Carpe Diem OUR Way Family Travel Blog

Weekend Trips from Vancouver

Weekend trips from vancouver

Weekend Trips from Vancouver

 

With over 2 million people in Metro Vancouver, and a melting pot of cultures, Vancouver is an amazing place to visit and to live. However, as the highest cost of living in Canada, it is also an expensive place to live. Every weekend that goes by, I am trying to enjoy and appreciate my home as much as possible. Being a tropical “addict” if you can call it that, I am always hunting for the next tropical beach destination, but more and more I am appreciating the sunny summer days by the lake or the sunny winter days looking at beautiful snowcapped mountains. It is no wonder that tourists and visitors marvel at my beautiful country, but somehow, I still have not been able to appreciate everything it has to offer. With that in mind, I planned several road trips from Vancouver to take advantage of what is within driving distance for a 2 night trip! I am not trying to get people to “leave” per say, but hope to show families, solo travellers and couples places to to get out and explore Beautiful British Columbia as well as our neighbour to the south, Washington State with this list of Weekend Trips from Vancouver!

No extra holidays required!

Pack up the car, pack up the kids (and perhaps the dog) and get out and explore. These weekend getaways from Vancouver can easily be explored in a weekend, but if you have a week off, USE IT! This resource is not just for locals? Are you visiting Vancouver and want to know where else to explore? These nine trips are all excellent and worth checking out on your holiday, whether with kids or as a couple or a solo traveller.

Victoria BC

Great Wolf Lodge, Grand Mound WA

Harrison Hot Springs BC

10 Weekend Getaways from Vancouver

1. Victoria

As the capital city of British Columbia, Victoria has so much to offer for families on a weekend trip from Vancouver! it is not just a tourist destination! Book a hotel for the weekend and visit the many beaches, parks and outdoor activities to explore! Whether it is feeding seals on fisherman’s wharf,  geocaching, taking a horse drawn carriage around downtown, whale watching, or spending an afternoon at the Royal BC Museum, or Butterfly World or the Bug Zoo, there are plenty of activities to keep kids of all ages (and adults too) entertained! Walk the Galloping Goose Trail, or conquer Mount Finlayson if you are a hiking enthusiast (if you have more than a weekend, consider the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail). And if the weather does not cooperate, do not despair, we have a great list of what to do in the rain with kids here.

Summer is the busiest time of year in Victoria, but it can be enjoyed any time of year. If you are traveling on a long weekend or in the busy season with kids, consider making a reservation on BC Ferries. For the small extra fee, it is worth it, in my opinion. When you only have a weekend to visit, you do NOT want to be sitting at the ferry terminal for hours!

Where to stay in Victoria? Click here to see rates for some of the most popular hotels.

Travel Time from Vancouver To Victoria: about 4 hours plus ferry waiting time. Ferries run every 1-2 hours and crossing time is 1 hour 35 minutes.

2. Great Wolf Lodge

My first impression of Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound Washington was “Las Vegas for Kids!” The second you open the doors to the grand entrance, your senses are instantly heightened. This weekend getaway from Vancouver is south of Olympia in the United States and features a giant indoor waterpark suitable for babies to teens, an arcade, an interactive game called MagiQuest, mini golf, an outdoor spray park, dance parties, story time, Starbucks and multiple places to eat! You can read more about Great Wolf Lodge in our posts here and here! For the best hotel rates for this Vancouver getaway, go mid week if you can! You can check rates here and also keep your eye on livingsocial.com as they often have discounted rates!

Travel Time from Vancouver to Great Wolf Lodge: about 4 hours plus border wait time. Traffic can be very bad in parts of Everett, Seattle and Tacoma.

3. Harrison Hot Springs

Harrison Hot Springs is known as one of the best day trips from Vancouver, but it is also one of the great getaways in BC that you can easily visit in a weekend. The drive from Vancouver is about 90 minutes (except in afternoon rush hour where you should add at least 30 minutes to your drive. Friday of a long weekend, add an extra hour!)

The Harrison Hot Springs Resort is a popular choice to stay and offers great amenities for family travellers. Whether you are visiting Harrison Lake with friends, as a romantic getaway or with your family, you will find plenty of activities to keep you as busy as you would like to be! This weekend trip from Vancouver boasts watersports including boating, fishing or paddling. Harrison Hot Springs also offers spas, golf courses and great hikes!

