The journey is just as beautiful as the destination with these local hot spots
One of the best things about living in Vancouver (aside from its mountains, beaches, and the fact that Lululemon is an acceptable form of attire almost anywhere you go) is its proximity to many amazing spots for a weekend getaway. Just a few hours of transportation will get you to world-renowned ski slopes, scenic vineyards, quaint towns, alpine lakes, idyllic islands and landscapes that prove that the West Coast truly is the best coast.
There are endless spots to explore around Vancouver, but which are the top places you absolutely cannot miss for a weekend getaway?
Road trip season isn’t leaving any sooner than COVID-19 is, so pack your bag, mark your maps and milk that window seat for all it’s worth...
1. Whistler for outdoor adventure and R&R
Scandinave Spa in WhistlerWhistler is an esteemed destination for adventure lovers, with slopes and trails to thrill even the biggest adrenaline junkies. Take on the mountains by skis or snowboard in the winter, and by mountain bike or hiking shoes in the summer. Soak in the sights of the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, or if you’re looking to really push your comfort limits, go for the zipline or bungee jump.
Once you’ve exhausted all of your energy, Whistler has everything you need to rest and relax as well. Treat yourself to a blissful experience nestled in the woods at the Scandinave Spa. With no speaking or cell phones allowed, this tranquil setting offers hot and cold pools, a sauna and steam room, and plenty of hammocks to ease your stress.
2. Okanagan for wine tasting and lakeside lounging
Destination BC/Tanya GoehringThe Okanagan Valley is known for its lakeside views, fresh fruit and delectable wine. About a five-hour drive from Vancouver, the Coquihalla Highway is a destination in itself, so keep an eye out for jaw-dropping scenery and wildlife like bears and moose.
Known as the Tuscany of Canada, the Okanagan is home to incredible wineries such as Mission Hill, Quails Gate and 50th Parallel. There are scenic lakes throughout the region—such as Skaha in Penticton, Kalamalka in Vernon and Okanagan Lake itself—all of which are populated with campsites, hotels and cottages to host a perfect weekend getaway. Make sure to keep your eye out for the Ogopogo (Tip: sightings are more likely after a few glasses of wine).
3. Fraser Valley for quaint downtowns and tasty treats
Destination BC/Hubert KangBored of big city life in Vancouver? Why not explore some of the smaller towns in the suburbs? The Fraser Valley is a vast residential region that is becoming more and more trendy. The downtown cores have been revitalized so they are quaint and charming, and are dotted with local shops and restaurants that are definitely worth a visit.
Cruise out to Chilliwack and grab a coffee from the charming Amble Coffee truck perched on the scenic Vedder River. Then stop in downtown Abbotsford to stroll the streets and get a tasty treat from Old Hand. Finally, go for a stroll through Fort Langley and pop over for a creative cocktail at the funky restaurant Haven.
4. Tofino for West Coast, best coast views
Tourism Vancouver Island/Ben GiesbrechtTofino takes a bit more effort to reach from Vancouver, but once you arrive, you’ll see that it is so worth it. This coastal surf town is the definition of West coast, best coast, with old-growth forests, a consistent surf caressing its shores and sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. Bonus: the sand is perfectly packed so you can ride your bike on the beaches!
Take a whale-watching tour for a chance to spot a grey, humpback or killer whale (or all three—they call this the “hat-trick”), or a bear-watching tour to spot the fuzzy yet ferocious creatures in their natural habitat. Explore the lively downtown strip and do some shopping at Salt, grab a taco from Tacofino and enjoy a top-notch meal at 1909 (no really, the chef won Top Chef Canada). Tofino is always a vibe.
5. Gulf Islands for island vibes and local gems
Harbour Air SeaplanesLiving on the west coast of Canada means we are absolutely spoilt for choice with islands to explore, each providing their own dose of nature and character. Plus, there are fresh and local foodie gems that will make your tastebuds rejoice.
Visit Hornby to pick up some farm-fresh food at the market and soak in the beautiful blues of Big Tribune Bay, known as “Little Hawaii.” Sip your way through Salt Spring at the wineries and Salt Spring Wild Cider, and devour some freshly baked goods at Francis Bread. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures or cozying in with the coastal views, the Gulf Islands are a great getaway choice.