Best Quickie Winter Getaways near Vancouver
We’re still in the midst of the fun-filled holiday season but as parents, we’re always planning ahead. Between now and spring, there’s a lot of winter to get through yet and our thoughts are turning to how to fill the cold days. A tropical vacation sounds nice but it’s not always feasible, for the budget or the schedule. Luckily, Vancouverites have a host of options for close-to-home getaways that are family friendly (not to mention beautiful enough to draw tourists from around the globe) – so hop in your car (or on a ferry) and head out to see some of the local beauty in our own corner of BC.
Here’s a few of our favourite winter getaways near Vancouver:
Escape into a winter wonderland just a few hours from Vancouver. Manning Park has it all – a lodge plus local cabins to rent, activities (snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and more) and natural beauty a-plenty. Located along highway 3 east of Hope it’s a long-time favourite for many but still a well-kept secret in some ways. Less busy than local mountain destinations and with far less commercial development, this is a great place to enjoy some of BC’s beauty with a lot less hustle and bustle.
Whistler is world-famous – and it’s right here in our own backyard. It’s a bit of a longer drive than some of the destinations on this list but it’s certainly worth it and still close enough to be considered a quickie winter getaway near Vancouver. A large alpine-style village full of shopping, restaurants, spas and much more. You don’t even need to be interested in skiing to make this a great getaway in winter. But bonus if you want to ski: Blackcomb Mountain and Whistler Mountain feature some of the best runs in the world. Sign the kids up for some lessons and head out on your own adventure for an hour or two.
A longer drive – schedule at least four hours, likely longer and have your snow tires on for the Coquihalla – but a drive that’s well worth it for the beautiful scenery and great skiing once you arrive. Sun Peaks is just outside Kamloops and is a popular local destination with a small alpine-style village of hotels and condos, complete with a handful of restaurants and shops. If you loved Whistler in the 1980s, you’ll love Sun Peaks now. (And come back in summer for mountain biking and hiking on the ski trails.)
There’s a reason that this town has been booming the last few years with countless families from the Lower Mainland pulling up stakes down here to live up there: it’s beautiful, fun, and family-friendly. But you don’t have to be a resident. Head out for a weekend trip to enjoy this small community. Midway between Vancouver and Whistler, this mountain town has trails, hiking, rock climbing, and much more through spring, summer, and fall – and plenty in the winter months, too. There’s eagle watching, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing and much, much more. A few of the local hotels feature pools the kids can spend the evening swimming in. And from downtown Vancouver, it’s well under two hours to get there.
Skip the driving altogether and enjoy a staycation in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Use one of the discount “surprise” hotel websites – select the price and the star rating without knowing exactly which hotel it is – or splurge on a favourite destination with amenities you know you’ll enjoy. Then take in the sights like a tourist in your own town: Stanley Park, Gastown, the great restaurants, and more. Check out some of our recent local roundups for best bets on family-friendly museums and galleries, shopping districts, and monthly events to fill up your staycation schedule.
Harrison Hot Springs
Head east past Abbotsford and Chilliwack, then north past Agassiz to the tiny community of Harrison Hot Springs. Known primarily for its biggest hotel – the Harrison Hot Springs Resort, which features unique hot springs pools – there are actually a dozen or more options for accommodations in the area. Take a long walk along the lake, swim in the local public hot springs pool (the pools at the resort are for guests only), or head another 40 minutes up the road to Sasquatch Provincial Park for some fishing lakes and walking trails if the weather is agreeable. There are plenty of local shops and restaurants, and though this destination is known for its summertime beach appeal, it’s a lovely destination all year round.
Gulf Islands & Vancouver Island
Dozens of options for winter getaways near Vancouver are just a ferry ride away. Do you want a big city experience with shopping, museums and more? Head to Victoria, the capital of BC and the largest city on Vancouver Island. How about a small island cottage right on the beach? Then look into Galiano or Salt Spring or the other Gulf Islands. Storm watching? Take a ferry over to Vancouver Island and head west to the far coast and enjoy a few days in Ucluelet or Tofino. Along the way, explore artisan shops, small markets (check out Coombs, with the famous “goats on roof”) as well as countless natural spaces to hike, wander, or simply enjoy the view. Snow is rare but rain is plentiful – bring your umbrella.