Planning a trip to Vancouver, but unsure what to do? It’s a big city by Canadian standards (2.5 million in the greater Vancouver area), and there are plenty of ways to occupy your time there. But for a truly West Coast experience, consider adding the following five suggestions to your travel itinerary.
Climb Grouse Mountain
Vancouver is famous for its snowy peaks, and Vancouverites love climbing them. Grouse Mountain is the most accessible climb for anyone staying in the city. There are lots of activities once you get up there, including, ziplines, a wildlife refuge, mountaintop yoga, paragliding, helicopter tours, birds of prey shows, guided eco walks and more. For hardcore hikers, take the challenge of the Grouse Grind – a 2,830 step ascent up the mountain. If you’re not ready for Nature’s Stairmaster, take the skyride up and go on an easier hike on the mountaintop. Note, you can’t hike back down the mountain because it’s too steep. You’ll have to purchase a lift ticket for $10.
To get there, you can take the free shuttle from Canada Place downtown, or if you’re driving, follow Georgia Street through Stanley Park, go over Lion’s Gate Bridge, and take the North Vancouver exit to Marine Drive.
Visit the Vancouver Aquarium
Vancouver is surrounded by mountains and ocean. To learn about Vancouver’s unique aquatic life, plan a trip to the Vancouver Aquarium. This not-for-profit marine science centre is involved in cutting edge research on ocean conservation, including running the Coastal Ocean Research Institute, and the Ocean Pollution Research Program. They provide a habitat for marine creatures too injured to return to the wild, which in return, provide the staff with research and observation opportunities. Check out a massive array of marine creatures in 166 aquatic displays. The aquarium is in Stanley Park.
Go on a Craft Brewery Tour
Craft breweries are ubiquitous on the West Coast of Canada, and a lot of them are in Vancouver. Hit up a string of breweries to get a taste for the hoppy beer style unique to the West Coast.
Start a four-stop self-guided tour in East Vancouver, just south of the Science World. First, drop into the Craft Beer Market on W 1st Ave. With over 100 beers on tap, it can be overwhelming, but fortunately their website has a Craft Beer Picker quiz to narrow down the selection based on your answers to a few questions. After the Beer Market, mosey on over to Steel Toad Brewing Co. Ltd. on E 2nd Ave. and try their West Coast IPA. Then head south to Ontario Street to try the beer at Faculty Brewing Co. in an intimate 30-seat tasting room. Feel free to bring in take-out food if you’re getting hungry. End the tour at R &B Brewing Co. on E 4th Ave. You can always book a brewery tour beforehand to increase your craft beer knowledge.
Eat an Authentically West-Coast Meal
If you like salmon, oysters, and crab, you’re going to love the food scene in Vancouver. The seafood is fresh and local, and you can complement the meal with a bottle of wine from one of British Columbia’s many famous vineyards. Sandbar on Granville Island and The Boathouse are excellent restaurant options for authentically West Coast cuisine.
Walk on a Suspension Bridge
From the safety of a suspension bridge, walk over canyons and waterfalls to get your adrenaline pumping. There are two bridges North of Vancouver: the world-famous Capilano bridge and Lynn Canyon bridge. Capilano boasts a 450-foot bridge that soars 230 feet over the Capilano River. The park has since added the Treetops Adventure and Cliffwalk attractions, so you could spend a day taking in the sights there. Take a free shuttle from downtown Vancouver.