Why You Should Visit Vancouver In The Spring
Spring has officially arrived and although it may not feel that way for most of the country yet, it certainly does here on the West Coast. The cherry blossom trees in Vancouver are in full bloom and that exudes an aura of positivity around the city after what is typically a dark, wet winter.
For some reason, I get a bit giddy each time the seasons start to change. Maybe It’s because I lived in Alberta for 20 years before moving to the coast. The prairies seem to always draw the short straw on the seasonal distribution. Winter can often arrive a bit too early and drag on a bit too long. Fall sometimes lasts for a matter of days, often with the leaves turning at the arrival of the first frosts and then promptly dropping if anyone happens to sneeze in their vicinity. Similarly, spring can often feel like a season of betrayal. A few warm sunny days or weeks in April to get your hopes up only to have a foot of snow fall after Easter (or sometimes in early June).
On the coast it’s certainly a different story. Like in Ontario, fall seems to last for months. But unlike Ontario, spring usually comes much earlier and hangs around for a while. I’m telling you this not to come off as another Westcoaster bragging about the mild weather, but because spring is an often overlooked season for travel.
Coming to Vancouver in the “shoulder season” of April and May can save you hundreds of dollars on accommodation costs and provide you with a more intimate experience in some of the more popular attractions since you’re not competing with quite as many tourists. In my opinion, spring is also a great time to travel on VIA Rail’s Canadian route between Toronto and Vancouver: you get to see the Rockies covered in snow and experience the mild weather on the coast, a perfect combination. Check out our Canadian rail package and our Prestige rail package to book.
Here are a few reasons to come to Vancouver in the spring:
The Cherry Blossoms
As I mentioned earlier, spring typically arrives first on the west coast and nothing symbolizes that better than when the over 40,000 cherry blossom trees in Vancouver burst into bloom.
It is a truly spectacular sight that I feel is generally saved for the locals, as the blossoms typically arrive outside the main travel seasons. The blossoms are usually out in March and April but I’ve seen them start to bloom as early as the end of February. The good news is that they are typically out for 6 weeks or so, so there is plenty of time to see them.
One of my favourite places to experience the cherry blossoms in full bloom is just wandering through the residential areas on the west side of Vancouver. Many of the streets in the Arbutus Ridge, Kerrisdale and Kitsilano neighbourhoods are lined with cherry blossoms and make for a super relaxing low key walk. Visit the Vancouver Cherry Blossoms Festival page for more information.
The coast of British Columbia is one of the top places for whale watching in the world. Each year, thousands of whales migrate through these waters, including orcas, humpbacks and grey whales. There are also resident orcas that live here year round. You can take whale watching excursions out of Vancouver harbour starting in April.
Hiking is a popular activity for locals and visitors as it’s one of the best ways to see the epic scenery. But popular hikes can get congested in the height of summer travel season, which is why I love them in late spring.
Some of my favourites include the very difficult but rewarding Grouse Grind hike, which typically opens at the end of April or early May and the Lighthouse Park hike, which is flat and offers great views of Vancouver, Howe Sound and the Strait of Georgia.
Two others that I enjoy in the spring are the Quarry Rock hike in Deep Cove for great views of Indian Arm and Lynn Canyon in North Vancouver, which has some great waterfalls and flatter trails.
If you’re someone who gets excited at the sight of a thundering waterfall, I would suggest that spring is the best time to visit as waterfalls tend to be at their most impressive.
Here are four of my favourites:
- Cypress Falls: A short walk through a beautiful forest will bring you to two pretty waterfalls in North Vancouver. Take the time to hike from the lower waterfall to the upper.
- Shannon Falls: Located near Squamish, just over 50 km from Vancouver, Shannon Falls is impressive. It’s the third highest waterfall in BC.
- Brandywine Falls: Located near Whistler, Brandywine Falls is stunning and worth a visit if you love waterfalls. There are no rocks or ledges to interrupt its descent down, just a curtain of water. It is busy and popular during the summer but you’ll likely find it quite a bit quieter in the spring.
- Alexander Falls: This lovely waterfall isn’t as busy as nearby Brandywine Falls, so it is likely to be peaceful and quiet in the spring. It is a great place to stop for a picnic if you’re travelling the Sea-to-Sky highway between Vancouver and Whistler.
There you have it: my list for reasons to visit Vancouver in the spring. Of course, I will sing the praises of the west coast in all seasons (fall is my favourite) but that’s the beauty of living in a country where we have changing seasons.
Having 4 distinct seasons is an asset that I think many Canadians take for granted. Each season has its own positive attributes and I would miss them if I lived somewhere where it was constantly hot and sunny.
As we move into the warmer months in Canada, check out some of our new excursions and awe-inspiring trips all around the country. Browse our selection of spring getaways and our list of summer adventures.