Day Trips from Vancouver, Canada

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.

East Point on Saturna Island
East Point on Saturna Island

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.

4. Whistler, BC. If you run out of things to do in Vancouver, why not take the Sea to Sky Highway to this favoured local, national and international ski destination?

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.

I Can Make Life: Poems About Infertility and Miscarriage, Pregnancy and Birth

I Can Make Life addresses the impact of fertility treatments, pregnancy, miscarriage and birth as it re-traces the poet's long journey to her son -- and finally, to peace.
I Can Make Life addresses the impact of fertility treatments, pregnancy, miscarriage and birth as it re-traces the poet's long journey to her son -- and finally, to peace. | Source

About Nicole Breit

Nicole Breit is an award winning writer based in Vancouver, BC. Her debut poetry collection, I Can Make Life, was a finalist for the 2012 Mary Ballard Poetry Prize.

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Comments 9 comments

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

My aunt has been asking me to visit her in Vancouver. Thank you for this hub. I should plan for this soon :)

Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! Click the link and you will see. Enjoy!

Nicole Breit 5 years ago

Thank you for the comment and the link, ripplemaker! I definitely think you should visit Vancouver - it has a lot to offer, in addition to the daytrips out of Vancouver mentioned here!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

Your hub is excellent about a really outstanding vacation. Congrats on your nomination.

Nicole Breit profile image

Nicole Breit 5 years ago from The Pacific Northwest Author

Thank you for your lovely comment and congratulations, Pamela99!

Johnny Parker profile image

Johnny Parker 5 years ago from Birkenhead, Wirral, North West England

Good hub.

I visited Vancouver a few years ago from the UK and loved it.

The hardest thing for a Brit to get used to in Canada is the sheer size of the place. An English day trip is rarely more than 50 miles. I was amazed when going to ski at Big White - which the brochure described as a short trip from Vancouver - that it was an overnight bus ride then taxi, which was another 25 miles or so. Unbelievable!

Great place though, would love to go back.

Nicole Breit profile image

Nicole Breit 5 years ago from The Pacific Northwest Author

Glad you enjoyed your time in Vancouver, Johnny! And thank you for your my turn to discover Britain (I have only passed through Heathrow en route elsewhere so far!)

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Congratulations on your Hubnugget nomination. We visited Vancouver many years ago and loved spending time exploring it as well as Victoria and Seattle. Missed seeing Whistler and the other places you mentioned. Great and scenic part of the globe!

Nicole Breit profile image

Nicole Breit 5 years ago from The Pacific Northwest Author

Thanks, Peggy, for your comment. You'll have to come back and visit again to see everything you missed :)

newyc profile image

newyc 5 years ago from New York (USA)

Great Hub! Loved the info on the Night Markets in Richmond. Any suggestions of Tours that go there from New York? Thanks.


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