14 Amazing Summer Day Trips Close To Langley

1.  The Othello Tunnels (Kettle Valley Trails)

The Othello Tunnels are a series of old train tunnels and bridges that cut through the solid granite walls and pass over the wild Coquihalla River. The tunnels are located just east of of Hope, BC, in the Coquihalla Provincial Park and the trail is a short, flat 3.5km return route.In the early 1900's, the Canadian Pacific Railway decided to connect the southern coast of British Columbia with the Kootenays and it was determined the best option was a route through the Coquihalla Gorge. Today, the route no longer has railway tracks and has been restored as part of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail, a popular cycling route that follows the old train routes over trestles and through tunnels and is noted for it's gradual change in elevation.
The Coast Mountain Range proved quite a challenge to build a railway through and walking over the bridges in the Othello Tunnels area, it becomes quite evident how difficult it must have been. The sheer rock cliffs, the violently rushing water below, and the remoteness makes it seem incredible that any infrastructure could be built in such an environment, let alone over 100-years ago with limited engineering equipment. From the parking lot, follow the signs along the wide trail near the Coquihalla River. The former railroad bed is flat and an easy walk for families of all ages. Not far along, the first tunnel can be seen ahead as you follow the trail into the dark tunnel. The trail briefly exits the tunnel before entering tunnel #2.

After existing tunnel #2, the route crosses a bridge where the Coquihalla River rages through the rocky canyon below. Continue walking through tunnel #3 to another bridge with views of the canyon. After walking through tunnel #4, the Othello Tunnels route abruptly ends, although the trail keeps going all the way to the town of Hope. At the end of the tunnels is the turnaround point where visitors walk back through the same tunnels, returning to the parking lot. One other piece of history, due to the canyon's rugged look, the park has made several appearances in popular films over the years. The most notable was Rambo First Blood where the cliff above Tunnel #2 was used in the spectacular cliff jump scene. Other movies that filmed scenes around Othello Tunnels include Fire With Fire, The Adventures of Yellow Dog, and Shoot To Kill. 

2. Whistler

We’re going to kick things off with our #1 recommended day trip, rather then saving the best for last. Located 125 km north of Vancouver (about 1.5 hour drive), Whistler is a four season resort town with more than 8,000 acres of terrain spread across multiple mountain peaks.Simply put – if you like adventure, Whistler has you covered.Whistler gained world fame in 2010 when it co-hosted the Winter Olympics with the city of Vancouver. Whistler consistently ranks as the top ski resort in North America and, in 2008, it introduced the world record-breaking Peak 2 Peak Gondola, completing the longest continuous lift system in the world.Some people make the mistake of labeling Whistler as only a ski town.  This is a huge oversight. Over the past decade, Whistler has evolved to become one of the top summer destinations in Canada. It boasts over 50 kms of high alpine hiking trails, multiple golf courses, epic zip-line courses, ATV and off road tours, paragliding and bungee jumping, nature and wildlife tours, summer bobsleigh at the Whistler Slide Centre, endless biking trails and several fresh water lakes. To name a few.

The Mountain Bike Park on Whistler Mountain has quickly become one of the best in North America and the city hosts several festivals and events each year, including the World Ski & Snowboard Festival in April and the Crankworx Mountain Bike Festival in August.I can keep going, but I think you get the picture. Go to Whistler!

3. Horseshoe Bay

Another great day trip from Langley is Horseshoe Bay, the gateway to Howe Sound and the Sunshine Coast. It’s a small village and marina that’s located on the western tip of West Vancouver.It’s also the location of the third busiest BC Ferries terminal. If you plan to visit Vancouver Island, Bowen Island or the Sunshine Coast, you will board your ferry at Horseshoe Bay.Even if you don’t plan to take a ferry, Horseshoe Bay is a fun place to have lunch and spend the afternoon. There are a few restaurants in the village, including the legendary Trolls Restaurant (get the Oyster Burger or Clam Chowder), and there is a rocky beach with a playground that faces the marina.

