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Winter is here and ToDoOntario is here to help you find the best things to do.
So far it’s been an unusual winter weather wise. This might be challenging when you’re planning things to do. Many of the usual winter activities are affected by the lack of snow, some are not. Let us help you to know what is happening so that you can plan fun winter days and nights no matter the weather.
Here is an Ontario ToDo List to keep you busy this winter.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada Sea the Sky Pass
The Sea the Sky package includes general admission to the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.
ABOUT THE PACKAGE
Visit two great Attractions, the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, for one low price!
CN Tower tickets can be used anytime within 30 days of purchase and guests can join the next available time slot on the day of their choice.
Ripley’s Aquarium ticket can be used anytime within 30 days of purchase.
You are not required to visit both attractions on the same day — explore Toronto at your leisure!
Click Here for Sea the Sky Info
Cranberry Farm Visit
Yes, you can visit a cranberry farm in the winter. At Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery in Bala visitors can snowshoe, ice skate and Après the day away on the patio with cranberry wine and delicious fondue (note that the ice skating and snowshoeing are weather dependent). Some of these activities are even available at night and lit up with lights. You can also rent fire pits and your own personal ice rinks. Be sure to sign up for tutored wine tasting and Bog to Bottle tours to learn everything about the cranberry farm.
Click here for Muskoka Lakes Farm & Wine Info
Body Movin’ Winter Activities
You would be surprised what you can do with little snow. Know that ski operators have been producing as much as they can when possible and that there are ski runs for downhill skiing. Other winter activities we recommend are snowshoeing, snow tubing, ice skating, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowmobiling and Après.
Depending on when you intend to do these activities, we definitely recommend double checking before you head out.
Where To Do Winter Activities
Birds of Prey Experience
Adults and children alike are amazed at the up and close birds of prey show at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre in Midland. Visit the Animal Ambassador Birds of Prey in the Birds of Prey Field including owls, hawks, and a Bald Eagle.
Click here to learn more about Wye Marsh
Après-Anything or Après-Nothing-At-All
Apres-ing makes any outdoor winter activity complete. If the key to life is about balance, then all outdoor winter activities should be followed by toasty indoor nomming. With inside cozy zones and even outdoor patio zones, Ontario has some pretty cool and tasty places to spend your time remembering all the fun you just had outside on the hills or trails. And if you didn’t do any outdoor activity, it’s ok wtih us if you just want to Apres. We won’t judge.
Where To Do Apres
Do Something Crafty or Cultural
Ontario is rich with culture. Art, artisans, music and culture have become part of the tourism experience for people and visitors in Ontario. Here is one of our favourite workshop/experiences that we think should be on your Ontario ToDo List.
Claim to Flame – An Adventure in Glass
About the workshop: Join flame work artist Mitch Preston ( IG @nez_glass) as he guides you through the ins & outs of glass and flames. This experience will start at the beginning, with a simple piece of glass, that can be shaped and molded into jewellery, decorations, pipes, and so much more. Just add heat.
No experience is required for this adventure, and you will finish the day having made your very own glass piece(s) to take home.
Please let us know which piece(s) you would be most interested in making so the guide can prepare the necessary tools:
A glass pipe
Drinkware (straws, shot glasses)
Christmas ornaments (candy canes, icicles and more)
All of the above!
Claim to Flame Information & Booking
Hang (or dance) with Wolves
The Wolf Centre at Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve is a special place like no other. The Wolf Centre is a 5,000 square foot, all indoor facility that houses self-guided, museum-style exhibits, a cinema and classroom, a souvenir shop, a large indoor observatory, and it is wheelchair accessible! Our staff are onsite to answer any questions you may have, so don’t be shy! The wolves are viewed through one-way glass from inside the building. Visit the observatory and maybe catch a glimpse of Haliburton Forest’s wolf pack: permanent residents of Haliburton Forest since 1993.
Visit the Wolf Centre
Suspension Bridge Hike
Have you ever climbed the Niagara Escarpment for an amazing view of Georgian Bay? You can do that Scenic Caves Nature Adventures, even in the winter time. You can hike, snowshoe or ski to a 420 ft suspension bridge that offers one of the best views of Collingwood and Georgian Bay.
Visit Scenic Caves
We hope that this list has helped inspire you ‘to do’ something this winter in Ontario. The options are endless no matter the weather. Weather plays a big part in many of these activities, we suggest you always triple check the weather and travel and dress accordingly.
If you are looking to get away overnight this winter, we highly recommend you find the >perfect winter getaway package< to help easily plan your adventure and trip. It is likely you will find a package that includes the activities above. Have fun and be safe! Thanks for visiting ToDoOntario.com. The post ToDoOntario Winter To-Do List first appeared on ToDoOntario.
Toronto in the winter.
As Canada’s largest city, there are lots of things to do in Toronto in the winter months. From sledding down hills and shopping at Christmas markets to skating outdoors or visiting a world-class museum, there’s no reason to be bored during a Toronto winter.
There is reason to be cold, however. After all, this is Canada, and from December to March, temperatures are almost guaranteed to be below zero, with the lowest temperatures reaching -30. So, make sure you pack some warm clothes and dress appropriately so you can enjoy one of the many things to do in Toronto in the winter.
Please note that some links contained in this article and throughout our website are affiliate links. By purchasing something through these links, we earn a very small commission that helps to keep this website alive.
Like most Canadian cities, Toronto does get snow!
1. See Toronto from the CN Tower
Since the CN Tower dominates the Toronto skyline and is one of the most iconic attractions in the country, your first visit to Toronto just isn’t complete without a trip to the top. Standing 553 metres in height, the CN Tower is still the second tallest free-standing structure in the world and offers spectacular views of the city and Lake Ontario from the main lookout point at 346 metres. However, you can also walk on the glass floor or pay extra for a trip to the SkyPod, which sits at 447 metres. If you’d rather sit down for a meal, you can enjoy revolving views from the 360 Restaurant.
