Go bike riding in Stanley Park

The heart of Vancouver is undoubtedly the sprawling oasis that is Stanley Park. This 400-hectare park, complete with old-growth rainforest, is best explored on two wheels. Hire a bike from one of the handful of shops nearby and follow the curling 10-kilometre seawall cycle path. Take a break at Vancouver Aquarium to meet rescued sea otters and harbour seals, before enjoying a picnic at pretty English Bay.

Take a dip in Kitsilano

If you’re craving beach time, hop on a local bus headed for trendy and laid-back Kitsilano. There, you’ll find the haven that is Kitsilano Beach, where you can chill out among the strategically placed driftwood, go for a flatwater paddleboard or join a yoga session in the foreshore park.

At the end of the beach you’ll spot Kitsilano Pool, the only public saltwater pool in the city. At 137 metres long, this popular attraction has two slides and an on-site café, and is heated on cooler days. It’s open from May to September.

After you’ve dried off, walk a few blocks (or grab the bus again) into the main shopping area of Kits, as the locals call it, to stock up on outdoor apparel. While you’re wandering, be sure to grab a coffee at 49th Parallel on West 4th Avenue.

Grab a coffee in historic Gastown

More fantastic coffee and food is awaiting your tastebuds along the cobblestoned streets of Gastown, the “birthplace of Vancouver”. There are amazing eats in Vancouver, but one particularly in-vogue eatery worth your loonies is Tacofino, a Mexican eatery with a dizzying array of burritos, while it’s also worth having a bite at MeeT, a vegetarian café with plenty of quirky creations on the menu. Ever tried kimchi poutine?
Revolver is a favourite among those who know their beans. Pick from the dozen of different ways you can have them brewed, or simply order a flight of three coffees for that ultimate caffeine high.

Take on the Grouse Grind challenge

Grouse Mountain is best known for being Vancouver’s local ski hill, but in summer it offers a challenge of a different kind. Just 15 minutes from downtown, join the hordes of Vancouverites tackling the 2.9km trail that zigzags up the face of the mountain. Put simply, it’s gruelling, even for the reasonably fit. Expect it to take at least 1.5 hours.

If you’re visiting the city in winter, swap the hiking boots for ski boots and cruise down the fun trails of Grouse Mountain ski resort. There are 33 runs all up and a nice mix for beginners, intermediates and advanced riders.

While you’re out that way, stop off at one of British Columbia’s most popular and photographed tourist attractions, Capilano Suspension Bridge. Seventy metres above Capilano River, walking across the narrow bridge is sure to get your heart racing.

Soak in the city’s best art

With your daily exercise taken care of, get your cultural fill at Vancouver Art Gallery. Guided tours of various exhibitions are held a few times a week and are free with general admission.

If you’re a cinema buff, time your holiday with the annual Vancouver International Film Festival. Over a whopping 17 days in September and October around 350 films from 70 countries are shown.

Sample market life

No visit to Vancouver is complete without popping over to Granville Island, where the biggest attraction is the wonderfully vibrant Granville Island Public Market (open seven days). Grab a lunch of delicious British Columbia blueberries and cherries, before sampling a pastry or two, and then perusing the second-hand bookstores. The island is also home to cafes, art galleries and souvenir shops. If you’re into street food, there’s no going past Vancouver. It’s been named the third best food truck network on the North American continent.

Words by Jennifer Ennion.

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