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Awesome Vancouver Weekend Getaways

The beautiful Canadian city Vancouver, located where the ocean meets the mountains in British Columbia, has the perfect location for a variety of fantastic weekend getaways.  Bordered by the sea at the Strait of Georgia and surrounded by imposing mountains and kilometers of lush rainforests there are plenty of hidden treasures in nature, only a short drive away from Downtown Vancouver.

Garibaldi Lake Whistler
Walking around the Spectacular Garibaldi Lake near Whistler on a Weekend Trip from Vancouver.

Also see our Incredible Things to do in Vancouver article

Want to get away from the skyscrapers, buzzing bars and hip restaurants? Feeling adventurous? Escape the city, climb a mountain, go camping, snowboarding or see killer whales from a kayak, on a weekend trip from Vancouver you can do it all.  In winter drive the spectacular Sea to Sky Highway to Canada’s number one ski resort town Whistler, the Winter Olympics 2010 host for world class snow. Feel like an island break away? You are spoilt for choice. Go whale watching, surfing, diving or hike Canada’s most famous backpacking trail the West Coast Trail, is on Vancouver island just a short ferry ride away.

Feel like a city getaway? Located close to the US border, exploring the famous food, music and art scene of Seattle is a great weekend escape! The Capital of British Columbia, Victoria, is a small city. Packed with things to do for culture vultures, foodies and it is a great base for exploring the amazing outdoors around Vancouver island from. Winter in Whistler is not all about skiing, book into a luxury hotel or rustic cabin and enjoy sitting in a hot tub while it is snowing in this magical winter wonderland.

In this article you will find some of the best weekend getaways from Vancouver, things to do, transport and accommodation.

Vancouver Island

Vancouver island is the perfect spot for a weekend breakaway. Renowned for its natural beauty; the wild beaches, beautiful forest and a rich diversity in marine life results in an amazing playground for adventurers to explore. Getting to Vancouver Island is already an adventure, whether you take the spectacular public ferry trip or choose to start your trip with a short plane ride in a small seaplane! There are tons of things to do on Vancouver Island whether you are an adrenaline junkie, a foodie, want to explore the amazing city Victoria or if you want to experience the spectacular coastline and forests.

Hiking on Vancouver Island

Vancouver island has plenty of one day and multi day camping hiking trails. Home to mountains, glaciers, beautiful old growth forests, surrounded by a spectacular coastline, the perfect environment for some incredible hiking routes. The island is filled with a massive variety of wildlife you can see while hiking on the beach and through the forests including; bears, whales, orcas, otters, seals and more. The West Coast trail is probably the most famous hiking trail in Canada, it is a challenging one week backpacking trail along the coast. 

Camping Chin Beach Juan de Fuca Marine Trail
Camping on Chin Beach along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, a great weekend trip to Vancouver Island.

The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail

The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail has some fantastic weekend hiking opportunities. This moderate to difficult 49 km trail is located in the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park along the west coast of Vancouver Island. The route follows the coastline walking over some beautiful beaches, stretching from China Beach, close to the town Sooke in the south, to Botanical Beach located close to Port Renfrew in the north. It is easy to reach the trail from several trail heads each with car parking making it possible to do one-day hikes or only walk part of the trail. The hiking trail can easily be accessed from the road at Parkinson Creek, Sombrio Beach and China Beach. Camping along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is permitted in designated beach and forest campsites, and all campsites have bear cash, running water and toilet. You can self register at the campsite, leaving the money in a deposit box or pay online. These campsites are great for just spending a weekend, making a fire, chilling at the beach and exploring the beautiful beach and forest. Sombrio beach is very popular for surfing, camping on the beach and even has an awesome hidden waterfall to catch a shower! See our Juan de Fuca Trail Guide for all details required to plan this adventure. 

Staying in Port Renfrew or Victoria hiking from China Beach to Mystic Beach is a great one day hike. Park at the trailhead for China Beach and hike from here to Mystic Beach. China Beach is located approximately 75 km west of Victoria, along Highway 14, westbound from Sooke to Port Renfrew in the south of Vancouver island. China Beach is a long stretch of fine sand, great for families and pets. The trail is not too hard for the average fitness level.

