A visit to Canada is always worth it. It is a country full of great people, fascinating cultures and pristine nature. Among its provinces, however, British Columbia holds a very special place because all those features are even more pronounced there.
This is especially true for the city of Vancouver, a beautiful modern metropolis with fascinating architecture which is home to people from quite literally all over the world. One of the most densely populated cities in North America, this bustling city will win you over with its culture, high standard of living, numerous events you can visit and so much more.
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But, as previously mentioned, British Columbia also has a lot to offer, so if you want to explore it in greater detail, this is the best possible hub from which to organize your trips. Here’s a list of what many consider to be the best day trips from Vancouver.
Explore Vancouver’s Coastline
The coast around Vancouver is mesmerizingly beautiful and offers something for everyone. Nature in its most pristine form, small and peaceful coastal towns, the Haida Gwaii island chain and Lighthouse Park are the best reason to dedicate a whole day to this.
What’s best, you really don’t have to travel far from the city to find yourself in a completely different world – about half an hour’s drive will be more than enough for the incredible nature to take over and leave you speechless.
This is also a great choice for those who are looking for a more active vacation, as there are plenty of places where you can go hiking, even rock climbing, or simply rent out a boat and go kayaking to get a view of the coast from a different perspective.
Otherwise, you can simply chill out on a beach or enjoy some excellent seafood in one of those small towns we mentioned earlier. The choice is yours and you WILL have a great time no matter where you choose to go and what you choose to do.
Visit Seattle Across the Border
On the other hand, if you don’t mind getting an early start and making a slightly longer trip, you can cross the border with the United States and go and visit Seattle. There are trains between the two cities, so you don’t have to drive if you don’t want to, and it takes about three and a half hours to make the journey.
You can visit the Space Needle, probably the most famous symbol of Seattle, a futuristic tower built in 1962 for the World Fair. It is fascinating both from architectural and design standpoint, plus it provides a spectacular view of the city from its observation deck.
Another great symbol of Seattle is the Pike Place Market, the longest continuously running market in the US. This fish market has been open since 1907 and receives a lot of tourists every year which are here to witness the famous fish throwing ritual.
Naturally, at a place like this you can expect to find some truly incredible seafood restaurants with very interesting dishes, but what is also here is the original Starbucks shop. Yes, the first ever! All in all, Seattle really is a great city to visit.
Back to Canada. British Columbia is the best region to learn about the culture of aboriginal people, the so-called First Nations. Now, Whistler may not be the first place to come to your mind when we’re talking about this because it is a resort town whose main purpose is to accommodate skiing enthusiasts during winter, although it is just as interesting to visit in summer when you can cycle around, go hiking and do many other activities.
And what does this have to do with the First Nations? Well, Whistler is home to Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre, a fantastic institution dedicated to preserving the heritage of these peoples. It’s actually a museum with fantastic exhibits, shows and various other events through which you can learn a lot about both the Squamish and the Lil’Wat people. It also has a great gift shop, so it’s a great place to pick up some unique souvenirs, too.
You will also be impressed by the building itself, since it is a modern and quite beautiful building very much worth exploring on its own. So combine a trip to a great resort town and learning about the First Nations for a great day in British Columbia!
Go Sightseeing in Victoria
While Vancouver is the biggest city in the region, it is not the region’s capital. That honor belongs to the city of Victoria, another great destination for a day trip from Vancouver.
What adds even more to the Victoria experience is that you can get there by ferry, which is a ride you won’t ever forget because of the beauty that will surround you throughout the trip. Compared to the bustling and modern metropolis that is Vancouver, Victoria is a somewhat more easy-going and more traditional town, so it will be easy to relax there.
The city oozes late 19th /early 20th century charm, with its impressive Parliament Buildings which have a massive dome dominating the complex, Craigdarroch Castle, the beautiful Empress Hotel, and the spectacular Royal British Columbia Museum, something you absolutely must visit while you’re in town.
As soon as you start walking through the harbour, you will be engulfed by the city’s unique vibe, just don’t forget to check out the artists scattered around there. These performers are also something that makes Victoria quite famous.
All in all, when you combine the architecture and history that permeates this city with the exceptionally beautiful ride here, you get something that will become a hallmark of your trip to Canada. Enjoy!
Surround Yourself with Nature at Capilano River
Capilano River is located just north of the city, so this is one of the closest Vancouver day trip destinations imaginable. What you want to head for is the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, where you can cross the aforementioned bridge (obviously) but also enjoy several other activities like the cliffwalk and the Treetops adventure where you cross a whole bunch of other suspension bridges suspended between massive and ancient trees.
From the suspension bridges, you will get a spectacular view of this fascinating rainforest just outside of the city and feel completely at one with the nature. Not to mention that the whole thing just relaxes you completely.
In addition, you can also learn about the First Nations here in their cultural centre, which only adds value to the trip. It’s something the whole family can enjoy, so if you don’t want the hassle of taking the kids on a longer trip, just take them here and they’ll love every minute of it.
Hop On a Ship and Go Whale Watching
The cold waters of north Pacific are absolutely teeming with life and Vancouver is on the migration route of countless whales. Orcas (i.e. killer whales), humpback whales, gray whales and other species can regularly be spotted in the period from March (especially from May) to October.
To see whales, all you have to do is get to Vancouver harbor, hop on a whale-spotting boat and take off. There is also the option of boarding a plane and watching the whales from the air.
In any case, you will be greeted by these majestic animals in their natural surrounding, which is a chance nobody should miss. Of course, the whales are not the only animals you can see, since there are plenty of unique birds and other animals you can see along the way, but we all know who the star of the show is. And if you have kids with you, just think how they will react when they see one of these huge beasts. It will be a memory they will treasure forever.
Sip Some Excellent Wines in Lower Mainland
Believe it or not, the area around Vancouver has some pretty good wineries to offer. Excellent, in fact. So, for all you foodies (especially wine lovers) out there, dedicating one day of your Vancouver trip to exploring these estates will probably be a great idea.
The great thing about it is that you don’t have to drive too far to reach them – just head to Langley, which is an area less than an hour away. Of course, if you don’t want to drive in order to enjoy all the wines to the fullest, you can easily find organized tours of these wineries and join other wine fanatics on their quest for these delectable beverages.
These trips usually visit three or four wineries where you can sample every product paired with carefully selected food to go along with it, so you will get to explore British Columbia and get to know its gastronomy a bit. Sounds like a great day out, doesn’t it?
Meet Our Guest Author: Anca is the founder and chief editor of One Day Itinerary, a travel blog dedicated to those who want to make the most of their time in a new city, even if they only have only one day there. Thanks to the fact that she has traveled literally all over the world, she can tell you the dos and don’ts of pretty much every major city in the world. As a matter of fact, she’s already done so in her blog posts.