Answers from Our Experts (3)
Slipping out of Vancouver for a day is easy – a world-class mountain resort, a major US city and a quiet island are each just a few hours away. The Sea-to-Sky Highway is a direct route to Whistler Village – in the winter, skiing rules the mountain (Whistler and Blackcomb) and attracts powder seekers from all over the world, and in the summer there are plenty of outdoor activities including zip lining, hiking and lakeside suntanning. Going south is simple, too; a quick trip past the border (be sure to bring your passport) and take the 2.5 hour highway drive straight into Seattle, where a visit to famous landmarks like the Space Needle and Fish Market are highly recommended. For a little island hopping, book a ferry ride to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia and a day-trip friendly city with plenty of shopping, a wax museum and beautiful gardens.
The ferry for Bowen Island leaves from Horseshoe Bay and arrives at Snug Cove; organized tours are available. Walk through the rainforest to Killarney Lake at the foot of Mt. Gardner, and roam the quaint village of Bowen Island. You can take a floatplane (or the ferry) to return to downtown Vancouver.
Salt Spring Island:
Salt Spring is the largest of the Gulf Islands, but that doesn't make it big city: the island attracts artists, bakers, cheesemakers and craftspeople who keep their studios open to the public.
You can hit them all in one go at the Saturday market — where the rule is that vendors need to "make it, bake it or grow it" — or you can drive around on your own time (Studio Tour maps are on the ferry).
One of the most popular day trips from Vancouver is to the North Shore, just across the Burrard Inlet from downtown, where you can visit Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
If you get an early start, you can make a day trip to Whistler for skiing, mountain biking, or hiking; it’s about a two-hour drive from downtown Vancouver. You can also visit the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island in a day trip, particularly if you hop on a float plane that whisks you from downtown Vancouver to Victoria’s Inner Harbour in under an hour.