Last but not least, those looking for extra thrills will want to consider the EdgeWalk, the highest external walk in the world. At 116 Storeys above Toronto, strapped into a cable system, you can walk hands-free around the CN Tower.
Skating at Nathan Phillips Square.
2. Go Skating
As with most Canadian cities, outdoor skating is one of the top things to do in the winter. Whether you go skating on a neighbourhood rink or on a frozen pond, it’s an iconic way to enjoy the winter in Canada. In Toronto, there are many places to enjoy a skate, and one of the most popular options is to go skating at the Bentway Trail, which is a 1.5 km figure-eight skating trail that runs under the Gardiner Expressway. It is very popular with skaters of all ages and experience levels and features an on-site village that offers both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for everyone to enjoy. For those without skates, you can rent them for free on Thursdays or on other days for $5-$10.
Another popular place to go skating in Toronto is Nathan Phillips Square. Located in the heart of Toronto, it is almost as iconic as the CN Tower. It has hosted many of the city’s events, concerts, special displays, and farmers’ markets throughout the years, and during the winter in Toronto, it also features an outdoor skating rink surrounded by skyscrapers.
Last but not least, if you want iconic views to go along with your outdoor skating experience, try the Harbourfront Centre’s skating rink, which features views of the CN Tower, and the lake, and is home to live music and stunning light displays on Saturdays. They also offer skate rentals.
3. Go Sledding
Another popular Canadian winter activity is sledding. All you do is get a sled, climb to the top of a hill, and slide down. It can be a lot of fun, but keep in mind that it is not without its risk and you really should start off with small hills void of obstacles.
One of the most popular places to go sledding in Toronto is Riverdale Park, which is near Danforth and Broadview Ave. With its steep slopes, convenient location, and stunning skyline views, this hill is popular with people of all ages. If you want fewer crowds, another option is Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Winter in Toronto.
4. Go for a Wintery Walk
Another wonderful thing to do during the winter months is to simply go for a stroll, preferably somewhere with snow-covered trees. That might seem hard in a place like Toronto, but it can be done. One of the most popular places to go for a winter walk is Glen Stewart Ravine. The trail is only 1.5 kilometres in length and consists of wooden boardwalks, dirt paths, and staircases, many of which are covered in snow during the winter months.
5. Visit the Toronto Christmas Market
When it comes to the Christmas season, people seem to love Christmas markets, and when it comes to Toronto, it’s hard to beat the Toronto Christmas Market located in the Distillery District of Toronto. Not only is this one of the most beautiful destinations within the city, but it’s also ranked as one of the top Christmas markets in the world. Admire the festive light canopies, decorations, and 50-foot Christmas tree from the cobblestone streets of this historic neighbourhood.
This area is also home to many restaurants and pubs, so it doubles as a great place to have lunch or dinner as well.
Light displays are a highlight of visiting Toronto in the winter.
6. Nathan Phillips Square Holiday Fair
While Nathan Phillips Square is known for its outdoor ice skating (we mentioned it above), it’s also known for the Holiday Fair, which takes place in December. This fair features a 60-foot-high Christmas tree with more than 500,000 twinkling lights as well as many stalls featuring local craftspeople and artists selling a wide range of unique products, holiday-themed rides, games, and a photo booth with Santa. It’s right in the heart of downtown Toronto, making it easy for both visitors and locals to take part.
7. Experience Terra Lumina at the Toronto Zoo
Terra Lumina is an experience that takes place at night at the Toronto Zoo, featuring a 1.5 km walking path that travels into the future and back. Your journey begins when a portal carries you into the luminescent wonders of the year 2099, a time when humans and nature have learned to live in harmony.
You’ll be transported into an inspiring story featuring vibrant lighting, multimedia effects, breathtaking video projections and an original score to an enchanted world filled with possibility. This is a year-round activity.
8. Eat your way through St. Lawrence Market
Known as one of the best food markets in the world, St. Lawrence Market is a great place to chow down. Created in 1803, it’s one of the oldest markets in Canada and features more than 120 local vendors who sell everything from fresh produce, meats, seafood, baked goods, spices, cheese, and lots of other unique products.
Toronto in the winter.
9. Go Shopping at the Toronto Eaton Centre
Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Eaton Centre is one of the top attractions in Toronto, as well as the busiest mall in North America, spanning two blocks and featuring more than 250 retail stores.
The Eaton Centre was modelled after the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy, boasting vaulted glass ceilings, multi-level walkways, and a beautiful sculpture of a flock of geese created by the Canadian artist Michael Snow hanging from the ceiling. During the Christmas season, the mall is also decorated with twinkling reindeer sculptures and a stunning 108-foot-tall Christmas tree, which also happens to be the highest in Canada.
Lastly, the mall is a great place to get a bite to eat, featuring a wide array of food, such as steakhouses, fast food restaurants, Japanese, Thai, and more.
Casa Loma (Photo via their website)
10. Casa Loma in the Winter
If you love castles, Casa Loma should be high on your list. This Gothic Revival-Styled mansion is located in mid-town Toronto and is a very popular attraction year-round. It was built as a private home at the turn of the 20th century by Sir Henry Pellatt but has since been transformed into a museum that you can tour around.
Explore all the beautiful rooms, secret passageways, sweeping staircases, and lookout towers, while admiring the architecture that has been featured in many photo shoots, TV shows, and of course, fancy weddings. However, during the Christmas season, Casa Loma turns its gardens into a winter wonderland with dazzling decorations and light displays.
