Families could easily fill an entire vacation with activities and events in Vancouver, but what about the rest of the province? There’s so many things for families to do in British Columbia, no trip would be complete without taking at least one of the following weekend family getaways outside of Vancouver.
Winter or summer, families will have a blast visiting Whistler, British Columbia. In winter, world-class skiing awaits, along with tubing (or tobogganing, as they call it in Canada), ice skating, and snowshoeing. Families will want to devote at least three days to skiing at Whistler in order to explore most of the two connected mountains, and even then, save time to explore the Whistler Village for shopping and dining. Take the world-famous Peak 2 Peak tram between Blackcomb and Whistler mountain, and look for on-mountain play areas on each peak where kids can take off skis or snowboards to slide, climb, and explore wintery play sets. In summer, mountain bike, hike, horseback ride, or zip-line in this outdoor oasis!
Where to stay: If you really want to indulge, a stay at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is like a fairy tale come true. With the appearance of a castle and the service of one too, the Fairmont pampers with an on-site ski valet, delicious food, lovely public spaces, an indoor-outdoor pool and hot tub complex, and proximity to Whistler Village dining and shops. Plus, they’re within steps of Blackcomb skiing! For additional lodging options, check out Whistler lodging page.
Getting there: Whistler is an easy hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver on the beautiful Sea to Sky Highway. En route, stop at breathtaking vistas and overlooks, or take the time to visit the Britannia Mine Museum.
Known for English gardens and elegant tea time, Victoria is more than meets the eye. Not that you’ll be complaining about what you see: this beautiful city is full of blooms, trees, and beautiful architecture. Take tea in the Fairmont Empress Hotel or learn about Canadian government at the British Columbia capitol and the Royal BC Museum. Families will want to take a day trip to visit Butchart Gardens, filled with rose gardens, quarry gardens, a children’s garden, and more. With three active boys, I didn’t realize we’d have so much fun in Victoria!
The Royal Scot Hotel and Suites is a great option for families looking to stay close enough to the downtown areas of Victoria while staying within a reasonable travel budget. Families can walk to the harbor locations from the Royal Scot, plus get suites instead of rooms (allowing for different bedtimes or simply room to spread out) and an indoor pool.
Getting there: It’s an easy and fun ferry ride from Vancouver to Victoria, BC through Nanaimo, then a short drive down Vancouver Island to Victoria.
Parksville and Tofino, Vancouver Island
Families with more time of their hands will want to stay on Vancouver Island to explore this region’s beautiful and surprisingly warm beaches. Start in Parksville, where the public beaches span for miles, revealing amazing sea life and shells at low tide. The Parksville community park is a great place to spend an afternoon, as is the Morningstar Golf Course. Rent beach gear or try your hand at kayaking, or just enjoy stunning sunsets on the Strait of Georgia.
If you’re more adventurous, cross Vancouver Island to Tofino, where families can beach comb on windswept, wild beaches and enjoy whale watching or storm watching. The drive to Tofino takes a few hours from the east side of Vancouver Island, but the scenic landscape makes it seem much faster. Once there, explore tide pools at Chesterman Beach and discover seals, eagles, and whales with Remote Passages, one of the best tour companies we’ve ever experienced.
In Parksville, a stay at Tigh-Na-Mara Resort is a must. This full-scale family resort offers cabins and lodge rooms, beach access, an indoor pool, playgrounds, tennis courts, and a full children’s program, including nature classes, off-site golfing clinics, and more. Devote at least two days!
In Tofino, the Mackenzie Beach Resort offers rustic and affordable cabins right on the beach. Mackenzie Beach is well-known for sunsets and tide pools, and its protected cove is a great swimming location for small kids.
Getting there: The drive across Vancouver Island is very straight-forward. Parksville is an easy drive from Victoria or Nanaimo (where BC Ferries delivers you from Vancouver), and Tofino is straight across the island on Highway 4.
More from Vancouver week:
Welcome to Vancouver Week: Win a Vancouver Family Vacation
Attractions in Vancouver: Things to do in Vancouver BC with kids
Weekend Getaways from Vancouver: where to go in BC with kids
Vancouver travel tips: insider ideas for visiting Vancouver with kids (coming Friday)
Stay tuned for more great British Columbia destinations on the Talking Trekaroo blog in the coming months!