Some of the Best Road Trip Ideas near Vancouver
Vancouver is a bustling seaport city in British Columbia. The city is among the most ethnically diverse and densest cities in Canada. It is surrounded by mountains making it a popular filming location, and also offers nearby camping, excellent live theatre, and thriving art. Road trips have become an increasingly popular way of hanging out with friends. Additionally, it allows you to get a little farther out of town for some great Instagram photos. For each trip, we will also display the distance for road trips starting from Vancouver. However, I searched these all up using the Fairmont Hotel in downtown as a reference. If you are staying outside downtown Vancouver, please double check the time estimate.
So, cue up the playlists, roll down your window and hit the highway on one of our picks for greatest Vancouver road trips. Whether you’ve only got a few hours to spare or a long weekend, these unforgettable road trip ideas offer iconic landmarks, breathtaking sceneries, and thrilling stops along the way.
A Journey to the Mystic Beach on Vancouver Island
Mystic Beach is a scenic island escape and one of the favorite places on Vancouver Island for west coast camping. But before you get to see the beautiful hidden beach, you need to hike the 2.5 kilometer Juan de Fuca Trail of intertwined tree roots. Don’t worry though, the trail is not that hard since it has well-maintained tracks.
Distance from Downtown Vancouver: Around 4 h 12 min (180.3 km)
Things to do:
- CONQUER THE SUSPENSION BRIDGE: In order to get to somewhere you’ve never been before, you need to start facing your fears. Along the trail, you will need to cross 2 suspension bridges in order to get to the mystic beach of Vancouver Island.
- PLAY ON THE ROPE SWING: Test your strength and try to climb a rope that has been hanging from a tree near the beach for more than 10 years.
- ENJOY THE WAVES: After a long hike, there is nothing more relaxing and soothing than the welcoming “beach” breeze and waves.
- EXPLORE CAVERN AND CLIFFS: You will find a cavern at the north end of the beach where you can walk right under and at the south ends are majestic rock formations and cliffs. Oh, and don’t miss the tide pools as well.
- TAKE A PHOTO AT GLORIOUS WATERFALLS: The main waterfall can be found at the beach’s north end. The second one is at the North end. Find a riverbed coming out of the woods and after a few minutes hike up, you will see a small pour of the waterfall and a larger one behind it.
- LOOK FOR WHALES: During the summer and spring months, there is a high chance of spotting grey whales in this very beach as they migrate North. You might also get to see Orcas along the west coast.
Dip In The Harrison Hot Springs
The Harrison Hot Springs Resort is more than just a resort. It is a complete getaway experience which spans both outdoors and indoors. It crosses over lakes, rivers and through mountains. And it stays fresh with every new season. Tourists often visit the renowned Harrison hot springs resort towns for its famous its geothermal hot springs. There are also several ways to let out your adventurous side. As well as numerous sites that charm and delicious restaurants to satisfy your taste buds.
Distance for Road Trips Starting From Vancouver: Around 1 h 32 min (132.9 km) via Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 E
Things to do:
- WARM UP ON NATURAL HOT SPRINGS: Naturally, Harrison hot springs’ main feature is its geothermal springs. You can try at Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa where 5 pools are pumped with hot spring water which has been cooled at a comfortable temperature or try the public pool without staying at any resort.
- HAVE FUN AT HARRISON’S FLOATING WATER PARK: This inflatable water park opens from early June to early September which is perfect for family fun and an all-day entertainment for under $30 each person.
- RELAX ON THE BEACH: If you wish to absorb some sun rays while enjoying the warm breeze of the sea, then Harrison will not disappoint. The southern shoreline of the Harrison Lake is a wide stretch of sandy, clean beach.
- SCENIC BOAT TOUR: Tired on your hour long road trip? Why not try a boat trip for a change? They can be easily arranged and offer splendid views. Shoreline Tours provide a 2-hour getaway to Harrison Lake’s west side which is perfect for the family.
- RENT A QUADRACYCLES: Instead of walking, why not ride a quadricycle when exploring Harrison’s local neighborhood. These bikes can accommodate up to 8 persons including infants.
