Get outta town: 4 day trips from Vancouver

By Nancy Baye

We all love Vancouver, it’s just that sometimes it’s good to get away. These four day trips offer a unique break from the city. [Image credit: iStock.com/TLRG]

Get outta town: 4 day trips from Vancouver

1. Steveston: Historical hunt, family-style

Steveston’s charm has a long, albeit fishy, history. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery, once the province’s main cannery, is a national historic site. Preserved as well as any can of salmon, they offer tours and unique exhibits on the West Coast’s fishing heritage. Visit the indoor Cannery Farmers’ Market, November to April, or the Fishermen’s Memorial in April. Other music, holiday and kid-friendly events happen through the year. On September’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, the Cannery transforms into a pirate camp with games and costumes so every visitor can shout, “Ahoy, matey!”

Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site features displays, films and photos of fishing life. The Chinese Bunkhouse exhibit showcases the tough yet inspiring lives of Chinese cannery workers. Indoor and outdoor installations recreate 1920s life at the shipyards. Exhibits have included rum-running during Prohibition, internment camps of WWII, a functioning heritage shipyard, an estuary ecosystem and more. Interactive touch screens and the Innovation Station keep the learning fun.

Pajo’s has been perfecting fish and chips since 1985. Their fresh, local Ocean Wise fish have built a big fan following. Choose from wild cod, salmon or halibut in crisp tempura batter, served on a bed of fries. You can go to the gym later.

2. Bowen Island: Close and cozy

Whether it’s blowin’, snowin’ or glowin’, any day is glorious on Bowen. A mere 25 km from Vancouver, this oasis is a 20-minute ferry ride from scenic Horseshoe Bay. Cedar forests are dotted with trails to hike or cycle. Summer’s warm waters beckon swimmers to float against a backdrop of Vancouver’s skyline. From the ferry at Snug Cove, stroll along Government Road past independent stores that feature local artists’ goods. At Village Square, take the forest trail up to Artisan Square where a quaint row of galleries and shops awaits. Savour stunning views from this perch. The Gallery @ Artisan Square hosts music, book readings and other arts events. Check out their latest exhibits and their community events calendar. Pop into Cocoa West for a hand-made, organic, locally sourced Poblano hot chocolate or creamy truffle. You can work those calories off on the way back to the ferry dock.

3. Not squeamish in Squamish

The scenic drive from Vancouver to Squamish, along the cliff-side Sea to Sky Highway is sure to thrill. From March to November, adrenalin seekers can hike The Chief in Squamish. The full 11 km circuit covers three peaks and takes 5 to 6 hours. A shorter trail, to the South Peak, takes about 3.5 hours, making it the best bet for first-timers. At one point, hikers traverse a massive slab of granite, using chains and ropes to pull themselves along. This step will definitely get the adrenalin rushing. Rewards include stunning views of Howe Sound and Garibaldi Park.

While at the Chief, don’t miss the lovely 330-metre waterfall at Shannon Falls. The main lookout is a short hike, about 100 metres worth of stairs.

The Green Moustache serves delicious nourishing treats and drinks in a cheerful setting. Boost your brain with an Einstein smoothie of banana, strawberries, maca and chia. Refuel with collard wraps stuffed with quinoa, veggies, hummus, and delish house dressing. Finish with a raw vegan dessert like the No-cheese Cheesecake and you’ll be ready to hit the Sea to Sky Gondola. This takes visitors nearly 2,000 metres up, soaring over panoramic views of mountain and ocean. Summit fun includes a suspension bridge and multiple viewing decks. Ski, tube or snowshoe in winter; hike, rock climb or indulge in outdoor yoga in summer.

4. Get onto Island time

When on the West Coast, don’t miss the experience of taking a float plane. Combining the best of water and air travel, Harbour Air Seaplanes operates out of Vancouver Harbour, flying to nine regional locations. Consider a day in our fair capital city, Victoria. Sip tea at the elegant Fairmont Empress Hotel, tour the Parliament buildings. Relax and enjoy the harbour happenings over chowder and chicken wings at the Flying Otter Grill.

In the same amount of time, you could fly to idyllic Salt Spring Island. Enjoy a chilled out vibe, coastlines and pastoral beauty. The island is a mix of nature-lovers, beach bunnies, hippies, farmers and artisans, which offers a perfect getaway for all types. Markets hold unique offerings like glass and copper insect sculptures by Sean Goddard. Galleries and studios abound, as do home studios by artists like Julie MacKinnon, who creates porcelain pieces for everyday special occasions. The Visitors Centre provides a directory. Popular with locals and visitors, the Seaside Restaurant serves up local delicacies: Salt Spring Island Mussels and Fanny Bay Oysters.

No matter the destination, a float plane experience promises a rush, stunning ocean and island vistas, and soft landings.

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