Living in Vancouver is amazing, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t love planning some weekend getaways from Vancouver. While city life is a lot of fun, it is still nice to plan weekend getaways in BC and discover all of the cool places to visit near Vancouver.
Whether you are just planning weekend trips from Vancouver, or you have a few extra days to plan longer Vancouver getaways, our guide will list all of the best getaways in BC that can be easily accessed from the city. All of the places we suggest for a Vancouver weekend trip can be enjoyed year-round. Whether you want a beach retreat in the summer or a ski holiday in the winter, our list of short trips from Vancouver will have you covered.
While we enjoy a lot of adventure on our getaways near Vancouver (think hiking, camping, snowboarding, and snowshoeing), we are confident you can enjoy each of these trips from Vancouver at a much more relaxed pace, if you prefer. There are also plenty of places to go near Vancouver that are perfect for spa retreats, great food, wildlife watching, storm watching, and an altogether much more relaxed time.
Choosing the best weekend trips from Vancouver is such a fun activity and we are spoiled with an abundance of fantastic choices. Having grown up in British Columbia, we have been on countless Vancouver weekend getaways and are always adding more to our list. Below are all of our favourite quick getaways from Vancouver!
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The Best Weekend Getaways From Vancouver
1. Whistler – 1.5 Hours
Let’s jump straight into one of the most popular places to spend a couple of nights, which is Whistler. As it is only 1.5 hours drive from downtown Vancouver this is one of our favourite short trips from Vancouver and it is one of the best year-round destinations.
For obvious reasons, it is one of our favourite winter getaways from Vancouver. It is the largest ski resort in North America so you can enjoy world-class skiing and there is a huge area of terrain to explore. In the summer months, you can explore the endless hikes in and around Whistler or get the adrenaline pumping with some mountain biking.
Whistler’s Scandinave Spa is a fantastic retreat if you want to enjoy one of the more romantic getaways from Vancouver and there are so many amazing restaurants to choose from in the evenings. Even the shoulder season is an awesome time to visit as prices tend to be much lower, but you can still get out and explore the surrounding area.
Top Activity in Whistler
Asides from the obvious skiing and hiking, one of the best things to do in Whistler is to zipline through the untouched wilderness. Get an aerial view of the forest and flowing rapids as you fly through the trees and get your adrenaline pumping.
Where to Stay in Whistler
The Crystal Lodge – Stay in the heart of Whistler Village, only a few steps away from the lifts that will take you up either Whistler or Blackcomb mountains. Location is so important when staying in Whistler and it doesn’t get much better than this. We also think the value is excellent for a room here compared to many other accommodations in Whistler.
2. Tofino – 5.5 Hours
Whistler may be the most popular for vacations from Vancouver but our personal favourite has to be Tofino. This little surf town is tucked away on the west coast of Vancouver Island and is unlike anywhere else. There are countless beaches, many of which you can surf at, spectacular coastlines, numerous adventure tours, lots of wildlife, and some of the best food we have ever eaten.
In fact, we love Tofino so much that we have written a completely separate guide of things to do in Tofino. If you plan on visiting Tofino, our favourite of the Vancouver Island getaways, then you should check it out to help plan your trip.
Tofino is also the best of the beach vacations from Vancouver as there are so many beautiful beaches to choose from. Our personal favourites are Tonquin Beach and Mackenzie Beach and you should definitely check out Cox Bay if you want to surf or explore the Cox Bay lookout hike for unparalleled views over Tofino.
You’ll enjoy beautiful scenery, amazing food and cocktails, shop at the cute boutique shops, catch some waves in the Pacific Ocean, explore the many trails, and keep your eyes peeled for all of the wildlife. Check out our guide on how to get to Tofino from Vancouver as there are several different options.
Top Activity in Tofino
Surfing! Dip your toes in the Pacific and enjoy a couple of hours catching waves surrounded by the natural beauty of the west coast.
Where to Stay in Tofino
Tofino Resort and Marina – Stay on the edge of Tofino town centre so you can walk to all of the great restaurants and shopping that Tofino has to offer. Tofino Resort and Marina also has incredible views of the Tofino waterways, and the onsite pub, the Hatch, has the best patio in Tofino for sunset drinks.
