A Woman’s Travel Guide to Exploring Vancouver BC
March 5, 2019
Vancouver, BC: A worthwhile tourist trap, the not-so-touristy, and poutine.
Vancouver BC is an amazing city surrounded by epic natural beauty. Visiting for a weekend is difficult only in choosing what to do and see in a short amount of time. Most of my traveling includes two young children, though I rarely choose destination solely for my kids’ sake. If you have a couple of days to spend in Vancouver, BC with or without kids, and you enjoy not-too-intense nature-related activities, here are some great ideas:
A Woman’s Guide To a Family Trip OR Girlfriend’s Getaway to Vancouver, BC
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park – $$$$ allow 2 – 3 hours
The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is Vancouver’s top tourist attraction and I completely understand why. Only 15 minutes from downtown, this attraction is more than just a big bridge. The famed suspension bridge is 460 feet (140 meters) long, and hangs 230 feet (70 m) above the Capilano River. After managing to white-knuckle it across the swaying, jiggling bridge, you will traverse the forested park along a series of smaller suspension bridges attached to 250 year old Douglas-firs. Some of these bridges and platforms are over 100 feet (30 m) off the ground. It is a truly unique way to experience the forest. If you have ever wanted to imagine yourself living in a Ewok village (and who hasn’t?) this is the park for you!
If all that’s not enough to satisfy your hunger for vertigo, there is also a narrow, glass-walled cliff walk jutting out from the rock and suspended 300 feet (91 m) above the river. Depending on your personal views about plummeting to your death, the cliff walk is either terrifying of really, really awesome. I’ll let you guess where my 5-year-old stands on this.
For my family, fresh air and dizzying heights get our tummies rumbling. Luckily, the Cliff House Restaurant is on-site and is excellent. Do yourself a favor and order the poutine. If you don’t know, poutine is the national artery-clogger of Canada. A pile of french fries topped with cheese curds and smothered in gravy. For the health conscious, you can also add pulled pork on top of your Cliff House poutine. Really good poutine is the fatty, salty, flavor-bomb I didn’t realize I was missing in my life. Now I want to travel Canada researching favorite local poutine recipes. But I digress. My point is: Capilano Suspension Bridge, canopy tour and cliff walk are worth the price of admission and the poutine is worth the calories.
Bloedel Floral Conservatory and Aviary in Queen Elizabeth Park – $ allow 30-60 min
The Conservatory, housed in a dome-shaped building, with a roof composed of triangular plexiglass bubbles, is eye-catching. What’s inside, however is another world: an indoor tropical garden with 500 plant species and over 100 different free-flying tropical birds. The Bloedel Conservatory is an absolute gem! It is very inexpensive (less than $7 CAD for adults and $5 CAD for kids) and a perfect spot for some quiet time, especially for bird lovers, flower lovers, and photography enthusiasts.
The conservatory also sits atop the highest point in Vancouver and affords beautiful views of the city and surrounding mountains.
Stanley Park – $0-$$$ depending on attractions and parking
With over 1,000 acres to explore, Stanley Park is an urban oasis with something for everyone. From beaches, forested trails, paved biking trails, and playgrounds, to public art, cultural and natural history, the Vancouver Aquarium, and a miniature train ride (always a hit with the preschool set) you could spend an entire weekend in this one park alone.
We chose to spend a few hours at the Vancouver Aquarium – $$ allow 2-3 hours.
Aquariums are always a hit with kids and Vancouver’s does not disappoint. We were especially excited to see a real live sea turtle swimming above our heads. I particularly appreciated their artistic and comprehensive exhibits about the immense problem of plastics in our oceans.
Lynn Canyon Park and Suspension Bridge – $0 A small visitor center accepts donations. Allow as much time as you need to hike.
Apparently, Vancouver has a thing for dramatic suspension bridges. If you are looking for a cheaper (free), wilder and far less crowded option than Capilano, visit Lynn Canyon Park just northeast of downtown Vancouver. This gorgeous, forested park boasts numerous hiking trails suitable for all hiking abilities, complete with waterfalls, swimming holes, and a suspension bridge. The Lynn Canyon bridge is only (only?) 164 ft (50 m) above the canyon. I dare say it sways more than Capilano, though. There is also a small ecology center and cafe at the entrance to the park. I am very much looking forward to exploring much more of Lynn Canyon in the future.
Feature image via: Rachel Barkman’s Insta @Rachelbarkman