5 Great Metro Vancouver Day Trips

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Even though we love our Fraser Valley and everything it has to offer, every once in a while we get the itch to go on a bit of an adventure! Day trips are a great way to get out and explore what’s beyond your front door, without having the additional cost of spending the night away. We love that these 5 great day trip ideas are far enough away to feel like a mini vacation, but close enough to home to avoid packing a suitcase! 

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Steveston Shopping & Richmond Night Market

We know it might take a bit of convincing to get you out into the Richmond area, but we promise there is loads of fun things to do once you get there! Head to Steveston Village first for a bite to eat in one of the 3 dozen cute restaurants to choose from, and spend the rest of the afternoon shopping, beaching and exploring! What are our favourite Steveston activities? We love browsing the boutiques for beach inspired home décor, checking out the heritage sites (great photo opportunities!) and visiting the Britannia Heritage Shipyards! There are also a number of great events that take place in the village all year ‘round, so be sure to check their events calendar before you go!

After you’ve finished having fun at Steveston Village, head over to the Richmond Night Market for a little change in cultural pace! Whereas Steveston is all about fishing, chowders and everything nautical, the night Market is a fusion of all the cultures that make Richmond such a vibrant and diverse community. Be forewarned though, this market is all about the food! With over 500 food vendors, we highly recommend that you arrive hungry and with a bit of cash in your pocket (there are ATM’s on site in case of emergency). Food items are around the $2-5 mark, and are smaller in size to encourage visitors to sample a number of items rather than just one. It’s a great way to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, without worrying about wasting food (or money) if you don’t care for it. Open late Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings; the night market is the perfect family friendly way to end your night in Richmond!

Stanley Park & Seawall

More than just a scenic park, Stanley Park certainly has come a long way since it was first opened in 1888! In addition to being a go-to destination for plant and nature lovers, the park is also home to many great family attractions like the Miniature Train, Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours, and the kiddy waterpark at Lumberman’s Arch! Add that to the number of playgrounds, walking & hiking trails, picnic areas and beach access areas throughout the park, and it really does become a “choose your own adventure” kind of day trip.

Of course, you can’t visit Stanley Park without visiting at least a section of the Seawall. Stretching 8.8km, the Stanley Park loop of the Seawall takes about 1 hour to bike, or 2-3 hours to walk in its entirety. Didn’t bring your bike with you? No worries! There are a number of bike rental shops located on Denman (like Stanley Park Cycle or Bayshore Bike Rentals) that rent all the bike gear you need at an affordable price. Most bikes are $20-$25 for a full day, with the option of adding on child seats, trailers, helmets, locks and protective gear. Once you’ve finished the Stanley Park Seawall loop, you can continue along the Seawall to English Bay, or you can call it a day. Either way, make sure to take a moment during your travels to take in the breathtaking views of the mountains and Vancouver skyline!

Do the Grouse Grind

Commonly referred to as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster,” the Grouse Grind is not for the faint at heart! This steep hiking trail takes you from the base of the mountain to the top of the mountain (an elevation gain of 853 metres) in just 2.9 kilometres! In recent years, the Grouse Grind has acquired quite a following that has turned the hike into more of a challenge, where locals compete (using the aptly named Grind Timer) for the top spot in the ladies and men’s categories. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to be an avid hiker to use the trail – you have to start somewhere! We do recommend that you make use of the stretching posts though, which are located near the beginning of the trail, to stretch your arms and legs before you begin your journey. There are quarter markers that are clearly visible with large signs, that serve as good motivators to keep you moving towards the top. Once at the top (and after you’ve given yourself a pat on the back!), you can buy your ticket down on the Gondola ride, wander around Grouse Mountain for a few great photo opportunities or grab a well-deserved beer at the mountaintop bar!

Visit Granville Island

Check out a unique island experience this summer at Granville Island! With lots of food and artisan vendors within the indoor market, Granville Island is a great option for those not-so-sunny summer days. We adore the colourful kids market and craft stores that offer classes and take-away projects. If you’re heading out with adults, be sure to grab a Vancouver TheatreSports League Show, at the Improv Centre. Taking on a “Who’s Line Is It Anyway” approach, the Vancouver TheatreSports League puts on shows like the Improv Test Kitchen, The Ultimate Improv Championship, and Scared Scriptless that are sure to entertain even the sternest folks! As long as you’re there with friends, you might as well work in a tour at the Granville Island Brewing Company too! Their beers are delish, and tours of the brewery include tastings in the taproom afterwards. Be sure to get there early to purchase your tickets, as tastings are done daily at 11am, 12pm, 3pm, 4pm & 5pm and are on a first come, first serve basis.

Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Classical Chinese Garden

Located in the heart of Vancouver at 578 Carrall St, Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Classical Chinese Garden is a natural oasis in the middle of a bustling city. More than what meets the eye; this garden’s elements are perfectly balanced to match the philosophy of yin and yang. We highly recommend taking the guided tour throughout the gardens, which helps to explain the significance of each element and it’s specific placement. Like Granville Island, these gardens are a great destination for even those not-so-sunny days. Most of the tour is completed under canopies, and some of the elements that are built into the gardens are done so specifically for rainy days! We love how authentic these gardens are too, with specific details coming directly from China (even the rocks!). It’s no wonder this garden has won the Garden of the Year title, as awarded by the Garden Tourism Council of Canada!

Where are your favorite day trip destinations for the summer months? Have you visited any of our suggestions recently? We’d love to hear how you spend your summer days when you are feeling a bit adventurous!



Contributor: Shannon Clattenburg

Shannon Clattenburg is a creative spirit first and a freelance writer second. She is a features writer for Fraser Valley Pulse and has a love for uncovering hidden gems throughout the Fraser Valley . She lives in Chilliwack with her boyfriend and her doggy Rolo. Twitter: @OrdinaryShan



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