Do you feel stressed, overworked, and ready for a break? A quick weekend getaway will recharge your batteries and get your focus back.
But where should you go? With so many options around Vancouver, it’s hard to choose one.
As a former Vancouverite who grew up in landlocked Alberta, I was amazed at all the fantastic options a quick hop away from Vancouver and at a low cost.
If you’re looking for a short trip, extended weekend, or romantic getaway, check out these top weekend trips from Vancouver for the perfect place to relax.
A weekend getaway is a great way to unwind and have fun, but do you know it’s also good for your health? Studies have shown that shorter trips can boost your mental health even more so than long vacations.
The reasons for this are simple. Short getaways require little planning and make you prioritize your time and outings.
As opposed to week-long vacations, a weekend trip is usually less stressful. Less time away from work means less worry over piling up tasks or unanswered emails.
There are several convenient transportation options to choose from that will suit your preferences and budget. Here’s a closer look at the transportation choices available for your getaway:
- Driving: For those who enjoy the freedom of the open road, driving to your destination is a popular choice. Vancouver’s well-maintained highways provide easy access to a variety of nearby destinations. Whistler, Harrison Hot Springs, and Squamish are all within a few hours’ drive, making them ideal choices for a quick weekend escape.
- Ferry Rides: If you’re looking to explore the picturesque islands around Vancouver, consider taking a ferry ride. Destinations like Bowen Island and Salt Spring Island are accessible via ferry from Horseshoe Bay, providing a scenic journey as part of your getaway experience.
- Gondola Trips: For a unique transportation experience and stunning views, consider riding a gondola. Whistler’s Peak 2 Peak Gondola offers an iconic journey between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, providing a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding landscapes. Additionally, the Sea to Sky Gondola near Squamish offers breathtaking vistas of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains.
- Public Transportation: Vancouver’s efficient public transportation system includes buses, SkyTrain, and SeaBus services, making it easy to access nearby destinations without the need for a car. This eco-friendly option is perfect for those looking to minimize their carbon footprint while enjoying a stress-free getaway.
Getting away from the stresses of work and everyday life helps you reboot and come back feeling refreshed. Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or looking to get away with friends, here are some great locations to keep in mind the next time you’re planning a getaway.
Travel time from Vancouver: Around 1 hour, 40 minutes
Estimated cost: Upwards of $800 or more based on a couple looking to hit the slopes.
Whistler is the perfect getaway during any part of the year. Located just a short drive from Vancouver, it has some of the top skiing in the world. But don’t worry, when the weather’s warmer, there’s still plenty to do – hiking, biking, and golfing.
Whistler is great for those looking for adventure. The winter season offers chances to ski, snowmobile, snowshoe, ice fish, and more.
The famous Peak 2 Peak Gondola offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and villages below. It’s the first lift to link two lodges (Whistler and Blackcomb) on side-by-side mountains.
If you’re not as adventurous and looking for a little more R & R, check out one of Whistler’s spa treatment centers. With over 20 to choose from, you can relax with a deep tissue massage or get the royal treatment with facials, manicures, and top-notch hair care.
The quaint downtown offers shops full of unique clothing and jewelry, as well as hand-crafted items from local artisans. All that shopping can work up an appetite. Good thing there is plenty of award-winning restaurants with dining options to fit every palate and budget.
2. Bowen Island
Travel time from Vancouver: 20-minute ferry ride via Horseshoe Bay
Estimated Cost: Two people can stay and enjoy a weekend for $500 in one of the quaint beds and breakfasts throughout the island. However, if you’re looking to immerse yourself in a yoga retreat, complete with accommodations, expect to pay anywhere from $300-$500 per night.
You don’t have to travel far to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Despite being part of the Vancouver metro area, Bowen Island feels like it’s worlds away. A weekend trip here allows for plenty of rest and relaxation with a picturesque backdrop.
The island is home to many parks like Apodaca Provincial Park and the Bowen Island Ecological Reserve. You can look out for wildlife or hike one of the many trails. With the island located in Howe Sound, there are plenty of beaches to explore.
The more adventurous might try their hand at kayaking or paddleboarding. The island offers rentals for each, along with guided tours to help enhance your experience.
Bowen Island is well known for its yoga retreats. If you’re looking to center yourself, the island, in the middle of green trees and calming waters, is the perfect location. Nectar, one of the more popular retreats, offers a whole experience.
Relax in a cozy cottage, attend daily guided meditations or just kick back and enjoy yourself.
Travel time from Vancouver: Just over an hour north of Vancouver
Estimated cost: $600 for lodging, food, and a trip on the gondola.
Squamish is an outdoor lover’s dream. Surrounded by mountains, this area is one of the top rock climbing destinations throughout Canada. The focal point, The Stawamus Cheif, is a massive granite monolith with climbing routes for all levels.
The Sea to Sky Gondola provides riders majestic views of Howe Sound, the surrounding mountains, and Shannon Falls. Once atop the mountain, choose between hiking trails, the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, or check out one of three viewing platforms.
Tantalus Provincial Park, located just north of Squamish, is popular for hiking, fishing, and even backcountry skiing during the winter.
Squamish’s bustling downtown includes boutiques, restaurants, and coffee shops. In the warmer months, look for live outdoor music concerts and festivals, like the Squamish Logger Days Sports Parade and the Squamish Wind Festival.
When you’re with your honey, any getaway can be considered romantic, but the next spots on the list are sure to reignite any flame.
Travel time from Vancouver:4 hours, 30 minutes
Estimated cost: This romantic getaway could be costly, especially if you’re staying at one of the high-end resorts and booking spa services. Expect to spend well over $1,000 for the visit.
