We’ve crafted this self-drive with thrill-seeking families in mind, but it’s a great option for grown-ups too. Experience the best of British Columbia’s great outdoors and see the incredible wildlife that’s found in the sea and on shore.
Suggested route & duration
Suggested route 11 nights from Vancouver
• Vancouver: 3 nights
• Whistler: 3 nights
• Parksville: 1 night
• Tofino/Ucuelet: 2 nights
• Victoria: 2 nights
About this independent tour
Why you’ll love this self-drive
•Explore the treetops and mountain peaks of Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains
•In Whistler, ride the mountain-spanning PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola and see the region’s black bears on a guided tour
•Play on the wild and wide-open beaches of Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
•Add a whale-watching cruise or kayaking trip to your stay in Victoria
• This itinerary can also be done in a motorhome.
Suggested self-drive details
Day 1: Vancouver Your family holiday starts with two full days in Vancouver, exploring Stanley Park and the North Shore Mountains. We’ve included a few city excursions like a ride on the FlyOver Canada simulator, entry to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and a ride up to the peak of Grouse Mountain. Stay 3 nights at Rosedale on Robson.
Day 4: Whistler Drive the Sea to Sky Highway up into the Coastal Mountains. During your time in the world-famous mountain playground of Whistler, take a ride on the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK gondola. Optional excursions here include zip-lining, river rafting and bear viewing. Stay 3 nights at Delta Whistler.
Day 7: Parksville Board a ferry from Horseshoe Bay and cross the Strait of Georgia on your way to Vancouver Island. Stay at Tigh-na-Mara.
Day 8: Tofino Follow the winding Pacific Rim Highway to the island’s wild west coast where you’ll be based in Tofino, a small town on the edge of Clayoquot Sound. Spend your time beach hopping in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve or searching for wildlife on a whale- or bear-watching cruise. Stay 2 nights at Pacific Sands Beach Resort.
Day 10: Victoria Spend a day driving back across the island and down to Victoria, British Columbia’s charming capital. The next day, explore the Inner Harbour and the city’s eclectic neighbourhoods or head out onto the water on an optional whale-watching cruise. Stay 2 nights at Coast Victoria Hotel.
North Shore Mountains
Cross the treetop Capilano Suspension Bridge and take a gondola up to the peak of Grouse Mountain
Take the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola from Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb Mountain
As you travel from Tofino to Victoria, visit Coombs Old Country Market where goats graze the grass roof
On the water
During your stay in Victoria, treat the family to a whale-watching tour by catamaran or harbour kayak tour
Tailor your tour
Make it your own
We’ve crafted this self-drive based on our own experiences and customers’ feedback. It’s fully flexible, so talk to us and we can create your perfect trip.
Where to stay
We’ve handpicked hotels with rooms that are perfect for families like suites, cottages and interconnecting rooms. If you’re travelling as a couple, we can easily tailor hotel or room choices to suit you; we highly recommend treating yourself to a stay at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria.
We’ve included a handful of family-friendly experiences like Vancouver’s FlyOver Canada ride and a ride on Whistler’s PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. There are plenty more you can add, such as bear and whale watching from Tofino and a kayaking tour in Victoria.
11 nights is the shortest time you’ll need to really get to know the mountains, cities and coastline of British Columbia and cover the long distances between each destination. If you have extra days to spare, we recommend spending another night or two in Tofino or the nearby town of Ucluelet.
This is already a packed itinerary but it’s easy to add stops in other places. You can add a cruise to the end of the holiday or head up to one of BC’s coastal lodges (p110). They don’t have lots of kid-focused facilities but you’ll be out exploring the wilderness for most of the day.
Good to know
When to go
• The school summer holidays are a great time to travel to BC with mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures; it’s also the busiest time of year so you’ll have to book quite far in advance
• You could do this self-drive during May or October half term but you might be affected by winter weather up in the mountains
• If you’re travelling without children, we recommend visiting BC either in June, September or early October