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Searching for some fantastic Vancouver day trips, which are accessible via car or public transport? Check out my adventurous guide to the best day trips from Vancouver.
Vancouver is the square root of negative one. Technically it shouldn’t exist, but it does. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
– Douglas Coupland
Coupland is a renowned artist from Vancouver and his quote reflects how I felt about the city I lived in for 15 months. Vancouver is unlike anywhere I have ever visited. I never got used to seeing snowy mountains out of the grimy bus window on my commute to work. There are seemingly endless options of places to eat, drink and catch up with friends. I enjoyed seeing the city bloom like a flower in summer as residents came out of hibernation. There was always something to do. Every week included a new market, a visit to the beach, checking out a festival or a day trip.
Seeing as I have written about all of my favourite Vancouver day trips now, I thought putting them together in one simple post would be a perfect idea. All of these trips are budget-friendly and are accessible via public transport. However, a few of them I visited with friends who had cars. I also included some organised tour options, to make life even easier.
The best Vancouver day trips
1. Lynn Canyon Park
This was the first of the Vancouver day trips I accomplished with a couple of fellow Australian expats in the summertime. It was also one of the cheapest. We ventured to Lynn Canyon Park via ferry and then bus. There’s walking trails, swimming holes and a free suspension bridge. North Vancouver itself is a must-visit for summertime festivals and night markets, as well as stunning sunsets overlooking the Vancouver skyline.
Related reading: My North Vancouver day trip
You can visit Squamish by driving or getting the Greyhound bus. Although enough is happening in the outdoor recreation capital of Canada to keep you busy all weekend, a day is better than not venturing there at all. Top places to visit in Squamish include Shannon Falls, Britannia Mine Museum and of course the amazing Sea to Sky Gondola.
3. Granville Island
Granville Island is technically a day trip within Vancouver, but it’s still a great way to spend a day in the city. Have fun being surrounded by delicious food, local homewares and seaside walks. Follow the path to visit False Creek and Olympic Village, or head the other way to Vanier Park and Kitsilano.
Related reading: A photo diary from Granville Island Public Market
Organised day tour option: A two-hour Granville Island market tour with a local guide.
I was so glad I finally got to see Steveston before I left. It is such a perfect harbourside town with great seafood (albeit expensive) and cute boutiques. If you do see Once Upon a Time recording here, please don’t tell me as I may cry. You can get to Steveston by bus.
Related reading: Once Upon a Time in Steveston
5. Vancouver’s snowy mountains
There are three main mountains to visit on Vancouver day trips: Mount Seymour, Cypress and Grouse Mountain. The best part is, you can visit them year-round. I never got to visit Cypress, but did visit Grouse before Christmas in 2013. On Grouse I built a snowman, got a photo with Santa and drank hot chocolate whilst watching the sunset over Vancouver. You can also tackle the Grouse Grind during the warmer months if you dare. There are buses in North Vancouver that go directly to Grouse Mountain. I visited Mount Seymour in January for a friend’s birthday and to try tubing. Cue #halesfail.
Related reading: Day trippin’ to Mount Seymour
Organised day tour option: There are many tours to Grouse Mountain
One of the most popular Vancouver day trip destinations is Whistler. It’s a destination I, fortunately, got to visit in both summer and winter. The town is north of Squamish and you can drive or get the Greyhound bus here as well. Just try and ignore the many Aussie accents in the town dubbed Whistralia.
Organised day trip option: Best-selling Whister tour
7. Bowen Island
Bowen Island was another place on my list to see before I left. It was one of my favourite Vancouver day trips with easy access from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver (buses run regularly from the city). There are plenty of bays for swimming, mountains for hiking, shops for browsing, and restaurants for eating and drinking.
Related reading: Blown away by Bowen Island
8. Deep Cove
Another North Vancouver day trip option. Deep Cove is a quiet neighbourhood in eastern North Vancouver that is a good place to visit in summer when you can swim, kayak and hike.
Related reading: Deep Cove dreaming
9. White Rock
A place I ended up visiting on my second time living in Vancouver, White Rock is a cute seaside town that straddles the US border. Unfortunately, it can take a while to get there via public transit. So if you have a friend with a car, shout them lunch by the seaside 😉.
Seattle may be too far to classify under Vancouver day trips, but you can still pop over the border and load up on American bargains. Although I only stopped in Bellingham on the bus to and from Vancouver, I have heard it has excellent shopping outlets. Because everything is cheaper in the United States.
Honourable mentions for day trips from Vancouver
Honourable mentions should also go to The Sunshine Coast and Harrison Hot Springs, which are two places I didn’t get to visit while living in Vancouver. I have also seen some websites recommend doing a Vancouver to Victoria day trip. However, I would advise against visiting Victoria on Vancouver Island in a day if taking public transport from Vancouver. It would be an extremely long day!
So there we have it – my top Vancouver day trips.
It’s a hard city to get bored in when there’s always a new food truck to visit, a day trip to take or a mountain to climb. For more Vancouver goodness, here’s my entire Vancouver archive. But some of my favourite posts include where to photograph the skyline, the best free things to do, what to do at night and where to stay. For fellow solo and budget travellers, I recommend Samesun Backpackers.
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