Vancouver is a popular metropolis located on the west coast of Canada, surrounded by a city skyline and stunning mountains in the distance. Vancouver is a busy city between the Pacific Ocean and the North Shore Mountains, known for its mild climate, vibrant multicultural atmosphere, and busy city lifestyle.
There are lots of weekend getaways from Vancouver. Whether you are from Vancouver and trying to escape city life or if you are a tourist with a few extra days to explore getaways from Vancouver, you’ll find something perfect for you in our round up of the best Vancouver weekend trips.
All of the options below can be completed within 6 hours of drive time and are a one-day trip from Vancouver.
So pack up the car and the kids and head out to explore these short trips from Vancouver and enjoy the province of British Columbia, which promotes the slogan “The Best Place on Earth”.
Weekend Getaways From Vancouver
With numerous road trip options available from Vancouver, it can be challenging to decide on the perfect one for your family. This guide will offer you valuable guidance to help you make the optimal choice based on your family’s interests.
We have included the distance and travel time from Vancouver to each destination, as the amount of time you have for exploration will influence your decision on which road trip to embark upon. Some can be done over a short weekend or a single night stay, while others may require a long weekend due to distance away from the City.
- Distance from Vancouver: 229 kms via 1-5 S (3 hours and 30 Minutes)
Seattle is very close to Vancouver, yet is a very different environment to visit as Seattle is surrounded by buildings and has a waterfront area compared to Vancouver, which has lots of visible natural elements such as the ocean and mountains.
Seattle offers a wide range of activities and experiences for all types of travelers, from art lovers and food enthusiasts to history buffs, culture seekers, backpackers, and nature enthusiasts, and is home to the first-ever Starbucks. Seattle is often a weekend destination for sports fans to catch a baseball, football, or soccer game.
The Space Needle is a must-see for families with children. Standing at an impressive height of 605 feet, it offers an elevator ride to an observation deck where you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Seattle, Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains.
Kids will enjoy visiting the Boeing Future of Flight Aviation Centre, where you will experience an immersive journey into the manufacturing of aircraft during the tour, and you’ll witness the entire production process, including the installation of wings and landing gear. You won’t want to miss visiting Pike Place Market, one of the oldest farmer’s markets running and is home to tons of unique stalls and restaurants.
- Check out our complete guide on things to see and do on a Seattle to Vancouver road trip
Pro Tip: You can check ahead of time for US Border Crossing Delays. Avoid crossing the border during evenings or weekends, as they are the busiest times for travelers and can become congested with traffic.
Bowen Island, BC
- Distance from Vancouver: 30 kms via Trans Canada Highway 1 (1 hour)
Separated from Vancouver by the Howe Sound, Bowen Island is the perfect destination to enjoy outdoor activities, including picturesque hiking trails such as Mount Gardner trails, scenic picnics along the shoreline at one of the small beaches in Crippen Regional Park, or kayaking and paddling adventures.
Bowen Island is known for its vibrant arts community, so why not rent a bike and cruise around the island at your own pace and visit local galleries and boutiques that showcase handmade goods, or simply enjoy the charming village? Don’t miss the chance to visit the Bowen Island Museum and Archives to learn about the island’s history and culture.
Enjoy the island’s serene atmosphere as you enjoy a delightful culinary experience at one of the waterfront restaurants serving fresh seafood. Relaxation is an important part of the island’s lifestyle so be sure to check out meditation and yoga.
Overall, Bowen Island offers a blend of outdoor activities, artistic experiences, and culinary delights, making it a perfect destination for a memorable weekend getaway.
Okanagan Valley, BC
- Distance from Vancouver: 450 km via Crowsnest Highway 3 (4-6 hours, depending on stops)
Families will enjoy all the activities and attractions that will create lasting memories and keep the kids entertained in the Okanagan Valley. This big region stretches from Sicamous in the North and Osoyoos in the South and features quaint small towns like Penticton, Kelowna, and Vernon.