3. Gibsons and Sechelt, The Sunshine Coast – 2 Hours
A short ferry ride across Howe Sound from Horseshoe Bay will take you to the Sunshine Coast. This is still part of the mainland but is only accessible from Vancouver by ferry or by taking a short flight for the weekend. The towns of Gibsons and Sechelt are very quaint and they have lots of good restaurants, shopping and beautiful scenery making it an ideal choice for our list of quick trips from Vancouver.
One of our favourite things to do in this part of the Sunshine Coast is to try out the different breweries and cider houses, and there are plenty to choose from. Our favourite brewery is Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons but you should also check out Tapworks, The 101 Brewhouse, and Batch 44. For those with a sweeter tooth try the Bricker Cider Company and Sunday Cider.
There are also several beaches, hikes, and walks to enjoy. The Skookumchuck Narrows is a really cool natural phenomenon that is worth visiting. As the tide rushes through the narrows it creates whirlpools and even large waves. The waves are often ridden by kayakers and it is a wicked experience to sit on the rocks and watch them riding this unique wave just a few metres away.
Top Activity in Gibsons and Sechelt
Explore the beautiful coastline from the water on a kayak tour. Departing from Gibsons, you will get the chance to spot coastal wildlife, witness the stunning landscapes and get out on the water.
Where to Stay in Gibsons and Sechelt
Davis Bay Bed & Breakfast – Stay in the Sechelt area and enjoy breathtaking views over the water and the mountains. This is a great location to explore the rest of the island and you can do so with a full belly after enjoying a full English or Irish breakfast.
4. Cultus Lake – 1 Hour 20 Minutes
If you are searching for short getaways from Vancouver or even just overnight trips from Vancouver, then Cultus Lake is an excellent choice. It is less than 1.5 hours drive from downtown Vancouver and when you arrive you get to enjoy the beautiful lake and surrounding mountains.
What’s really great about Cultus Lake is that most of the accommodation is a stone’s throw from the lake itself. This means you’ll probably get great views over the lake and it will only be a few seconds from your door to reach the edge of the lake for a swim. The accommodation is also very reasonably priced, making this one of the better cheap weekend getaways from Vancouver.
You’ll also find a small waterpark here that is open in the summer months which is a lot of fun for both the kids and the grown-ups. There is an excellent trail that circles the entire lake which is best tackled on a bike. You can easily spend a whole weekend here but this is one of our top choices for a one-night getaway from Vancouver.
Top Activity in Cultus Lake
Take a swim in the lake and bask in the sun on the beach.
Where to Stay in Cultus Lake
Cultus Lakehaus – We recently rented this house on Cultus Lake with some friends and it was perfect. The house is beautiful, has a rooftop patio, and a front patio that is covered with heaters.
5. Victoria – 3 Hours
The capital city of British Columbia is a really great place to spend the weekend exploring and another one of the epic getaways on Vancouver Island. We lived here for a while and loved the city centre which is situated around the inner harbour.
There are few cities that can boast such a spectacular setting right in the heart of downtown. The waterways here are buzzing with activity and you’ll be able to see water taxies, seaplanes, and boats constantly moving through the water.
There are plenty of fun things to do here (read our full guide on things to do in Victoria here), starting with exploring the city’s Inner Harbour and Fisherman’s Wharf. Walk along the water and soak in the fantastic views and make your way to the floating village of Fisherman’s Wharf where you may spot some friendly seals who seem to spend their day swimming underneath the wooden walkways.
You can also search for Fan Tan Alley, Canada’s narrowest street, visit the Butchart Gardens, go whale watching, look for the best brunch in Victoria, visit all of the craft breweries, hang out at the beach, and so much more. There will be no shortage of things for you to do here and you can easily extend this trip to be a long weekend. This is also one of our favourite romantic getaways near Vancouver and is one of the best getaways in BC for couples.
Top Activity in Victoria
Enjoy a half-day whale watching tour spotting orcas, humpbacks, and minke whales in one of the most spectacular settings anywhere in the world.
