7 Best Road Trips Near Vancouver This Fall
The leaves are starting to fall and kids have gone back to school. The forecast is still sunny for a while, but those crisp (and sometimes rainy) fall days are not far away. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to put away the holiday vibes until next summer – in fact, autumn can be a great option for a quick getaway from the city. If your kids aren’t in school yet, or they’re young enough to take a few days off without much of a hiccup, the coming months between summer holidays and the holiday rush of December can be ideal. There are often fewer people in popular destinations through the autumn. Pull out your maps, pack your bags, and check out some of our favourite fall road trips near Vancouver:
7 Great Fall Road Trips Near Vancouver
The Sunshine Coast
Because it requires a ferry to get there, plenty of folks think the Sunshine Coast is part of the island chains along the coast of BC. In fact, it’s on the mainland but the only way to get there is via a 40-minute ferry that leaves from Horseshoe Bay in North Vancouver. The southern coast portion of the Sunshine Coast is probably best for a short getaway but there’s plenty to choose from: check out Gibsons, Halfmoon Bay, Pender Harbour, Sechelt and other communities. Known for quirky little diners and unique art shops, along with bakeries and candlemakers and almost any other small business one might imagine, there’s plenty of shopping and dining options. Or skip all that entirely and just take in the beauty of the region: huge trees, sunny inlets, and endless trails to explore.
Estimated Drive Time from Vancouver: 30 minutes plus 40 minute ferry
Harrison Hot Springs
Known for its namesake resort hotel (which features hot springs pools exclusive to its guests), there’s plenty to do in this small town even if you’re not staying overnight. But there are other hotels and rentals to stay in when visiting Harrison Hot Springs, with several facing out on the lake itself. Walk the trail along the shore, enjoy a swim in the manmade lagoon (Harrison Lake is a cold body of water, so the lagoon and its sandy beach makes a warmer environment for kids and adults both to spend the day swimming which often continues through September), rent a peddle kart for four, or enjoy a meal along the waterfront. Head through town all the way up to Sasquatch Provincial Park for trails and fishing.
People travel from around the globe to take in the world-famous ski town of Whistler – and it’s right on our door steps. Enjoy the glorious Sea to Sky highway through North Vancouver, Britannia, and Squamish (there’s neat stops along the way, so take your time and enjoy some extra tourist fun on the drive up.) Most popular in winter for the snow sports, and throughout summer for hiking and biking and general tourism, this is still a gorgeous destination for spring and autumn. Go mid-week for a little less traffic and enjoy a wide variety of options for dining (from picnics to ice cream to fine dining) and activities.
Estimated Drive Time from Vancouver: 90 minutes
Known as a family-friendly destination, Manning Park is an ideal spot for the family who loves the great outdoors. From trail hikes to bike riding, there’s plenty to do here in the ski off-season. It also gives you an opportunity to take a drive along the old Crowsnest Highway, which is less frequently used to cross BC but heads through Manning to Osoyoos and beyond to the Kootenays (and eventually Alberta.) Wildlife abound here, with roadside moose sightings not unusual. Choose from cabins and camping for accommodations, with a variety of dining options.
Estimated Drive Time from Vancouver: 2 hours and 30 minutes
If you’ve never been to Osoyoos, this might be the fall to check it out. Situated in what is geographically a desert, this unique region can feel like an another world compared to the temperate rainforest of the coastal areas around Vancouver. With plenty for kids and adults alike (thinking golfing, wineries, beaches, and pools galore at local hotels), there’s definitely something for everyone in this community located at the very southern tip of the Okanagan region and just shy of the US border.
Estimated Drive Time from Vancouver: 4 hours and 30 minutes
Speaking of the US, it may have been a while since you’ve crossed our southern border for a visit to the US. Seattle has plenty of well-known highlights – from Pike Place Market to the Space Needle – but countless lesser known activities and events. For the kids, there’s Seattle Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, and the Olympic Sculpture Park, to name just a few, while parents may enjoy some of the great local dining and beautiful views. Located on beautiful Puget Sound, the Emerald City has provided the backdrop for countless movies so keep a keen eye out for familiar locales from your favourite flicks.
Estimated Drive Time from Vancouver: 2 hours 30 minutes
Head over to BC’s capital city for a quick getaway that feels like a big escape, thanks to a beautiful ferry ride from Tsawwassen to Schwart Bay (and back, on the return trip.) Check out Victoria’s Chinatown, the BC Legislature buildings, the Inner Harbour, and dozens of other popular sites. Older kids and teens may be keen on Butchart Gardens, which is en route from the ferry to downtown Victoria. Or skip the city sights and go exploring on local trails and nature spaces. Mount Doug Park offers a picturesque drive up the hill with trails atop the mountain with views that go for miles.
Estimated Drive Time from Vancouver: 1 hour plus 2 hour ferry