Inside Vancouver

Must-see spots for Olympic travelers touring the city

By: Judd Eustice

The countdown has started for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. With less than five years to go, Vancouver is in the process of sprucing up and constructing the needed venues to host the event. The excitement of the pending worldwide attention is hard for any British Columbian to contain. Locals know that a cosmopolitan crowd will descend on this beautiful city, along with Whistler and its ski resorts, and there are a few places your clients shouldn’t miss.

Grouse Mountain, a short drive from the city, offers guests skiing and snowboarding. As part of the upcoming Winter Games, officials invested more than $4 million in a high-speed chairlift, as well as run improvements and enhancements to snowmaking capabilities.

Grouse Mountain is unique because it is both ski resort and wildlife refuge. The mountain is home to two grizzly bear cubs, Grinder and Coola, and a pack of captive-born gray wolves, now retired from the film industry. The animals are free to roam the mountain’s nearly 150 acres as an experiment designed to study the habitats of these animals in order to preserve them.

On the way down from Grouse, clients will find the Capilano Suspension Bridge a must-see attraction. The pedestrian-only bridge connects two cliffs 230 feet above the Capilano River Canyon. A trip across is not for the fainthearted: The bridge sways and bounces, but the sight is worth it. The suspension adventure doesn’t end after reaching the other side. Clients can also take in the views of the giant Douglas firs.

Vancouver is a diverse, vibrant metropolis that offers a wide range of experiences to indulge visitors. It is a city of high-rise apartments housing a hip, urban population. The closeness of these glass communities, makes the city an easy walk for visitors to check out the many restaurants, bars, coffee shops and art galleries. Beyond a brisk city walk, Vancouver also offers many ways to enjoy the outdoors.

A visit to the lush foliage of Stanley Park is a way to connect the city’s history and future. The peninsular park separates the English Bay and the Burrard Inlet and proves to be a fine vantage point to see the city skyline and the forested mountains, which will soon serve as Olympic venues.

While at the park, clients should visit the Vancouver Aquarium and its Marine Science Centre. Large in scale and scope, the aquarium allows for close encounters with marine life from tiny tropical fish to a pod of beluga whales. Clients might even get a chance to feed these gentle creatures.

Vancouver evenings offer many fine-dining venues, but a favorite among locals and visitors alike is the Irish Heather, an authentic Irish Pub in the upcoming Gastown neighborhood. Clients should give the the fish and chips a try while they sip a pint of Guiness or a dram of good whisky. (The semi-secret whisky house out back is worth looking into; ask about the Shebeen.) Here, travelers often let the evening slip into the night over conversations with a few new friends.


Grouse Mountain

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Vancouver Aquarium