If you like adventure and water, then you will want to visit the H20 Adventure and Fitness Centre in Kelowna or Wibit Water Park in Penticton, as these parks feature waterslides, splash pads, and interactive play areas that will keep kids cool and having fun!
If you like swimming but don’t enjoy water parks, then you can spend the day at the beach swimming and building sandcastles as the Okanagan is known for beautiful sandy beaches. Some family-friendly beaches to check out include Rotary Beach in Kelowna and Skaha Lake Beach in Penticton.
The smaller lakes of the Okanagan are also great for boating adventures or scenic cruises, or pull on your boots and enjoy the hiking trails around Kelowna.
There are lots of non-water activities to enjoy in the area, including fruit picking cherries, apples, and berries, and visiting animal attractions like Kangaroo Creek in Kelowna or the Arion Therapeutic Farm in Penticton for up-close animal experiences.
If you find yourself visiting during rainy or wintery weather, then the area offers some great indoor alternatives, such as the Okanagan Heritage Museum in Kelowna or Vernon Science Centre, which offers hands-on exploration activities. The Okanagan also has some fun indoor playgrounds like Energyplex in Kelowna, which has laser tag, climbing, and much more, or Jump2It trampoline Park in Penticton.
- Distance from Vancouver: 355 km (4 hours) via Trans Canada Highway 1
Kamloops is the perfect destination for families to enjoy a weekend in interior British Columbia as the city is nestled along the Thompson River and surrounding hillside that offers lots of recreational activities.
Riverside Park is located near the Thompson River and features a boardwalk lookout, multiple playgrounds, and a splash pad, and often hosts local events in the summer. Another great option for parks and trails is Peterson Creek Park which has multiple scenic hiking and biking trail options.
If you enjoy local wildlife, then head to Kamloops Wildlife Park and learn more about local animals as this park protects local British Columbia wildlife and allows visitors to view these natural species up close including birds of prey, bears, cougars, and wolves.
If you are looking for indoor fun, you will want to explore heritage trains and vintage train cars at the Kamloops Heritage Railway Museum or discover artifacts and learn more about Kamloops through interactive at the Kamloops Museum. In the winter, you can consider purchasing tickets to support the local hockey team Kamloops Blazers at the Sandman Arena.
Kamloops’ unique hilly landscape makes it perfect for outdoor recreation, including fishing, swimming, and paddleboarding along the river, biking on Kamloops Bike Ranch trails, or hiking in Kenna Cartwright Park.
- Distance from Vancouver: 64 km via Highway 99 (1 hour)
This remarkable Canadian City is located alongside the picturesque Howe Sound, a stunning fjord, and snow-capped mountains. It’s the perfect escape to enjoy outdoor adventure and is a perfect midway stop if you are continuing onto Whistler.
Squamish offers an ideal location for a weekend outdoor adventure, and one of the must-do activities with kids is riding the Sea to Sky Gondola. The gondola ride takes approximately 10 minutes, and as you ascend, the views become increasingly beautiful and scenic.
Upon reaching the mountaintop, a short walk will lead you to a suspension bridge, providing yet another breathtaking vantage point of the mountains and the stunning waters below, including Shannon Falls, the third-largest waterfall in British Columbia. If you plan to embark on a hike or have a leisurely lunch, it is advisable to allocate at least 3 hours for this stop.
If you want to learn more about the history of the area, then check out the Britannia Mine Museum and enjoy the underground train ride, gold panning activities, and learning about the region’s mining history. The West Coast Heritage Railway displays vintage trains and railway artifacts from the region’s past and even has a miniature train ride.
Known as Canada’s recreation capital, families can select a variety of different trails to enjoy the scenery by either hiking or biking as there are options for all skill levels. Alice Lake Provincial Park is excellent for fishing, canoeing, swimming, picnicking, and simply relaxing by the beach.
- Distance from Vancouver: 283 km via Highway 4 (5 hours and 20 minutes)
Tofino is located on the edge of Vancouver Island and is the ideal location to enjoy the Pacific Ocean, relaxation, and natural spaces. Tourists enjoy visiting the forested areas, mountains, and beaches all in one trip.