Trying some of the best fries in the world
11. Kensington Market
One of the coolest neighbourhoods in Toronto is Kensington Market, which is home to loads of little cafes, decades-old vintage stores, bars, charming boutique shops, record shops, and authentic ethnic restaurants. Kensington has long been the artists’ hub of Toronto, so it’s quite an eclectic and lively place to be.
Perhaps the main reason to visit Kensington Market, besides people-watching, is for the food. If you want to truly get a taste of it, you might want to join a guided food tour, but if you’d rather be on your own and enjoy full-size meals, some popular options include Seven Lives Tacos Y Mariscos (Mexican), Pow Wow Cafe (Native American), and the Dirty Bird Chicken and Waffles, just to name a few. There’s also FIKA Cafe if you’re looking for coffee, Kensington Brewing Company for beer, and Moo Frites if you’re looking for the best French fries that money can buy.
12. Explore the street arts at Graffiti Alley
Graffiti has come a long way these days and is now often a tourist attraction in and of itself. If you like street art as much as we do, you’ll want to head to Graffiti Alley, a kilometre-long alley located between Spadina Ave and Portland Street, which is known for its beautiful and iconic street art. Full of colour and creativity, this alley normally attracts crowds. In the winter, however, you’ll see far fewer people, making it a great winter activity. If you’d rather learn more about the area and the art, you can also join a tour with the Tour Guys.
Admiring Toronto’s skyline from Toronto Island.
13. Toronto Island in the Winter
If you make it up to the top of the CN Tower, you’ll notice a big island in Lake Ontario. This is Toronto Island and it’s accessible by ferry, even during the winter in Toronto. In the summer months, it’s a popular place to go boating, hiking, biking, kayaking, and even swimming. In the winter, however, it’s a wonderful place for scenic winter walks and cross-country skiing, offering beautiful trails with views of the city. It’s also a great place to snap winter photos, with beautiful frozen lagoons and amazing skyline views, especially during sunset.
If you’re looking to go during the winter, you’ll want to take the 15-minute ferry from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal as this is the only route running during the cold months. If you need to rent skis, you’ll want to do so before you get to the Toronto Islands. One good place to rent skis is Mountain Equipment Company.
14. Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame
If you’re a hockey fan, you definitely don’t want to miss a visit to the stunning Hockey Hall of Fame, which features exhibits about players, teams, National Hockey League (NHL) records, memorabilia and NHL trophies, including being the permanent home of the Stanley Cup. Housed inside the beautiful historic Bank of Montreal building, visitors can admire memorabilia from their favourite players, get a photo with the Stanley Cup, or enjoy many interactive activities, such as facing off against famous hockey players in a shoot-out simulation.
15. Visit the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
As much as we love outdoor winter activities, sometimes you just want to be somewhere warm. If you’re looking for somewhere warm and interesting, visit the Royal Ontario Museum, the largest museum in Canada. Explore both the natural world and humankind’s cultural past through world-renowned collections and innovative programs and galleries.
With more than six million items and 40 galleries, the museum’s diverse collections of world culture and natural history amuse and educate more than one million visitors each year. The museum contains a collection of dinosaurs, minerals and meteorites, including the world’s largest collection of fossils from the Burgess Shale with more than 150,000 specimens. It also houses an extensive art collection, including Canadian, African, Near Eastern, East Asian, and European, and also features a collection of design and fine art, including clothing, interior, and product design, especially Art Deco.
We would recommend spending a half day here at minimum.
16. Visit the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
For those into art, escape the cold and enter the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) to see more than 95,000 works from artists all around the world. This massive 45,000-square-foot complex features beautiful paintings, contemporary artworks, interactive exhibits, and intricate sculptures. If you happen to be there on a Wednesday, admission is free in the evening.
17. Visit Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
If you’re into aquatic life, you’ll probably want to check out Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, which is super close to the CN Tower. While we’re always hesitant to promote aquariums, we didn’t want to leave out one of Toronto’s top attractions, which features more than 20,000 aquatic specimens from over 450 species, making it the largest indoor aquarium in Canada.
Want more facts? Check out our guide to the best Toronto Facts!
18. Visit the Museum of Illusions
This unique attraction is a place where nothing is as it seems and where the unbelievable is indeed reality. It might sound surreal but the Museum of Illusions fuses fun and entertainment with education and learning, featuring over 80 illusions, holograms, installations and exhibits.
Test your sense of balance while navigating their Vortex tunnel, unleash your inner Einstein while solving games, and experience the laws of gravity and size ratio through their Tilted and even upside-down rooms. Whether you’re looking to broaden your knowledge and perspective, or simply looking for a fun indoor adventure, this museum has something for everyone.
19. Ontario Science Centre
For those looking for even more fascination, check out the Ontario Science Centre, a science museum that houses more than 500 interactive exhibits, featuring geology, astronomical science, anatomy, music, and technology. The Science Centre is a space where visitors of all ages can learn through play and discover ways to think like a scientist every day.
Guided by the belief that science, technology and innovation will help us shape a better future, the Ontario Science Centre and its team of scientists, educators and exhibition creators conceive, develop, design and build world-class exhibitions, award-winning educational programs and innovative science learning experiences.
In addition to the incredible exhibits, the Ontario Science Centre also houses Toronto’s only public planetarium and Ontario’s only IMAX:registered: Dome theatre (film tickets sold separately).
It’s hard to beat a thick latte on a cold winter day.
20. Warm Up in a Cafe
Where there are lots of people, you’ll find lots of coffee shops. After all, everyone loves their java jolt, especially on winter days when few things compare to holding a warm mug. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of amazing Toronto coffee shops and cafes. Whether you’re looking for a latte, a hot chocolate, or just a great cup of coffee, there’s something for everyone.