After you visit Horseshoe Bay, check out nearby Whytecliff Park, one of the first Marine Protected Areas in Canada and a popular cold water scuba diving spot.If you have time on your drive back to Vancouver, visit nearby Lighthouse Park, located in a residential area in West Vancouver. It is a popular attraction and a National Historic Site of Canada.

4. Rent a boat and tour Howe Sound

Since yoy made it to Horseshoe Bay why not enjoy Howe Sound.  Howe Sound is network of fjords situated between West Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast, about 30 minutes northwest of Vancouver. This is one of the most beautiful areas in the Lower Mainland. If you’re looking for a unique way to experience BC’s endless natural beauty, driving a boat around Howe Sound should be on your list.One of the things we like to do during the summer is to visit the lazy seals that hang out on Pam Rocks, a cluster of tiny islands located in the center of Howe Sound. The only way to see these small rock islands and its wildlife is by boat. Fortunately, one can easily rent a small motor boat from nearby Horseshoe Bay.The best place to rent a boats is Sewell’s Marina. Renting a boat is relatively inexpensive and you don’t need to have a special boat licence. A standard driver’s license is sufficient. For two hours of personal boat time (usually enough to get to the seal colony and back) it’s about $130-$150. The boat fits between 4-6 people.

To visit marine parks and secluded coves that can only be reached by water, it’s wise to do the 4-hour rate and head to Gambier or Anvil Islands.

5. Bowen Island

Located approximately 25 km’s northwest of Vancouver, Bowen Island is a laid-back island that feels miles away from the hustle of the big city. The island is only 6 km wide and 12 km long, so you can easily explore the island in one day. Popular activities are kayaking, mountain biking, hiking and boating.The Snug Cove ferry terminal has a marina with small shops and restaurants. The most popular beaches on Bowen Island are Tunstall Bay, Bowen Bay and Sandy Beach.An easy scenic hike is the Killarney Lake trail. It takes about 2 hours round trip, covering 9 km’s. A more challenging hike is the summit of Mount Gardner. It takes about 7 hours, covering 17 km’s round trip.

To get to Bowen Island, you take a 20 minute ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver or take a 45 minute water taxi from Granville Island. Check with BC Ferries for sailing times.

6. Squamish

Located about halfway between Vancouver and Whistler, the town of Squamish continues to build its brand as an outdoor adventure destination. It’s an easy drive from Vancouver and the scenery is outstanding.We could dedicate an entire blog post about things to do in Squamish. You can make several day trips from Langley to Squamish and still only scratch the surface. For the thrill-seeker, the rock climbing at the Stawamus Chief is world class and the Via Ferrata from the Summit Lodge is fun change of pace.If you prefer to get in the water, the Squamish Spit is home to some of the best windsurfing and kite surfing on the West Coast. There area also dozens of hiking trails and parks, including the family-friendly Four Lakes Trail and the full day Elfin Lakes hike.Other activities include a visit the West Coast Rail Heritage Park (home to the annual Polar Express experience), eagle viewing in Brackendale, golfing at Furry Creek, paddling and fishing on Alice Lake, white-water rafting down the Cheakamus River, shopping at the Squamish Farmers’ Market and brewery tours at Howe Sound Brewing.The newest attraction in Squamish is the impressive Sea to Sky Gondola, a 10-minute gondola that transports guests up the side of a mountain to a lodge that overlooks Howe Sound and the surrounding Coast Mountains.There are lots of things to do once you reach the summit. The Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge is a big hit and will surely give you butterflies in your stomach as it sways from side to side. There are multiple viewing platforms and several hiking trails for all skill levels. The Summit Lodge has an amazing patio, so if you’re not up for adventure, you can enjoy lunch with outstanding views.If you plan to visit the Sea to Sky Gondola on a weekend in the summer, make sure you arrive early because it’s become quite a popular attraction and parking is limited close to the entrance.

There’s overflow parking available across the highway from Shannon Falls Provincial Park (you should check out these falls if you visit the gondola). We’re told that there’s a free shuttle service on the weekends. Or, you can walk 15-minutes to the Gondola through the connector trail.