Where to Stay in Victoria
Helm’s Inn – Situated right on the corner of Beacon Hill Park and just minutes away from the inner harbour, this is an amazing location. The rooms are fantastic and select rooms also come with a kitchenette so you can cook your own meals.
6. Squamish – 1 Hour
If you are after a weekend full of adventure then make the short trip up the road to Squamish. Whether you want to hike, mountain bike, kiteboard, or ride your dirt bike, this is the place to go. Squamish has endless hiking trails and some of our favourites are the Chief, Crooked Falls, Cheakamus Canyon, Slhanay trail, and Murrin Loop.
This is also an excellent choice for weekend trips from Vancouver in the winter. There are lots of good snowshoe trails and lots of world-class backcountry skiing to be enjoyed in the surrounding mountains. You’re also just a short drive to Whistler if you want to ski there but avoid the crowds and the high prices for accommodation.
Top Activity in Squamish
Ride the Sea to Sky Gondola – If you don’t fancy having to hike for hours to enjoy incredible views then take the Sea to Sky Gondola up the mountain instead. You’ll get jaw-dropping views over Howe Sound and there is a cool suspension bridge at the top too.
Where to Stay in Squamish
Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company – Is there any better place to stay than at a craft brewery? The Inn is in a fantastic location and has awesome rustic rooms. You can also hang out in the sauna or grab a massage after a full day of hiking.
7. Bowen Island – 1 Hour
Bowen Island is such a quaint and pretty part of BC and even though it is only an hour from downtown Vancouver it feels like you are a million miles away. You can enjoy a much more laid-back and relaxed pace of life as you explore this wonderful island in Howe Sound.
Once you are on the island you can hike, cycle, and walk around or you can enjoy some great food and explore the boutique shops in Snug Cove. One of our favourite things to do on Bowen Island is to hike Mt Gardner. It is a challenging enough hike as you start right at sea level but the views from the top are worth all of the effort.
Top Activity on Bowen Island
Bowen Island Dinner and Zodiac Tour – Take in the sights of Vancouver and Bowen Island as you rush by them on a zodiac that will take you to Bowen Island. Once there enjoy a delicious dinner at Doc Morgan’s.
Where to Stay on Bowen Island
Artisan Suites on Bowen – Stay within walking distance of Snug Cove and enjoy easy access to the rest of the Island as well. You’ll also enjoy the beautiful views and tasty food from the cafe downstairs.
8. Pemberton – 2 Hours 10 Minutes
A short drive north of Whistler is the town of Pemberton, which is a small town surrounded by epic mountains. Like Whistler, this is a great place to come for some outdoor adventures in the mountains and it can be enjoyed year-round. The incredible backcountry skiing and backcountry lodges located nearby make this one of the best weekend getaways from Vancouver in winter.
While not in Pemberton itself, one of the highlights of any trip to this part of British Columbia is a visit to Joffre Lakes. This set of three glacial blue lakes is absolutely breathtaking and it isn’t too difficult of a hike. If you want to avoid the crowds at Joffre then head a few minutes up the road to Rohr Lake, another alpine lake that is a sensational blue colour.
There are also some hot springs that can be visited from Pemberton, although they are a bit of a journey to get to. This is an excellent place to spend the weekend, especially for adventure lovers.
Top Activity in Pemberton
Horseback Ride in Pemberton – Explore the Pemberton Valley on horseback and take in all of the beautiful surroundings with your expert guide.
Where to Stay in Pemberton
Pemberton Valley Lodge – Relax in the outdoor pool and hot tub or enjoy the mountain views while sitting by the fireplace in your room.
9. Kelowna and Big White – 4 Hours
Explore slightly further afield and head into the interior to visit Kelowna. The city is located in the Okanagan which is renowned for producing some of the best wines in Canada. The wineries are scattered throughout the region and trying all of the local wineries is a brilliant way to spend a weekend.
Kelowna is perched on the shores of Okanagan Lake and you can enjoy swimming in the lake, or take your boat with you and spend some time out on the water. With the hot summers the Okanagan experiences every year, a dip in the lake is a great way to cool down.
