Whistler is the closest getaway from Vancouver that makes you feel like you’re really getting away from the city. Especially in the wintertime when it’s raining in the city and snowing in Whistler (hopefully). This little resort town is popular for bachelor/bachelorette parties, weekend spa getaways, oh… and for awesome skiing/snowboarding and mountain biking.
Luxury Options: Stay in a fancy hotel (like the Delta Hotel, because it’s close to everything), spoil yourself in the village on a shopping spree, and soothe your tired feet at the Scandinave Spa. If it’s sunny and warm, go hiking or mountain biking. If it’s cold, go snowboarding or skiing.
Budget Options: Stay at The Listel, which isn’t the greatest but has a buffet breakfast, so you can stuff your face. Or, if it’s the summer, you can just camp nearby fairly easily. Walk around the village, try and find a pack of cool snowboarder bums, see if you can party with them at their staff residences. Get poutine at Zog’s Dogs, regardless of your budget.
2. Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast is a small-town paradise that offers access to tons of great lakes, islands, and untouched nature. You’ll have to take a ferry to access the Sunshine Coast, so if you don’t have a car, you’ll likely have to stay in Gibsons. If you have a car, take a tour down the highway stopping at anything that interests you. If it’s hot, Ruby Lake is an amazing and refreshing swim.
Luxury Options: Rockwater Resort at Secret Cove is amazing, with access to the Ocean. If you’d rather stay near a lake, check out the Sakinaw Lake B&B or the Ruby Lake Hotel. Go to a spa or two and hit up some of the unique artisan workshops.
Budget Options: Find a friend with a cabin, become better friends with this person. Invite yourself to said cabin. Profit. Or, pitch a tent at any of the awesome campsites along the highway. There is also an amazing trail system near Powell River that connects multiple huts together and offers rewarding hiking.
3. Gulf Islands
We are so lucky to be so close to the Gulf Islands that we can hop on a ferry and spend a weekend at one, no problem! If you’re trying to figure out which one to go to, this is what a summer of touring the gulf islands on road bikes helped us discover so far:
- Salt Spring Island = Big, great lakes for swimming, salt spring coffee, cheese, wine, Ruckles Bay Campsite is amazing. Need a car, or moped. Bike works too, but island is VERY hilly. Most “city-like” of all the islands. (more info)
- Pender Island = Very hilly with nice camping. Very good golf course. Very good for frisbee golf. Big hills. (more info)
- Galiano Island = Fun to go to Dionisio Pt. Park which is forbidden, but accessible anyway. Hills on this island are very tough to bike, but rewarding. Very small community area, diverse selection of beaches. (more info)
- Gabriola Island = Cool, artisan feel. A bit easier to bike around (compared to the other Gulf islands!) Interesting rock cliff areas and shoreline. Longer to get to. (more info)
- Hornby Island = Could easily spend a week here. Good mountain biking, great mead, really cool park and beautiful beaches. Hard to get to. (more info)
- Savary Island = Paradise, sand island. If you’re lucky, you know someone who has a cabin here. Huge party on the Labour Day long weekend. Don’t bring a road bike. (more info)
- Texada Island = Interesting place. Nice campsite, but really only good for the rock quarry swimming. Better with a car. (more info)
- Cortes Island = Beautiful beachy areas, good community feel. Lots of long-term residents here, for good reason. (more info)
Now that the Canadian Dollar sucks so much, it’s harder to find a reason to go to Seattle. But, there are some interesting places to go if you’re not just looking to shop. Stay in the University District to rub shoulders with the young and hip, and make sure you spend some time in Fremont, the self-proclaimed centre of the universe.
Luxury Options: Stay in a boutique hotel in downtown Seattle, eat out at one of the best restaurants in the city, and take a tour of all the tourist hot spots. Maybe check out a Seattle Mariners game while you’re at it. Always go to Nordstrom Rack, regardless of budget. Did you know there’s a Uniqlo in Seattle too (closest Uniqlo to Vancouver)? Worth the trip, right there!
Budget Options: Maybe stay out of the Downtown core of Seattle. Who needs to go there anyway, think of the traffic! Stay in the University district and hit up Dick’s Drive-In for some f-cking amazing burgers and waffle fries. American fast food, done right!
5. Harrison Hot Springs
A classic weekend trip from Vancouver for the older generation, Harrison Hot Springs is pretty great for any generation who just wants to relax and get away from it all. Aside from the hot springs, Harrison Lake also offers some great opportunities for exploring for camping, fishing, paddling, and more.