Osoyoos, located in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, offers a unique topography for Canada. As the country’s largest desert region, the warm temperatures and spectacular sunsets offer the perfect backdrop for romance.
In this dry and arid landscape, grapes and wineries are abundant. Spirit Ridge is one of the top luxury resorts in the area offering opulent suites and villas, complete with soaker tubs, fireplaces, and private balconies.
Tour any one of the area’s finest wineries and enjoy an intimate dinner at any of the top-rated romantic restaurants throughout the region.
The Solterra Desert Spa is the place to go to relax and rejuvenate. With a variety of treatments available, couples might find a dual vitality massage as a romantic way to enjoy an afternoon.
If you decide to tear yourself away from wining and dining, golfing and boating are other popular activities throughout Osoyoos. Boats, kayaks, jet skis, and more are available for rent around Osoyoos Lake.
5. Harrison Hot Springs
Travel time from Vancouver: 2 hours
Estimated cost: Lodging, dining, and spa services could easily cost around $800 and upwards per couple.
Soaking in a hot spring with a glass of wine and the one you love is the perfect way to spend a weekend. Harrison Hot Springs has two hot springs nearby – the Potash and the Sulphur.
The Harrison Hot Springs Resorts allows visitors to experience the springs by pumping them into various pools located throughout the resort.
The resort offers cozy cottages for guests looking for privacy. Each cottage has a separate living and sleeping area, complete with a fireplace. After relaxing in the hot spring, treat yourself to a spa service – manicure, massage or facial. You could follow it up with dinner, never leaving the resort if you don’t want to.
If you’re looking to get out, Harrison Lake offers ample opportunities for boating, kayaking, and parasailing.
You don’t have to go far to feel refreshed. Here are some of the best two-day options to get away from it all and recharge.
Travel time from Vancouver:40 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay
Estimated cost: Under $500
Part of British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, Gibsons is a small, peaceful fishing town with a lot to offer. Gibson’s Public Market is one of the main focal points. With local food vendors, a bistro, and various artisans, the market is a vibrant hub showcasing the community.
Water activities are popular with Howe Sound nearby. Visitors can kayak or canoe, and since the town is a huge fishing hub, trying your luck at reeling in a big one is always a solid option.
Hiking up Soames Hill offers incredible views of Keats Island, not to mention it gets in a tough workout. Be prepared, the hike is steep and isn’t easy if you’re a beginner. But once you’re on top, the views you find make it worth the struggle.
Gibsons offers many outdoor events – from free concerts to various festivals, plan your visit around one of these events for even more fun.
7. Salt Spring Island
Travel time from Vancouver: About 2 hours, 30 minutes, including a ferry ride
Estimated cost: $500 – $600
Part of the Gulf Islands, Salt Spring Island is nestled between Vancouver Island and the mainland. The main town on the island, Ganges, has a bustling downtown full of restaurants, local shops, and art galleries.
Many of the local food vendors have a farm-to-table setup. The Salt Spring Cheese Company allows you to visit the shop and cafe, then wander around the farm, meet the sheep, and watch how cheese is made.
Francis Bread has a similar story and bakes and sells its bread using British Columbia’s own organic-grown grains.
Salt Spring Island has a thriving artistic community. There are self-guided tours available throughout many of the galleries and a pottery studio if that’s more up your alley.
Salt Spring Island caters to all adult beverage preferences. Salt Springs Vineyard offers wine tastings with picturesque views. For beer lovers, try Salt Spring Island Ales for a taste of local brews.
Where To Go for a Three-Day Getaway From Vancouver?
If you have the time for an extended weekend, check out these top spots not far from Vancouver.
Travel time from Vancouver: 5 hours, 30 minutes, including a ferry ride.
Estimated cost: Staying and playing around Tofino can cost upwards of $1,000, depending on your choice of lodging.
Tofino is located on Vancouver Island. Surrounded by lakes, inlets, and a rainforest, it’s a popular tourist destination and a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The beaches are perfect for relaxing, but you could always check out one of the many surfing companies and sign up for surf lessons.
Its location makes it the perfect spot for whale-watching tours. In the spring, over 20,000 migrating Gray whales swim past the island’s shores on their way to the Bering Strait near Alaska.
Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park is home to some of the oldest trees in all of Canada. There are fir, hemlock, and cedar trees that are up to 800 years old.
If you’re looking for something a bit quieter, head over to the town of Ucluelet. Visit the aquarium or try your hand at saltwater fishing – Ucluelet is known for its saltwater catch, as it’s just minutes from the “Salmon Superhighway.”
Travel time from Vancouver: Around 3 hours
Estimated cost: $800 – $1,000, depending on where you stay and the activities you have planned.
A trip to Seattle isn’t complete without visits to the Pike Place Market or the Space Needle. The market is famous for its delicious seafood and its outrageous fishmongers flinging the daily catch through the air to get wrapped up at the counter.
Seattle is also well known for its music scene, especially the grunge era of the 1990s. If you’re a music fan, visiting some of the well-known music hotspots like the Central Saloon, one of Seattle’s oldest bars, where bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains played, is a must.
The Museum of Pop Culture explores contemporary popular culture. With current exhibits featuring hometown favourites Nirvana and Pearl Jam, the museum celebrates the contributions of Seattle’s favourite artists.
Seattle’s Underground History Tour showcases the city’s first neighbourhood, Pioneer Square, by tracing its history through underground pathways that the current city now sits on top of. The “Underground City” burned down in 1889, but parts of it still remain, allowing for an intriguing tour experience.
Taking the time for a weekend getaway won’t only make for a great experience, but it’ll recharge your batteries and improve your mental health.
If you’re thinking of getting away more, check out these tips to save money on upcoming travel.