The city of Vancouver should be a model community for many of the cities across America. The buildings in the city center feature green roofs that save electricity and cut down on heat islands, they have recycling and composting in almost every trash receptacle. They have bike paths and walking routes everywhere, large parks for enjoying nature and a ton of activities for all ages. Whatever you end up doing in Vancouver here are 10 activities you shouldn't miss.
1. Capilano Suspension Bridge
There are few people I have met that have gone on vacation to Vancouver and not visited Capilano Suspension Bridge. Originally strung in 1888 over the Capilano River it quickly became a tourist attraction for adventurous people wanting to stay at Mckay's cabin and walk across the swaying bridge.
The bridge itself is one of the most instagrammable places in Vancouver. Guests can also experience tree top adventures and the cliff walk which winds its way on the outskirt of tall trees over the river.
Tickets: Adults $42.95 Children 6-12 $14.95 More Details
Travel Tips: Visit on weekdays or prior to 10am in summer to avoid the lines.
Getting There: Hop on the free shuttle from several Downtown Vancouver locations
2. Capilano Salmon Hatchery
The Capilano hatchery is a popular tourist destination in North Vancouver with more than 400,000 visitors per year. If you have ever wanted to see Salmon spawning as they fight their way up stream you will love coming to the hatchery. Within the Capilano Regional River Park, there are many hiking trails and a picnic area, so wear your hiking boots and bring your camera.
Travel Tips: Best time to see Adult salmon is October - November
Getting There: 4500 Capilano Road, North Vancouver
3. Bike to Stanley Park & The Aquarium
Stanley Park is the largest park in Vancouver and will blow the socks of New York's Central Park. It is more than 400 acres and surrounded on almost every side by the waters of Vancouver harbor and English Bay. There are a plethora of things to do. From biking the 8.8 km seawall, to walking in the flower gardens, to hanging out at the beach or just dining al fresco in the park. One of my favorite activities is renting a bike and spending a few hours at the aquarium.
Vancouver Aquarium is located within Stanley Park. They have many Pacific Northwest creatures like otters, urchins, dolphins and even some northerly creatures like Beluga Whales.
Aquarium Tickets: Adults: $30 Children 3+: $22 Get Tickets
Travel Tips: Rent your bike near your hotel and avoid extra transit costs
4. The Grouse Grind
If you've never heard of the Grouse Grind its time to look up a little bit of political history in Vancouver. The Grouse Grind is a 2.9km trail with more than 2800 steps that leads up to Grouse Mountain. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hiked it just 5 weeks before he was elected, and many people think it helped him win. Its also a right of passage for any local. If you are looking for a workout to kickstart your day this is a great option.
From the top you can grab a coffee at the lodge, see bears playing in some outdoor enclosures and wander around in the wildflowers.
There is also a gondola that goes up Grouse Mountain which you can take down for a nominal fee. The view is stunning and I would highly recommend it. Available Year Round.
Travel Tip: Located just up the road from Capilano Suspension Bridge head out early hit the bridge and end your day with this hike.
5. Grab a Paddle and hit the water for Kayak or SUP
Vancouver offers plenty of great areas to SUP and kayak in relatively calm waters. On the North Shore, Deep Cove offers calm water and great scenery, and equipment can be rented at the Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak Centre. From downtown you can kayak or paddle board to explore English Bay, Sunset Beach, and False Creek. Paddleboards are available for rent at the Ecomarine Paddlesports Centre on Granville Island, English Bay, and Jericho Beach on Vancouver’s west side. Not only is great exercise but you might just meet some dolphins, seals or small whales while paddling around.
Rates: Starting at $39 for 2 hours
6. Head to Vancouver Island
Named the #1 Island in the continental US & Canada by Travel + Leisure. It has one of the world's most diverse ecosystems. With rainforest, beaches, meadows, mountains, lakes, rivers and ocean, there is a spectacular and abundant mix of animals and plants. One of the best locations for whale watching, birding, salmon and trout fishing. The island is also full of shops selling hand made wares and art found nowhere else. If you have time take a float plane or boat over towards Torfino where you can trek to some natural fed hot springs in the rainforest.
Getting There: Take the Ferry or Fly from Vancouver
Tips: Save the car ferry cost and explore the island by bike.
7. Go on a whale watch
Vancouver's location makes it the perfect place for a plethora of ocean activities and encounters with ocean wildlife. If you have ever wanted to see Orcas, taking a whale watch in Vancouver is a great choice.
Steveston Sea Breeze Adventures operates out of the quaint town of Steveston which is a great choice with guaranteed sightings of whales. There are many great restaurants for a pre or post whale watch as well. Try some amazing fish n chips, or you can pick up fresh seafood straight from the fisherman's boats at the docks.
Tickets: Adults $130 for a 3-4 hour trip
Tips: Leave extra time to walk around town.
Getting There: Hotel pick up offered, drive or take the metro and a taxi.
8. Rock Climb or Hike at the Stawamus Chief
Try out your rock climbing skills at the Stawamus Chief. Located about an hour North of Vancouver the Stawamus Chief is a beautiful three peaked mountain on the Sea to Sky Highway. Touted as one of the most popular hiking trails in Vancouver it is also a great place to rock climb or learn to rock climb. Most people hike to the first peak but if you are feeling energetic you can hike to all three. Want more details of my hike to the three peaks. Click here.
Rock Climbing Companies: Squamish Rock Guides
More Information on Hiking from Outdoor Vancouver
9. Public Markets on Granville Island
Take the Aqua bus to wander through the public markets on Granville Island. Granville island is home to a plethora of shops, restaurants and activities for all ages. The public market has a variety of produce vendors, meats, cheese, olives, coffee shops, bakeries and so much more. Come to eat and shop, wander the many art galleries and shops
Open: Daily 9am - 7pm
Tips: Go during the week, and avoid some of the crowds.
10. Visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens
If you aren't a Bonsai tree fanatic there are still a lot of reasons to love these Classical Chinese Gardens. Located in Chinatown it is the first "Scholars" garden built outside China. Enclosed behind a pagoda this serene space is filled with rocks, trees and plants arranged with Taoist principles. You can practice your animal photography skills on the sunbathing turtles in the pond, or just let your imagination wander as you look at the Lilly pads. The gardens are beautiful, and inside one of the back pagodas you can view some old and very well manicured Bonsai trees of all different varieties. Stay for tea, or make a day out of it and head to the Science Center which is just down the street.
Tickets: $14 High Season $12 Low Season
Address: 578 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5K2, Canada
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