Vancouver residents are blessed with close access to some of the most stunning day trip destinations in the province (and the country), from crystal-clear lakes to rocky hiking trails, to towering old-growth forests. Even better? All of these spots are under three hours away from Vancouver by car or ferry, so if you’re looking to plan something fun for a weekend, we’ve got you covered.

Here are 12 breathtaking day trip destinations within three hours of Vancouver.

Cultus Lake Park 

day trips from vancouver
Photo via BC Parks

Cultus Lake Park offers one of the most accessible lake days near Vancouver, at just an hour and a half’s drive from the city. With crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches, and almost 300 front-country campsites to choose from, the only hard time you’ll have is leaving.

Aside from water activities, visitors can hike the Seven Sisters Trail (connecting Entrance Bay and Clear Creek campgrounds) and the more challenging Teapot Hill Trail, offering stunning mountain vistas. And for those seeking more family-friendly action, you can check out Cultus Lake Waterpark, one of the largest of its kind in BC.

Where: Chilliwack, BC
Distance from Vancouver: 1 hour and 50 minutes by car

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island is a charming, quirky place filled with family-run farms and art studios that you can visit. Load up on fresh berries or artisanal cheese, and check out Mount Maxwell, Mount Erskine, and Ruckle Provincial Parks,

Plan your trip for a Saturday if you want to take advantage of their famous springtime Saturday Market in their main town of Ganges, complete with local produce, artisanal treats, potters and jewellers, photography, and more.

The island is accessible by a quick flight from Coal Harbour or Richmond via Harbour Air or Seair Seaplanes. Alternatively, you can hop on a ferry to Long Harbour from the Tsawwassen terminal.

Where: Salt Spring Island, BC
Distance from Vancouver: 35-minute flight or 2 hours and 55 minutes by ferry


Food. Art. Beer. Need we say more? Squamish is not only home to the Stawamus Chief trail and some of the most beautiful (and gruelling) hikes in the province, but it’s also a great place to catch an art show, music fest, or unwind with a couple of local craft brews.

Get a coffee and do some thrift shopping in Squamish’s quaint downtown, head to Backcountry Brewing, or check out the views from the famous Sea-to-Sky Gondola.

Where: Squamish, BC
Distance from Vancouver: 50 minutes by car

Sasamat Lake

A popular choice for lake days in the summer, Sasamat Lake offers visitors wide shandy shores to explore and an extensive hiking trail network if you want to work up a sweat before taking a dip into its clear waters. All in all, it’s about an hour and a half trip each way if you want to bus, or a one-hour drive to Belcarra Regional Park.

Time: One hour by car



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Just half an hour’s drive from Vancouver, Steveston is one of the most accessible spots on this list, and the Richmond fishing village has a lot to show for it. With lots of heritage buildings, an old-timey tram, and plenty of museums to check out, this is definitely a solid pick for foodies and local history buffs alike.

And if you’re a seafood lover, it’s nearly spot prawn season (starting May 15th), which means you can indulge in tasty seasonal dishes at local restaurants, or purchase prawns on the spot to take home.

Where: Steveston, BC
Distance from Vancouver: 35 minutes by car

Harrison Hot Springs

Fortunately for Vancouverites, the small town of Harrison is only 90 minutes away – and the resort town has much to offer day-trippers. Golfing, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and various lake activities all await.

Once you’ve crossed off all the items on your to-do list, it’s time to unwind in some soothing spring water at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa. Stop by the mineral pools or extend your day trip into a weekend visit by staying at the spa for an extra day or two.

Where: Harrison Hot Springs
Distance from Vancouver: Just under two hours by car

Alouette River

Alouette River in Maple Ridge is a perfect swimming hole, paddle-board destination, and floating experience all wrapped into one. The River flows from Alouette Lake to its junction with the Fraser River at Pitt Meadows. No motorized vehicles are allowed in the water, making it the ideal place to kick back in a floatie and take in the sounds of nature.

Where: Unnamed Road, Maple Ridge
Distance from Vancouver: Around 50 minutes by car

Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park

Waterfall lovers, this one’s for you. The Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park is located just east of Chilliwack, and includes a 60-metre-high waterfall! The best part? This gorgeous view is only a 15-minute walk away. No fatigue or dehydration is necessary to reach this famous spot!

Once you’ve enjoyed the falls, you can check out the 32-acre Minter Gardens. Get some quality bird-watching in, or make use of the Bridal Falls Waterpark if you need a little cool-down. Since Chilliwack is just a hop skip and jump away, you might as well venture off into the Cheam Lake area!

Where: Bridal Falls, BC
Distance from Vancouver: One hour and a half by car

Buntzen Lake

Situated in Port Moody, Buntzen Lake is easily accessible via transit and offers a beautiful spot for swimming, picnicking, hiking, and paddling. You can take the N9 from downtown Vancouver to Coquitlam Central Station, where you can easily hop on 179 to head to the lake’s entrance.

Where: North of Port Moody
Distance from Vancouver: Just over one hour by car

Bowen Island


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This beautiful island is the perfect spot to explore on foot, and just a 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay. Go on a hike through the Mount Gardner Loop trail, walk through the Ecological Reserve, or simply load up on ice cream from Earnest in Snug Cove.

After sunbathing at Sandy Beach, head to Riley’s Cidery and sip some delicious, locally crafted cider.

Where: Bowen Island, BC
Distance from Vancouver: One hour and 35 minutes by car

Pinecone Burke Park 

Fun fact: Pinecone Burke Park is also home to the largest freshwater tidal lake in North America – AKA Pitt Lake, which runs south to include Burke Mountain. Influenced by the tides from the Strait of Georgia, the lake boasts unique tidal waves for boating and fishing.

Visitors can also access the stunning Munro and Dennett lakes and Burke Ridge by using old logging roads and trails from the Port Coquitlam and the District Hunting and Fishing Club at the end of Harper Road.

Where: North of Coquitlam
Distance from Vancouver: Approximately one hour by car

Fort Langley

And last but not least, we come to Fort Langley, which boasts plenty to do by way of brunch, window shopping, and cafe hopping. And you don’t need a car to get there! Hop on the SkyTrain to Surrey and then take the 503 bus in the direction of Fraser Hwy Exp/Langley Centre. Easy peasy.

If you want to step into the past for a bit, we recommend checking out the Fort Langley National Historic Site. Explore the site of the Hudson’s Bay Company and learn about how the fur traders, California gold prospects, and First Nations lived throughout the era.

Where: Langley, BC
Distance from Vancouver: 50 minutes by car

And that’s a wrap on some breathtaking day trips from Vancouver. Now get out there and start exploring!