Vancouver’s nice and all, but sometimes it’s more fun to escape the city. Whether you’ve only got a weekend or an extended amount of time, we’ve got you covered. Check out the ideas below for some unique ideas for an actually awesome road trip from Vancouver.
Journey to Mystic Beach on Vancouver Island
Distance from Vancouver: About 4 h 28 min (181.9km)
Why it made this list: Everyone usually mentions Tofino as the best place to go for a road trip from Vancouver. We agree, but wanted to stray from the ordinary. Mystic Beach is located in Sooke, an awesome little community on Vancouver Island that’s near the start of the Juan de Fuca trail. The beaches and nature here are awesome, but the highlight is the rope swing.
Pro-tip: If it’s the summer, take some time to check out the Sooke Potholes. Take a refreshing dip in the popular swimming hang out and maybe do a little bit of cliff jumping if you’re up to it.
Visit Das Biergarten in Leavenworth, WA
Distance from Vancouver: About 4 h 43 min (343.2km)
Why it made this list: If you wanted to go to Europe this year but couldn’t afford a plane ticket, this is your next best option. Drive into the awe-inducing Cascade mountains to a town that has been entirely modeled after a Bavarian village. It’s a place where you can drink a comically-oversized beer and eat sausages served by people wearing lederhosen. Basically: paradise.
Pro-tip: If you prefer the Dutch way of life, head to Lyndon, WA instead. They are known for their Dutch-inspired wind mills.
Make the Journey the Destination… on the way to Kelowna
Distance from Vancouver: About 4 h 35 min (389.5 km)
Why it made this list: Kelowna is a fun place to go by itself, it’s got warm weather, golf courses, a nice lake, wineries, and a lot of other fun things. But, if you’re heading up to that area, it’s also fun to make a few pit stops along the way. For your first stop, pull over at Bridal Falls for a short walk to a stunning waterfall. Then, drive a few more kms to check out Othello Tunnels near Hope, BC.
Pro-tip: Make sure to watch Rambo before checking out Othello Tunnels so you can experience it from a whole new light.
Walk amongst the giant rocks at Cannon Beach
Distance from Vancouver: 6 h 12 min (549.0 km) – longer depending on border lineups
Why it made this list: Driving down the Oregon Coast is a great way to spend a few days. It offers amazing views and fun pit stops and one of the nicest ending destinations in the West Coast. Cannon Beach is probably one of the most highly-photographed locations for good reason. The rocks rise out of the ocean some sort of giant rock beast, and the sunsets and misty mornings just add to the spectacle. Spend a good chunk of time here if you can. Otherwise, keep driving down the coast making as many pit stops as you can. Also – bring a dog if you have one, it’s a dog paradise down there!
Pro-tip: If you have extra time, head into Portland for some great food, cheap beer, and large selection of books. Also, if you can, make a stop in Astoria or eat a taco in Taco.
Do the Hot Springs Loop
Distance from Vancouver: 6 h 3 min (570.6 km) to the starting point…
Why it made this list: Sitting in a car can be a literal pain in the ass, so nothing’s better than getting out and stretching in some toasty warm hot springs. There are several ideas for driving the Hot Springs Loop in BC, but we recommend starting in Pemberton and heading to Revelstoke before hitting up the other awesome natural & pool hot springs in BC. Here’s a great little map to get you started. If you can somehow tie in a bunch of skiing/snowboarding days or hiking – it’ll make the hot springs even more enjoyable!
Pro-tip: Try and talk to locals to see if they’ll give up any goods on the natural hot springs in the area. Going to mountain pools is always much more enjoyable than a community pool-like setting.
Embrace your inner viking in Valhalla
Distance from Vancouver: 7 h 55 min (660.3 km) to Nelson
Why it made this list: We love hiking and we love hiking in landscapes that make you stop and say “holy crap” at least 10 times an hour. Plus this Provincial Park has a mountain called Gimli. Plus, there’s mountain goats that seem to follow you around, as if looking to share your black forest ham sandwich. Bring your overnight tent and your hiking shoes, you’re going to want to camp in the mountains at this place. If you let out a viking yell at the top, we won’t blame you.
Pro-tip: Spend some time in Nelson if you can. Their laid-back, hippie culture is very easy to get accustomed to. If you’re into Harry Potter, check out North Woven Brooms.
Check out the oddities of BC
Distance from Vancouver: Depends on which oddities you want to see
Why it made this list: There’s something really fun checking out the strange tourist stops at small towns in BC. We’ve come across The Enchanted Forest (with the tallest tree house in the world), there’s the always popular Goats on the Roof store in Coombs on the way to Tofino, there’s the Spotted Lake in Osoyoos, the “almost tallest rose in the world” in Kelowna, and probably tons of other random and weird things around! Make it your mission to find the strangest thing on this road trip, and let us know what it is.
Pro-tip: Sometimes the best way to find these weird attractions is to follow creepy, hand-made signs down dirt roads. But then again, that may be a terrible idea.
Cool down in the heat of the summer
Distance: 3 h 30 min (116.6 km) including ferry
Why it made this list: Grab some buddies, some beer, and some floaties, because one of the best road trips from Vancouver to cool off is in the Cowichan River on Vancouver Island. This river is so perfect for floating that there’s even a tour company that will drive you up the river and drop you off, so you don’t have to worry about two cars. The float takes about 2.5 hours and is extremely relaxing. Although, make sure you bring something to entertain yourself, because sometimes the current can be a little slow.
Pro-tip: Vancouver Island has some great cliff jumping areas in Nanaimo as well as on the highway to Tofino. They are pretty popular with locals and fairly easy to find if you do some Google searching. Always watch other people before you jump, be safe not a statistic!