Where you go will depend on where you are but some options to consider include The Library Specialty Coffee (highly ranked and flavourful), Balzac’s Coffee (inspired by authentic cafes in Paris), and FIKA Cafe (cozy, cute, and lots of art).
21. Watch the Toronto Maple Leafs
For a truly iconic Toronto winter experience, watch the historic Toronto Maple Leafs play hockey at the Scotiabank Arena. As one of the original size NHL teams, there’s lots of history with this team, even though they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967.
However, watching a game in Toronto is certainly not cheap. If you use a marketplace app like GameTime, you can usually score tickets in the highest part of the arena for under $100.
22. Enjoy a Concert or Show
Like most major cities, another great thing to do in the winter is to go inside and watch a concert or a show. As the entertainment capital of Canada, Toronto has many venues and loads of live performances throughout the year. Whether you’re looking to see a concert, a theatre production, a ballet or a musical act, there’s something for everyone in Toronto. Some of the big venues include the Scotiabank Arena, Four Seasons Centre, Budweiser Stage at Ontario Place, and Danforth Music Hall.
Niagara Falls in the Winter
23. Take a Day Trip to Niagara Falls
Although Niagara Falls is not in Toronto, it’s only 130 kilometres away. In less than two hours, you can drive (or take a bus) to one of the most iconic natural attractions in the entire country. Home to one of the world’s largest waterfalls, Niagara Falls is an incredible site to see in the winter months and has MUCH fewer crowds. There are many different ways to get the best views of Niagara Falls, but even if you want to spend more time, there are lots of things to do in Niagara Falls, including the Bird Kingdom, the Butterfly Conservatory, and so much more.
Don’t have a car? No problem! Join one of the many guided day trips to Niagara Falls!
Save Money with the Toronto City PASS!
If any of these attractions are on your bucket list, you might want to consider purchasing the Toronto City PASS, which lets you visit up to five of Toronto’s most popular attractions and save 40% on admission prices. The pass stays valid for nine days after being activated, giving you plenty of time to explore, and includes the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Casa Loma, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Centre.
Toronto at night.
Want More Canadian Travel Guides?
While Toronto has enough to keep you busy for weeks, there’s much more to the second-largest country on Earth. For more things to do in Canada, check out these travel guides below:
Things to Do in Ottawa
Things to Do in Sudbury
Things to Do in Hamilton
Things to Do in Mississauga
Things to Do in London, Ontario
Experience The Canadian Canoe Route
The post 23 Fun Things to Do in Toronto in the Winter appeared first on Must Do Canada.
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How To Celebrate A True Canadian Winter
If you live in Ontario or you’re visiting Ontario, winter carnivals and festivals should be a part of your Canadian tradition.
Winter festivals are a family-friendly way to enjoy and celebrate the things we love about winter. Fresh, crisp clean air and fun activities can make being outdoors fun. It’s the only way to beat the cold.
Are you Googling “Winter Festivals near me”? ToDoOntario has done some research and is listing the best winter festivals in many regions of Ontario.
When you hear the words winter and carnival, you likely think of the most popular event of them all, the Québec City Winter Carnival (Carnaval de Québec). If you can’t get to the Quebec winter carnival this year, don’t worry. Ontario winter festivals in cities, towns, and communities near you have their own amazing festivals close to you.
Winter Carnivals in Ontario offer activities like axe throwing, curling, outdoor games, and yummy food and drinks to warm you up.
Winter menus will warm your tummy showcasing the local cultures and flavours of regions of Ontario. Every year you can look forward to eating your old favourites like chili and pea soup and trying something new.
Winter Festivals in Ottawa
February 3 – 20, 2023
Things to do during Winterlude in Ottawa: you can marvel at beautiful ice sculptures, skate on the world-famous Rideau Canal Skateway (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and play till you drop in a gigantic snow playground called Snowflake Kingdom.
Winterlude festivities are not too far from the famous Byward Market. Be sure to take a walk through the market to shop, eat, drink and take your photo by the Ottawa sign on York Street.
To help you experience Ottawa and Winterlude check out the following getaway packages:
Embrace the Season Package at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier
Details: Save up to 20% on your stay on multi-night bookings LEARN MORE | BOOK NOW
Winter Festivals in Toronto and area
February 18 – 19, 2023
Learn more: https://bloor-yorkville.com/icefest/
To help you experience Toronto check out the following getaway packages:
Save on City Package at The Westin Habour Castle
Details: Save up to 10% on your stay on multi-night bookings LEARN MORE | BOOK NOW
Other Notable Fun Winter Festivals to Check Out
Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights
November 12, 2022 – February 20, 2023
Learn more: https://wfol.com/
Fire & Ice Bracebridge
January 28, 2023
Learn more: https://fireandicebracebridge.com/
Hello Winter, Barrie
February 1 – March 30, 2023
Learn more: https://www.barrie.ca/community-recreation-environment/community-events/hello-winter
Wiarton Willie Festival
February 2, 2023
Learn more: https://www.southbrucepeninsula.com/en/explore-and-play/wiarton-willie.aspx
Bon Soo Winter Carnival, Sault Ste. Marie
February 3 – 12, 2023
Learn more: https://bonsoo.on.ca/
No matter where you choose to go celebrate winter this year, we know it will be fun. Remember to dress according to the weather so that you can stay a long time. There will be a lot for you to do and you’ll want to try all the activities.
ToDoOntario.com is the place to find all the wonderful getaway packages, events and activities to help you easily plan your Ontario adventures. Be sure to cruise the website and what else there is ‘to do’ in Ontario this winter and beyond. The post Best Winter Festivals in Ontario first appeared on ToDoOntario.
The best day trips from Vancouver, British Columbia
If you’ve visited Vancouver, chances are you’ve walked around Stanley Park’s iconic seawall, visited Granville Island, snapped a photo of the old Steam Clock in Gastown, shopped on Robson Street and raised a glass in Granville’s entertainment district. In this post, we want to get outside the city and share our favourite day trips from Vancouver.