Tofino is the best place in Canada if you are looking at the Pacific Ocean and enjoying excellent waves for surfing. The area offers a variety of outdoor recreation activities such as whale watching, storm watching, kayaking, and hiking.
The best place to enjoy hiking in the area is Pacific Rim National Park which offers secluded hiking trails and beaches. If you have younger kids, you may enjoy hiking the 16 km Long Beach which has hard-packed sand, making it easy for littles to hike. These trails allow you to learn more about the ecology and the history of Tofino. While visiting Long Beach, you can watch the surfers enjoy the waves along the shoreline.
- Distance from Vancouver: 115 km via Swartz Bay ferry terminal, taking the Tsawwassen ferry (3 hours including 1 hour and 30 minutes on the ferry)
Victoria has so many fun-filled family activities that you could definitely spend more than just a weekend exploring.
Enjoy a stroll along Victoria’s Inner Harbour, where you can enjoy a lively atmosphere and check out unique buildings along the way.
Locate one of the whale watching tours that offer family-friendly trips, and your kids will enjoy seeing marine life such as whales, seals, and sea lions in their natural habitat. Explore the waterfront further by taking a Victoria Harbour Ferry ride and enjoy the Inner Harbour from a new perspective.
If you need to head indoors, Miniature World is a great place for kids to view over 85 different miniature scenes, including dollhouses, railways, and castles. Learn more about Victoria’s history and First Nations Culture while you explore the immersive experiences offered at BC Royal Museum.
If the weather is good then head to the urban park called Beacon Hill Park and enjoy a scenic walk, playgrounds, children’s farm, picnic areas and beautiful gardens – perfect for a relaxing day outside! If your family enjoys the creepy crawlers known as bugs, then check out Victoria Bug Zoo and get up close with your favorite bugs through a guided tour and interactive displays. You can also head to the Victoria Butterfly Gardens to enjoy a tropical environment with exotic birds, lush flowers, and beautiful butterflies.
Pro Tip: Book your ferry ticket in advance to guarantee a seat and the lowest price.
- Distance from Vancouver: 121 km via BC Highway 99 (2 hours)
Whistler offers a blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and unique attractions that are sure to captivate both kids and adults. Enjoy your time exploring this charming alpine village!
Known for fantastic snow sports in the winter and breathtaking scenic views in the summer, Whistler offers lots of adventure recreation activities and is a great
For a similar experience to the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, you may want to consider visiting the Peak to Peak Gondola in Whistler. This impressive gondola ride provides breathtaking views and connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, offering a unique perspective of the surrounding alpine scenery. After riding the gondola, you will want to check out the graffiti box car trail for an artistic experience.
If you’re seeking an active adventure for the whole family, then visit ZipTrek Whistler. They provide an exhilarating experience with options suitable for different ages. Younger children can enjoy the Tree Trek Canopy Walk, while older children can partake in thrilling treetop zip lines, including the Sasquatch, which is the longest zipline in Canada and the U.S.A.
If you prefer a more leisurely activity, then visiting Lakeside Park is a wonderful option. Spend a day at this beautiful lakeside location, where you can indulge in swimming, kayaking, and even jumping off a dock. The park also offers a playground for kids to enjoy, and you can grab a picnic from the nearby concession stand for a delightful meal by the water.
With these fantastic weekend trip options, we guarantee you will find a destination for your next adventure to skip the busy lifestyle of Vancouver.
More Tips & Itinerary Ideas From Vancouver
- Check British Columbia Road Conditions and traffic before heading out on your adventure with Drive BC.
- Driving in the winter, make sure to properly prepare your vehicle and take heed of winter road tripping tips to keep you safe on the road
- Heading to the Rockies next? Check out our detailed itinerary with all the best stopping points from Vancouver to Banff
- A trip to Vancouver can ideally be combined with the US West Coast and more of the Pacific Northwest, make sure you check out our detailed itinerary driving Vancouver to San Francisco
- Never forget an important road trip item again! Use our Downloadable Road Trip Essentials List before you start your next road trip!
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