Vancouver is considered one of Canada’s most active cities. Home to Stanley Park and many other attractions, it is a city made for enjoying outdoor living, no matter what time of year you go.
When visiting Vancouver, one of the “must do” activities for everyone is to take the Sky Ride up to Grouse Mountain. Located in North Vancouver, just a hop, skip, and a jump from downtown, it’s North America’s largest aerial tramway system. Riding it is a thrill unto itself.
In the winter, Grouse Mountain has amazing skiing and snowboarding, with 26 runs, 4 chairlifts and 2 terrain parks. In the summer, Grouse Mountain also has some awesome hiking. If you are feeling really energetic, you can skip the gondola and instead give the “Grouse Grind” a try. It’s a steep trail that climbs 2,610 ft over a distance of 1.8 miles.
If you’re not into huffing and puffing, go for an adrenaline rush of taking a zipline tour around the lake and across the peaks of Grouse and Dam mountains. When you are ready to go down, instead of hopping back on the trolley, take a jump off the mountain and try your hand at tandem paragliding. A day at Grouse Mountain will turn any day into an exciting adventure.
Ziplining on Grouse Mountain
Stanley Park is filled with a plethora of choices for outdoor activities. A paved trail follows the 22-kilometer Sea Wall, providing a great vantage point from which to see the city. In addition to cycling and jogging along this trail, visitors to the park can enjoy a nine-hole Pitch & Putt golf course, tennis courts, a water park, and swimming pools. If you want a little more activity, you can explore the 16 miles of forested trails, or wander through the old growth trees known as Monument Trees.
Stanley Park even has a couple of great beaches. (But if you want to try out one of the best clothing optional beaches in the world, make your way to the southwestern part of Vancouver, near the University of British Columbia, and join the fun at Wreck Beach.)
Viewfinder Tip: Visit Stanley Park at low tide and look for starfish and other critters on the rocks near the Sea Wall.
Granville Island is another favorite haunt for Vancouverites. With shops, restaurants, fruit and seafood markets, it’s a great place to stroll, watch talented buskers, and learn how to stand up paddleboard or kayak. With the surrounding calm waters, it’s an excellent place for beginners.
Squamish may be the most famous area to climb in British Columbia, but in West Vancouver beginners and seasoned climbers alike can enjoy climbing at Lighthouse Park. The cliffs are located right on the Pacific Ocean and you can set up your top rope and climb the walls with the sea at your back. There are bouldering routes here as well.
Rock Climbing at Lighthouse Park
For underwater fun, you can go scuba diving right offshore of North Vancouver, in Horseshoe Bay. Water here gets cold, so try to dive in a dry suit. The water is temperate on the West Coast of North America and fluctuates very little, so you might as well go in winter.
It may be a bit touristy, but there’s a reason everyone goes to the Capilano Suspension Bridge just outside of the city. Swinging 250 feet in the air above the Capilano River, it’s a heart-stopping walk across the 450-foot span. Since we moved from Vancouver, they’ve added the Cliffwalk and the Treetop Adventure, a series of suspension bridges taking you on a guided tour above the rainforest canopy.
Vancouver is truly made for adventure and outdoor fun. It’s no wonder the city inspires visitors and locals alike to get outside and explore.
What are your favorite outdoor activities to do when traveling?