Kelowna is also situated near Big White Ski Resort which is home to some of the best snow anywhere in the world. We were fortunate enough to do a winter season here and we can confirm that the champagne powder that they advertize lives up to its name. With excellent snow and little to no lift lines, this is a great alternative to the likes of Whistler when you are considering winter getaways near Vancouver.
Top Activity in Kelowna
Wine Tour – It’s one of the main reasons people love to visit the Okanagan and it should be top of your list of things to do. Plus, you can take plenty of wine home with you to enjoy for the rest of the year.
Where to Stay in Kelowna
Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort – Stay in the heart of downtown and just a few steps from the beach in this beautiful resort. Take your choice of swimming in the lake or the swimming pool.
10. Pender Island – 3 Hours
While we recommend visiting as many of the Gulf Islands as possible, we wanted to pick out a couple that we favour above the others. Pender Island is an awesome island getaway and a couple of days here is plenty of time to explore.
One of the best things to do here is to play disc golf in Golf Island Disc Park in North Pender Island. There are several routes you can follow through the forest and it is a really fun course to play on for beginners and experts alike.
Mount Norman is a relatively short hike with incredible views from the top over the surrounding islands. There is a really cool wooden viewing platform at the top which is a great place to watch the sunset. You can also check out Twin Island Cidery and Sea Star Vineyards. Twin Island Cidery is particularly cool as they have a tiny tasting room where you can try their delicious ciders before you buy (we are huge fans of their Forage Fine Perry pear cider).
Top Activity on Pender Island
Disc Golf – It’s fun and free, plus if you don’t have your own discs there are some available at the information board for you to borrow.
Where to Stay on Pender Island
Woods on Pender – Make this one of the more romantic getaways in BC by staying at the Woods on Pender. You can stay in airstreams or a small cabin and each unit has its own private hot tub making this an ideal couples getaway from Vancouver.
>> Check out our full blog post on the Best Things to Do On Pender Island.
11. Salt Spring Island – 2.5 Hours
Another of the Gulf Islands that you should definitely consider visiting is Salt Spring Island. This offers a similar experience to Pender Island but is also unique in its own way. Kick-off your weekend by sampling wines from local wineries, Garry Oaks Winery and Salt Spring Vineyards, which are all made with locally produced grapes.
Then head over to Salt Spring Wild Cider House to taste their delicious range of ciders. Chances are you have tried some of it before as it is widely available across BC. But there’s nothing like a flight of ciders from where it is actually made and the tasting room is situated on a hillside with beautiful views over the surrounding countryside.
Ruckle Provincial Park is a great spot for easy to moderate hikes and many of the trails are right along the impressive shoreline. Keep an eye out for any whales swimming close by and look up to try and spot eagles which are commonly spotted here.
There are quite a few cute cabins tucked away in the woods so this is a great spot if you are looking for cabin getaways from Vancouver.
Top Activity on Salt Spring Island
Visit Salt Spring Wild Ciders – Ice cold drinks with a view, do we need to say any more?
Where to Stay on Salt Spring Island
The Cottages on Salt Spring Island – Stay in these cute cabins on the edge of Bullocks Lake and enjoy the peaceful surroundings while still having easy access to the rest of the island.
12. Powell River, the Sunshine Coast – 4.5 Hours
Head further north on the Sunshine Coast and you will find the town of Powell River. This is a long journey and we would recommend taking an extra day or two to make this a long weekend unless you choose to fly up here. But once you arrive you will find plenty of cool things to do in Powell River.
The main reason that we visited Powell River was to check out the Tin Hat Hut, one of the huts along the Sunshine Coast Trail. The hike up here is moderate, even with a backpack, but it is 100% worth it. This is one of our favourite hikes in BC as the wooden hut perched on the rocks, overlooking the lakes, forest, and the ocean is phenomenal.
This hike can be done as a day trip, a quick overnight trip or as a multi-day trip to explore more of the trail. The Sunshine Coast Trail is a 180-kilometre backcountry trail so there is plenty to explore here.
