Celebrate the return of autumn with a short road trip, where you can explore an old favourite or discover a new gem.
Celebrate the return of autumn with a short road trip, where you can explore an old favourite or discover a new gem. From scenic coastal escapes to cozy mountain hideaways, here are five fall getaways that offer great food and drink, fun activities, and outdoor adventure—all within a short drive of Vancouver.
(40 minutes from West Vancouver)
Plan a relaxing seaside stay on the Sunshine Coast, home to a flourishing food and craft beverage scene, buzzing arts community, and laid-back vibe. Embrace their version of “island time”—while it’s technically still on the mainland, the coast feels like a world away from the bustle of the city.
The southern section of the Sunshine Coast between Gibsons and Egmont is an 80-kilometre stretch of shoreline, worn by rocky beaches and dotted with hidden inlets. An abundance of hiking and biking trails wind through the coastal rainforest, taking you to ocean vistas and secret waterfalls. Complement your culinary and cultural activities with a trek through Tetrahedron and Mount Elphinstone provincial parks, or enjoy the expansive ocean vistas on the shorter Soames Hill hike in Gibsons. Explore farther afield with a boat ride to Princess Louisa Inlet with Sunshine Coast Tours, where you can see towering granite walls and up to 60 cascading waterfalls, Chatterbox Falls being the crown jewel.
Sip your way through craft breweries, distilleries and cideries, including the newest additions: Banditry Cider in Gibsons and Twenty-Two Taphouse in Sechelt. The area is also home to a colourful mix of restaurants bursting with global flavours and West Coast fare. Take in wild coastal views at Inlets Restaurant in the West Coast Wilderness Lodge, savour fusion cuisine at El Segundo, or enjoy diner favourites at the famed Molly’s Reach in Gibsons.
The Sunshine Coast is also home to a large creative community, including a number of renowned artists. The marquee annual arts event, Sunshine Coast Art Crawl, takes place October 21-23 and offers gallery tours, art demonstrations, workshops, and exhibits. If you’re visiting outside of the event, book an organized art tour with Sunshine Coast Art Tours to get insider access.
Historic Bonniebrook Lodge, tucked away in a quiet neighbourhood close to the beach, is the perfect springboard to shops, dining, and outdoor adventures. The Sunshine Coast Resort and Marina is centrally located, making it the perfect basecamp for exploring the coast. To get to the southern portion of the Sunshine Coast from Vancouver, take the 40-minute BC Ferries ride from Horseshoe Bay (reservations are recommended) or fly into Sechelt with Harbour Air.
(1.5 hours from Vancouver)
Head to the mountains and watch the seasons change—a popular Whistler pastime in the autumn as the snowline begins its slow dance down the mountain. Fall in Whistler is fun and effortless, with exciting food and drink experiences, galleries, dining, and outdoor adventure to enjoy.
Embark upon a visual journey at the Audain Art Museum, home to 200 permanent works. Learn about the vibrant living culture of the Líl̓wat7ul and Sk̲wxwú7mesh Úxwumixw when you visit the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre—be sure to stop at the Thunderbird Café for Indigenous-inspired fare. Adventure-seekers can hit the Whistler Mountain Bike Park (open through to October 10) or bike the Valley Trail to Rainbow Park to see the fall colours. If you’re looking to relax, a soothing soak at Scandinave Spa Whistler is the epitome of rejuvenation.
Celebrate the fall harvest with a carefully crafted seasonal menu and wine pairings at Alta Bistro. Try The Raven Room in the heart of Whistler Village for an eclectic cocktail list and tasting plates or stroll to the Upper Village, where you can sample craft beers and seductive artisan cocktails at Braidwood Tavern in the Four Seasons Resort & Residences Whistler (the margaritas are a hit). Craft beverage enthusiasts will want to explore the Ale Trail, with a visit to Function Junction, home to two breweries and a distillery. If you plan to visit in November, Whistler Cornucopia—a celebration of gastronomic proportions—returns with culinary seminars, winemakers’ dinners, and more.
There are plenty of amazing Whistler hotels—take your pick. Book a luxury escape in the Upper Village in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler or stay in the heart of Whistler Village at the Westin Resort and Spa. For a quieter getaway backed by fall foliage and lakeside views, call it a night at Nita Lake Lodge in Creekside.
(1.5 hours from Vancouver)
Hope—often a stop of interest on the way to BC’s Interior or the Similkameen Valley wine region—is a gateway to the Fraser Canyon and the scenic Cascade Mountains. See this familiar favourite through fresh eyes when you stay a night or two.
Take your time getting to Hope and you might discover unexpected treasures along the way. Think: craft breweries and train robber-inspired brew pubs along BC Scenic Route 7; or artisan cheese, farm-fresh produce, and wineries in the Fraser Valley via Highway 1.