The Big Tree Trail close to Tofino on Meares island is a great one day trail. Get to the park from Tofino by water taxi or by taking a guided kayaking trip. The island is protected from logging, it is a Tribal park and some of the giant cedar trees are between 1000 and 1500 years old! The hike is only 3 km, but takes about an hour and a half to complete.

These great hikes are some of the Best Hikes in Vancouver.

Accommodation in Port Renfrew

Getting to Vancouver Island from Vancouver

Transport from Vancouver to Vancouver Island with BC Ferries is very good. Buses regularly service the ferry terminals on both sides or you can board the car ferry with your own vehicle. The Tsawwassen ferry terminal is about a 45 minute drive from Downtown.

Ferries depart on a regular basis from Tsawwassen (near Vancouver) to Swartz Bay (Near Victoria) Ferry Schedule, from Tsawwassen to Duke Point (near Nanaimo) and  from Horseshoe Bay (near Vancouver) to Departure Bay (in Nanaimo). The ride on the ferry to Tsawwassen is very nice, taking more or less 1h30min, food and coffee is available to buy on the ferry, if the weather is good it is nice on the deck, you sail close to the islands with good views, you can even see whales with some luck!

Vancouver weekend getaways taking a seaplane to Vancouver island
Starting your away weekend from Vancouver by taking a seaplane to Vancouver island is an awesome plan.

An exciting way to start your weekend trip to Vancouver island is by transfer with a small seaplane, this scenic flight takes only 35 minutes and is not crazy expensive. – Coal Harbour in Vancouver (Canada Place) to Victoria.

Victoria

Things to do in Victoria

  • Arrive by Seaplane
  • Whale watching
  • Hiking
  • Cycling
  • Explore the interesting neighbourhoods
  • Go for High tea
  • Craft Beer tasting

Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria, the capital of British Columbia is an amazing short getaway for all tastes. Victoria is a great base to explore the island from, there are excellent whale watching, hiking and cycling opportunities from this beautiful little city. The city has some fascinating areas to visit such as the Victoria Public Market, Chinatown, Old Town and the Inner Harbor. It is nice to walk in the Harbor close to the water and explore the streets filled with vendors and buskers, look at fishing boats and maybe even spot a whale in the open sea! With many cafes lining the streets, this is a good place for coffee. The Inner Harbor is home to some of Victoria’s most famous attractions and beautiful architecture, the Royal British Columbia Museum and the Parliament Buildings. The Butchart Gardens is one of the most popular sites to visit in Victoria. A massive 22 ha garden with more than 900 varieties of plants. Visit the Butchart Gardens Tour with bus transfer from Victoria.

Victoria Open Top Bus Tour is a great way to explore this beautiful city.

Go for High Tea in Victoria

Tea is a big thing in Victoria, high tea you have at lunch, and is served by many places around town. For a proper high tea experience with fancy pastries and mini cakes, The Empress Hotel is a very popular place, it is not cheap at over $50 CAD including some pastries.

Craft Beer Tasting

Beer brewing in Canada started in Victoria in 1858 and the city has a lively craft beer scene today. Victoria is home to some of the country’s best restaurants and breweries. For some beer tasting trips; you can walk the Beer Mile surrounding the Upper Harbour, go on a water taxi, the Pickle Pub Crawl or join a bicycle pub crawl with The Pedaler. 

Inner harbor victoria vancouver island
With its funky vibe and beautiful buildings visiting the inner harbor is one of the most exciting places in Victoria.

Cycling in Victoria 

Victoria is great for cycling with awesome parks, paths, and beautiful open roads; urban areas have cycling lanes, bike lock-up areas, and cycling routes are available for everyone from beginners to experienced cyclists. The Galloping Goose is a fantastic trail to cycle. This 31-mile (55 km) multipurpose trail is used for walking, running, biking, and even for inline skating and horseback riding, passing through various landscapes,  forests, rivers, beaches, and lakes. Swimming at the beautiful Sooke potholes is a fun thing to do on the trail.

Vancouver Island full day cycling tour – a full day cycling tour including farm-fresh food, local wine, and active exploring.

Whale watching from Victoria

There are some excellent whale watching opportunities from Victoria in season with many humpback whales around the island, some companies guarantee that you will see them, the highlight of whale watching here is the chance to see orcas (killer whales). Pacific grey whales, minke whales, California sea-lions, harbor seals, harbor porpoise, Dall’s porpoise, white sided dolphins and a variety of seabirds can also be seen on trips. The best time for whale watching around Vancouver Island is May to October. 