We also highly recommend visiting Savary Island when you are up this direction as it is quite close by. It is home to a unique community, connected by one main gravel road. You’ll find lots of cool cabins, forest trails, and beautiful beaches on Savary Island and you may be lucky enough to spot some whales on the ferry ride over like we did.
In Powell River itself, you can head to Townsite Brewing Inc, check out the Hulks, visit Inland Lake Provincial Park, or hang out at Willingdon Beach.
Top Activity in Powell River
Hike to Tin Hat Hut – Take your overnight gear up and spend a night in the Tin Hat Hut. The sunsets up here are ridiculous and you won’t regret spending a night up here. Keep an eye out for black bears on your drive in and out from the trailhead.
Where to Stay in Powell River
Beach Gardens Resort Powell River – There aren’t too many options to choose from in terms of hotels in Powell River, but the Beach Gardens Resort and Marina is probably the best choice. It is in a great location, just a short drive from the town centre and it is right on the water so you’ll get nice views out over the water. Like most accommodation in Powell River, it is also very reasonably priced so it is a good option for cheap getaways from Vancouver, BC.
13. Seattle – 2 Hours 45 Minutes
Head south of the border into the United States and spend a weekend in the funky city of Seattle. Sitting right on the edge of the water and with mountains in the background, Seattle is a pretty city to visit and not unlike Vancouver in this regard. But it is the culture that seems to attract people to visit Seattle.
There is a vibrant food, arts, and music scene here, and city explorers will love wandering around this quirky city with so many hidden gems. You can visit the original Starbucks location, shop around at Pike Place Market and watch fishmongers toss the fish to each other, visit the Space Needle, or catch a baseball or football game.
Many Vancouverites love a visit to Seattle when the Toronto Blue Jays are playing the Seattle Mariners. It is much easier to watch Canada’s only Major League Baseball team by making the short trip to Seattle, rather than flying over to Toronto.
Wandering around the city is so interesting and you’ll stumble across some cool places like the Fremont Troll and the Post Alley gum wall. This is a great trip for those that want more of a city escape and even though it is across the border it is an easy drive or a short flight.
Top Activity in Seattle
Pike Place Market Food Tour – Explore this iconic public market on a walking/food tour. Learn all about the history of this market while sampling some delicious food along the way.
Where to Stay in Seattle
Hotel Theodore – When you come to Seattle you want to stay in the heart of Seattle so you have easy access to all of the cool sites. Hotel Theodore puts you right in amongst the action and you will be a few minutes’ walk from most of the top attractions, including Pike Place Market.
14. Parksville and Qualicum Beach – 3 Hours 10 Minutes
Having grown up in Qualicum Beach, I love sharing my love for this small town. The Parksville and Qualicum Beach area is another beautiful part of Vancouver Island. If you are after somewhere with a bit more to do on your doorstep then I would recommend heading to Parksville, the busier big-brother to Qualicum’s sleepy style.
Parksville is much larger and has lots of shops, restaurants, and other fun things to do. Parksville Beach is an awesome spot to spend the day soaking up some sun and swimming in the water to keep cool. This side of the Island has calm and relatively warm water compared to the west side of the Island. You can also explore Rathtrevor Provincial Park and explore some of the cool trails or hang out at the beach here.
Qualicum Beach is a much smaller town and is ideal if you are looking for a more peaceful getaway. The beach here is beautiful and is rarely that busy. In town, you’ll find boutique shops to peruse and a few good places to eat. One of the best additions to Qualicum in recent times is Fern + Cedar Brewing Company. Here you can grab some delicious beers and the food is excellent too.
The surrounding area for both these places is amazing and you’ll find plenty of hikes, waterfalls, and viewpoints to enjoy. A couple of our favourites are Little Qualicum Falls and Englishman River Falls. While you’re in the area keep an eye out for whales swimming by in the ocean. We’ve been lucky enough to spot orcas swimming right past Qualicum Beach.
Top Activity in Parksville and Qualicum Beach
Spend the day lazing on the beach at either Parksville or Qualicum Beach. If the beach isn’t your thing, there are tons of golf courses to check out!
Where to Stay in Parksville and Qualicum Beach
The Beach Club Resort – If you are going to come to a beachfront town you may as well stay right on the beach. Walk out of the front door of your hotel and right onto Parksville Beach. You can also get stunning views out over the water from your room.
