Vancouver: An Outdoor Oasis

These daytrips provide an easy escape from the city

By: Janice Mucalov

As a longtime Vancouver resident, I continue to be enamored by the city’s close ties with nature. Clients can roll out of their downtown hotel bed, and within minutes, be cycling around the famous Stanley Park seawall. Within a 15-minute drive, they can be ogling massive cedars while hiking in the forests blanketing the North Shore mountains. Here are some of my favorite outdoor excursions within a short distance of downtown Vancouver.

Bowen Island
When the weather’s good, nothing beats a daytrip to pastoral Bowen Island. Part of the fun is getting there from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, you board a small ferry for the short, scenic sail to Snug Cove (tell clients to go as foot passengers). Grab a cappuccino at one of the cafes, and then set off for an easy two-hour walk through the forest and around Killarney Lake.

Before catching the ferry back, chill out at Doc Morgan’s Restaurant overlooking the ferry dock and picturesque marina.

Clients with a car should head to Steveston, a turn of-the-century fishing village. You can wander along the waterfront boardwalk lined with seafood restaurants and gift stores, then down to the wharf where fishers sell prawns, crab, halibut and salmon fresh from the boats.

For more exercise, stroll along the nearby dyke trail and spot turtles sunning on the banks and songbirds in the bulrushes. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery museum is also worth a visit. Open through October, it features a model fishing trawler you can walk through and other displays from a time when 15 salmon canneries operated along the coast here.

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is better known, but clients can step out for free onto the suspension bridge at Lynn Canyon. The bridge swings 20 stories above Lynn Creek, which smashes its way through a fabulous gorge in North Vancouver. The surrounding park offers hiking trails through 100-year-old cedar forests.

There’s also an Ecology Center with a children’s wing featuring hands-on displays like animal puppets and discovery drawers (guess the scent from scent bottles and identify different birds’ eggs, for example).

Lighthouse Park
For another taste of the wilderness right in the city, clients can hike along a three-mile path through centuries-old Douglas fir and cedar forests at this waterfront West Vancouver park. Rocky overhangs high above crashing waves are perfect for soaking up the sun and enjoying ocean views. Don’t forget to see the 1912 working lighthouse perched on a point at the water’s edge.


Wedgewood Hotel & Spa
The 83 rooms and suites of this boutique hotel were renovated in May 2005, and four new penthouse suites became available last month featuring rooftop terraces, fireplaces and heated stone floors.
Summer rates start at about $220 per night. The penthouse suites are $1,000 and $1,100 (for the larger suites) per night, year-round.
Commission: 10 percent

Westin Bayshore
Vancouver’s only “resort-style” hotel, the Westin Bayshore boasts a heated outdoor pool overlooking Coal Harbor and the North Shore mountains beyond. Its Seawall Bar & Grill offers alfresco dining with fabulous water views.
Rates start at $295 per night through October and then drops to $225. Until Dec. 31, stay the weekend and get a third night free.
Commission: 10 percent