For whale watching excursions you can choose between a zodiac type (inflatable) open boat or covered boat. The zodiac type is more exciting and gets closer to many animals, wheelchair users and pregnant women can not go on these boats. Covered boats are more comfortable, are wheelchair accessible and have washrooms on board.

Well rated and reviewed whale watching trips from Victoria

Getting to Victoria from Vancouver

  • Travel Distance Vancouver to Victoria – 115 km, takes around 3 hours
  • Driving with your own vehicle take the Swartz Bay, BC – Tsawwassen, BC ferry from the ferry ramp follow Patricia Bay Hwy/BC-17 on Vancouver island to Victoria.
  • Public transportin Vancouver take the SkyTrain’s Canada Line south to Bridgeport Station, from here bus #620 to get to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, take the ferry to Vancouver island. From the Swartz Bay terminal on Vancouver Island, take bus #70 to downtown Victoria.

Accommodation in Victoria

Tofino 

Things to do in Tofino

  • Walk on the Beach
  • Surfing
  • Rock pool exploration
  • Whale watching
  • Kayaking
  • Hike the Big Tree Trail
  • Storm watching

On the West Coast of Vancouver island, the town Tofino is a very popular weekend getaway. This small town is  a center for ecotourism and whale watching, surfing, and camping is very popular around Tofino. The best beaches on the island can be found at Tofino. 

Long beach, located in the Pacific Rim National Park, is a 16 kilometer sandy beach in the Tofino area. This magnificent sandy beach is awesome for long walks, surfing or playing in the waves and has beautiful tidal pools, filled with crabs, shells, starfish, sea urchins and more amazing creatures. 

Chesterman Beach is an excellent beach for tide pool exploration, at low tide you will see sea stars, massive sea anemones, mussels, barnacles, hermit crabs and more animals in the pools.

Enjoying the beach is obviously more of a summer activity, but Tofino is a great weekend trip in winter as well. Vancouver island has a moderate temperature and is not too cold in winter. Surfing is better in winter, in an appropriate wetsuit you should be comfortable. Storm watching is popular in Tofino in the late fall or winter, during storm season. Massive waves hit the coast, often reaching up to six meters (20 feet) from the beginning of November until the end of February.

walking on the beach Tofino
Walking on the beautiful beaches around Tofino on a weekend away from Vancouver.

Surfing in Tofino

Tofino is the best place in Canada for surfing with waves to surf for all skill levels. Cox Bay and Longbeach are good surf spots and Chesterman beach is a good beginner beach where lessons take place. Tofino has some surf shops and great surf culture, surf lessons are given here.

Book surf lessons in Tofino.

4 Day Vancouver camping experience – Explore Tofino with some locals including camping, surf lessons and whale watching.

Kayaking in Tofino

Exploring Tofino harbor and the surrounding islands is an amazing activity that can be done all year round. There are many kayaking operators hiring kayaks and providing guides in town.  The two and a half hour tour of the harbour and surrounding islands is popular. You can also paddle to Meares Island and hike the Big Tree Trail, this trip takes about 4 hours paddling across Tofino Harbour and hiking in the park. For more experienced paddlers overnight trips into Clayoquot Sound are available.

Whale watching from Tofino

Tofino also offers whale watching, along with plenty of other wildlife. The whale watching season here stretches from March to October. Gray whales are the most common, but orcas and humpback whales can also be seen in Tofino.

Accommodation in Tofino

Getting to Tofino from Vancouver

  • Travel Distance – 5 h 30 min, 280 km
  • Drive from Vancouver to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, take a ferry to Nanaimo. Drive from Nanaimo to Tofino.

Sea to Sky Highway

Stops on the Sea to Sky Highway

  • Horseshoe Bay
  • Porteau Cove
  • Sea to Sky Gondola
  • Squamish
  • Shannon Falls
  • Whistler

The Sea to Sky Highway is not a destination, but a beautiful road stretching from Vancouver to Whistler. This 160 kilometer drive, also called Highway 99, traces the Pacific Ocean with rugged mountain peaks as backdrop. On the way, spectacular scenery includes snow-capped mountains, rainforests, beautiful turquoise lakes and rivers. There are some incredible sites to visit on this two hour drive. Highway 99 is an awesome road trip for a couple of days. You can stay in accommodation on a range of budgets in Squamish and Whistler, with some awesome places to camp on the way if you are doing a camping trip. 