15. Port Renfrew – 4.5 Hours
Another of our favourite spots on Vancouver Island is the southwest coast. We have it listed as Port Renfrew but we really mean this whole stretch of the coast down to Jordan River. This is a rugged and beautiful part of the island and there is so much to explore here.
The Juan de Fuca Trail and all of the beaches along it are the main highlights of any trip here. Plus, you can camp on many of the beaches along the trail which makes for an epic adventure. You can check out Mystic Beach, surf and discover the hidden waterfall at Sombrio Beach, relax at Sandcut Beach, and check out the tide pools at Botanical Beach.
If you head a short drive inland from Port Renfrew you can check out the Fairy Lake Bonsai Tree, which is an unusual natural phenomenon. Exploring this section of Vancouver Island is mostly about enjoying the outdoors and seeing nature at its finest. Make sure to drop in at the Renfrew Pub for unbeatable views and one of the best burgers in BC.
Top Activity in Port Renfrew
Surf – Catch some waves at Jordan River or head to Sombrio Beach. There are plenty of waves to go around and far fewer people surfing here than the likes of Tofino.
Where to Stay in Port Renfrew
This is one place we highly recommend camping, especially at Mystic Beach. If you don’t fancy camping check out our top accommodation recommendation below.
Wild Renfrew Seaside Cottages – Stay right on the water, wake up to amazing views every morning and relax on their private beach.
16. Kamloops and Sun Peaks – 4 Hours 30 Minutes
Kamloops is another good place in the interior to spend a long weekend. As it is a bit further out we recommend taking an extra day or two to make the most of your trip out here. You’ll find a wealth of hiking and mountain bike trails close to the city and there are plenty of breweries to explore in town.
While a summer trip here is worth taking, we recommend this as one of the best winter getaways near Vancouver as you have access to Sun Peaks Ski Resort. This is the second-largest ski resort in Canada, with Whistler being the only bigger ski resort. With lots of terrain to explore and the light, fluffy snow interior BC is known for, you’ll have an amazing time riding here.
Top Activity in Kamloops and Sun Peaks
Skiing and snowboarding – Visit in the winter months to experience world-class skiing and snowboarding on the second biggest ski hill in Canada.
Where to Stay in Kamloops and Sun Peaks
Sun Peaks Grand Hotel & Conference Centre – If you are coming in the winter then you have to stay in Sun Peaks village so you can enjoy ski-in ski-out riding. Staying at the Grand Hotel puts you just 100 metres from the lifts so you have the best access on the mountain.
17. Harrison Hot Springs – 1 Hour 50 Minutes
Looking for romantic getaways from Vancouver? Then why not head to Harrison Hot Springs and enjoy a weekend by Harrison Lake. This is a great couples getaway as you can spend some time relaxing in Harrison Hot Springs Spa. Soak in the naturally heated pool and get a massage for the ultimate day of relaxation.
This is also a great getaway for families, especially in the summer as there are lots of activities you can enjoy on the lake. The best of these is the inflatable water park on the lake. Spend a couple of hours playing on this giant, inflatable water park that is fun no matter what age you are. You can also relax on the beach, rent jet skis and tour the lake, or play golf at one of the two local courses.
Top Activity in Harrison Hot Springs
Relax in some hot springs – Whether it is at the spa, the local pool, or you explore deeper into the wilderness to find some hidden hot springs, this is the best way to relax and enjoy your weekend.
Where to Stay in Harrison Hot Springs
The Lodge on Harrison Lake – Relax on your private beach and enjoy the views in this waterfront location just outside the town centre.
We are incredibly lucky to live in such a magnificent part of the world and have easy access to so many other amazing places to spend the weekend. Whether you are searching for outdoor adventures or you prefer to spend your weekend eating and drinking, there are plenty of options for everyone.
Personally, we think you should start at the top of your list and work your way down as all of the locations we listed are worth visiting at least once, while others should be visited every single year (this is Tofino for us)!
Planning a weekend getaway? Check out some of our more in-depth destination guides here: