Paddleboarding at English Bay

Vancouver may be surrounded by water but the coastline isn’t all golden sands. The small grainy beach at English Bay, however, is popular because of its proximity to Stanley Park and Downtown. Escape the land-borne crowds and take to the sea on stand-up paddleboards or kayaks. The water is generally calm, great for beginners.

Bowen Island day trip

Take either a water taxi or a BC ferry just two miles off the west coast to Bowen Island. Lucky travellers may spot orcas, sea lions and eagles during the half hour transit. If you’re up for the challenge, a three-hour hike will take you round Lake Killarney, ending at Artisanal Square for a refuel. Down near the ferry terminal, visit Japanese eatery Shika and Branch 01 which sells independent homewares and gifts.

Grouse Mountain

With glorious views across the city and a gondola ride down through the trees, it’s no surprise that Grouse Mountain is loved by locals and tourists alike. It’s three kilometre trail, Grouse Grind elevates hikers some 2,800 feet. The climb can be treacherous in wet weather, so gear up and carry plenty of water and energy bars for that last push to the summit.

Stanley Park

When the city begins to fill with a golden glow and before the rental shops close, hire a bike and cycle along Stanley Park’s Seawall as the sun sets. Begin at Coal Harbour, where you can snap up Vancouver’s most picturesque view – sailboats jostle in the wind and the glass skyline behind shines pastel pink and blue. Then venture around the park, leaving the city behind to find nothing but seaspray, container ships and timber-strewn beaches.

Museum of Anthropology

The University of British Columbia isn’t just famous for swotting students and a clothing-optional beach – the beautifully designed Museum of Anthropology rests on its grounds, too. It may appear small but it’s not to be underestimated. Leave plenty of time to explore the revolving exhibition and galleries that are stacked with drawers upon drawers of artefacts from cultures across the globe. Its star features are the First Nation totem poles that occupy the light-filled great hall. Take a moment to understand the local indigenous culture.

Lynn Canyon Park

Quieter and less touristy than the more famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, Lynn Canyon Park offers a chance to escape into a rainforest wilderness just outside of the city centre. It contains a smaller, just as charming, hanging bridge that wavers over a majestic river. Follow winding trails, wooden boardwalks and take a summertime dip in the 30 Foot Pool. Tread carefully; you might come across a brown bear.

Sea to Sky Gondola

Vancouver’s majesty lies in its surrounding mountains. Hire a car for a day and drive along one of the world’s most beautiful highways: BC 99. Here the road hugs the coast, snaking between sea and pine-covered slopes. Just before you get to Squamish you’ll reach The Sea to Sky Gondola. Take the cable car up to the top and discover a snow-covered utopia with a restaurant, suspension bridge, several hiking routes and unforgettable views.

Vancouver Art Gallery

As a well-respected gallery, with an impressive calendar of revolving exhibitions, VAG is not to be sidelined. Its focus is on First Nation and Asian artists, in keeping with the history of Vancouver’s residents. This work can be seen in the permanent collection and gives insight into the local social landscape. Look out for the paintings by Emily Carr, a prolific Canadian artist inspired by the indigenous culture of the Pacific Northwest.

Paddleboarding at English Bay

Bowen Island day trip

Grouse Mountain

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