Some highlights on the Sea to Sky Highway; leaving Vancouver Horseshoe Bay is a nice stop looking at the ocean and ferries, Porteau Cove about half an hour’s drive from Vancouver is a very well known Scuba diving spot with some boats scuttled to form artificial reefs. Here is a nice pier to walk on, great views of the Howe Sound and camping with awesome ocean views. The Sea to Sky Gondola just before Squamish is an absolute highlight of the route taking you up for some unreal views and is worth spending half a day at. Squamish is known as the adventure capital of the area with awesome places for mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, fishing and more. It is a good place to spend a couple of days with nice campsites and of course climbing the famous Stawamus Chief is a highlight. Shannon Falls is the third highest waterfall in British Columbia and a great stop with some nice trails, roaring after heavy rains.

Book a car for rent through Rentalcars Connect comparing best deals on all major rental agencies.

Whistler

Whistler is home to one of the best ski resorts in the world, Whistler Blackcomb, and the amazing snow makes it a very popular winter destination. It is however a fantastic weekend trip from Vancouver  any time of the year. In the summer there are great hiking and mountain biking trails. You can also take  the Peak 2 Peak Gondola up the mountain anytime of the year for ureal views and stroll about the beautiful village. 

Whistler Mountain away weekend from Vancouver
For the ultimate winter weekend trip from Vancouver go skiing on the incredible Whistler Mountain.

Things to do in Whistler

  • Ski or snowboard at Whistler Blackcomb
  • Play in the snow
  • Snowshoe
  • Snowmobile
  • Dog sledding
  • Peak 2 Peak Gondola
  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • Enjoy Whistler village

Ski or snowboard at Whistler Blackcomb

Whistler village sits at the foot of two mountains, Whistler Mountain (2,182 meters) and Blackcomb Mountain (2,284 meters). With more than 200 ski runs and 37 ski lifts this incredible venue hosted the winter olympics and is home to some of the best skiing in North America. There are multiple hotels and restaurants close to the gondola base for skiing, some even with fireplaces inside! Many other popular snow activities are possible here such as; snowshoeing, snowmobile trips, dog sledding, ice climbing, heli-skiing and more. If you have kids they will love the Coca-Cola Tube Park for tons of downhill fun.

The Peak 2 Peak Gondola

The famous Peak 2 Peak gondola provides a ride between the two mountains Whistler and Blackcomb for an awesome 4.4 kilometers taking 11 minutes. This beautiful ride provides spectacular views of alpine lakes, snow-capped mountains and dense forests far down in the valley.

In summer the Gondola offers a sightseeing trip between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains with unreal photo opportunities. In winter the gondola is a ride for skiers and snowboarders between runs on Blackcomb and Whistler.

Vancouver to Whistler Sea to Sky Gondola Daytrip

peak to peak gondola
Peak 2 peak gondola Whistler

Hiking in Whistler

Some of the most spectacular hikes in British Columbia are in the Whistler area. In summer hiking is very popular in Whistler, without snow the surrounding mountains that are so famous for skiing offer some spectacular trails.

Hiking  Whistler and Blackcomb mountains

For hiking inside the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort you will need to purchase a day sightseeing pass. Hiking in the resort is nice, a 30 minute Gondola ride  takes hikers above the treeline to the start of the trails.

On Whistler mountain the Highnote trail is a popular 9 km hike and on Blackcomb mountain the 6 km Overlord trail is a favorite, both these trails are included in the sightseeing pass offered by Whistler Blackcomb. The tough Singing Pass trail is an option to hike 12 km from the base of the Gondola without a pass. At Whistler if you continue with the Russet Lake trail it adds an extra 3km one-way or you can hike to the Roundhouse Lodge which will be about 21km from the village to the top of Whistler Mountain. You can take the gondola down from here. Make sure you take enough water along. 