While there are countless things to see and do in Vancouver, there’s even more adventure waiting for you just outside the city limits (there’s good reason why Vancouver consistently ranks as one of the world’s most livable cities).
As residents of North Vancouver, we’ve spent the past few years exploring our big, beautiful backyard. It’s been fun doing the research for this long overdue blog post about the best day trips from Vancouver.
This post was originally published in 2017 and updated January 2023.
25 Awesome Day trips from Vancouver
Today, we’d like to share OUR favourite day trips from Vancouver.
It should be noted that you can easily convert some of these day trips into an overnight trip or weekend getaway. Read this post for the best road trip from Vancouver for first time visitors.
We highly recommend going slow and spending quality time at each spot, but we’d completely understand if you wanted to see it all.
Let’s get started, shall we?
We’re going to kick things off with our top day trips from Vancouver, rather then saving the best for last. Located 125 km north of Vancouver (about 1.5 hour drive), Whistler is a four season resort town with more than 8,000 acres of terrain spread across multiple mountain peaks.
Simply put – if you like adventure, Whistler was built for you.
Whistler gained world fame in 2010 when it co-hosted the Winter Olympics with the city of Vancouver. Whistler consistently ranks as the top ski resort in North America. In 2008, it introduced the world record-breaking Peak 2 Peak Gondola, completing the longest continuous lift system in the world.
Over the past decade, Whistler has evolved to become a top summer destination in Canada.
Whistler boasts over 50 km of high alpine hiking trails, multiple golf courses, zip-line courses, ATV off road tours, Jeep 4×4 tours to view glaciers, bungee jumping, bear viewing tours, white water rafting, and several fresh water lakes for SUP, kayaking and canoeing.
The Whistler Bike Park has quickly become one of the best mountain bike parks in North America. Whistler hosts several festivals and events each year, including the World Ski & Snowboard Festival in April and Crankworx Mountain Bike Festival in August.
Things to do in Whistler:
Take the Whistler Peak 2 Peak Gondola Experience – learn more here.
Try the Whistler Sasquatch Zipline, the longest zipline in Canada and the US.
Rejuvenate and relax at the traditional Scandinave Spa
Golf at 3 different courses, including the impressive Nicklaus North Golf Course
SUP or kayaking at Lost Lake, Alta Lake or Green Lake
Downhill mountain biking and/or cross-country trail riding
Zip-line courses, ATV off road tours, white water rafting or bungee jumping
Whistler Jeep Tour to see glaciers and snow-capped mountain vistas
Helicopter excursion or float plane sightseeing tour
Bear viewing tour and/or nature safari
Hike to stunning alpine lakes at Garibali Lake, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, Chekamus Lake, Elfin Lakes and/or Wedgemount Lake
Visit the unique Whistler train wreck
Search for Whistler hotel deals here.
Related – 20 Things to do in Whistler this Summer
Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest. People often mistake Vancouver as the capital city of British Columbia, when in fact it’s Victoria.
Victoria is approximately 100 kilometres from both Vancouver and Seattle, making it the perfect day trip or weekend getaway for tourists and mainland residents. We try to visit Victoria at least once every year. If you’re short on time, we recommend you check out this Guided Food and History tour of Victoria.
While you technically can visit Victoria in one day, we’d recommend you give it at least one night. Maybe two or three.
Most people will catch the ferry that departs from Tsawwassen BC Ferries Terminal, but you can take a bus from downtown Vancouver that will drop you off in downtown Victoria (ticket includes the ferry crossing). If you’re a first time visitor to Vancouver and you don’t have a vehicle, we’d recommend the bus option over renting a car and driving on the ferry.
You can also take a float plane from downtown Vancouver, which is a lot of fun. If you’ve only got one day to spend in Victoria, the float plane is the fastest and most convenient option. The ferry option will take you at least 4 hours in each direction.
If you decide to stay overnight – here’s where to stay in Victoria:
We have stayed at the Magnolia Hotel, Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Best Western Carlton Plaza and would recommend them all. They are centrally located and family friendly. Search for more Victoria hotels here.
Related – 20 Things to do in Victoria, British Columbia
3. Visit Bowen Island
Located approximately 25 km’s northwest of Vancouver, Bowen Island is a laid-back island that feels miles away from the hustle of the big city. The island is only 6 km wide and 12 km long, so you can easily explore the island in one day. Popular activities are kayaking, mountain biking, hiking and boating.
The Snug Cove ferry terminal has a marina with small shops and restaurants. The most popular beaches on Bowen Island are Tunstall Bay, Bowen Bay and Sandy Beach.
An easy scenic hike is the Killarney Lake trail. It takes about 2 hours round trip, covering 9 km’s. A more challenging hike is the summit of Mount Gardner. It takes about 7 hours, covering 17 km’s round trip.
To get to Bowen Island, you take a 20 minute ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. Or you can take a 45 minute water taxi from Granville Island. Check with BC Ferries for sailing times.
Related – 25 Things to do in Vancouver
4. Explore the Sunshine Coast
Although the Sunshine Coast may not always live up to its name (it’s located in the Pacific Northwest, after all), it’s a beautiful coastal area that stretches from Langdale to Lund, with many quaint communities in between. If you’ve got the time, this is a great place for a coastal road trip.
Part of the fun is the actual journey to the Sunshine Coast. Most visitors will access the Sunshine Coast by ferry from Horseshoe Bay, but you can also catch a float plane, depending on the time of year. The ferry ride and marinas are quintessentially West Coast.
