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Vancouver and Whistler - Dec/jan trip

Sao Paulo, SP
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Vancouver and Whistler - Dec/jan trip

Hi! We´re a family - 3 adults and one 10-y-o boy - starting to plan our upcoming trip to Vancouver and Whistler. We´ll arrive in Vancouver, after a long flight from Brazil, on Dec 27. We´ll stay in the city until Dec 30, when we´ll take a bus or shuttle up to Whistler, where we´ll spend NYE and stay until Jan 4.

As usual, we started researching things to do in Vancouver and came up with a list that would probably take us 3 weeks to do, rather than the 3 days that we actually have... Anyway, I would like to share with you the things we have come up with, and would appreciate any thoughts on which ones are worth our time and money, how much time we should allocate for each one, and which ones are feasible in winter (it´s so difficult to find info on touring Vancouver with cold weather!). Here we go:

- Half day walking through Gastown, Chinatown, Canada Place. This should be easy because we´re staying very close to Robson Square.

- Granville Island and Public Market.

- Stanley Park. We´re especially interested in the Aquarium. Son is a big sealife fan, so we´ll probably spend 3 or 4 hours there (we want to take the beluga backstage tour).

- Christmas lights: we can´t decide between Stanley Park and VanDusen Botanical Garden. Which one is better? How do they compare to each other? Should we do both?

- Seaplane tour: we´re dying to see the glaciers and lakes, but not sure if it´s worth our time and money, and if it´s feasible in winter.

- Outdoor program: we were thinking of either Capilano Bridge/Grouse Mountain, or Lynn Canyon. We love being outdoors and like to trek/hike. However, considering Whistler is our next stop, and being winter, we´re not sure if it´s worthwhile. The suspension bridges are very appealing to us, though... Maybe only trekking and crossing the bridge, and skipping Grouse Mountain?

- Hockey game: will there be any matches on the last days of 2012?

- Museum: Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Anthropology, or any other that can be rated as not to be missed.

We don´t intend to rent a car in Vancouver. If possible, we want to do everything either by public transportation or taxi. We live in Brazil, so we´re a bit concerned about driving in cold weather.

Well, we´ll be looking forward to your inputs on our itinerary. Thanks a lot in advance!

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Vancouver and Whistler - Dec/jan trip

Welcome FamilyRecommends ::

Yes, you do indeed have an ambitious plan which you might be able to complete if you didn't eat or sleep. I do think you will need to pare down your choices by setting some priorities.

Christmas season here will have some seasonal attractions. It's a bit early for that information to be available online but I can post here the information from last year:

• the Bright Nights in Stanley Park Christmas train (tix on sale through ticketmaster.ca and well worth buying in advance to avoid long line ups on the day-of.) Dec 2-Jan 2 (closed Christmas Day), 3-10 pm.


• the Woodward’s Christmas Windows will be on display. They consist of the original wooden moveable-parts diorama type almost life sized scenes. These were originally displayed in the 1940/50s in one of our now long gone department stores. They are spread out over downtown in six locations. Dec 1-Jan 4.



• Van Dusen Gardens with its Christmas lights display. Dec 9-Jan2, 4:30-9:00.


• Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge. Dec 2-Jan 1, 5-9 pm


• Gingerbread Lane and Enchanted Village at the Hyatt throughout the lobby. Each gingerbread confection (40+ of them) is prepared by culinary arts students, high school students, professional chefs and amateurs. 24/7. Nov 23 - Dec 27. Donations to Make-A-Wish Foundation. Lots of photos from a previous year’s competition:


• You actually may be able to rent ice skates at Robson Square this year.


Otherwise, some time guidelines for your mentioned items would be:

Half day as you say for G'town, C'town, Canada Place

2-3 hours for Granville island

Half day for Stanley Park and the Aquarium. Stanley Park's Bright Nights is very popular and usually sold out. Best to buy your tix online in advance to be able to go straight to the entry line and not the ticket purchase line on the day of. Van Dusen Gardens is a fantasy land, complete with musical entertainment and hot drinks. "The best" is hard to say.

4-5 hours to go from Vancouver to Capilano Suspension Bridge and back. They too have a Christmas lights display.

A good half day, including bus travel to the Museum of Anthropology which holds an exceptionally good collection of First Nations artifacts, along with indigenous artifacts for many tribes from other parts of the world.

Here is the Vancouver Canucks hockey schedule. There may be a lock out of players, so possibly no games until that labour dispute is settled:


Here is the Vancouver Giants hockey schedule:


Suggest you narrow it down to 3 activities a day (am, pm and evening) with one daily extra if time allows.

You do not need a car here in Vancouver. You do need rain gear as it will no doubt be raining some or all of the time you are here.

Edited: 03 September 2012, 03:37
Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Vancouver and Whistler - Dec/jan trip

Dec-Jan is usually cold wet and dark...sorry! Most hiking trails are confined to lower elevations and an air tour of lakes/glaciers would be weather dependent. Visit the Aquarium, Grouse Mountain, Stanley Park, Granvile Island..etc. Save you outdoor energy for Whistler...lots to do...skiing, snowmobile, dogsled, snow shoe, tubing etc...

3. Re: Vancouver and Whistler - Dec/jan trip

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Removed on: 03 September 2012, 14:52
Sao Paulo, SP
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4. Re: Vancouver and Whistler - Dec/jan trip

Thanks a lot Muftimix and puffpuff. We don´t mind cold, but wet... That´s a different story. So from what you tell me we´ve narrowed it down to this:

- Dec 27: walk Canada Place, Gastown and, if we´re not too tired, Chinatown. This evening we´ll probably need some rest so we´ll have dinner somewhere close to our hotel.

- Dec 28: Granville Island until lunchtime. Then to Stanley Park, to see the Aquarium and stay for night lights. (anywhere to eat while we´re there?)

- Dec 29: Capilano Bridge and Grouse Mountn in the morning. Museum in the afternoon (if not too tired). Night lights at Van Dusen.

- Dec 30: weather permitting morning flight to see lakes/glaciers. If weather is bad we can go to any attractions we might have skipped the previous days. In the afternoon take transfer to Whistler.

From all these activities we´ll definitely prioritize: Aquarium, Granville Island and Capilano Bridge, and night lights at both parks. We´ll skip trekking and go dogsledding and tubing in Whistler instead!

Once again, thanks a lot! Any other thoughts or opinions are still very welcome. You guys´ve been terrific!

5. Re: Vancouver and Whistler - Dec/jan trip

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