Garibaldi National Park

Garibaldi National Park is a spectacular wilderness park located about 20 kilometers from Whistler. The park is easy to reach from either Whistler or Vancouver. Garibaldi National Park is named after the glacier-ringed Mount Garibaldi (2,678-meters) and is an amazing area for trekking with more than 90 kilometers of well marked trails including some of the most beautiful hiking trails in Canada such as the Garibaldi Lake Hike, Panorama Ridge, Black Tusk and Elfin Lakes.

Hiking to Garibaldi lake near Whistler and Squamish
Hiking to Lake Garibaldi is an amazing day trip from Whistler or Squamish.

Go on a Seaplane Tour

Take a panoramic seaplane tour of Whistler’s Glaciers. Fly over the spectacular glaciers, rugged peaks and get the best view of the turquoise glacier lake, Lake Garibaldi.

Accommodation in Whistler

Getting to Whistler from Vancouver

Travel Distance – 1 hour 30 min, 121 km

Rent a car and drive yourself along the beautiful Highway 99.

Go by bus with Skylynx from Vancouver.

Go with a Float plane.

Squamish

Things to do in Squamish

  • Hiking
  • Rock climbing
  • Mountain biking
  • Camping
  • Kitesurfing
  • Kayaking
  • White water rafting

About halfway between Vancouver and Whistler the charming village of Squamish surrounded by trails, forest, mountains and lakes offers world class mountain biking, hiking, climbing and kitesurfing. Only about 60 km from Vancouver on the Sea to Sky highway this is the perfect destination for outdoor adventures and a weekend break from Vancouver. If you are a rock climber or want to hike to the top of one of the biggest granite rocks in the world, you will love The Stawamus Chief  just outside Squamish. For amazing views the beautiful Shannon Falls and Sea to Sky Gondola is not far from town. Porteau Cove offers some excellent kayaking on the Howe Sound accessible from Squamish. Squamish Spit, where Howe Sound meets the Squamish River, is a top spot for windsurfing and kiteboarding.  Squamish is an amazing mountain biking destination with hundreds of kilometers of single track trails in the wilderness to cater for all skill levels. Brackendale Eagle Provincial Park located in the Squamish River Valley is one of the best places to see wintering bald eagles in North America.

hike stawamus chief on Vancouver away weekend
Hiking the Stawamus Chief in Squamish is a great activity on a weekend trip from Vancouver.

The Stawamus Chief Climbing and Hiking

Stawamus Chief Mountain, often just called The Chief, is the second largest granite rock in the world and is known as a top rock climbing spot with some great hiking routes

There are thousands of fantastic climbing routes for every level of climber starting only about 5 minutes walk from Squamish town. The impressive monolith, the Chief rising 700 metres above Squamish, hosts most of these routes and is divided into different areas such as The Apron and The Grand Wall. Shannon Falls and Murrin Provincial Park also host some fantastic climbing routes, including bolted routes with spectacular views.  

Hiking the Chief there are three peaks that you can summit. The three peaks are separated by several deep gullies. From the top of the peaks you will have incredible views of the area surrounding Squamish, including Howe Sound and north to Garibaldi Provincial Park. The hike to the top is challenging, with chains and ladders assisting you to climb this big rock in some parts. Climbing the Chief is a return route and takes anything from 3 to 6 hours to complete. You also have the option to only hike to the 1st or 2nd peaks which take roughly 2 to 3 hours to the top and back. 

Squamish is a great place to stay if you want to do day hikes in Garibaldi National park such as the Garibaldi Lake hike and the Black Tusk. Getting to the Rubble Creek parking area in Garibaldi Park is a quick drive from here or you can go with the Shred Shuttle for $CAD 22 return.

Camping in Squamish

Squamish, surrounded by several beautiful camping grounds, is a fantastic spot to plan a camping getaway from Vancouver whether you are just pitching your tent or pulling in your RV. Stawamus Chief Provincial Park with more than 60 campsites, some accessible by vehicle, is very popular with climbers. Mountain Fun Base Camp is located on some great mountain biking trails. A good spot to pitch your tent or park your RV and they have cabins for rent. Kalahine campground is a large campground with about 150 sites, it is a good spot for just about any activity; hiking, climbing, kayaking and more. Alice Lake Provincial Park is a great campsite for outdoor activities with four lakes offering fishing, biking trails, hiking and more in a family friendly vibe.

