. Once you’re there, you’ll have a range of outdoor activities to check out, no matter your level of athleticism.

In the winter, Grouse Mountain turns into a winter wonderland. Some of the best activities include snowshoeing through the light path and skiing or snowboarding at night — it’s one of the few mountains that offer night activities. Of course, Grouse Mountain is also open during the day. When the summer season sets in, Grouse is the perfect place for walking, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors at your own pace.

If you’re looking for a fun, outdoorsy date night, Grouse is one of the best places for couples to visit in Greater Vancouver since it’s only a short 20-minute drive until you can be immersed in the beauty of nature. There are tours that combine Grouse with the Capilano Suspension bridge, just incase you’re interested in doing both!  

view of vancouver and the surrounding lakes from the peak of grouse mountain during the summer

#11 Hike Stawamus Chief in Squamish

Just one hour from Vancouver is the perfect day trip for the adventurous, hiking the famous Stawamus Chief. The Chief stands 702 meters tall and is one of North America’s largest granite monoliths.

Before you go, expect to climb many stairs, maneuver along chains, and climb ladders to reach the top. Remember that the trail can be wet and slippery after rainfall, and don’t forget spikes during winter. The hike to the top of the Stawamus Chief is challenging, but it is equally as rewarding as hiking the Crypt Lake Trail in Waterton National Park. 

There are three peaks to climb, each offering unique views over the area. The hike takes at least 4-5 hours, depending on your fitness level and the route you choose. If you’re unsure which peak to climb, go for peak two. From there, you can see peaks one and three. Another great thing about hiking the Stawamus Chief is it is absolutely free!

Getting to Squamish is simple from Vancouver. Just follow the Sea to Sky Highway northbound from Vancouver, and you can’t miss the Stawamus Chief, as it’s well-marked along the highway. Another option is taking the bus or a guided tour.

view of the gorgeous blue howe sound from the peak of stawamus chief on a vancouver day hike trip

#12 Check Out The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Located just 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver, this stunning park offers breathtaking views, thrilling adventures, and much more. From walking across a 450-foot suspension bridge to exploring a lush rainforest canopy, there’s something here for everyone. It’s truly one of the best day trips from Vancouver and worth adding to your Vancouver itinerary

One of the highlights of visiting Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is crossing its iconic suspension bridge, which stretches 450 feet across the Capilano River Canyon below. As you walk across the swaying bridge, take in the spectacular views of lush rainforest canopies and sparkling river waters. It’s a truly exhilarating experience!

If adventure is what you’re after, then there are plenty of opportunities to get your adrenaline pumping. The Cliffwalk is a thrilling walkway that takes you along the canyon walls with nothing but a glass-bottomed walkway between you and the valley below. If heights aren’t your thing, you can opt for a leisurely stroll through the tranquil rainforest trails. 

The best way to get to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is by taking advantage of their free shuttle service at Canada Place. This shuttle runs every 30 minutes and will bring you to the park entrance. Alternatively, you could rent a car or take public transportation, but be aware taking public transit will take much longer.

capliano suspension bridge between two lush green pine forests in vancouver

When is The Best Time to Visit Vancouver?

This depends on what kind of experience you want to have. Are you interested in taking to the slopes or snowshoeing through the mountains? If yes, it’s best to visit the area between December – March, but keep in mind that the City of Vancouver doesn’t get much snow — to enjoy the white power, you’ll have to head to Grouse (very close to downtown Vancouver) or further north.

If you’re like me and want to avoid the snow at all costs, plan your Vancouver adventure for any time between May – September. The spring, summer, and fall are great times of the year to explore the city, get out on the water, or take a hiking day trip.

How Many Days Should I Spend in Vancouver?

There is a lot to do and see in Vancouver; I suggest you plan for at least four days, especially if you’d like to do a day trip to one of these fantastic spots. This gives you three full days to explore the city and then one day to head outside of it.

Where to Stay in Vancouver

This unique boutique hotel is filled with gorgeous limited edition and original artwork and is in the perfect location to explore the city. It was also awarded the highest eco-rating – 5 Green Keys – by The Hotel Association of Canada — you can rest easy knowing they are working to protect Mother Nature.

The Listel Hotel Vancouver

1300 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1C5, Canada

Book Your Stay
vancouver harbor in the morning with the orange reflection of the sun over the water

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