- Walk Stanley Park's Seafront Promenade, between rainforest and sea
- Stroll the short trail to Shannon Falls, British Columbia's third-highest waterfall
- Rent snowshoes to trek atop year-round snowpack on Whistler Mountain
|Day 1||Arrive in Vancouver||Vancouver|
|Day 2||Vancouver to Whistler (2 hours)||Whistler|
|Day 3||Whistler to Vancouver, Depart (2 h 30 min)|
Day 1: Arrive in Vancouver
Fringed by the Pacific Ocean and backed by the stunning Coastal Range, Vancouver is one of the world's most livable cities with some of North America's best cuisine, rich indigenous heritage, and outdoor venues that beckon the active traveler.
It only takes around 30 minutes to get from the airport to downtown via taxi or Skytrain ride. The city center and surrounding neighborhoods are easily walkable, and all the main attractions are a short distance away. To get your bearings, start with a stroll along the seawall from English Bay to False Creek before wandering the historical, cobbled streets of Gastown and Chinatown.
With over 60 different cultures, there is a slew of international restaurants serving anything from Asian cuisine to seasonal farm-to-table dishes. For dinner, choose from a selection of top-notch eateries—from downtown and the West End to the North Shore and Kitsilano vicinity. Bear in mind, Vancouverites love eating out any day of the week so be sure to make a reservation if it's a popular restaurant.
Day 2: Vancouver to Whistler (2 hours)
Collect your rental car (keeping in mind Vancouver's rush hour is from 8-9 am) and begin your road trip north to Whistler along the Sea-to-Sky Highway, one of British Columbia's most iconic drives. A scenic route between the ocean and mountains, there are several great places to stop to break up the short drive.
Halfway to Whistler—and where the ocean, river, and alpine forest meet—there's Squamish, an access point for outdoor activities and adventure. Just before reaching Squamish, you can see the area's most famous peak from the highway, the Chief, a sheer granite rockface popular with skilled climbers. Pick up the Stawamus Chief Trail for a hike up the back to reach the summit (divided into three peaks and graded as an intermediate hike, it takes the average person 3-4 hours to reach the first—and most visited—summit). Or, take the Sea-to-Sky Gondola up the mountain for excellent views of Howe Sound from Summit Lodge at the top where you can also grab lunch.
You'll reach Whistler, an upscale, chalet-style pedestrian village (and venue for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics) in the early to mid-afternoon. Whistler is North America's largest winter sports resort worth a visit at any time of year. The village is built around Whistler-Blackcomb, twin peaks accessed by an ultramodern lift system that provides opportunities to hike, bike, canoe, kayak, rock climb, or zip-line in warmer months and ski or snowboard in the winter.
Driving time (Vancouver to Whistler): 2 hours (75 miles /120 km)
Day 3: Whistler to Vancouver, Depart (2 h 30 min)
Sit down for a smoothie bowl and green drink from The Green Moustache and then load up the car and follow the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Vancouver and onwards to Vancouver International Airport (keeping in mind that you may hit some traffic passing through the city).
If you have time before your departure, stop at The Naam in Vancouver for lunch before making your way to the airport. If you're feeling indulgent, splurge on a seaplane harbor tour to take in the mountain-and-sea-dominated city from a new perspective. Alternatively, spend an hour walking (or biking) around Stanley Park's seawall to get some exercise before your flight.
It usually takes 30-45 minutes to drive from downtown Vancouver to Vancouver International Airport. Best to arrive at least two hours prior to your international departure, and additional time if you need to drop off your rental car.
Driving time (Whistler to Vancouver International Airport): 2 hours, 30 minutes (80 miles / 130 km)