Vancouver is a city for the outdoorsy. The amount of parks, acitivities, and scenic locations you can stumble upon in a 2 hour walk will astound you. It’s no surprise that Vancouver is rated as one of the healthiest city in Canada, with the lowest obesity rates, lowest rates of heavy drinking, and the most physicians per 100,000 people. It’s so easy to participate and get outdoors. Whether that means busting out a bicycle, or strapping on your jogging shoes, there’s hardly any reason not to assimilate into this healthy behaviour. What better place to absorb a new lifestyle than in Vancouvers Parks.
While the Capilano Suspension Bridge is more popular, it’s also $25 dollars more expensive. Save yourself some money, and the headache of falling into a bit of a “tourist trap” and check out Lynn Canyon. It’s a short drive from downtown Vancouver and is an incredible location to take in the outdoors of Vancouver. The Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge looms beautifully over trees and gives you a great view of the area.
Cross the bridge and you’ll come across Baden Powell trail, a relatively novice hike that can get you all the way down to Rice Lake. Lynn Canyon has several trails, and many places to explore, including a few secluded spots to setup picnic and even go for a swim. This location offers some beautiful photo opportunities. What better way to take in Vancouver than above a BC river & twin waterfalls.
Seymour Demonstration Forest
Not far from Lynn Canyon, bikers, hikers, walkers and strollers grace the Demonstration Forest on a daily basis. A great getaway to stretch your legs and enjoy some outdoor activity. There’s plenty of wildlife in the area, so keep your eyes peeled. If you’re looking for a paved trail, you’ll be happy to hear the Seymour Valley Trailway is just that. But be wary, it can be the busiest trail, so if you’re looking for a little “you time” and less “get out of my way please and thank you time” you should stick to the unpaved trails.
Many Vancouverites tend to take their wall of mountains for granted. North Vancouver has some of the most scenic views in the city, and Grouse Mountain is no exception. While it can be a bit touristy at times, and the crowd can be a bit of a headache on weekends, if you stop by midweek on a beautiful day you’re going to be in for a treat.
Grouse Mountain is an outdoorsy mecca. Whether you’re a runner, hiker, skiier, or crazy enough to hit the Grouse Grind (a 2.9 KM hike to the top with an elevation gain of 853 meters (2,800ft) known locally as the “Stair Master”), you’re sure to find a few ways to burn a couple hundred calories here. If you’re not at your physical peak and would rather take it easy, the Gondola ride to the top, followed by the free chairlift (which gets you even higher) can offer some of the most beautiful views of the area. Best of all, they’ve got ziplining!
Expect Grouse Mountain to be a “splurge” day, as it’s definitely not cheap to do, but if you’re planning on seeing Vancouver and experiencing the outdoors it’s worth a stop!
Stanley Park is probably one of my favourite spots in all of Vancouver. This massive park has a notorious ability to make you think you’ve completely left the city. With countless walkways, a swimming pool, a zoo, a bunch of awesome monuments, totem poles, and all the free room you could ask for. Stanley Park offers locals and tourists the ability to enjoy the outdoors in a budget friendly fashion. Rent a bike and explore the trails, or strap on your favourite runners and see the park from a slightly higher speed than your ordinary walker.
Hands down one of the best city parks I’ve ever been to. Stanley Park is easily worth a full day if you have the time, or a half day if you’ve got other plans nearby.
Crab Park is a beautiful little park located in Gastown that’s always bustling with activity. Watch as the coast guard’s hovercraft cruises by, or dream of what it must be like to be rich and famous as you watch private helicopters take off from the city. While this Crab Park isn’t really the hiker friendly park that others in this list are, it’s convenient and offers some simple walks and gorgeous views of the city. I should note that some may be put off at this park by some the locals. Gastown can be notorious for it’s wide variety of characters, so just keep a smart head on you. Though at the end of the day you have to remember Vancouver is a very friendly city, even amongst the most quirky individuals.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Another great nearby and local park worth stopping by. While it may not be for the diehard hikers, it’s easily worth a relaxing stroll. This park is filled with simple trails, the occasional tennis player and lawn bowler, and some great views of downtown Vancouver. Queen Elizabeth Park offers plenty of great photo opportunities in this park, including some friendly people and a plant conservatory. Rain or shine it’s worth a stroll!
Vancouver’s a big city with countless parks to explore. Whether they’re small and simple with a few benches and a good view, or a park that competes with the rest of the world and pushes it’s visitors to try something new and break a bit of a sweat. Taking in the outdoors as much as possible is an incredibly “Vancouver” thing to do. I’ve heard people say they could never live in a city that get’s so much rain. But when you see an entire populace simply ignore it and continue on with their day to day lives, it’s easy to feel like you could too.