Booking some time off this spring and summer, and looking for somewhere to go? Here are five ideas for B.C. road trips you can do in 7 days.
Take some time to explore this magnificent province — especially by road. These trips take you through the West Kootenay, the Interior, Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast or along spectacular Highway 99 north through Whistler. These trips are perfect for up to one week off. So book some time — preferably in spring or summer — and get to know B.C.
Your final destination is the quaint city of Nelson on the shores of the west arm of Kootenay Lake and nestled in the Selkirk Mountains. There are some lovely stops along the way, such as the village of Keremeos, which in summer is a great place to pick up local fruit and vegetables and admire the views of the North Cascade mountains that jut from the valley floor. Explore Cathedral Provincial Park, be sure to take a photo of Keremeos’s iconic Red Bridge, and visit the Grist Mill and Gardens, which is a provincial heritage site and one of only a few covered bridges left in B.C. Be sure to leave time for a swim at Christina Lake.
Once in Nelson, explore Baker Street and its shops and restaurants before heading to the beach at Lakeside Park, which is close to the city along the shore before you reach the landmark orange bridge. Head up the highway to Ainsworth Hot Springs, particularly if you bring the kids. This gorgeous place has a horseshoe-shaped hot spring cave you walk through — or just take some time in the heated pool while looking across the lake at the Purcell Mountain range. Just a few kilometres north of Ainsworth is Cody Caves Provincial Park, accessible from Highway 31 via a forest road.
Accommodation in Nelson ranges from local hotels and B&Bs to inns with lake views — starting at about $89 per night.
You can make a terrific road trip with several options when heading to the Okanagan. If you take Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon, check out Hell’s Gate in the Fraser Canyon. This is nature at its finest: raw, powerful and intimidating. This route takes you through Lytton, where the blue Thompson River meets the silty Fraser River, which is quite the sight as these two bodies of water merge. From here you can head along Highway 1 to Ashcroft and stop for lunch, then loop around to Kamloops.
Tourism Kamloops has options for day trips if Kamloops is your base, with the trip mileage log and duration times to complete. The trips range from a Peaks and Valleys option, to that of a Pan for Gold or Hotsprings Trail.
Continue the loop east through Chase, and then make a stop in Canoe, a delightful community on the shore of Shuswap Lake, which is perfect for a dip. Head south through the Okanagan to Vernon and Kelowna and check out the winery tours. You can choose from cabins or upscale hotels — some of which offer wine-tour deals.
Play all you want in the lake, or rent bikes to tour the area. From there, you can head back through Princeton and Manning Park. Take some time to view the famous Hope Slide before heading back through this quaint community with the optimistic name.
3. Vancouver Island
Victoria is such lovely city to explore. Have you taken tea at the Fairmont Empress? Or dined at the Herald Street Cafe, where you will probably spy a few upscale bureaucrats? Or visited Butchart Gardens?
If not, you can plan some terrific day trips that satisfy your inner esthete. The Royal BC Museum will satiate your curiosity for history, art and exhibits in a picture-perfect setting in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Take a few days to stroll downtown and explore myriad shops and cafes. This trip can be a wonderful respite from the rigours of your day job. Head to Sooke — preferably in summer — where you can spend days exploring beaches by foot or by bike. China Beach is ideal for a day trip, or bring the camping gear and hang out for a few days. Be sure to undertake at least part of the Galloping Goose Trail that winds its way through Metchosin and Sooke with a few parks and waterways along the route.
4. Sunshine Coast
This is a fun trip that takes you from Hopkins Landing, where the ferry berths, onward through Gibsons, Roberts Creek, Sechelt and up toward Earls Cove. The scenery is incredible and the route is peppered with unique restaurants, cafes and trails from which to explore the area.
Sunshine Coast Tourism has numerous suggestions for trips and circuits, including an Ale Trail route, a pottery studio tour and a coastal circle tour, which is a five-day itinerary that takes you through villages, to local beaches and to Vancouver Island by way of four ferries. This is a brilliant trip that introduces you to Gibsons Landing, several key points of interest such as Pender Harbour, as well as Lund and Desolation Sound.
Consider a stay at the gorgeous West Coast Wilderness Lodge, or choose from cottages, B&Bs or inns.
By way of connecting ferries, you can travel as far as possible by road to Lund, which touts itself as the shellfish capital of Canada with its annual festival in May — and is the gateway to Desolation Sound Provincial Park. In our pursuit for unique travel, this route can also include a ferry trip to Savary Island, a perennial favourite for Lower Mainlanders in summer.
5. Highway 99 circuit
Here’s a road trip that has something for everyone. Head to Squamish and take a tour of the Ski to Sky Gondola and take some time to explore this Howe Sound city.
Its burgeoning restaurant scene is worth scoping out, such as the Watershed Bar and Grill, or Salted Vine restaurant. From here, head up the highway to Whistler and do the Peak to Peak Gondola ride, which gives you a panoramic view of the mountains.
You can stay inWhistler, where you can book off-season deals. Travel farther to Pemberton, perhaps for lunch one day at Mile One Eating House. Continue through the Duffey Lake route — which is advised in spring and summer, not the dead of winter. Lillooet is what was formerly known as Mile 0 on the Gold Rush Trail. Of note, there’s a golf course on a sheep farm, as well as Miyazaki Heritage House and the famous Bridge of 23 Camels.
From here, you can head south on Highway 12 through Lytton, and then through the Fraser Canyon. Take a different route from Hope that winds through Agassiz and Harrison Mills and the Kilby Historic Site before arriving back in the Lower Mainland.