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Vancouver Day trips

We get a lot of visitors to Vancouver and for many excellent reasons. We're an international city nestled between the mountains and ocean. We're a major cruise ship port for the Alaskan run and have a thriving tourism industry offering everything from a glamorous urban experience to a rugged wilderness adventure.


The Greater Vancouver metropolitan area includes the surrounding suburbs out to the Fraser Valley. This blog will offer links to previous in-depth posts as well as other suggestions. So grab a cup of coffee and your planning journal, and settle in.


Vancouver

To start, check out Trish's Guide to Vancouver. It covers places to visit, how to get around, and restaurant suggestions amongst many other practical details. Beyond the places already covered in Trish's blog, here are some of my favourite haunts outside of the downtown core.

UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA CAMPUS

Vancouver is home to the University of British Columbia campus. This stunning campus is perched atop the cliffs of Point Grey and makes an easy and budget day trip. You can spend time walking the trails of the Pacific Spirit Regional Park and the UBC Endowment Lands. Our local clothing-optional beach, Wreck beach, can be found by walking down one of the cliff trails to the secluded beach below.


The Botanical Gardens include a tree top canopy walk, extensive gardens of native plants and farm research as well as the traditional Japanese garden, Nitobe Memorial Garden. While you are near the Gardens, make sure you check out the Museum of Anthropology and their comprehensive exhibit of West Coast Indigenous history and culture, including relocated buildings, totems, and art.

There are varying entrance fees depending upon what you want to see and do. Nitobe Gardens is only $5CAD, the botanical gardens will cost $10, and the canopy walk will set you back $23. There are various combination tickets offered as well. An adult entry to the Museum of Anthropology is $15.

Since you are on campus, you can find many places to grab something to eat but the new student union building, The Nest, includes lots of meeting rooms, various food outlets and student stores.


QUEEN ELIZABETH PARK

Queen Elizabeth Park is a favourite park for many locals, including a stunning quarry garden, trails, a glass-dome conservatory, and some of the best views of Vancouver. There's plenty of room to get some exercise or let the kids blow off some steam.

The Quarry Garden is at its best in summer and late spring but is a delight throughout the year. It costs nothing to wander around the park and enjoy the blooms. Perfect for budget travellers!


The Bloedel Conservatory is a humid environment showcasing tropical plants, birds, and insects. Take some time to chat to the parrots. If they are in the right mood, it's possible they will have something to share. Entrance fees are very reasonable ($5-$7CAD)


I like Queen Elizabeth Park for those days when the weather is unsettled. If the rain comes, I can always duck into the Conservatory.

VAN DUSEN GARDENS

If you are a garden enthusiast and haven't yet got your fill at UBC and Queen Elizabeth Park, then put Van Dusen Gardens on your list. Located along one of main road from the airport to downtown, This 55-acre site is considered to be amongst the top ten in North America. It offers many special events throughout the year, so definitely check out their web site before choosing your dates. It will cost you between $6 (seniors in winter season) and $13 (adults in high season).


THE DRIVE

The "Drive" is a culturally rich and authentic neighbourhood that lines Commercial Drive in East Vancouver. It is an area filled with some of the most colourful shopping, dining and nightlife found in the city. An eight block section of the Drive is known as "Little Italy" to locals and is where authentic Italian restaurants, bakeries, and pizza joints can be found.

The entire Drive is 22 blocks of unique merchants, including quaint boutiques, an eclectic collection of restaurants, a vibrant live music and bar scene, dinner with dancing, theatres, coffee houses, specialty food stores and bakeries. It's truly a taste of the spirit and culture of East Vancouver.

STANLEY PARK AND VANCOUVER AQUARIUM

Locals are extremely proud of Stanley Park, a magnificent 400+ hectare park located on the north part of the downtown peninsula. The park is surrounded by Burrard Inlet and English Bay and is an easy walk from anywhere in the downtown core. The park is surrounded by a 10km Sea Wall which attracts walkers, runners, bikers, and bladers. To try to manage the large numbers of people who use the seawall path, the route is a one-way path. There's no surer way to prove you are a visitor than walking the wrong way. The pathway is divided into cycling and walking pathways. BE CAREFUL, bikers move at quite a pace in some sections and are not always able to move safely around you, if you wander into their path. Stay on the pedestrian side and you'll be fine.


While Stanley Park is amazing all year round, it can really shine in the summer. The Rose Garden is in full bloom and the Tea House Restaurant (spendy!) is busy. Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) performances take place every night in the outdoor theatre in Malkin Bowl. Cricket and rugby matches will be taking place at several different locations. Children will be splashing in the water play area or climbing on playground equipment. The trails through the forest will be cool and fresh... and the action around the RCMP stables comes outdoors. Rowers and yachting types will be heading out for the day and tourists will be posing for photos in front of totems.


The Vancouver Aquarium is a facility deeply committed to marine animal research and rehabilitation and ocean conservation. It has undergone some financial challenges and was closed for almost a year during Covid. It has since re-opened under new ownership with new attractions and exhibits. It's pricey, a regular ticket will put you back $42CAD.


North Vancouver

North Vancouver is known for hiking and skiing trails on the North Shore mountains and the bustling Lonsdale Quay full of shops, restaurants, and fabulous people-watching. Take the Seabus across from downtown that will take you straight to the quay.

LYNN CANYON SUSPENSION BRIDGE

Lynn Canyon Park and Suspension Bridge has been a local favourite since 1912. It's a free self-guided adventure through the trails and ravines of the North Shore Mountains. There's an interpretation centre, a waterfall, and a suspension bridge.