Winter blues got you down? Around this time of the year is when I start getting depressed with the cold, and start researching vacation spots. The January through March time frame of every year has me yearning for warm sand beaches, clear waves, and tropical drinks. Why we didn’t book a warm weather trip this year is beyond me. Lack of foresight I suppose. Argh!
Without the vacation days to plan for a long weekend, we turned to driveable trips in order to mind our budget. We currently live in Vancouver Canada, a beautiful city bustling with activity, and we couldn’t be luckier to have the opportunity to live here. Vancouver is gorgeous, but its soooo far away from the warm destinations I’m yearning for. It’s about a 6-7 hour flight to get to the beaches of Mexico, 6 flying hours to Hawaii, and only connecting flights will get you to the warm, clear blue waters of the Caribbean. Because of the location, there are no warm destinations within a reasonable drive of Vancouver unfortunately!
But the silver lining is in the scenery of British Columbia. The mountains are giants, and seem to frame every highway going north and east, making road trips an enjoyable and scenic experience. For a driving trip, I’d say our limit is about 5-6 hours in the car for a 2-3 day weekend trip. I like this post from Bored in Vancouver for ideas on where to go within BC In the summer. But I also enjoy city weekend trips, therefore I have listed ideas for 5 road trips from Vancouver, BC f you are looking to escape on a road trip this winter.
Seattle is the biggest city in the Pacific NW and an obvious choice for a weekend getaway from Van. It’s only about 2.5-3 hours from Vancouver, and if you have your Nexus pass to speed through road traffic at the border, it’s even closer! My favorite things to do in Seattle are eat, walk around, eat more, and drink. But if you are still trying to shave off those holiday pounds, there’s other activities to enjoy like open air museums, the aquarium, and tours. You know, non drinky eaty things 🙂 If you identify with any sports teams south of the border, you’re in luck, Seattle has NFL pro football in the winter, and major league baseball starting in the spring.
Here’s a secret, BC wine is completely underrated in the wine world. Selfishly I would like to keep it that way in order to pay less on the delicious varietals. But the good citizen in me wants to regale the joys of BC wine, and promote a weekend trip to the wine country to whomever will listen.
The Okanagan Valley is about a 4-5 hour drive from Vancouver, surrounded by lakes formed by the ridges of 2 mountain ranges. The city of Penticton sits in the middle, with Lake Okanagan in the north, and Skaha Lake in the south, putting it in a prime location to explore. Wineries surround the lakes, taking advantage of the more arid climate to produce delicious grapes. They each have their own breathtaking view of the valley, so there’s lots of options to enjoy wine and nature watch. Some wineries are only open seasonally, so make sure to check ahead for opening times. If you are coming on a weekend, don’t miss the Penticton Saturday Farmer’s market for fresh fruits and veggies from the local producers (also seasonal). Check out other current events from Undiscovered Penticton.
On the banks of the Okanagan Lake lies the city of Kelowna. It’s the biggest community in the Okanagan Valley, and offers a variety of activities, even in the winter. Take a walk along the banks of Lake Okanagan and admire the hills and mountains surrounding town. Spend some time in the cultural district for a variety of galleries, museums, theaters, a casino, and fine dining establishments. Craving that warm and toasty feeling in the winter? Visit the beautiful grounds of the Mission Hill Winery for a wine tasting. The drive from Vancouver is enjoyable, dipping through valleys surrounded by mountains. Make sure to check conditions on the Coquihalla Highway in advance, as conditions can be icey.
As a self proclaimed glutton, Portland is a great city for me to indulge in. The creativity of the restaurant and bar scene never ceases to amaze me, there’s always something new! Plus the plethora of breweries, an incredibly walkable downtown area, and boutique hotels make it an enjoyable weekend to consider. When driving here, I pay attention to the traffic around Seattle and avoid rush hours, as that can add some time to the drive. Check out my post A Date Night With Portland, where I outline a walkable excursion to some of Portland’s trendiest restaurants and bars.
3 hours with ferry
Just a short drive and an enjoyable ferry ride away, lies the capital of the province of BC. Victoria has everything that a major city can offer. Arts and culture can be seen in the museums, or walking the streets of the oldest Chinatown in North America. Landmarks abound in the form of the Parliament building or heritage homes. Even the famous Butchart Gardens has things to do in the winter. Do you prefer to stay in? A stay at the luxurious Fairmont Empress can result in a day of pampering at their spa. If you feel like you need more toasty activities, how about a trip to the wineries in Cowichan Valley or breweries like Twa Dogs Brewery? There’s enough to keep you busy! I like to make my ferry reservation in advance to guarantee a spot as it can be very busy on Friday evenings and Sundays.
Did I get it right? What are some of your favorite weekend getaways from Vancouver in the winter?
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