9 short and sweet road trips from Vancouver that aren’t just to Whistler

Exploring B.C. by car is a uniquely beautiful experience. Winding roads take you around mountains, along the coastline, and through stretches of rolling farmland — each kilometre more picturesque than the last.

There are endless road trip destinations from Vancouver, that are especially magical to do in the summer months. You don’t have to go far to escape the city and find yourself deep in nature, or exploring the charming streets of a little town.

These nine road trips from Vancouver are short and sweet but will make you feel like you’re in a different world.

The Sunshine Coast

Distance from Vancouver: About 2 hours.

Why You Need To Go: The best part about this road trip is that actually very little driving is required, but you still get those incredible West Coast views. You can drive onto BC Ferries from the West Vancouver terminal and enjoy the scenic 40-minute-long journey to the Sunshine Coast.

Stretch your legs out on the ferry deck and enjoy the views of passing mountains, and keep an eye out for whale sightings while you’re at it.

Once you arrive you can head to the small town of Gibsons, which has a waterfront with restaurants, boutiques, and cute shops. The downtown area is small, but perfect for a leisurely afternoon spent exploring. If you want to keep on driving then head down the coastline to get a taste of the magic that is the Sunshine Coast. The nearby village of Sechelt is another quaint community that feels like it belongs in a movie.

Go for an ocean dip at one of the beaches here before heading back to the city.

The Fraser Valley

Distance from Vancouver: About 2 hours.

Why You Need To Go: If you want to head inland then put The Fraser Valley into that GPS and hit the road. It’s a quick drive from Vancouver to reach the long stretches of farmland enclosed by mountains in this area. This is the province’s biggest agricultural region and is ripe for anyone who loves a local market.

Tour around the small towns of the area here, getting a taste of the outdoors along with the abundance of local food, craft breweries, and wineries. You can stop in at Abbotsford’s country market on a Saturday or wander among the Klassen Blueberry Farm in Chilliwack.

This is the ideal road trip for anyone wanting to embrace a slower pace of life, stepping away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.


Distance from Vancouver: 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Why You Need To Go: Get your passport, because this road trip is taking you across the US-Canada border to the tiny city of Bellingham in Washington. The little coastal getaway is easy to navigate, with a few restaurants and cafes on their main street, and everything is as picturesque as it gets. Even the Starbucks here is cute, set inside a lighthouse building.

With beautiful oceanside parks and mountain trails nearby this is also the perfect escape into nature. If you want more of a city vibe though keep on driving and you’ll make it to Seattle in about an hour and a half.

Bowen Island

Distance from Vancouver: Less than an hour.

Why You Need To Go: From West Vancouver this tiny island is only a 20-minute ride away on BC Ferries. It’s the perfect option for a quick afternoon trip that requires very little driving. Bringing a car with you is a plus though, because driving around the small island lets you enjoy more of the beautiful forests, ocean views, and rocky beaches scattered throughout.

The waterfront area of the town is full of shops and restaurants, so you could spend your whole time wandering around there and enjoying the harbour. There are also many hiking trails on the island if you’re up for some activity.

Manning Park

Distance from Vancouver: 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Why You Need To Go: For anyone looking for a retreat into nature, Manning Park is a short road trip away from the city and will transport you into the wilderness. The park is nestled in the Cascade Mountains and is brimming with breathtaking viewpoints, hidden waterfalls, sparkling lakes, and fields of wildflowers.

You can camp here at one of their drive-in campgrounds, or go for a backcountry adventure if you’re up for it. Three Falls Trail is an especially stunning hike, taking you deep into the forest past magical cascades.


Distance from Vancouver: 1 hour.

Why You Need To Go: This quick road trip along the Sea-To-Sky highway packs a big punch. The legendary drive is the epitome of West Coast views, with the sparkling ocean on one side and a backdrop of mountains, and mighty cliffs on the other.

Squamish has a bustling downtown area that you can explore, with great food and cute shops, but getting out into nature is a must here. Stop by the beautiful Shannon Falls for an easy-to-access but unforgettable view, or take on the iconic Stawamus Chief hike. There are endless trails tucked away in this area, waiting to be explored, and you can also take a different route up a mountain with the Sea To Sky Gondola.


Distance from Vancouver: 3 hours.

Why You Need To Go: This is yet another road trip broken up with a ferry ride, so it doesn’t feel quite as long. BC Ferries can sail you across the ocean to Vancouver Island, which is one of the best places to explore in the summer.

You can stick to the city life and enjoy the amazing food, shops, and activities right in Victoria, or venture further out. Victoria is a great base to take day trips to the Gulf Islands from, or drive to nearby natural wonders like the Sook Potholes.

Victoria is also the ‘brunch capital of Canada’ so make some reservations if you road trip here!


Distance from Vancouver: 2 hours.

Why You Need To Go: Whistler is one of the most popular getaways from Vancouver, but drive 30 minutes past the town and you’ll reach the beautiful Pemberton. The small community is surrounded by jaw-dropping beauty, with mountain peaks out of a painting and emerald green rivers.

Take a tour of the area on horseback, walk around the small strip of storefronts, and make sure to visit North Arm Farm for some ice cream you can enjoy with an unparalleled view of the mountain.


Distance from Vancouver: 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Why You Need To Go: This is the longest road trip on the list, but worth the journey to visit Canada’s only official desert. The unique landscape of the Okanagan Valley town and the surrounding area will make you feel like you’re far away from Vancouver.

This is also located in wine country, so get ready for some vineyard tours on a visit here. You can also enjoy the warm waters of Osoyoos Lake, which will probably be a welcome break from the chilly waves of the ocean.

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

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