If you only have one day, you’ll want to focus your time on Langdale and Hopkins Landing. Hopkins Landing is a short walk from the Langdale ferry terminal and there’s a beach that overlooks the North Shore mountains. It’s a great spot for kayaking, swimming and beachcombing.
If you are traveling in a small group, you might consider booking a guided tour to explore a few of the hidden gems on the Sunshine Coast.
Search for hotel deals on the Sunshine Coast here.
5. Rent a boat and cruise around Howe Sound
Howe Sound is network of fjords situated between West Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast, about 30 minutes northwest of Vancouver. This is one of the most beautiful areas in the Lower Mainland.
If you’re looking for a unique way to experience British Columbia’s natural beauty, driving a small speed boat around Howe Sound should be on your list.
One of the things we like to do in Vancouver during the summer is to visit the lazy seals that hang out on Pam Rocks, a cluster of tiny islands located in the center of Howe Sound. The only way to see these rock islands is by boat.
The best place to rent boats is Sewell’s Marina, located in Horseshoe Bay. Renting a boat is relatively inexpensive and you don’t need to have a special boat licence. A standard driver’s license is sufficient. For two hours of personal boat time (usually enough to get to the seal colony and back) it’s about $180 (check rates here). The boat can take between 4 to 6 people.
To visit marine parks and secluded coves that can only be reached by water, it’s wise to do the 4-hour rate and head to Gambier or Anvil Islands.
Related – Top Things to do Along the Sea to Sky Highway
6. Horseshoe Bay
Another great day trip from Vancouver is the village of Horseshoe Bay, the gateway to Howe Sound and the Sunshine Coast, located on the western tip of West Vancouver.
Horseshoe Bay is also the location of the third busiest BC Ferries terminal. If you plan to visit Vancouver Island, Bowen Island or the Sunshine Coast, you will board your ferry at Horseshoe Bay.
Even if you don’t plan to take a ferry, Horseshoe Bay is a fun place to have lunch and spend the afternoon. There are a few restaurants in the village, including the legendary Trolls Restaurant (get the Oyster Burger or Clam Chowder), and it has a rocky beach with a playground that faces the marina.
After you visit Horseshoe Bay, check out nearby Whytecliff Park, one of the first Marine Protected Areas in Canada and a popular cold water scuba diving spot.
If you have time on your drive back to Vancouver, visit nearby Lighthouse Park, located in a residential area in West Vancouver. It is a popular attraction and a National Historic Site of Canada.
Related – 25 FREE Things to do in Vancouver
Located about halfway between Vancouver and Whistler, the town of Squamish is one of the best day trips from Vancouver. It continues to build its brand as an outdoor adventure destination. It’s an easy drive from Vancouver and the scenery is everything you’d expect from a town in the mountains.
We could dedicate an entire blog post about things to do in Squamish. You can make several day trips from Vancouver to Squamish and still only scratch the surface.
For the thrill-seeker, rock climbing at the Stawamus Chief is world class and the Via Ferrata from the Summit Lodge is fun change of pace.
If you prefer to get in the water, the Squamish Spit hosts some of the best windsurfing and kite surfing in the Pacific Northwest. There area also dozens of hiking trails and parks, including the family-friendly Four Lakes Trail and the full day Elfin Lakes hike.
Other activities include a visit the West Coast Rail Heritage Park (home to the annual Polar Express experience), eagle viewing in Brackendale, golfing at Furry Creek, paddling and fishing on Alice Lake, shopping at the Squamish Farmers’ Market and brewery tours at Howe Sound Brewing.
Related – The best road trip from Vancouver for first time visitors
8. Sea to Sky Gondola
Another favourite day trips from Vancouver is the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish. It’s a 10-minute gondola ride that transports guests up the side of the mountain to a lodge that overlooks Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains.
There are plenty of things to do once you reach the summit. The Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge is a big hit and will surely give you butterflies in your stomach as it sways from side to side.
There are multiple viewing platforms and several hiking trails for all skill levels. The Summit Lodge has an amazing patio, so if you’re not up for adventure, you can enjoy a relaxing lunch with outstanding mountain views.
If you plan to visit on a weekend in the summer, make sure you arrive early because it’s a popular attraction and the Sea to Sky Gondola parking is limited. There’s overflow parking available across the highway from Shannon Falls Provincial Park (you should check out the waterfalls if you visit the gondola). We’re told that there’s a free shuttle service on the weekends.
Or, you can walk 15 minutes to the Sea to Sky Gondola via the connector hiking trail.
Related – Winter fun at Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish
9. Britannia Mine Museum
The Britannia Mine Museum, formerly British Columbia Museum of Mining, is located in Britannia Beach. It’s about 55 km north of Vancouver on the Sea-to-Sky Highway on Howe Sound.
The Museum site itself is an exhibit – from historical machinery to heritage buildings and the massive yellow dump truck that lives within the facility.
We recommend you take the underground tour on the old mine train.
The 45 minute guided tour gives you an understanding of what life was like as a miner back in the early 1900s. It’s fascinating to learn how the mines were operated back then. I’m not sure I could do what they did.
You only need about 2 hours to explore the museum and take the mine train tour, so this is a good activity to bundle with a visit to the Sea to Sky Gondola or Porteau Cove Provincial Park. Book your admission tickets easily here.
If you like this attraction, visit the train museum in Squamish.
Rail track inside the old mine tunnel at Britannia Mine Museum.
Related – The Best Things to do Along the Sea to Sky Highway
10. Porteau Cove Provincial Park
Porteau Cove is a small provincial park in British Columbia (about 50 hectares in size), situated on the most southerly fjord in North America. The park stretches between the shoreline of Howe Sound and the Sea to Sky Highway, about 20 minutes south of Squamish.
Aside from its rocky beaches and breathtaking mountain vistas, Porteau Cove’s star attraction the old ferry terminal that’s been converted into a pedestrian pier.
