We were planning a fall trip to Europe but with constantly changing schedules we did not book flights or hotels in advance like we should have. By the time we freed up time to go on vacation, the price of travel to Europe was way over the budget. We headed west to Vancouver for a fraction of the cost and had a great time.
Taken from the bike/pedestrian path along the waterfront
This was a very special trip and we wanted to travel first class or business. When we tried checking various destinations in Europe, the airfare for two of us ranged from $15,000 to $18,000. Whoa. That’s crazy expensive.
Plan B became Banff or Vancouver. The hotels we were interested in staying at in the Banff area did not have availability so, Vancouver it was. Airfare was a fraction of what going to Europe would have cost. From our home in the midwest it is an eight and a half hour flight to western Europe vs. three and a half hours to Vancouver. First Class was just over $2,000 so we actually had budget left for nice hotels and restaurants once we got there.
We use Uber a lot at home and when we travel. There is no Uber in Vancouver. No worries. The taxis have a fixed fare to zones downtown and the price is reasonable. We found the taxi stand outside of customs to be efficient so the wait time was minimal.
This is the view out of our hotel room. That is the cruise ship terminal across the street.
Our home for a few days was the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. This is a very nice hotel with great views and an excellent location. Our room was beautiful. Not large and for the price minimal closet and drawer space, but the room was very well decorated and comfortable.
Check out the bathroom. What a view. This was a corner room so it had two walls of windows.
The hotel had bikes to check out which was great because there is a great bike path along the waterfront and it’s an easy ride to Stanley Park where there are lots of things to see and trails to ride on.
Lions Gate bridge from the bike path in Stanley Park.
More scenery from the bike path in Stanley Park.
There is so much to do in Vancouver that you can’t possibly see it all in one visit. We found awesome restaurants, shopping and a Monet exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. This is not only a great city but a wonderful place to base as you visit the natural beauty in the area.
We rented a car one day and visited Whistler. It is an easy drive from downtown. Traffic can get congested over the Lions Gate Bridge so avoid rush hour if possible.
The views from the summit were outstanding. Be sure to take the Peak 2 Peak Trambetween Whistler and Blackcomb. This is the longest and the highest tram in the world. Seriously, you are so high you don’t think about heights because it more like being a small plane.
We took a day trip to Vancouver Island. Our destination was Victoria, a beautiful city on the water. The ferry ride was enjoyable with beautiful views. Unfortunately, the tour we booked didn’t give you much time to spend in Victoria. From our pickup time at our hotel until we got to Victoria was 5 hours. Most of the time was spent in buses picking up other passengers and traveling to the ferry terminal which is a long way from downtown Vancouver. We got off the tour and flew home on Harbor Air. At least we had time to spend in Victoria.
Leaving the ferry terminal in Vancouver. It’s a long ways from downtown.
Beautiful Scenery on the ferry ride from Vancouver to Victoria.
We had great weather for our ferry ride so there was lots to see.
Victoria is a charming town. We will definitely plan on staying here next time we visit BC. This is the provincial capitol so there are some beautiful government building.
Bed and Breakfast along the harbor waterfront.
Victoria Harbor. All modes of water transportation. Seaplanes, ferries, boats and water taxis.
The Empress Hotel. It’s on the bucket list.
There many beautiful gardens in Victoria. Of course there is Butchart Gardens just a short drive out of Victoria.
Flying back to Vancouver was just icing on the cake for our day trip to Victoria. Harbor Air was very efficient and the dock in Vancouver was just a couple of blocks from our hotel.
Harbor Air Seaplane base in Vancouver. The dock is right by the convention center.
A couple of other day trips you may want to consider are the tram up Grouse Mountain and the Calipano Suspension Bridge. These are both half day or less. They are on the same road so it would be easy to do both in one day.
I thought the Calipano Suspension Bridge was OK. I think the walkways through the tree tops was more interesting than the bridge. Lots of people there as they have a free shuttle bus that runs back and forth all day.
Calipano Suspension Bridge – very crowded.
I liked the walk through the tree tops.
There is also a walkway built into the side of the cliff the suspension bridge goes across.
Walkway built into the cliff. Suspension bridge is in the background.
Further up the road past the Calipano Suspension Bridge is the tram up Grouse Mountain. There is a great view from the top. I think picture taking would be better in the morning with the sun at your back.
Tram up Grouse Mountain
There is a nice chalet at the top of the tram with a big deck so you can enjoy the view. I bought the ticket to ride the chairlift to the very top but the view really isn’t any better from there.
View from the chalet at the top of the tram.
View of Vancouver from the top of Grouse Mountain.
Tips for visiting Vancouver.
First of all you definitely need to go.
We were there in the fall and had a mix of weather but there are plenty of things to do inside as well as outside in the beautiful landscape surrounding the city.
The ride up Whistler Mountain was worth it but you really have to ride the Peak 2 Peak tram.
Visit Victoria. Maybe spend a couple of nights there too. If you aren’t going to fly by seaplane between Victoria and Vancouver, remember the ferry terminal is not by either downtown and that will add a lot of time to your trip.
Paligano Suspension Bridge was interesting and Grouse Mountain had a great view, but I wouldn’t bother to go up there if the weather is low visibility. You won’t see anything.
There are many great restaurants, check with your hotel’s concierge for their recommendations.
We visited in the fall and found some beautiful color.
Ready to Go?
Here are some links you may find useful:
You May also be interested in our other Day Trips:
- Dickinson, North Dakotan and Theodore Roosevelt National Park
- Sioux Falls, South Dakota
- Grand Junction, Colorado – Colorado’s Wine Country and Monument National Park.
- Gunnison, Colorado
- Greenville, South Carolina
- Amarillo, Texas
- Allentown, Pennsylvania
- Portland, Maine
- Charleston, West Virginia
- Vancouver, British Columbia
This post was by Dan Ashbach, founder of Dan330. Dan spent over 30 years flying for a major airline and got to see the world. Now Dan is a content creator and social media influencer. Follow along as Dan visits some of his favorite places.
@danashbach @dan330msp on Twitter