While in town, hike to the Hope Lookout for commanding views of the valley and visit the Japanese Friendship Garden in Hope Memorial Park. You can also take a self-guided tour of Hope’s impressive selection of 80-plus chainsaw carvings, including a Rambo statue (inspired by the town’s starring role in the action film First Blood). About 10 minutes west of town, you’ll find the Syéx̱w Chó:leqw Adventure Park, where nature walks and mountain biking await. Extend your trip and spend a day in the mountains of Manning Provincial Park, located 45-minutes east, where you can venture out for a fall hike accented by an auburn rainbow of fall foliage.
Soak up the friendly atmosphere and live music at the new Mountainview Brewing Co., which offers a rotating selection of innovative seasonal beers and savoury bites. If you’re feeling peckish, visit the quirky Owl Street Cafe or try fresh-baked goodies at Rolling Pin Bakery. Evergreen Bed and Breakfast, located in town, is a charming, family-owned accommodation with modern furnishings—the perfect home base for exploring town.
Harrison River Valley
(2 hours from Vancouver)
The village of Harrison Hot Springs is a hidden gem along the BC Scenic Route 7. With a prime location on Harrison Lake it’s a great place to enjoy nature and seek off-beat adventures.
Take the scenic route as you make your way along the Circle Farm Tour between Agassiz and Harrison Mills. Detours include a cheesemaker, a coffee roaster/basketry studio, and farm stalls. If you’re taking Highway 1, stop in at one or more of the breweries along the Fraser Valley Ale Trail for a to-go growler, lunch, or a tasting (designated driver required, of course). Due to its rich micro-climate, the Fraser Valley region also boasts 25 wineries—visit Ripples Winery to procure blueberry wine or stop for a glass of Rosé at Chaberton Estate Winery and Bacchus-Bistro, the oldest winery in the area.
While in Harrison Hot Springs, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Hiking trails range in difficulty from a leisurely stroll along the Spirit Trail to a strenuous but rewarding trek up the Campbell Lake Trail (a.k.a. The Harrison Grind), with panoramic views of the lake and valley below. Through mid-October, Harrison Eco Tours offers a thrilling jet boat tour up Harrison River (their boat is heated and has a covered passenger area). After a day of exploring, pop by Muddy Waters Cafe or Harrison Corner Cafe for a farm-fresh bite and craft beer from the area. You may also notice a mysterious presence—this is home to the Sasquatch, after all. According to the Sts’ailes people, who have called this area home for thousands of years, the sa:sq’ets (a spirit being) co-exists with humans and protects the land. Take a self-guided tour along the Sasquatch Trail, with a stop at Qwólts Park to see the striking sa:sq’ets mural. You can also visit Kilby Historic Site near Harrison Mills to get a glimpse into rural life through costumed interpreters, farm animals, and interactive stories (open Friday to Sunday until the end of October).
After a day of activity, head for a soothing soak. The healing mineral pools at Harrison Hot Springs Resort are open to guests only (all the more reason to stay the night!) If you’re looking for a secluded getaway and a round of golf, stay in a luxury cottage at Rowena’s Inn on the River, located 20 minutes away in Harrison Mills. Their Clubhouse Restaurant serves up a farm-fresh menu with a solid BC VQA wine list.
(3 hours from Vancouver)
Victoria, with its casual atmosphere, fall gardens, and eclectic dining experiences, is a relaxing seaside city escape. For new ways to rediscover BC’s beloved capital city, explore the streets at night on a ghost-themed walking tour or learn about Victoria’s historic neighbourhoods on a bike tour. A visit to Victoria’s iconic attractions might also be in order: Learn about vibrant Indigenous Culture in the West Coast at the Royal BC Museum or stroll through Chinatown’s distinct Fan Tan Alley. While you’re enjoying radiant fall colours at The Butchart Gardens on the Saanich Peninsula, head on a self-guided Flavour Trail expedition of the area, where you’ll discover orchards, cideries, provisions, and artisan creations.
Given that Victoria has the most restaurants per capita in Canada, the city’s exciting culinary scene never disappoints. Indulging in afternoon tea is a quintessential experience—reserve a tea service at Hotel Grand Pacific, White Heather Tea Room, or Abkhazi Gardens for a new take on this old tradition. Sample fare from the farms, forests, and oceans around Vancouver Island at Olo Restaurant; continue exploring local producers with a visit to Cowichan Valley’s wine region, dubbed the “Napa of the North.” Cap off your tour-de-tastebuds by hitting a few of Victoria’s Ale Trail stops (West Coast lifestyle-inspired Whistle Buoy Brewing Company in downtown’s Market Square is a fun one). Tip: Book a tasting tour to get the inside scoop on Victoria’s culinary gems.
With so much to do in Victoria’s downtown core, why not stay in the heart of the city? Parkside Hotel and Spa—with complimentary bikes, a bistro, and rooftop garden—is a solid choice. Or, try the Delta Hotels Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort for a modern, upscale hotel experience with views of the waterfront. In addition to daily BC Ferries sailings (reservations recommended), there are also flights into Victoria from YVR Airport and Downtown Vancouver.
If you plan to venture out for an outdoor activity, remember that weather can change quickly at this time of year. Be AdventureSmart and remember to practice the Three T’s: Trip Planning, Training, and Taking the Essentials.