Luxury Options: Stay at the Harrison Resort & Spa and just buckle down for a great soak. Maybe get a massage. Turn off the Instagram and enjoy yourself. Go golfing. Take a walk around town and head down to the lake when you want to get away from the resort life. Do it wearing a robe and slippers. It’ll be fun.
Budget Options: Stay in one of the cheaper hotels or get a camp spot somewhere near the Harrison Lake. Sasquatch Provincial Park is especially cool, but quite popular. If you have access to a 4×4 car, this is a great opportunity to explore.
6. Cultus Lake
On the way to Chilliwack, Cultus Lake is a great place to spend a weekend away from town if you’re into boating, big lakes, and water slides. Cultus Lake is extremely popular in the summer months, but there are also some nice cabins for rent during fall/winter months for cheaper rates. If you’re spending time at Cultus Lake, you’ll definitely want to check out the water park.
Luxury Options: Rent a cabin!
Budget Options: Stay with the riff raff in the tenting areas around the lake.
7. Tofino / Ucluelet
A great place to visit any time of the year, Tofino is most well known as a surfing destination, for good reason. Excellent waves on sandy beaches means that you won’t have to worry about falling on rocks. If you’re not a fan of freezing cold water, there’s plenty of other options for adventure. One great experience you’ve got to try is the Hot Springs Cove tour, which takes you to some awesome hot springs after a walk in the rain forest.
Luxury Options: Why not stay at the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort for $3,500+ a night for something completely different? Makes the Wickaninnish Inn seem cheap at only $350 a night!
Budget Options: Camping is always an option, but it’s no fun being all sticky from surfing then having to sleep in a tent without a shower. Ocean Village Cabins are a nice beach-side alternative to camping that are pretty cheap if you share the bill with friends.
8. Okanagan / Kelowna
Probably better for a long weekend trip from Vancouver, the trip to the Okanagan will take you about 4-5 hours to get to a whole new climate and atmosphere. Hot and sunnier in the summer and a bit cooler in the winter (with champagne powder!) the Okanagan area is a fun weekend getaway.
Luxury Options: There are a lot of luxury hotels available in the Okanagan, just make sure you pick a nice one next to the lake. Alternatively, you could just make the trip a lot easier by staying at a winery itself. Let’s be real, you’re just here for the wine, right?
Budget Options: Don’t invest too much in the hotel, because there’s so much to do outside of it. Hit up the Othello Tunnels in Hope on your way up, spend some time sniffing the air at a lavender farm, and do a tipsy bike tour of your favourite wineries.
9. Overnight Hiking Trips
If you’ve got a bit of extra money lying around to invest in some good, light-weight camping gear, overnight hiking trips can be an amazing experience in the more milder months of the year. Sure, carrying a huge backpack while hiking isn’t exactly fun, it’s definitely a great workout and an awesome way to spend a weekend away.
Some great options for overnight hiking trips near Vancouver:
- Elsay Lake = Access from Seymour Mountain, easier on the way there because you’re going downhill most of the way. Bit of a slog on the way back up. There’s a hut but camping is good. Lake is nice for a refreshing swim. (more info)
- Golden Ears = A classic and awesome hike in Maple Ridge that is very popular for good reason, the scenery is stunning. Be prepared for all kinds of weather. An overnight hike lets you explore the area better. Keep your eyes peeled for goats! (more info)
- Widgeon Lake = A great hike that’s quite difficult and also includes a canoe to get you to the start of the trail. The lake at the top is amazing though, great for a bone-chilling swim. (more info)
- Garibaldi Park = Panorama Ridge, Black Tusk… These are both amazing hikes that can be done in a day, but are nicer when you’ve got base camp set up at the emerald green shores of Garibaldi lake. (more info)
- Elfin Lakes = An intermediate hike in Squamish area that’s very popular because of its amazing views at the top. A good starter hike because there’s a nice hut in case you happened to forget to pack a tent. (more info)
10. Manning Park
Just past Hope and close to the border, Manning Park is a great getaway for any season. It’s got great access to unique hiking opportunities in the summer (as well as mountain biking) and great skiing/snowboarding in the winter. Plus, parking is way cheaper than Whistler and there’s a good chance you’ll see a marmot or two.
Luxury Option: There aren’t too many options for luxury at Manning Park, but you could rent out a deluxe cabin if you’re feeling fancy.
Budget Option: Stay in one of the cheaper rooms on the off season or bring a tent instead. Go hiking and enjoy the wilderness!
Source: Bored in Vancouver