Where to stay in Harrison Hot Springs? There are accommodations to suit any budget

Driving Time from Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs: about 90 minutes. add 30 minutes at rush hour and add an hour on Friday’s of long weekends in the summer

 

Seattle Weekend Getaway from Vancouver  
Whistler Weekend Trip From Vancouver  
Ocean Anacortes Wa Carpe Diem OUR Way Family Travel  
Seattle WA

Whistler BC

Anacortes WA

4. Seattle

Seattle lies approximately 225 kilometres south of Vancouver in Washington State. It is a popular place to visit for a weekend trip from Vancouver (or even from Portland) and has countless things to do. If you are a sports fan, take in a Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, or Seattle Sounders FC game. The Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps have quite the rivalry in the MLS (Major League Soccer) and it always makes for an amazing atmosphere. Seattle’s hotspots include Pike Place, EMP (Experience Music Project), the Seattle Children’s Museum, the Woodland Park Zoo, and the Space Needle.

You can read more about why we love Seattle in this post: Seattle, an Emerald Gem Nestled in the Pacific Northwest from our associate writer Christi!

If you need more suggestions, check out a post by Savored Journeys on 30 things to do in Seattle.

If you are planning on taking in some of the popular attractions check out the CityPASS where you can save some money on admission!

Driving Time from Vancouver to Seattle: About 2.5 hours plus border wait times

5. Whister

Whistler Blackcomb is a world-renowned ski and snowboard destination, known around the world for its ski terrain, conditions and sheer size! But do not think that you cannot enjoy Whistler in the summer! Enjoy golfing, kayaking, mountain biking, and dining as well as pristine mountain views if you visit this British Columbia destination in Summer. Whistler is one of Canada’s premier tourist destinations, but it is also a popular weekend trip from Vancouver for the locals too! Whistler in part, played host to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games and you will continue to see the olympic rings, the iconic inukshuks and some of the olympic tracks.

Driving Time from Vancouver to Whistler about 1.5 hours along the picturesque Sea to Sky Highway.

You can check out hotel rates for Whister here. Note that you will likely pay more for the hotels that are in the main area, known as Whistler Village.

Weekend Getaway from Vancouver from Summer to Winter: Whistler British Columbia

6. Anacortes

Anacortes is a quaint town on the I20 (about 20 minutes off the I5 in Western Washington). It has cute character and offers beautiful ocean views from many vantage points, on the steep hills around the town. Anacortes is a port city, and its largest industry is oil refining. Its economy is also based on shipbuilding and tourism. Anacortes is situated in what is known as the Olympic Mountain Rain Shadow, and it only gets about half as much rain as Seattle which is less than 50 miles to the south. You can read more about Anacortes in our posts here and here! Anacortes can be done as a day trip from Vancouver, but i suggest getting a Hotel for at least one night and making a weekend of it!

Driving Time from Vancouver to Anacortes about 1.5 to 2 hours plus border wait times

Salt Spring Island BC

Nanaimo BC

Kamloops BC

7. Salt Spring Island

If you have never experienced British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, Salt Spring Island is a great place to start! Like other destinations on this list of Vancouver weekend getaways it is an outdoor-lovers paradise. You will find kayaking, whale watching, hiking and biking trails as well as eclectic shops in the centre of town: Gangees. You will not find traffic lights on the island, and amenities such as car rentals are limited. Salt Spring Island features some amazing B&B’s but no large hotel chains. Make sure to visit the Sunday Market in Gangees where you will find local arts, crafts and locally made cheeses and other treats!

Travel Time to Salt Spring Island from Vancouver is about 4 hours. There are a few options Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay (Victoria) then transfer to another ferry which takes you to Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island. This ferry runs every two hours. You can also travel Tsawwassen to Long Harbor direct, which often has stops at the other Gulf Islands on the way. Travel time on this vessel can vary from 1 hour 20 mins to 3 hours 30 mins depending on the number of stops. This ferry goes 2 to 3 times during the day and reservations are strongly recommended.

8. Nanaimo

Nanaimo lies on the East Coast of Vancouver Island. A weekend trip from Vancouver to Nanaimo can be achieved via BC Ferries or by Float Plane. Nanaimo offers excellent hiking, boating and scuba diving. It is the gateway point to exploring most of Vancouver Island such as Tofino, on Vancouver Island’s West Coast, to Mount Washington as well as accessing the cities and islands on the northern part of the Island. Nanaimo offers a small town feel, despite its over 80 000 residents.

