Delightfully green and with outdoor life at its heart: the city of Vancouver truly captures the essence of British Columbia. The parks, gardens and forests in and around Vancouver are so plentiful that you could easily spend a whole week exploring, but I have selected my five favourite activities from a recent visit, to give you a taster of this refreshing outdoor life in as little as a few days.
Cycling in Stanley Park
Stanley Park is the jewel of Vancouver, so if you are only visiting for a short break, place it at the top of your list! The best way to explore is on two wheels around the seawall surrounding the park, which offers incredible views of Vancouver’s skyline. The seawall is around 6 miles long and should take roughly an hour, including a few stops to take pictures too (tip: the area near the Marina/ Vancouver Rowing Club has the best views of the skyline).
Devonian Harbour Park is a great place to begin as it’s within a stone’s throw from most of the bike rental shops on Denman Street and there are a handful of picturesque waterfront restaurants to refresh after a cycle ride. Other activities in the park include the open-air swimming pool overlooking the water and Vancouver Aquarium.
English Bay Beach
Situated just Southwest of Stanley Park, English Bay beach is a beautiful place to relax on a sunny day.
The beach offers a nice selection of summer activities including volleyball courts, kayaking, swimming and the Cactus Club Café. It is also a good place to spot local wildlife and watch the stunning sunsets.
Lynn Canyon Park
The scenic Lynn Canyon Park makes a fantastic day trip from Vancouver, where you can really immerse yourself in forestland, crystal clear rivers and emerald pools. The park also boasts a suspension footbridge leading over the river. The best part is, it’s completely free! Vancouver has one other suspension bridge nearby (Capilano Suspension Bridge), but this costs $39.95 to use, making Lynn Canyon Park all the more appealing.
The journey itself is another reason why this is such an enjoyable day trip. You can catch the Sea Bus from Waterfront Station (for the same price as normal buses) over to West Vancouver. The Sea Bus offers a fabulous view of Vancouver’s skyline on the return trip, so make sure to keep your camera ready!
Vancouver’s Chinatown is the second largest in North America and is most certainly worth a visit. Begin your explorations on W Pender Street and enter Chinatown through the famous gates. Take in the fascinating scenes of locals shopping at speciality grocery stores selling unusual Chinese vegetables, herbs and spices unknown to many and browse in the Chinese Gift stores for keepsakes. The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (578 Carrall Street) provides a tranquil oasis in the middle of a busy, bustling district and transports you back in time to 15th Century China.
I am a big fan of Dim Sum, so I was quick to hunt down the restaurant which claims to serve up some of the best: New Town Bakery (148 E Pender Street). And it did not disappoint! I recommend the Char Sui Steamed Pork Buns and one of their renowned egg custard tarts to finish.