We’ve all made the best of being at home this year. Through creative hobbies, Zoom calls, socially distanced nature walks, and an online community, we’ve had adventures without leaving home. But now that it’s possible to safely explore the outdoors, a road trip is the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful summer and autumn months ahead.
British Columbia is home to rich natural landscapes, glacier-fed springs, mountains, and lush forests ripe for discovery. There’s nothing like celebrating the sunshine by hopping in the car and finding some place new. Some of these destinations feel like a European vacation, while others offer cultural experiences or new adventures. Start shopping, hiking, swimming, and exploring without going far from home.
What makes a great road trip for seniors?
While people over 50 have different interests and levels of mobility, the road trips mentioned in this article offer adventure and an enriching experience that most people will enjoy. They’re also accessible for those with limited mobility. Bring the grandkids, enjoy a picnic with your family, head out with friends for a weekend, or whisk yourself away to reconnect with yourself.
6 road trip destinations near Vancouver for seniors
Time to jump in the car and explore this beautiful province. And of course, always use your discretion based on the current pandemic situation at your time of travel.
Whistler is famous for being a winter wonderland, popular with skiers and snowboarders. But it’s also an accessible, beautiful year-round destination with cultural and natural wonders to enjoy. Tour a fine art gallery, enjoy a naturally stunning gondola ride over 400 feet in the air, and breathe in the crisp mountain air.
You can also shop for Canadian-made goods like cozy knitted Alpine sweaters by Amos & Andes. Note that it’s hard to find parking in Whistler as the core of it is a pedestrian-only zone, so be prepared for a little walk when you arrive. Once you do, grab a seat and enjoy fresh sourdough bread or cheese fondue.
Distance from Vancouver: 121 km (1 hour 45 minutes by car)
The Okanagan Valley is known for its wine culture. This is a perfect trip for warmer months, ripe with natural beauty and cultural experiences unique to Canada. An experience for all your senses is offered here; with fragrant lavender and sage fields growing alongside vineyards that produce award-winning vintages. A beautiful lake sits in the centre, so you can enjoy a swim or explore with hikes in the surrounding areas. If you like to stay active, there are accessible trails like the Kettle Valley Rail Trail for cycling and boat trips on Okanagan Lake to enjoy.
Distance from Vancouver: 390 km (4 hours by car)
Deep Cove is technically still part of Vancouver, but if you’ve been here, you know it feels like a separate world––a small town that’s only a short trip from the city centre. Stroll through rainforest trails, swim in the ocean in the summer, or enjoy a treat at Honey Doughnuts (even Kate Winslet is a fan!) The town of Deep Cove is small, but there’s lots to do. If you’re hungry, visit Bluhouse Cafe and try vegan fare like zucchini pasta or gluten-free treats (like their Sunshine Bar!). Deep Cove is also home to several cafes with trendy barista coffee, trendy shops, a small gallery, and nice restaurants overlooking the ocean.
There are forest trails leading from Deep Cove to Strathcona Park too, where you can kayak or body board alongside seals, the odd jellyfish, and other sea life. During the summer, look for wild blackberries that grow along the trails. Locals forage them for blackberry pie, jams, and healthy snacks. Try one while you’re here; they’re like free candy. If you want to stay overnight, book on Airbnb or walk around the area and you’ll see signs for local bed and breakfasts hosted by locals.
Distance from Vancouver: approximately 35 minutes depending on your starting point.
Head to Pemberton for the trails, berry picking at local farms, cross-country skiing in the winter, or the peaceful alternative to busy city life. Pemberton sits in a valley amidst mountain ranges, so it’s an idyllic place to reconnect with nature. This is a great trip to combine with a Whistler weekend because it’s just 25 minutes away.
Distance from Vancouver: 153 km from Vancouver (2 hours, 20 minutes by car)
If you enjoy camping, this is a great destination to book ahead. Gold Creek is open year-round for camping, and Alouette and North Beach are open in the summer months for day-use. Originally part of Garibaldi Natural Park, this natural playground is a refuge for beaver, deer, black bears, and mountain goats. Rich second-growth forest makes for beautiful hikes among western hemlock, red cedar, and Douglas fir trees. Parts of the park are mountainous but there are also waterways; you can rent a canoe or kayak in May or June. Enjoy hiking, fishing, camping, or cycling in the park during your stay.
Distance from Vancouver: 64 km (1 hour 10 minutes by car)
Squamish is popular with tourists for its golf courses, hiking paths, biking trails, fishing, gondola rides, paddle boarding, and more. If you’re looking to relax, you can also step into the past with the Britannia Mine Museum and look through restored artifacts, a 1908 Machine Shop replica, and other interesting relics. Squamish is also home to a wealth of breweries, making refreshing craft beers and ciders. Try the Craft Tasting Trail and journey through taste as you get to know the town.
Distance from Vancouver: 64 km (1 hour)
Looking for more things to do in Vancouver? Check out the best hiking trails for seniors in Vancouver and Rocketman’s list of the best Vancouver day trips by public transport.
Why are road trips important for seniors?
Retirement can be a blissful experience, but after a long period of pandemic living, many people are longing for a bit of adventure or new discovery beyond their usual boundaries. Being housebound has caused much introspection, but discovering new territory––especially when it’s just two hours from home––can inspire and may feel like a breath of fresh air.
Studies also suggest that exploring unknown places or planning a trip can inspire creativity, elongate lifespan and help trigger positive feelings in older people. Some people are more prone to feelings of depression when they’re unable to experience new places, environments, and people. Joining a new friend on a road trip is also a great way to build community and enjoy this next freeing chapter of life!
Explore new hobbies with Boomerang
If you’re ready for adventure, you’ll love our online community at Boomerang. Pursuing your hobbies or rediscovering your passions has never been easier. With Boomerang, older adults can register for over 100+ online classes a month in areas of their interest. Our online classes are led by passionate instructors to help you explore your interests.
Learn more about our online strength and balance classes.