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Travel, Life

5 awesome family road trips from Vancouver to take this summer

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Taraneh Jerven Jul 28, 2016 7:02 am

Family road trips create the childhood memories that stick.

Here are five awesome family getaways from Vancouver, ranging from easy but rewarding camping and hiking to laid back beaches, and unforgettable wildlife.

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Squamish, BC

#seatoskygondola #suspensionbridge #squamish #explorecanada

A photo posted by Andrei Mortila (@shepty) on


Squamish is an easy win for Vancouver families. Not only is the drive time short, the route to Squamish on the cliffside Sea to Sky Highway is one of the best drives in BC. Once you make it to Canada’s self-proclaimed ‘year round playground,’ opportunities for adventure abound. Try the 1,920-metre ascent up the new (2014) Sea to Sky Gondola for breathtaking panoramas, hikes, and wildlife tours. Don’t miss hiking at Lake Alice Provincial Park, rafting the Squamish River, the Britannia Mine Museum, and locally-sourced pub grub at the Howe Sound Brewing restaurant.

Distance: 60 kilometres
Drive time: 1 hour
Where to stay: Lake Alice Provincial Park campgrounds

Cannon Beach, Oregon


The staggering beauty of the drive down the wild Oregon coast on Highway 101 builds and builds. Stop and revel in it at the quaint seaside town Cannon Beach, with pastel shingled beach houses and bizarre beach rock formations. It’s impossible to visit without Instagramming a shot of Haystack Rock, a 235-foot monolith protruding out of the water. The beach has tide pools rich with marine life for curious kids, and ocean access ranging from calm swimming to family surf lessons. Cute seafood shacks and sweet treats like locally-made marionberry ice cream will please the entire crowd.

Distance: 549 kilometres
Drive time: 6 hours
Where to stay: The Ocean Lodge

EC Manning Provincial Park, Manning, BC

Heather trail looking towards Three Brothers Mountains.

A photo posted by Adam (@jermin8) on


Tucked in the heart of the Cascade Mountains, EC Manning Provincial Park has 70,844 hectares of diverse landscapes including alpine meadows of wild flowers, jagged peaks, and inviting lakes at your disposal for drive-in camping, hiking, biking, and water sports. Hiking trails come in all levels; there’s boat rental at the lakes. The park also boasts historic features: the remains of ranches, trapping cabins, and mining shafts. 2016 is Manning Park’s 75th anniversary, so expect a wide range of special events during summer camping season.

Distance: 175 kilometres
Drive time: 2 hours
Where to stay: EC Manning Provincial Park campgrounds

Mayne Island, Gulf Islands, BC

The least touristed of the Gulf Islands, pretty Mayne Island is sunny most days of the year and ideal for a lazy getaway where you all can practice the art of the slow life. Don’t get us wrong, there is fun stuff to do: 13 beach access points, cycling the 21 km2 island, SUP and kayaking, nature watching orcas and sea lions, and visiting the galleries of the vibrant community of island artists. It’s just that the pace here is so chillaxed, you can accomplish these small adventures without the pressure of must-visit tourist sights. Is there any better way to kick back and bond?

When you need a snack, hit up the Farm Gate General Store for local treats and other sundries.  For dinner, try the ocean-wise seafood at Mayne Island Beach Resort‘s in-house restaurant.

Drive time: 2 hours 20 minutes (including ferry)
Distance: 70 kilometres
Where to stay: Mayne Island Beach Resort

Banff, Alberta


One of the oldest national parks in the world and a Unesco World Heritage site to boot, Banff is Canada’s version of Yosemite. There are so many fun ways to marvel at mother nature: epic family hikes in the Canadian Rockies, canoeing the turquoise glacial waters of Lake Louise, horseback trail riding, visiting a grizzly refuge, or rafting. Besides, where else can you find high tea culture side by side with elk, wolves, and bighorn sheep?

Distance: 847 kilometres
Drive time: 8 hours
Where to stay: Two Jack Lakeside campground or Lake Louise campground in Banff National Park; Caribou Lodge

See also

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Taraneh Jerven
Taraneh is a travel writer whose work has appeared in publications such as Rough Guides, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides, and Kinfolk. City break or wilderness, she's on it. Learn more: smallfolktravel.com

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