Day Trips from Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver and Area Travel Guides
5 of the Best Quick Getaways from Vancouver
One of the beauties of Vancouver is its proximity to a number of nearby hot spots. Some of these easy-to-get-to day trips are well known while others are the secret pride of the locals (until now).
In this article I have listed five day trips from Vancouver, including Richmond, Victoria, the Southern Gulf Islands and Whistler, BC, as well as the very popular US destination of Seattle.
Richmond is the easiest of the five suggested day trips from Vancouver to get to - it is, after all, part of Metro Vancouver. However it feels distinctly different from the city, with its many retail stores and restaurants that reflect the city's predominantly Asian population.
Victoria, the Southern Gulf Islands, Whistler and Seattle all take a bit longer to get to, but can easily be reached from Vancouver within a few hours. Each of these day trips, though similar in climate and geography to Vancouver, all have a unique character and are well worth the visit if you have the time to spare.
The Richmond Summer Night Market
1. Richmond, BC, a sidelying suburb of Vancouver, is the location of the Vancouver International Airport (YVR), and is a short 20 minutes away on the Skytrain's Canada Line. The city has a dense Asian population (nearly 50% of residents are Chinese in origin, and another 8% are South Asian), which greatly influences its overall culture.
If you like shopping, Aberdeen Centre consists almost entirely of Asian shops. This mall is also the home of the beloved Japanese dollar store, Daiso. For years shoppers flocked to Richmond from far and wide as it hosted the only IKEA store in Greater Vancouver; the Richmond IKEA store is still busy year round, but now shares the distinction with Coquitlam.
Richmond hosts a very well-attended Night Market each summer, featuring a smorgasbord of flavourful Asian food served on the street while you shop the temporary stalls for cheap housewares, bootlegged CDs and DVDs and all things Hello Kitty.
2. Victoria, BC (at the the southern point of Vancouver Island) is a 90 minute ferry ride from Tsawwassen ferry terminal and is known for its small town, yet cosmopolitan charm. The city still shows its British colonial beginnings with its 19th century cobblestone squares in the town centre, the nearby Craigdarroch Castle, its renowned pubs and celebrated past.
Victoria is headquarters for British Columbia's provincial government. You can't miss the picturesque legislative buildings overlooking the city's inner harbour, a stone's throw from Butterfly World, Miniature World, the Royal London Wax Museum and the Tourism Victoria Visitor Centre.
Horsedrawn carriage tours are available year round and are a fun way to
explore the waterfront area and the quaint shops along Government Street. Travelling to Victoria is an easy day trip from Vancouver, and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
3. Southern Gulf Islands, BC. The southern gulf islands (which include Salt Spring Island, Pender Island, and Galiano Island, to name a few) can be reached via the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. (Access to Gabriola Island is via the Nanaimo ferry terminal on Vancouver Island.) The islands are home to artists, musicians, writers, nature enthusiasts, and small business owners, and make an excellent day trip from Vancouver for those who choose to walk, cycle or drive onto the ferries.
Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, swimming, fishing and scuba diving
are also popular recreational pursuits, and many of these activities can be
done year round. Saturna Island features the only winery in the Gulf Islands, and offers free wine tastings.
Many of the islands feature artist tours during the summer, with
visits to artists' studios year round by appointment. Ferry reservations for all Gulf Island routes are recommended, especially in high season.
In addition to co-hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics with Vancouver,
Whistler Village has proven a popular destination for celebrities;
Princes William and Harry have vacationed there, as have Justin
Timberlake, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell and Tom Cruise among many
others. Even if you aren't into winter sports, Whistler Village makes an excellent day trip from Vancouver: it is open year round and is well known for its high end shopping, fine restaurants and lively nightlife.
5. Seattle, WA is a three-hour drive from Vancouver (but can take longer depending on border traffic). If you can spare the time or prefer not to drive, you can also take the Amtrak train from Vancouver's Pacific Centre Station, which takes four and a half hours. There are also various bus companies that will take you to Seattle (Greyhound, for instance).
Like Vancouver and other northwest pacific coastal cities, Seattle is known for its delicious and abundant seafood, thriving arts and music scene, natural beauty and laid back attitude. A good list of Seattle tourist attractions can be found here. Many Canadians have been taking daytrips from Vancouver to Seattle for years to take advantage of its multitude of trendy downtown stores, as well as the Premium Outlets just north of the city in Tulalip.
Enjoy your time in Vancouver and as you daytrip from Vancouver to these fun and unique westcoast destinations. Feel free to email me with your feedback on your favourite places in the region. I would love to hear about your travels to the Pacific Northwest, and what you especially enjoyed about your time here.
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