Vancouver is the perfect mix of city and nature. It is the quintessential destination for travellers who revel in the outdoors, enjoy good food, and active pursuits. For several years I called Vancouver home, which allowed me to experience the best of what this urban paradise has to offer.
I was able to explore beyond the typical guidebook suggestions of a stroll through Stanley Park, visiting Capilano Suspension Bridge, and joining the hordes of tourists on Granville Island.
And while these are all great things to see and do when visiting the city, Vancouver is so much more than these oft oversold attractions.
If you’re planning a visit to Vancouver take time to get to the heart of the city and explore these other, often unsung experiences that lie in wait.
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is just two hours from the city and offers a complete package for outdoor enthusiasts.
The main draw is a scenic hike that trails to three brilliant-blue glacier-fed lakes, each more beautiful than the last. As you make your way skyward take pause to marvel at the spectacular view of the surrounding mountain ranges.
What greets you at the top is like a utopia hidden high in the mountains. Upper Joffre Lake sits pretty like a turquoise gem misplaced in the woods, the breathtaking mountain ranges peeking through the forest that hugs its shoreline.
The beyond-charming community of Deep Cove is like a secluded township in the far reaches of British Columbia, only it’s not. It’s located on Vancouver’s North Shore just 30 minutes from the city. Its quaint atmosphere is hypnotising and a day spent exploring this gorgeous inlet will leave you in awe of nature.
The dramatically beautiful bay is best experienced on the water, either by boat or kayak, though it is possible to take in the gorgeous scenery from dry land on one of the trails that skirt around the bay.
Panorama Park is the prime location for a picnic with a view. Honey Doughnuts & Goodies serves up a series of mouth-watering doughnuts and other treats – the maple doughnut comes highly recommended.
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Who would have thought that some of Vancouver’s best food is served out the back of a truck?
Feasting on street food curbside is fast becoming a legit dining experience around the world, and Vancouver is no exception. In fact, the trucks that adorn the streets of the city and beyond are arguably leading the way in delectable eats.
My personal favourite, Tacofino, serves up tacos and other mouth watering Mexican food; usually from their Dunsmuir & Burrard Street location.
Tacofino originated in Tofino (hence the second half of their quip-name), and the White Lightning truck, as she’s been named, has only been gracing the streets of Vancouver since 2013, though its popularity suggests otherwise. It’s not unusual to join the queue 100 metres down the road during rush-hour.
Lynn Canyon Park
The lush wilderness of Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver feels like it’s a world away from the city, yet in reality it’s only a 20-minute drive from the centre.
The park is home to Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, a smaller yet no-less-spectacular counterpart to Capilano Suspension Bridge sans the crowds and expense.
A web of hiking trails lead into the park, weaving their way through moss covered forest, past waterfalls, swimming holes, and gentle flowing streams. The Baden Powell Trail is exquisite and takes in the best of what Lynn Canyon Park has to offer.
Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver is one of those unspoiled slices of nature you pray other people will never catch on to.
The verdant 75-hectare park is nestled into the coastline overlooking the picturesque Burrard Inlet and Howe Sound. Ancient Douglas Fir and Red Cedar trees tower overhead as though they’re gatekeepers charged to protect the park’s pristine habitat. It is believed these are the last first-growth Douglas Fir trees in the area, with some as old as 500 years.
Hiking trails delve deep into the lush woodland and down to the rocky shoreline, so immersing yourself in nature is a breeze.