With its scenic backdrop and lively urban culture, Vancouver has been rated one of the best places to live. Visitors and locals agree a big part of the Vancouver experience are the natural and urban gems right near the downtown core. Ditch the car and walk, bike or take transit to some of these great local hangouts.
(2 parts: Nature and Nurture)
Part 1: Nature
Spend a day in Stanley Park. Vancouver’s 1000 acre (400 hectare) urban park, right next to the downtown area, is the city’s precious gift.
- Hike on some of the many networks of trails.
- Take a guided nature hike with the Lost Lagoon Nature House.
- Trek around Lost Lagoon Lake.
- Walk, run, rollerblade, or bike on the 8.8 km Seawall.
- Visit the Aquarium, the famous Hollow Tree (now a shadow of its former self), or the Rose Garden.
- Pose for pictures next to the totem poles at Brockton Point.
- Dine on some fine seafood at the Fish House.
- Take in a round of par three golf at the Stanley Park Pitch & Putt.
- Enjoy the lovely view at Prospect Point. Grab a meal or an ice cream cone at Prospect Point Cafe. View the devastation of the 2006 storm that ravaged this part of the park.
- Go for a swim, or laze in the sun at one of Stanley Park’s two beaches.
- Hop on the Stanley Park Shuttle Bus, which circles the park, or climb aboard the tram of Stanley Park Horse Drawn Tours.
Stroll along or lie around on Vancouver’s fantastic beaches.
- Kits Beach is a popular summertime destination in Vancouver
- English Bay, in the West End at the foot of Denman Street, is the gateway to Stanley park and the Seawall.
- Downtown visitors can reach Kits Beach, across the bay in Kitsilano, by boarding the ferry at the Aquatic Centre, disembarking at Maritime Museum. It’s a short walk to Vancouver’s most popular beach. In the summer, it gets pretty crowded. The updated concession stand and WaterMark Restaurant sit right next to Kits beach.
- Spanish Bank, on Marine Drive in Point Grey near UBC, is a long wide stretch of laid back sand away from maddening crowds. Probably the most relaxed and family friendly beach in Vancouver, Spanish Bank is known for its tidal flats, skimboarding, volleyball courts, and grassy picnic areas with barbecues. You can reach Spanish Bank on transit by transferring to bus C19.
- Bonus nude option: Wreck Beach, Vancouver’s world famous “clothing optional” beach further west of Spanish Bank, is reached via a steep climb down a trail from the UBC campus. Some people consider Wreck Beach to be one of the most beautiful beaches around. So if you’re not shy, it’s worth a visit, if only for the sunset views.