There’s no denying that Vancouver is becoming a premier travel destination. The locals already knew their city was the place to be, and when a global audience arrived for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, the secret was out.
One of the great things about Vancouver is you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy its charms. In this article, we’ve chatted with our local guides to create a list of great things to do in and around Vancouver on the cheap, and all accessible by public transport.
1. Deep Cove is barely a 30-minute drive from downtown, but offers a completely serene, secluded experience. Take in the view of fir trees and water from Panorama Park, then hike a portion of the Baden Powell Trail to reach the look out at Quarry Rock (about a two-hour hike, there and back). There’s a small (free) art gallery in town, but the highlight of any trip to Deep Cove has got to be the stop at Honey’s for their incredible home-made doughnuts.
2. Every visitor to Vancouver hears about the Capilano Suspension Bridge. While it’s an amazing structure, the admission cost of $30 is steep in comparison to the similar bridge at nearby Lynn Canyon, which is free. Fingers crossed you get hot and sunny weather, because after the shaky crossing, a short hike beside the Lynn River takes you to the beautiful still green waters of the 30 Foot Pool, a popular local swimming hole surrounded by temperate rain forest.
3. Although the Suspension Bridge doesn’t make our list, Capilano River Regional Park does. Just a tiny bit further up the road from the Bridge, you can enter this North Shore park and see the spectacular views of Capilano Lake and Vancouver’s iconic “Lions” peaks from atop Cleveland Dam. If you’re interested in salmon, there’s a hatchery just downhill from the dam.
4. Lighthouse Park sits on Atkinson Point, the most westerly part of the North Shore, where Burrard Inlet meets Howe Sound. There are some small stands of old growth forest here and you can walk among the giant cedars and fir trees on your way to the park’s historic lighthouse.
5. A great way to mingle with Vancouver-ites in their native habitat is to visit one of the city’s weekend Farmer’s Markets. Local! Organic! Heirloom! Watch the locals drool over eco-friendly produce and gluten-free baking. My personal favourite is the market at Trout Lake; a visit here can be combined with a walk in the park and a stroll down nearby Commercial Drive. Other farmer’s markets pop up in Kitsilano (10th and Larch) and the West End (1100 block of Comox).
6. Explore the artisans’ workshops on Granville Island and search for the free foodie samples in the Public Market. The False Creek Ferries stop at the Granville Island pier. For a few dollars you can ride across False Creek in one of these tiny colourful boats that ferry up and down the creek (like in our featured image, above). It’s a good way to get a view of the former Athlete’s Village, a part of our city’s 2010 Winter Olympic legacy.
7. One of the most pleasant ways to enjoy a nice day in the city is to join the locals and ride a bike / walk / jog / roller blade around the city’s Seawall. You can choose to do the 9km loop around Stanley Park, or the more urban path that circles False Creek – or both.
8. Grab a frisbee and take a stroll on one of the city’s gorgeous beaches; you’ll quickly realise (if you haven’t already) why Vancouverites choose to make this part of the world their home. Witness classic views of downtown, the water and the North Shore Mountains. Kits Beach, English Bay, First Beach and Jericho are all deservedly popular. When the tide is so low it looks like the tankers must be resting on the sea floor, you can walk way out into the inlet from Spanish Banks.
9. Walk around some of Vancouver’s most liveable neighbourhoods and their main shopping streets: Main St area (walk south on Main from Broadway up to around 30th Ave; Commercial Drive (especially between 1st and Venables Ave.) and Kitsilano (W. 4th is a great shopping street between Burrard and Balsam). Each of these neighbourhoods provides its own unique insight into the city’s dining, shopping and cultural scenes.
10. Hop on the 135 bus heading East and take it all the way along Hastings to the top of nearby Burnaby Mountain. (This route includes a short but sweet tour of the DTES, Vancouver’s decidedly “grittier” underbelly). At Burnaby Mountain you can hike a short portion of the Trans Canada Trail to get to Burnaby Mountain Park for superb views of downtown Vancouver, the Burrard Inlet, the North Shore Mountains and Indian Arm.
Written by Sara Cooke at ToursByLocals. (Connecting travellers with local guides in over 120 countries.)
(Featured image: SqueakyMarmot)