It’s a cold, hard reality, but the unofficial end of summer is just one week away. 

Labour Day weekend is our last gasp at warm-weather fun before the crushing certainty of shorter days, fall leaves and sweater weather is upon us. But with it comes some mini-vacation ideas to consider.

Because with awesome cabin and vacation rentals, cruises, fun-packed day trips and campsites that are actually available, the choices for a mini-vacay in beautiful B.C are practically endless.

Go to your favourite accommodation rental site and plug in your dates and budget per night and you’ll be amazed at what’s still available.

An oceanfront villa for two in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast is going for $91 a night. Hotel stays with a pool in Whistler start at $170. And a family getaway in Qualicum Beach with bonfires and clam digging is up for grabs at $260. 

Major routes on BC Ferries can be up to 75 per cent reserved, meaning at least 25 per cent of the spots are up for grabs on a first-come, first-served basis. (BC Ferries)

Always room on all but one ferry

Lack of availability on BC Ferries can get in the way, but where there’s a long-weekend will, there’s a way. Depending on the season, ferries can be up to 75 per cent reserved, meaning at least 25 per cent is up for grabs on a first-come first-served basis, so plan to get out there well before a scheduled sailing.

“We do always have room on our ferries for people who don’t have reservations,” said BC Ferries spokeswoman Astrid Braunschmidt.

The Tsawwassen-Southern Gulf Islands route is the exception as all of its spaces can be reserved.

Customized cruises for up to 20 passengers are available by the hour, but keep in mind these aren’t party cruises. “There’s no toilet on the ferry. That’s usually the limiting factor,” said Jeremy Patterson, operations manager. (

Mini-cruise anyone?

If a staycation is more of what your budget will allow, taking in the stunning natural beauty of Vancouver from the water will do the trick.

False Creek Ferries offers a 40-minute mini-cruise that’s $11 for adults and $7.50 for seniors and the kiddos.

“People love it, especially on a nice evening when the light is just right and the sun is going down,” said Jeremy Patterson, operations manager with the company.

Campsites still available too

If you’re a regular camper, you know it’s almost impossible to get a reservation at one of the provincial parks on the last long weekend of summer. 

But there are several campgrounds without reservations where spots are first-come, first-served. 

A hidden gem called Camp Cal-Cheak lies a 20-minute drive south of Whistler and has 51 spots for $13 a night. 

If you’re not a regular camper, one option is to borrow or rent gear. A tent and two sleeping bags for two nights is $75.  

Harrison Hot Springs has free afternoon concerts this long weekend, making it a good choice for a day trip or an overnight visit. (Tourism Harrison)

Road trip?

Harrison Hot Springs has a lot going on for a day trip or overnight stay this Labour Day weekend.

Free afternoon concerts on the beach are happening Saturday and Sunday, as are a country craft market, Pioneer Days events and Harrison’s annual Hobie Cat Regatta on the lake.

“It’s such a beautiful place. You just release and unwind and everything let’s go the moment you arrive,” said Stephanie Gallamore, event co-ordinator with Tourism Harrison.

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