7. Britannia

Mine MuseumThe Britannia Mine Museum, formerly British Columbia Museum of Mining, is located in Britannia Beach, which is about 55 km kilometres north of Vancouver on the Sea-to-Sky Highway on Howe Sound. The Museum site itself is an exhibit – from historical machinery to heritage buildings to the massive yellow dump truck that lives within the facility.You can take an underground tour of the mine on an old mine train. The 45 minute guided tour gives you an understanding of what life was like as a miner back in the early 1900s. Our boys were quite young when we took the train tour (3 and 1 year old) and they had a lot of fun.

You only need about 2 hours to explore the museum and take the mine train tour, so this is a good activity to bundle with a visit to the Sea to Sky Gondola or Porteau Cove (see item #8 below).

8. Porteau Cove Provincial Park

Porteau Cove is a small provincial park in British Columbia (about 50 hectares in size), situated on the most southerly fjord in North America. The park stretches between the shoreline of Howe Sound and the Sea-to-Sky Highway, about 20 minutes south of Squamish.Aside from its rocky beaches and breathtaking mountain vistas, Porteau Cove’s star attraction the old ferry terminal that’s been converted into a pedestrian pier. It’s also a popular cold water scuba dive spot because it has a series of artificial reefs and two sunken ships.

9. Deep Cove

We love Deep Cove. It’s a quaint community in the easternmost North Vancouver, located at the entrance of Indian Arm It’s about a 40 minute drive from Langley. There’s a little village with a restaurants, shops and the infamous Honey’s Doughnuts (Vancouverites come from far and wide to eat these decadent treats – careful though, they are highly addictive).Deep Cove is known for its marina and kayaking. You can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and surfskis from Deep Cove Kayak. This shop gets VERY busy in the summer months, especially on the weekends. You’re best to call ahead and make a reservation for equipment. Parking in Deep Cove can be challenging, so it’s wise to arrive early (before 9:00 AM).

Another popular activity in Deep Cove is hiking to Quarry Rock. It’s an easy hike that takes about 1.5 hours round trip, so it’s an ideal day trip from Vancouver. The views from the top of Quarry Rock are fantastic. If you’ve got the stamina and the time, you could hike the trail in the morning, have lunch at Arms Reach Bistro in the village, then go for a paddle in the afternoon.Now that’s a perfect day in the Pacific Northwest!

10. Cultus Lake Waterpark & Adventure Park

Located One hour east of Langley, just south of Chilliwack, sits Cultus Lake Provincial Park and its many family friendly attractions. The lake, beaches and surrounding forests are fantastic, but what lures families to this area is the Cultus Lake Waterpark and Cultus Lake Adventure Park.The Adventure Park is British Columbia’s newest family theme park and home to the Fraser Valley’s only rollercoaster. It’s also home to Giggle Ridge Adventure Golf (18 holes of mini-golf), Bumper Boats, Prospector’s Peak and the Runaway Mine Train.Cultus Lake Waterpark has all kinds of water slides, wading pools and themed attractions. You could spend the entire day at this park alone.

If you have younger children, check out Dinotown, a family theme park that has giant inflatable dinosaurs, live shows, dinosaur mini-golf, pedal cars, paddle boats and kids zip line.

11. Hell’s Gate Airtram

Hell’s Gate Airtram is a gondola that transports guests across the powerful Fraser River, descending past steep and jagged rock walls. It’s one of the steepest fully suspended trams in North America.Once you reach the bottom of the Airtram you can walk across a suspension bridge and snap some photos from the observation decks. The Hells Gate Airtram is located just south of Boston Bar, which is about 3 hours east of Vancouver along the Trans-Canada Highway.

If you like white water rafting you might want to include a half day excursion down the Fraser River. There are a few rafting companies in the area – Fraser River Raft Expeditions and Kumsheen Rafting (about 45 minutes north of Hell’s Gate).

