Things to do in Vancouver during the Summer
When we heard the good news that TBEX 11 was coming to our hometown of Vancouver we were excited to have our beautiful city welcome the travel blog community.
As host of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the city has launched itself onto the world stage and become a tourism hotspot for all types of travel.
It’s easy to love Vancouver
Within a 20km radius you can be skiing in the mountains, strolling on the beach, hiking through temperate rainforest, kayaking secluded coves, dining at world class restaurants or attending an international event. We happen to think its one of the greatest cities in the world, but we’re totally biased!
When we travel to new countries or cities we want to know what the locals do for fun. Don’t get us wrong, we like to visit the popular sights as much as the next traveller, but the best way to experience a city is to follow the lead of its people.
As residents of Vancouver, we thought it would be helpful to go beyond Vancouver’s top attractions and introduce TBEX 11 attendees to things that we like do in Vancouver during the summer (because the event is in June, when the weather for British Columbia is typically warm and sunny).
1. Explore Deep Cove
Deep Cove is a harbour community on the east side of Seymour Mountain, a short drive from downtown Vancouver and accessible by public transit. The waters in the cove are normally calm, making it the perfect place to go kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding or boating (Equipment Rentals are available).
We put together a short video from an afternoon kayaking the cove last summer – Kayaking in Deep Cove
If water activities aren’t your thing, check out the popular Baden-Powell Trail and hike the 45-minute trail to the stunning viewpoint that overlooks Deep Cove and Indian Arm (its the rock cliff in the photo below – to the right). It’s not a mountain climb but it can be challenging for some, so bring proper shoes and a bottle of water. It’s one of our favourite hikes in Vancouver.
After you’ve had your fill of outdoor adventure, head into the small town and sample its world famous honey donuts with a cappuccino or enjoy a local craft beer on an outdoor patio.
2. Hike the Grouse Grind
Grouse Mountain, often referred as the “Peak of Vancouver”, is one of Vancouver’s top tourist attractions. But what many people don’t know is that it’s much more than a British Columbia skiing destination; it’s also one of the most popular hiking trails for Vancouver residents.
Why do the locals love it so much? Because it’s a kick-ass work out!
Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s a leisurely hike to a viewpoint. It’s a 3 kilometre trail straight up the face of Grouse Mountain. Every time we do the hike we see tourists with jeans and dress shoes attempting to reach the top. They typically don’t make it past the ¼ mark before turning around in defeat.
There is a reason it’s called “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”. You will sweat, you will bitch and you will hurt, but there is no better feeling than reaching the top. Don’t worry, you can take the tram down.
3. Catch a ball game at the Nat
Although we don’t have a professional baseball team in British Columbia, we do have the Vancouver Canadians. The minor league team plays at Nat Bailey Stadium, which is the perfect sports venue for a summer ball game.
It’s a small, no frills stadium with traditional metal bleachers, old school scoreboards and foot long hotdogs. Even if you don’t like sports, you’ll enjoy an afternoon at the Nat!
4. Rent a Motor Boat in Horseshoe Bay
On a nice day, the perfect West Coast activity is to rent a small motor boat and explore Howe Sound. A highlight is the colony of harbour seals that inhabit Pam Rocks, pictured below. It’s also likely that you’ll spot bald eagles while on the boat trip.
It’s not that expensive either. For two hours of personal boat time (usually enough to get to the seal colony and back) it’s about $130, and the boats can fit between 4-6 people. To visit marine parks and secluded coves that can only be reached by water, it’s wise to do the 4-hour rate and head to Gambier or Anvil Islands.
5. Bet on the Ponies at Hasting Park
Similar to Nat Bailey Stadium, Hastings Park is a Vancouver icon. The vintage race track has been around since 1947, making it a popular attraction even without the horse races.
We’re not big into gambling but love spending the afternoon at Hastings Park because of its great views and entertaining atmosphere. It’s free to enter, so we don’t mind putting a couple bucks on the ponies, which adds to the excitement of the Hastings experience.
It’s easy to get to the park by public transit and it neighbours Playland, Vancouver’s infamous amusement park, so you can make it a full day by combing the two activities.
6. Whale Watching and Fish & Chips in Steveston
Steveston is a charming fishing village in south Richmond, located south of Vancouver. It’s the departure point for many Whale Watching tours that explore the Gulf Islands and the San Juan islands. We went on a tour last summer and saw a pod of Orcas hanging out in their natural habitat – a very cool experience!
Steveston is an active fishing harbour so you can walk the docks and purchase fresh seafood directly from the fishing boats (you won’t find better prices anywhere!).
On a sunny afternoon, we like to visit the village and indulge in fresh fish and chips, then walk off lunch along the popular pier. As the photos below illustrate, it’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon outside the city and yet another reminder why we love living in British Columbia.
What are your favourite things to do your home city?
Share you thoughts in the comments section below.