** If you want more information about Tofino, check out this post from Globetotting.com!

Travel Time From Vancouver to Nanaimo is about 3-4 hours. There are two options via ferry. Tsawwassen to Dukes Point ( 2 hour ferry ride)  or Horshoe Bay in North Vancouver to Departure Bay (90 minute ferry ride

9. Kamloops

I chose Kamloops as one of my “cheap weekend getaways from Vancouver” only because it does not involve a Ferry Ride or expensive activities. The hotels are decently priced and the activities are well worth the price paid. Our favourite place of the weekend was the BC Wildlife Park which features animals native to British Columbia. On this weekend drive from Vancouver, you will find countless outdoor activities from hiking to golfing to fishing to horseback riding. In the winter, strap on your snowboard and hit the slopes of SunPeaks Resort.  We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend in Kamloops this spring, and realized that Kamloops is not a small town at all, but a bustling city with all the amenities you need and so much space to explore!

Drive time from Vancouver to Kamloops is about 4 hours

 

While these are just 9 options, there are dozens more places to explore around Vancouver on the weekend! So many in fact, it is hard to choose. If you want to make the most of your time in one of the most beautiful places in the world, pick the place that you most want to visit and go from there! Try not to burn yourself out, you will end up not enjoying your British Columbia road trip.

Do you have a favourite weekend getaway in British Columbia or Washington State that can be done from Vancouver in a weekend? Let me know in the Comments

If you found this page helpful, i would love it if you would pin, share or tweet it on whatever social media platforms you use! Every little bit will help us fund our travels and continue to bring great content to our site!

You can hover over this pinnable image of 9 Weekend trips from Vancouver British Columbia (or any image on my site) to quickly pin it!

9 weekend trips from Vancouver, British Columbia

Photo Credits: Vancouver Skyline by Montse PB, Whistler Mountain by Kevin Hale, Seattle Lights by tdlucas5000, Fishing boats by D Stanley, Inukshuk by BC Living

Lindsay is the Editor and Head Writer of Carpe Diem OUR Way. She wears many hats including mom, wife, freelancer, GM for a manufacturing company and soccer player. Lindsay is spontaneous, loves travel, photography and very recently discovered she loves to write.

19 thoughts on “Weekend Trips from Vancouver

  1. Emily Kydd

    Great ideas!!! I love Saltspring and rest of the Gulf Islands! And a trip to Harrison and the refreshing hot springs is always worth the drive! Plus they have a great brunch buffet at the resort!

  2. Adelina

    Hello from another Vancouverite! I recently did a trip to the Sunshine coast for the first time in years and it was great. I’d add that to your list. All great ideas otherwise.

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  4. Sarah

    All of these sound such fun for a weekend, but my top two would be Whistler (I’ve always wanted to go) and Great Wolf Lodge as it sounds amazing for families. Now I just need to get over there…..

    1. Lindsay Nieminen Post author

      Bring your snowboard! Whistler is Great! To really enjoy the alpine atmosphere 5 days is great, but weekends work well too! And often it is just a day trip to hit the slopes for locals!

  5. Trevor Thorpe

    I love hot springs and hadn’t heard of Harrison before. Are there less-developed hot springs on the way there? It can be a tricky thing finding hot springs that are in good condition, but not crowded!

    1. Lindsay Nieminen Post author

      They are small in comparison to some of the well known ones in the world, but because of the tectonic plates in British Columbia we have a few small hot springs!

  6. Mike

    Vancouver has that west coast down. Such a great city and a great base to explore not only the islands but also more of that wicked west coast.

  7. Bharat & Supriya

    Thanks for sharing these useful ideas! No doubt you’re lucky to live in one of the best cities of this century. Besides visiting couple of friends who now call this city as their new home, we have a strong urge to visit this side of Canada via a road-trip. Some time soon :)

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  9. Sam | Alternative Travelers

    Wow, really extensive and super helpful! I haven’t been to Vancouver yet but a friend of mine just went and really liked it! Is Nanaimo where the nanaimo bars come from? (says the bewildered American…hahaha!) =)

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