Go Eagle watching in Squamish

Brackendale Eagle Provincial Park in the Squamish River Valley is home to the largest congregation of wintering bald eagles feasting on the spawning salmon between November and February. Eagle watching is very popular in Squamish between mid-December and mid-January.

White Water Rafting from Squamish

White water rafting is popular around Squamish. Check out this 5.5-hour white-water rafting adventure from Squamish on the Elaho River. Challenging fun paddling through choppy class III-IV rapids, watch the river banks for bears, deer and beavers. This can be a fun family activity.

Accommodation in Squamish

Getting to Squamish from Vancouver

Travel Distance – 63 km, 55 minutes.

Renting a car is definitely the easiest way to get around. We like using Rentalcar to find the best deal.

Public transport is available with the Squamish connector for about $CAD 30 return or several other bus services. I stayed over in Squamish for a couple of nights, also explore the fantastic Garibaldi National Park. Getting to Rubble Creek parking area in Garibaldi Park is easy from here with the Shred Shuttle for $CAD 22 return.

Bowen Island

Things to do in Bowen Island

  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Go to the beach

Bowen Island is a small island in Howe Sound. Only a  short ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal it is the perfect weekend getaway from Vancouver. The beautiful Bowen island has some nice artisan eateries, amazing places to stay on a weekend breakaway, awesome hiking trails and kayaking Howe Sound from here is a very popular activity.

Kayaking at Bowen Island

Kayaks and paddleboards are available for rent from the docks next to the ferry terminal, tours are available. You can explore Snug Cove and the coast around Bowen Island from here. 

Hiking on Bowen Island

Bowen Island has some fantastic hiking trails for all fitness levels. 

The Dormant Point hike is a fairly easy 2 kilometer hike that takes around an hour. The trail stretches from Snug Cove up to Dorman Point Lookout over Howe Sound. This Bowen Island hike is a nice quick and easy hike with rewarding views. 

The Killarney Lake Loop is a longer hike, circling the Killarney lake for 9 kilometers. This is a very popular trail. It is a flat trail, easy to walk with nice lake views and take about two and a half hours to complete

The Mount Gardner and Killarney lake hike is the most challenging hike on the island with some of the best views. It is a circular trail starting from the harbour. This trail is a whole day hike. The trail is 17km long with a total elevation gain over 700m and takes 6 – 7 hours to complete.

Places to stay on Bowen Island

Getting to Bowen Island

Getting to Bowen Island from Vancouver is a short, 20-minute ferry with BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay to the Bowen Island ferry terminal at Snug Cove. You can go on the ferry with your car. For car rental we recommend you search Rental Carsconnect, comparing best prices from all the main agencies. 

Another option is taking the Bowen Island taxi boat from Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver to Snug Cove on weekdays.

Sunshine Coast

Things to do on the Sunshine Coast

  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Kayaking
  • Beer Tasting
  • Explore the islands
  • Road Trip
  • Visit Gibsons

The Sunshine Coast is located on the southern coast of British Columbia, it is part of the mainland. Rugged mountains cut the area off from the rest of BC, it is not an island, but is only accessible by ferry or by plane. The Sunshine coast is only a 40 minute ferry ride from Vancouver, but the isolation makes it a perfect weekend getaway from Vancouver.  There are plenty of nice pebble beaches and nice communities spread out along Highway 101 running over the length of the sunshine coast between Langdale and Egmont. 

Explore the Islands of the Sunshine Coast

There are several islands close to the sunshine coast, varying from small and uninhabited to larger islands. Texada is the largest island and is great for birding and viewing marine mammals such as orcas, dolphins and whales from. Surrounded by several marine bays and coves and with several lakes it is a very popular island for paddling. Texada can be reached by public ferry and has an airport. Savary and Nelson Island are two other popular islands to visit.

Gibsons

Gibsons is a seaside village on the Sunshine Coast that is easily accessible by ferry and bus from the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. This beautiful town surrounded by the Howe Sound fjords with a working fishing port, quaint shops and restaurants is the main access point to the Sunshine Coast from Vancouver. Gibsons has a beautiful marina where you can hire a kayak from several operators. Enjoy the wildlife paddling around the Howe Sound Islands of Keats, Gambier, Bowen, Paisley and Anvil. There are a couple of nice restaurants and breweries around Gibsons. Molly’s Reach is a famous restaurant. Gibsons was a film set for a well known TV show, The Beachcombers, in the 70’s and this restaurant was the center of the show.

