Best Stops for a Quick Road Trip
Getting out of the city does not have to be a huge ordeal. Many short trips can be done as day trips or short, one-night road trips from downtown Vancouver. Starting with a car rental from Downtown Vancouver at Ascent Car Rental, exploring the Lower Mainland and beyond is an easy way to fill a day or a weekend.
The drive is roughly an hour from Downtown to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, depending on traffic. From there, it is only a 20-minute ferry ride to get to Bowen Island. The ferry takes both walk-on passengers and cars.
On Bowen Island, there are two hikes with amazing views, Dorman Point in Critten Park, and Mount Gardner in the middle of the island. Killarney Lake is on the way up to Mount Gardner and is an excellent stop for anyone who does not want to do the entire 5-hour hike.
Bowen Island also has many quaint, independently owned houses and cottages available for short-term rentals. The downtown of the island has unique shops, as well as restaurants. Bowen Island can make an excellent day trip or a weekend getaway.
From downtown Vancouver to Hope, the approximately 3-hour drive is beautiful. The journey is indeed part of the destination for this trip and can be made easier with a convenient car rental from Downtown Vancouver. If you drive past Hope, the Fraser Canyon stretches 84 km to Lytton is a great way to extend your drive. Following Highway 1, the road will start twisting and turning through the canyon as it gets narrower. There is plenty of space to pull over to admire the views and stretch your legs. There are some unique iron railway bridges that are no longer in use, as well as an aerial ferry in Boston Bar. The aerial ferry was used to transport one car at a time between Boston Bar and North Bend until 1986, when a bridge was built. The original gondola construction is still visible in Frances Harrington Park.
As the roads can be slim and twisty, pay attention to the road signs. There are many side roads that can only be accessible by heavy-duty off-road vehicles.
Golden Ears Provincial Park
Located roughly a one-hour drive from Vancouver, Golden Ears Provincial Park has gorgeous hiking trails and is a popular weekend destination for Vancouverites. If you’re going for a day trip, it is best to arrive early to guarantee a parking spot. For anyone wanting to camp, be sure to book a site in advance, as the park books up quickly, especially during long weekends and the warmer months. Hiking up to the Golden Ears summit is worth it for the views. Or spend the day at Alouette Lake, enjoy the cool water, or spend time canoeing.
Apart from the hiking trails, horse riding trails and mountain biking. Near Golden Ears is WildPlay Elements Park, which has treetop adventure structures, and a zipline. It is family-friendly, with kid-friendly structures, making it a fun adventure for the whole family.
Even though Golden Ears is only roughly an hour away from Vancouver, there is no cell reception. Be sure to pack and dress for the elements and the season.
64km, or 1 hour’s drive, Squamish is a great city for outdoor activities during all seasons. Driving to Squamish from Downtown Vancouver is simple, simply use Highway 99 heading North, and follow Howe Sound until you reach the city of Squamish.
With hiking, mountain biking, dirt biking, horseback riding, camping and climbing, there is plenty to do on land. On the water, kiteboarding, windsurfing and swimming are all popular activities to do at the Squamish Spit in the River Squamish’s estuary.
During the winter, Squamish is a great spot for snowmobiling, skiing and snowshoeing. The winter months are also a great time to birdwatch for bald eagles that live in Squamish from November and February. The eagles make Squamish their home during the winter because of a large number of salmon going upriver to spawn. Near late December and early January, dozens of bald eagles can be seen in a single hour.
The Sea to Sky Gondola is another popular attraction. With unreal views from the top, and the chance to walk over a bridge suspended above the treetops, it is only open in spring and fall.
U-Pick in Pemberton
A 2-hour drive in a rental car from Downtown Vancouver, Pemberton is another stunning BC town boasting natural West Coast beauty. If you visit during the late summer, explore the u-pick farms. U-pick farms are farms where for a fee, you can pick berries and take them home with you.
Only a half-hour drive from Whistler, Pemberton is a sleepy small town nestled in the heart of the Lil’wat First Nation, which predates the settlement by thousands of years. The next town in the valley is Mount Currie and the Mount Currie Indian Reserve. Mount Currie is visible from everywhere in the valley and is seen as a holy site.
Pemberton can make a neat day trip either from Vancouver or from Whistler. Sitting at the intersection of three valleys in the Coast Mountain range, Pemberton is surrounded by snowy mountain peaks year-round.
With so many places to explore, taking advantage of a downtown car rental for a day or two is a great way to explore more of British Columbia.