Even the most committed enthusiasts of the “great indoors” need to get out and explore what Vancouver is really known for: its scenery. You don’t have to be a hiker, mountain biker, or a skier to appreciate the vistas along the Sea-to-Sky Highway or the ferry ride through Howe Sound. This sample itinerary offers options for those who can drive and for those who prefer to remain car-free. In fact, you would be surprised how far from the city you can get on public transportation.
Get as early a start as possible by grabbing a quick bite at a coffee shop and hitting the road. At Purebread, you can buy fresh sweet or savory baked goods to take with you for the drive or a picnic later.
Option 1: The 257 bus to Horseshoe Bay
Before you leave, visit the BC Ferries website for the schedule to the Sunshine Coast (Langdale is the port). Then take the Bus 257 from the stop on Granville and Georgia streets to sync up with your boat departing from Horseshoe Bay in west Vancouver. The ride to Langdale takes only 40 minutes, and the scenery is great, even when it’s rainy or overcast.
Once you arrive, the local bus (there’s only one) will be available to take you into the small town of Gibsons, known for being the setting of a television show called The Beachcombers.
Have lunch at one of the local breweries. Places to visit include Persephone Brewing, a must-see even if you do not do beer. It’s a true farmhouse brewery that feels like a Bavarian beer garden in the summer with its peaceful, dog- and child-friendly seating and live music. Its onsite permanent pizza truck has a ceramic wood-fired pizza oven. Gibsons Tapworks is conveniently located right in town.
Spend a few hours admiring the scenery and laid-back lifestyle or lazing on the small, pebbly beaches around Gibsons before taking the ferry back to town where you can have a late dinner at a fine dining restaurant like Hawksworth or a casual izakaya meal at Guu (watch out, the lines can be long).
Option 2: Drive the Sea-to-Sky Highway
Renting a car allows you to experience one of the world’s great scenic drives: the Sea-to-Sky Highway, where many a car commercial has been filmed. From downtown Vancouver, enjoy traversing the Lion’s Gate Bridge.
About an hour outside of town you’ll reach the settlement of Squamish, known best for “The Chief,” the sheer rock face that graces the town and lures rock climbers from all over the world.
Depending on your hunger level, eat lunch in Squamish or save room for Whistler. In Squamish, check out Howe Sound Brewing or if you decide to go up the Chief using the Sea to Sky Gondola, the cafe at the top has a view like nothing you will find anywhere else around — in Whistler or in Vancouver.
From Squamish, it takes another hour to get to Whistler on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. If you save room for Whistler, have a casual lunch at the Whistler Brewing Company.
Especially since the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler has established itself as one of the globe’s elite winter sports destinations and there is a ton to do all year-round, too. The zip-line is one of the world’s longest and the longest in North America (1.24 miles). After that, you’ll relish relaxation at the Scandinave Spa.