Gibsons Public Market is nice to walk around, open 6 days a week with fresh produce and crafts by local artisans. Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre is a 1,200 square foot aquarium showcasing 30 habitats of the local underwater world in Howe Sound. There are some nice art galleries and museums including the Sunshine Coast Museum, focusing on the history of the Sunshine Coast and its inhabitants. 

Go on a kayaking trip from Gibsons – paddle along the Georgia Strait, with great mountain and ocean views, watch out of coastal wildlife like seals, eagles, herons, otters, whales and more. Usually an easy paddle that is suitable for beginners and families.

Do a road trip on the Sunshine Coast

Boarding the ferry in Horseshoe Bay with your car, you have some awesome road trip options on the Sunshine Coast. Driving across the Sunshine coast to the next ferry crossing at Earl’s Cove is 180 km through the main towns of Gibsons and Sechelt. You can head on the coast by taking the ferry to Saltery Bay (Powell River) from where you will have the option of turning back or continue to Comox on Vancouver Island by ferry. From here you can explore Vancouver island and take a ferry back to Vancouver from Nanaimo or Victoria

Accommodation in Gibsons

Gibsons Garden Hotel

Getting to the Sunshine Coast from Vancouver

Travel Distance to Gibsons – 46 km, 1 h 50 min

To get to the sunshine coast go with BC Ferries from Horse Shoe Bay to Langdale. You can take your car on the ferry. If you want to go to Gibsons and you do not have a car take the line 90 bus from the Langdale ferry terminal to Gibsons.

Seattle

Things to do in Seattle

  •  Pike Place farmers market
  • The Space Needle
  • Visit the Museum of Flight
  • Experience the famous coffee scene

Seattle in the US is just South of the Canadian border, located only 2.5 hours by car and about an hour by plane, this is a very popular weekend getaway from Vancouver. Seattle is famous for Starbucks and  grunge music. Popular grunge bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam were formed in Seattle in the 90s. The city is also known as the Emerald City because of plenty of lush evergreen forests and parks. With a thriving culinary scene, well known coffee history and home to the iconic Space Needle and Pike Place farmers market, Seattle has some awesome places to visit.

Seattle Space Needle
The famous Space Needle towering above the Seattle skyline.

Explore Seattle

A great way to discover Seattle is by taking a hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus tour. There are different tour options to choose from, explore sights including the Space Needle, Occidental Square, Chinatown, Pike Place Market, and many more.

Pike Place farmers market

One of the most famous farmers markets in the United States, this wonderful public market is a must visit site in Seattle with great market tours. There is a great variety of shops and local vendors selling flowers, vegetables and of course the well known, fun fish vendors throwing fish to each other at the market.

Coffee in Seattle

Seattle is seen as a world center for coffee roasting and is home to the original Starbucks.  Pike Place Starbucks store, also called the Original Starbucks is one of the first Starbucks stores opened and was established in 1971 at Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. The store has kept its original appearance and is a popular tourist site.

The Space Needle

The Space Needle is an observation tower in Seattle and an icon of the city. This 605-ft.-tall spire at the Seattle Center, has an observation deck & a rotating restaurant providing views of downtown Seattle, mountains surrounding the city and various islands in Puget Sound. Visitors can go to the top of the Space Needle by elevators that travel at 10 mph (16 km/h), in 41 seconds.

Museum of Flight

This spectacular flight museum  features over 175 air and spacecraft including the original Boeing Aircraft factory, flight simulators,  the supersonic Concorde, a full-scale NASA Space Shuttle Trainer, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner,  M-21 Blackbird spy plane and the Air Force One that served presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. 

Accommodation in Seattle

Getting to Seattle from Vancouver

There are several ways to get from Vancouver to Seattle

Travel Distance – 230 km, 2 h 20 min

Traveling by car follow Highway 99 and cross the Peace Arch border, follow the I-5 until you get to Seattle

By train depart from Pacific Central Station near Downtown Vancouver all the way to the centre of Seattle 4 h 30 min

International flights from Vancouver (YVR) to Seattle (SEA) takes about 1 hour.

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