It’s also a popular cold water scuba dive spot because it has a series of artificial reefs and two sunken ships.
Related – An oceanfront cabin retreat at Porteau Cove
Above – the beach at Porteau Cove Provincial Park.
11. Hiking at Garibaldi Provincial Park
Garibaldi Provincial Park is a massive wilderness park located between Squamish and Whistler, about a 1.5 hour drive from Vancouver. This beautiful park is best visited during the summer months, when you can hike the popular Garibaldi Lake trail.
The park covers an area of over 1,950 square kilometers (753 sq mi) and is home to some of British Columbia’s most impressive hiking trails. There are five entrance points located along the Sea to Sky Highway. There are also several camp sites that are first come, first served.
The most popular trails in Garibaldi Provincial Park are Diamond Head, Black Tusk, Garibaldi Lake, Wedgemount Lake, Cheakamus Lake and Singing Pass.
If you’re looking for a full day leg burner, the Garibaldi Lake hike will do the trick (pictured above).
12. Whale watching in the Southern Gulf Islands
The Southern Gulf Islands, an archipelago of small islands located between Vancouver Island the Lower Mainland, is one of the best places to witness orca whales in their natural habitat. This is one of the best day trips from Vancouver for first time visitors, in our opinion.
The best time to go whale watching is during the salmon migration in the summer months between May to October. Whales, sea birds and other marine animals are attracted to the area to feed, resulting in very strong success rate on many whale watching tours.
There are plenty of whale watching operators based out of Vancouver that offer a variety of options, from 2 hour tours to full day excursions.
Related – Surrounded by Killer Whales in the Salish Sea
13. Capilano Suspension Bridge and Cliffwalk
Located in the District of North Vancouver, near the base of Grouse Mountain, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a fun and easy day trip from Vancouver.
Over the years, the park has added several features to compliment its famous bouncing suspension bridge, including the recently added Cliffwalk experience.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a great family friendly attraction for both tourists and locals. Aside from the bridge and cliffwalk, the park also offers the Treetops adventure, a series of seven suspension bridges attached to eight 30 ton, 250 year old Douglas-firs, and several boardwalks with viewpoints that overlook the canyon. Skip the lines and book your tickets easily here.
If you have time, try to squeeze in a visit to nearby Cleveland Dam.
Related – Cliffwalk at the Capilano Suspension Bridge
14. Play in the North Shore Mountains
No trip to Vancouver is complete without a visit to the North Shore Mountains. The most popular and accessible mountains are Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour and Cypress Mountain. All three mountains have ski operations in the winter, extensive hiking trails in the summer and facilities with restaurants.
Grouse Mountain, the self-described Peak of Vancouver, is the most popular mountain for tourists. To reach the peak, guests take the Skyride tram to the top of the mountain. This is always fun for first timers, regardless of the season.
For the more adventurous type, you can hike to the summit via the Grouse Grind, also known as Mother Nature’s Staircase (it’s a 2.9 km trail that climbs 2,800 feet). Novice hikers should plan for roughly two hours to ascend the trail. The record is 25 minutes.
There are restaurants and cafes at the summit of Grouse Mountain, so if you’re not up for a strenuous afternoon you can simply enjoy the views with a cold beverage in hand.
During the summer you can witness the Grizzly Bear habitat.
Cypress Mountain / Cypress Provincial Park
Cypress Mountain is located in the southern section of Cypress Provincial Park. With over 240 hectares of skiable terrain and 53 runs, Cypress Mountain has the largest ski area out of the three mountains.
Cypress hosted the Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding events during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Mount Seymour Provincial Park
Mount Seymour is often overlooked by first time visitors to Vancouver because it’s the furthest away from the downtown. It’s also the smallest of the three local mountains. It’s more of a family mountain and has some of the best snowshoeing and nordic skiing trails on the North Shore.
15. Hiking or Kayaking in Deep Cove
An easy day trips from Vancouver is a visit to Deep Cove. It’s a quaint community in the easternmost North Vancouver, located at the entrance of Indian Arm It’s about a 25 minute drive from Vancouver. There’s a little village with a restaurants, shops and the infamous Honey’s Doughnuts (Vancouverites love these donuts!).
Deep Cove is known for its marina and kayaking.
You can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and surfskis from Deep Cove Kayak. This shop gets busy in the summer months, especially on the weekends. You’re best to make a reservation for equipment.
Parking in Deep Cove can be challenging, so it’s wise to arrive early (before 9:00 AM).
Another popular activity in Deep Cove is hiking to Quarry Rock.
Quarry Rock is an easy hike that takes about 1.5 hours round trip, so it’s an ideal day trip from Vancouver. The views from the top of Quarry Rock are fantastic.
If you’ve got the stamina and the time, you could hike the trail in the morning, have lunch at Arms Reach Bistro in the village, then go for a paddle in the afternoon.
Now that’s a perfect day in the Pacific Northwest!
16. Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf
Richmond’s Steveston Village is a charming fishing village located 20 minutes south of Vancouver. It sits at the mouth of the Fraser River and was once the largest fishing port and cannery centre on the West Coast.
Steveson is also the departure point for many whale watching tours that explore the nearby Gulf Islands and the San Juan islands (in Washington State).
On a sunny afternoon we like to visit the village and indulge in fish and chips and cold beer. Then we like to walk along the pier to burn off lunch.
The Gulf of Georgia Cannery (also known as the Monster Cannery) is now a National Historic Site. It offers a glimpse into the history of the multicultural workers who kept the salmon canning lines moving in the early 1900’s.
Steveston is still an active fishing harbour, so you can walk along the docks and purchase fresh seafood directly from the fishing boats. This is where you’ll find the best prices on fresh seafood!