12. Davidson Pool ( Hot Rocks )

Before the time Maple Ridge had built outdoor or indoor swimming pools, local people found their way to the refreshing waters of the North and South Alouette rivers, Kanaka Creek and Whonnock Lake.The chilly North Alouette River is fed by snow melt, and the slightly warmer South Alouette River drains the south end of Alouette Lake.There are swimming holes at various locations along the South Alouette before the two rivers join in Pitt Meadows.One of the most spectacular and popular places to swim is Davidson’s Pool, located a little way upstream from Maple Ridge Park.An earlier name for the swimming hole was Smedly’s Pool, changed to recall the next landowner, J. Davidson.In earlier days, long before there was a dam controlling the flow of the South Alouette River, the Katzie First Nations fished the waters of Davidson’s Pool. They were careful to keep their canoes and paddles from colliding with the natural rock formations, in order not to disturb the spirits of the place.After the arrival of European settlers here, loggers used the swift flowing waters to float logs downstream.Today’s photo of the crowd at Davidson’s pool was taken in the 1940s by the late George Clark. You will notice a cement block supporting a diving board, located over the deepest part of the pool.A 1935 photo in the Maple Ridge Museum collection shows a log bridge built over the river, but it was swept away by high winter water.Another attraction that people remember was a rope tied to an overhanging tree on the north side of the pool. Daring young people would swing out over the water for a quick splashing entry.The diving board was used and abused, with some daredevils riding their bicycles down the path, along the board and into the pool, with no regard for swimmers below.The Maple Ridge parks department took over the dilapidated row of Cross’s Cabins on the north bank of the river to create a parking area and a picnic park.The district also made a small parking place on the south side, with interpretive signage provided by the Maple Ridge Community Heritage Commission.Probably with fear for public safety, the district removed the diving board and fenced off the cement platform. People still follow their irresistible impulse to dive or jump into the pool.Another favourite way to enjoy the cool waters of Davidson’s Pool is to drift downstream on an innertube or other flotation device.

People enter the South Alouette River further upstream, then float downstream, bumping into the occasional rock.The sun heated ‘hot rocks’ around the pool offer the perfect warming or sunbathing place.Thanks to the tree growth nearby, there is always a shady retreat as well.Despite all the other swimming options now available around Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, Davidson’s Pool remains a cherished and well-used summer retreat.

13. Alouette Lake (Golden Ears Park)

The beach at Alouette Lake is one of the best and most popular in Metro Vancouver. The views of the lake with the mountains all around are quite spectacular, and the giant lawn in front of the beach is a popular place for picnics.At the beach there is a designated swimming area, canoe and kayak rentals in the summer, and bbq attachments on some of the picnic tables. Fishing, windsurfing and water-skiing are also popular on the lake.The parking lot at the Alouette Lake beach day area is massive, although it can still fill up on hot sunny days in July and August, and especially on statutory holidays and weekends.Alouette is one of three campsite areas in Golden Ears Park, and a really good one, although a bit of a hike from the water. The only other very slight draw back is the fact that the roads are gravel and can get dusty. Other than that, the campground is near perfect and one of the very best in Metro Vancouver.The Alouette campground has hot showers and is beautifully forested with lots of shade and privacy.Click campground map for a map of the Alouette campground.

Tip # 1: Camp sites A85 to A91 are closest to the trail to the lake, as well as close to washrooms and water taps.  Try to get one of these if you can.Tip #2: Alouette is a popular campground in the summer, so be sure to make reservations (starting around mid March and up to 3 months in advance of your reservation date). Click camping reservations to book your spot.

14. Harrison Hot Springs

Harrison Hot Springs is a resort community known for its hot springs and picturesque lake and mountain landscapes. It’s located about 2.5 hours east of Vancouver. The Harrison Hot Springs Resort is one of the main attractions, with its 5 hot spring pools, Healing Springs Spa and four restaurants.There’s more to Harrison Hot Springs than its soothing hot spring pools. The lake offers every kind of water sport you can imagine, from kayaking to boating to the floating waterpark. It has a beach, waterfront parks, golf courses and several hiking trails.While you’re in the area, check out Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park and its beautiful cascading waterfalls. The park entrance is located just off the Trans-Canada Highway and it’s only a 10 minute hike to the waterfalls, so this is an easy pit-stop that will only take about an hour.

During the summer, you can also visit Bridal Falls Waterpark. It’s a smaller waterpark (when compared to the Cultus Lake Waterpark), but it boasts heated water and plenty of kiddie slides and water play areas.