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Trip List by Erin_Globetrotter

Vancouver for the outdoorsy budget traveler

8 Jun 2008  A recent trip to spectacular Vancouver.
4.5 of 5 stars based on 3 votes

Top things to do in and around Vancouver for tourists that want to get active outside in addition to seeing some standard tourist highlights downtown. Decent fitness level required!

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Vancouver, Squamish
  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Active/Outdoors
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Singles, Families with teenagers, Large groups, Students, Budget travellers , Active/adventure, Tourists, Pet owners
  • Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. West Coast Sightseeing Vancouver City Tour, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

    A rough $100 four hour city tour to get oriented, and well worth it. There are several stops including Granville Island. This should be the first thing you do after arriving in Vancouver! If you can, ask for the tour guide Lois when you book your reservation. She's a card.

  • 2. Lighthouse Park
    Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver, British Columbia

    Take the #250 bus from West Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver to this beautiful uncrowded park in West Vancouver. Ask the bus driver to announce the stop. Yes, there is a lighthouse there, though you can't go in. There's a variety of trails to choose from through this pristine temperate rainforest preserve, and I even discovered a little shipwreck on a rocky beach. The central trail is easily accessible to anyone and the rest are much more rugged with stairs and roots. Do not miss this park! Avoid getting here or leaving here at rush hour as it will double the travel time.

  • 3. Sewell's Sea Safari, Horseshoe Bay, British Columbia

    A three hour wildlife tour in a bright orange Zodiac boat that departs from the harbour. See bald eagles, seals, and maybe sea lions and whales. Horseshoe Bay is located just west of West Vancouver. Combine a visit to Lighthouse Park in the late morning with Sewell's Sea Safari in the afternoon! The #250 bus will take you to both, HOWEVER, it's faster to take the Horseshoe Bay Express bus back to Vancouver from Sewell Marina, because the Express bus is faster and does not go by Lighthouse Park.

  • 4. Capilano Salmon Hatchery
    Capilano Salmon Hatchery, North Vancouver, British Columbia

    Roughly one bus stop further down the road from the overpriced tourist trap called Capilano Suspension Bridge is the FREE Capilano Salmon Hatchery and the associated trails in the conservation area. The Pipeline trail offers a spectacular view over the rushing river below where it crosses the river on, of course, a pipeline. Trails are not particularly difficult and are suitable for all family members except very young kids. The Salmon Hatchery building itself is very interesting and educational. Best of all, it's not at all crowded!

  • 5. The Grouse Grind
    The Grouse Grind, North Vancouver, British Columbia

    A very difficult hike straight up Grouse Mountain. It's sometimes called Nature's Stairmaster because the hike is mostly rough stairs. There is usually snow at the top. The trail is only open late spring to early Fall. Budget 1.5 hours to make it up, on average. The entrance to the trail is near where the bus drops you off for Grouse Mountain and is plastered in warning signs, etc. Please note the trail's 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 marks are based on ELEVATION, not distance, so the lowest part of the trail will seem to take forever compared to the upper parts!

  • 6. Grouse Mountain
    Grouse Mountain, North Vancouver, British Columbia

    This mountain on the edge of Vancouver has a variety of activities and sights at the summit, including bears, skiing, carvings, bird of prey demonstrations, restaurants, etc. It costs over $35 to take the lift up the mountain, but it only costs $5 to take the lift back down, so try and hike up to save money if you are fit. For those of you not up to the difficult Grouse Grind trail straight up the mountain, try the BCMC trail which is a bit easier. Either way it's still a hike up a mountain so make sure you have some level of fitness before attempting the trails.

  • 7. Lynn Canyon Park
    Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver, British Columbia

    This FREE park, accessible by transit, is a nice alternative to Capilano Suspension Bridge. The suspension bridge at Lynn Canyon is narrower and wobblier, which is great! There are plenty of places to picnic and hike and the park is fairly popular, but less crowded than Capilano.

  • 8. Chinatown
    Chinatown, Vancouver, British Columbia

    Be sure to see the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden in its entirety, and if you visit Chinatown during the summer months, be sure to see the Night Market where they block off a street with vendors selling a huge variety of stuff for great prices. Please note most normal stores in Chinatown close at 5pm so unless the night market is happening, don't bother going to Chinatown in the evening. The Chinatown area is demarcated by red dragons on the light posts.

  • 9. Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre
    Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver, British Columbia

    Set aside half a day to see this place, which is nestled inside beautiful Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver. Between the white beluga whales, interior aquariums, and shows, it's an incredible learning experience. The facility is run extremely well. It is not open in the evenings.

  • 10. Stawamus Chief Park
    Stawamus Chief Park, Squamish, British Columbia

    Ready for a day trip to see the wild side of BC? This park, which is free admission, encompasses a granite dome mountain called 'The Chief' that you can either rock climb up, or hike up. The scenery around here is incredible, and the mountain coast line drive there is scenic. Please note the hike is VERY difficult - I didn't go all the way but it seemed even more difficult than the Grouse Grind. Be prepared and only attempt it if you are fit. For a somewhat easier moderate hike take the lower trail which goes between Stawamus Chief Park over to Shannon Falls park. This is definitely worth it as Shannon Falls hosts a spectacular massive waterfall and many interpretive signs. You have to pay for parking at Shannon Falls so it's best to hike over from Stawamus Chief Park (40 minute hike). These parks are approximately 45 minutes from Vancouver, so well worth it. Currently there may be construction delays due to the road being widened for the 2010 olympics so you may want to budget more time to get there. As it's bear/cougar country, always hike in a group. Also, on the drive there you will pass the BC Museum of Mining, another worthwhile stop. Start your day trip early as there's a lot to do and see.