17. River Rock Casino, Richmond
The River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond is the largest casino in British Columbia, generating an average of 10,000 visitors per day.
With the addition of the Canada Line SkyTrain, the rapid transit that connects Richmond to Vancouver, there’s now a train station located directly across from the casino, making it easily accessible from virtually anywhere in the city.
The River Rock has a large theater that hosts a variety of entertainment acts throughout the year. If you like Vegas style entertainment you’ll enjoy an evening at the River Rock.
Here’s the upcoming schedule at the River Rock Theatre.
In the summer, the Richmond Night Market runs on weekends and close to the River Rock Casino. The Night Market features live performances, carnival games and over 200 retail stalls with over 500 food choices from around the world.
Related – 25 Things to do in Vancouver
18. Langley Wine Tours
Did you know the Lower Mainland is home to several award winning wineries? You don’t have to drive all the way to the Okanagan Valley to enjoy wine tasting in British Columbia.
Chaberton Estate Winery is the oldest and largest winery in the Fraser Valley and the 5th largest in British Columbia. Other popular wineries are Township 7 Winery, Neck of the Woods Winery, Backyard Vineyards and the Fort Wine Co.
Langley is about a 45 minute drive from Vancouver, depending on traffic (afternoon rush hour can add 1-2 hours). If you plan to sample a lot of wine and don’t want to drive, you can organize wine tasting tours that depart from Vancouver and visit 3-4 wineries. It’s a fun day trip in the summer months.
Related – Wine tasting and Glamping in Kelowna
19. Cultus Lake Waterpark & Adventure Park
Located two hours east of Vancouver, just south of Chilliwack, sits Cultus Lake Provincial Park and its many family friendly attractions. The lake, beaches and surrounding forests are fantastic, but what lures families to this area is the Cultus Lake Waterpark and Cultus Lake Adventure Park.
The Adventure Park is British Columbia’s newest family theme park and home to the Fraser Valley’s only roller coaster. It’s also home to Giggle Ridge Adventure Golf (18 holes of mini-golf), Bumper Boats, Prospector’s Peak and the Runaway Mine Train.
Cultus Lake Waterpark has all kinds of water slides, wading pools and themed attractions. You could spend the entire day at this park alone.
Related – A look back on an epic summer in British Columbia
20. Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park
Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park is located 150 km east of Vancouver and 64 km southeast of Chilliwack (40km in from the Vedder Crossing).
It’s a beautiful park surrounded by jagged mountain peaks and dense forest. There are several hiking trails, beaches, boat launches, parks and recreational facilities. This is a great spot to go boating, kayaking and canoeing.
To get to Chilliwack Lake, take Exit 104 from Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Hwy) and follow the signs for Cultus Lake until you reach Cultus Lake Road. Instead of turning, follow Vedder Road across the bridge and turn right onto Chilliwack Lake Road.
Follow this road for 40 km to the lake and campground – visit BC Parks website for more info.
Related – Why We Love Living in British Columbia
21. Sturgeon Fishing on the Fraser River (Chilliwack)
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, you should try sturgeon fishing on the North Fraser River. Sturgeons date back to the Triassic period, some 245 to 208 million years ago.
So, basically, these are underwater dinosaurs! Okay, not really. But some of these fish are over 150 years old and grow as long as 10 feet.
You can take a guided tour that departs from Chilliwack and goes up the North Fraser River. The river is loaded with sturgeon and salmon. While you’re on the boat waiting for a fish to bite, it’s common to see sturgeon breach along the river. On our trip, we witnessed about a dozen sturgeons jumping out of the water. It’s quite the sight.
Chilliwack is about a 2 hour drive from Vancouver, depending on traffic. The fishing tours take between 6 to 8 hours, so this is a full day excursion. Here’s the company we went with.
Watch – Video of us catching a MASSIVE sturgeon fish
22. Harrison Hot Springs
Harrison Hot Springs is a resort community known for its hot springs and picturesque lake and mountain landscapes. It’s located about 2.5 hours east of Vancouver. It’s another one of our favourite day trips from Vancouver.
Harrison Hot Springs Resort is the main attraction, with its 5 hot spring pools and restaurants. However, you can only access these pools if you are a guest staying at Harrison Hot Springs Resort. Consider spending the night here, it’s a nice escape from the city.
There’s more to Harrison Hot Springs than its hot spring pools.
Harrison lake offers every kind of water sport you can imagine, from kayaking to boating to its massive floating waterpark. It has a beach, waterfront parks, golf courses and several hiking trails.
While you’re in the area, check out Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park and its beautiful cascading waterfalls. The park entrance is located just off the Trans-Canada Highway and it’s only a 10 minute hike to the waterfalls, so this is an easy pit-stop that will only take about an hour.
During the summer, you can also visit Bridal Falls Water Park. It’s a smaller water park (when compared to the Cultus Lake Water Park), but it boasts heated water and plenty of kiddie slides and water play areas.
Related – Things to do at Harrison Hot Springs
23. Float plane to the Gulf Islands
The Gulf Islands are located in the Strait of Georgia (also known as Salish Sea), between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia. The most popular islands are Salt Spring Island, Galiano Island and Pender Island.
The Gulf Islands are so peaceful and relaxing. You feel like you’re a world away from Vancouver, yet they’re less than 100 kilometres away.
The Gulf Islands can be reached by ferry. It will end up being a very long day if you plan to return to Vancouver the same day. You are better off spending a night or two if you plan to travel to the islands by ferry.
Alternatively, you can take a short float plane ride from Vancouver to the Gulf Islands.
Weather does impact flights. You will need to have a Plan B if your flight is canceled or delayed due to fog or rain. You should be fine in the summer months, but winter can be hit and miss.
The float plane to the islands is half the fun, as you can see in this short video captured while flying over