image via Evan Leeson
A few weeks ago I went to Vancouver because one of my dearest friends got married. It was so nice to go celebrate this special occasion in a place where I had never been before. Now that I’m back, I understand why everyone has nothing but good things to say about this city. The big mountains, the ocean and crisp air make this city truly beautiful.
I was lucky to explore Vancouver in the company of some of my best friends while doing active stuff like hiking, biking, paddle boarding and swimming. If you have Vancouver in your travel bucket list, I will encourage you to get outside and enjoy all the outdoor activities the city has to offer (especially if you are there during the summer time). To give you an idea of the things you can do/see while in Vancouver, I’ll share some photos and tips of things I enjoyed doing during my visit.
1. GROUSE MOUNTAIN:
Grouse Mountain is located just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver and it’s probably the place where you can get the best view of the city. You have two options to get to the top of the mountain: you can use the Skyride (gondola) or you can hike the “The Grouse Grind.” If you are in Vancouver during the summer time and you are somewhat in shape I recommend hiking the mountain. I’m not going to lie and tell you that it is easy, but is really doable even if you are not 100% in shape.
My approach to climbing the trail was to go at a slow but constant pace. The trail is a combination of naturally made stone steps and man-made wooden steps. This mountain is commonly referred to as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”! So although this is not your relaxing kind of mountain hike, what I like about this activity is having the opportunity to immerse yourself in the mountain and exercise alongside beautiful tall trees and crisp air. It took me almost 2 hours to get to the top (like I said, I was going really slow!) where we enjoyed the beautiful views of the city and had drinks from the “Altitudes Bistro” (one of the the bars/restaurants at the top).
At the top of the mountain, there are a number of activities you can do. I went to see two orphaned grizzly bears in the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, but they also have bird shows, a Lumberjack show, Helicopter Tours and Paragliding among others. Next time I’m there I would like to explore the area and do more of the Self-Guided Walks or the Guided Eco-Walks.
2. BIKING AT STANLEY PARK:
While we were in Vancouver, we stayed for three nights in a hotel in downtown. The location was great as we were able to walk to nearby restaurants and shops. We also had a bike rental place right around the corner where we rented bikes one afternoon and spent about 2 hours riding through some of the Stanley Park trails.
We rode the whole time by the water which gave us beautiful views of the city, ocean and little beaches. There were a couple concession stands on the way to grab a quick bite and water, but we decided to stop in a restaurant called the Tea House. The food was a little pricey, but every single dish they brought to the table was delicious. If you get there, I recommend getting their carrot soup and their wild salmon.
3. CAPILANO BRIDGE:
image via Netsnake
I think the Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of the most advertised attractions in Vancouver. I saw so many pretty photos on Pinterest (like the one above!) that I had to get there. The city has done a great job at creating an area where you can do more than just crossing the bridge, but I have to admit that it feels touristy. We arrived there around 10:00 am and just had a small line to buy the entrance tickets. We made the mistake of grabbing some breakfast before crossing the bridge and by the time we went to cross, there was a big line and a big crowd on the bridge. I had never been on a suspension bridge, so that was fun. But having so many people on the bridge somehow took away from the experience and made it harder to admire the scenery. Once you make it to the other side, they have a canopy walk between trees and a walkway with information about the mountain and nature surrounding you.
If you are planning to visit this attraction, I recommend getting there as early as you can to avoid the crowd and to, hopefully, get some alone time while you cross the bridge. Once you cross the suspension bridge back to the main area, don’t forget to do the cliff walk. They have some neat areas where you can enjoy some scary views down to the bottom of the forest.
If you are not a huge fan of crowds, there is another suspension bridge in Lynn Canyon Park. My friend said that it is beautiful and that all the locals go there. This park offers free admission and also has a good looking 30 foot natural pool where many people swim. Next time I will definitely visit this park, instead of the Capilano Bridge.
Overall, Vancouver is an awesome place to visit and definitely on my “going back to” list. I feel like we only scratched the surface of everything this city has to offer. But then again, doesn’t it always feel that way once a fun trip is over?
Hope these little tips help some of you on your future travel plans to Canada. : )
Cheers to many more trips to come for all of us!