- SPORTS FISHING: Need to scratch a fishing itch? Well, BC Sports Fishing Group provides charter day trips and multi-day packages for you to hook a trophy on the line. Try to capture ancient white sturgeon or go with salmon or steelhead trout.
- PADDLE THROUGH HARRISON RIVER: Rent a canoe or kayak from Killer’s Cove Boat Rentals and prepare to reconnect with nature as you go for a paddle.
- PLAY GOLF: If you are an aspiring golfer, then Harrison offers you 2 golf courses— the Harrison Resort Golf Course and the Sandpiper Golf Course to satisfy your golfing skills.
- HIKE FOR A VIEW: With Harrison’s network of the trail, you can go hiking on a different trail every day for a week and will still not see the same view twice.
Check Out Tofino
This is probably one of the best road trips worth traveling across Canada. Starting from Vancouver, you need to take a 1 ½ hour ferry trip from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo. From Nanaimo, hit the Pacific Rim Highway to a beautiful 3-hour journey through the mountains, coastlines, and lakes.
Distance for Road Trips Starting From Vancouver: Around 4 h 59 min (202.6 km) Downtown Vancouver — Horseshoe Bay — Nanaimo Departure Bay — Tofino
Things to do:
- RIDE THE WAVES: Tofino is the dubbed as the surfing capital of Canada and was entitled “The Best Surf Town in North America”. A trip to this city is never complete without experiencing large Canadian waves.
- HIKING AMONG GIANTS: Driving into Tofino from Victoria, you will notice that the trees just keep on getting bigger until you are staring up at ancient monsters. An ancient rainforest surrounds Tofino offering an incredible hiking experience.
- HOT SPRING HUNTING: Do you want to experience soaking in a 50-degree Celsius of untouched geothermal waters surrounded by nature? Well, you can find remote hot springs which is an hour away by boat from Tofino.
- WILDLIFE VIEWING: Tofino offers an incredible wildlife viewing experience. It is home to the greatest whale migration on the planet. Every Spring 20,000 grey whales pass by the western shores of Tofino. If you are going whale watching in Tofino, my whale watching guide is a must. It is also a popular destination for bird and bear watching.
Visit Banff, Alberta
If you want to take your road trip to the next level Banff is where you have to go. The trip is a 10-hour journey to Banff, Alberta from Vancouver. Although it is known as a winter destination, Banff also offers a lot of things to do during the summer. When planning a trip to Banff it is quite difficult to know where to start. Here are a few tips for your trips.
Distance for Road Trips Starting From Vancouver: Around 9 h 24 min (848.2 km) via Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 E
Things to do:
- HIT THE WATER: Kayaking and canoeing are one of the most typical Canadian activity you should never forget to experience. A tranquil paddle provides you with some of the best vantage points. This is a must-see for the most romantic, alluring sceneries in the park.
- MEET THE BANFF WILDLIFE: Alberta was made for wildlife encounters. The Banff National Park is home to countless iconic wildlife. Such as Moose, Bighorn sheep, elk, as well as grizzly and black bears. Don’t forget there’s wolves, coyotes, and mountain goats. You may even be (un)lucky enough to spot an elusive mountain lion. There’s a good number of bird species, too— white-tailed ptarmigan, falcons, ravens, stellar jays, and Clark’s Nutcrackers.
- LET OUT YOUR INNER FISHING DESIRES: What better place to fish than the Canadian Rockies during summer? Fishers in Banff get all types of superb opportunities to get their hands on unique fish. The gorgeous nature will surround you with dazzling sceneries.
- SEE PEYTO LAKE: Peyto Lake is probably one of the bluest blue waters in the world. So, if you want to see just how beautiful untainted waters are, you should never miss this place.
- GO HORSEBACK RIDING: Unleash the inner cowboy in you and try to go on a horseback ride.
Hello There! My name is Oscar and I am the author and creator of this website. I have lived in Vancouver my whole life (42 years) and want to share some city tips with everyone. When I am not working I like to explore my town and the surrounding areas. My passions include hockey, hiking, and swimming! If you want to know more about Vancouver and myself, check out our ‘About Us’ page