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Best Outdoor Activities in Vancouver

Best Outdoor Activities in Vancouver

Greetings, fellow adventurers! So, you’ve found yourself in the enchanting city of Vancouver, surrounded by mountains, ocean, and more outdoor possibilities than you can shake a hiking stick at.

Fear not, because we’re here to guide you through the maze of Vancouver outdoor activities. Whether you’re a nature aficionado or just looking for an excuse to wear that new pair of hiking boots, Vancouver has something for everyone.

Let’s unravel the best outdoor escapades this city has to offer, and who knows, you might just find your inner wilderness explorer or at least work up a decent appetite for post-hike poutine!

1. Go whitewater rafting in Squamish River

Media: Squamish Rafting Company

Location: Squamish-Lillooet, British Columbia

With its expansive drainage basin, the Squamish River, offers a variety of thrilling opportunities for rafting enthusiasts. Featuring splashy Class 2 rapids interspersed with calm sections, it provides a safe yet exhilarating experience for all levels of rafters.

Squamish River stretches approximately 50 miles from the Coast Mountains to Howe Sound. The journey down this river unveils mesmerizing views of glaciated mountain peaks, with Mount Cayley and Mount Garibaldi serving as breathtaking backdrops.

There are several rafting companies that offer guided excursions here, accommodating groups of up to six. They ensure a personalized and professionally guided adventure through Squamish’s exhilarating rapids.

Pro tip:
You may consider bringing a waterproof camera or a GoPro to capture the exhilarating moments on the river. The stunning views and adrenaline-pumping rapids are picture-perfect memories you’ll want to cherish.

2. Mountain biking at Mount Fromme

Media: Harry Brumer

Location: North Vancouver, BC V7K 1X8, Canada

Nestled on Vancouver’s northern shores, Mount Fromme beckons cycling enthusiasts to a haven of diverse biking trails. From beginner-friendly paths to technically demanding tracks, this outdoor activity caters to riders of all skill levels.

You can start your journey from the base, traversing the winding Mountain Highway, and diving into the Bobsled trail for a smooth and speedy ride. For a test of endurance, the Fromme Ascent presents sustained uphill challenges with minimal respite.

The interconnected biking trails offer a user-friendly layout, allowing riders to tailor their experience, with a fresh challenge awaiting at each turn. With its dynamic landscape, Mount Fromme’s biking haven promises a memorable and varied cycling escapade.

Pro tip:
It’s easy to get carried away, but it’s crucial to know your limits. While you can always push yourself, be realistic also about what you’re comfortable tackling, especially on challenging trails.

3. Skiing or snowboarding at Cypress Mountain

Media: Joy

Address: 6000 Cypress Bowl Rd, West Vancouver, BC V7V 3N9


Contact Details: +1 604-926-5612

Operating Hours: Monday-Sunday: 9 AM–10 PM

Lift Tickets:

  • Adults – CAD $82-98
  • Youth – CAD $55-60
  • Child – CAD $34-39

For thrill-seekers craving winter adventures, Cypress Mountain is a prime choice. This expansive skiing resort, among the largest in Canada, invites enthusiasts to explore a myriad of activities.

Nestled in Cypress Provincial Park, a mere 30-minute journey from Vancouver, it is easily accessible by car or public transport. A haven for both Nordic and alpine skiing, it boasts over 19 km of captivating trails.

The ski resort offers more than 50 downhill runs catering to diverse skill levels, ensuring everyone finds their perfect slope. To ascend the slopes, this ski resort has quad and double chairlifts, and for families with kids, a dedicated camp area awaits.

Pro tip:
Even on cloudy days, the snow’s reflection can be harsh on your skin. Slather on sunscreen – your future self will thank you for avoiding the ‘raccoon goggle’ tan lines.

4. Whale watching around the Gulf Islands

Location: between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia

Indulging in a whale-watching tour around the Gulf Islands stands is one of the most engaging outdoor activities in Vancouver. These tours offer an up-close encounter with majestic whales while knowledgeable guides share insights into their fascinating lives.

A whale-watching adventure is a refreshing departure from routine, drawing enthusiasts of all ages keen on trying something new. As spring graces Vancouver, the city comes alive with vibrant tulips adorning its parks.

While embarking on a boat trip from Vancouver, visitors can marvel at an array of cetaceans. These include killer whales, humpback whales, and playful porpoises, frolicking in the waters off the British Columbia coast.

Pro tip:
The early bird truly catches the whale. Morning tours often have calmer waters, and marine life is more active. Plus, you get the bonus of softer lighting for those epic photos.

5. Kayaking at Deep Cove

Location: 2156 Banbury Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7G 2T1


Contact Details: +1 604-929-2268

Operating Hours: Monday-Sunday: 1–4 PM

The quaint harbor town of Deep Cove unveils a kayaker’s haven framed by majestic mountains. The journey to this serene bay, winding through lush mountain forests, sets the stage for the tranquil adventure that awaits.

Deep Cove’s pebbly shores host a central kayak center, offering rentals for those eager to paddle at their own pace. They can also embark on a guided tour through Vancouver’s scenic mountain landscapes, potentially encountering native wildlife.

For sports enthusiasts, Deep Cove beckons with more than just kayaking. Beginners can dive into the world of paddling through lessons and guided tours.

Beyond kayaking, the cove opens doors to surf skiing, paddleboarding, and various water activities. Whether you’re honing your skills or embracing a new aquatic adventure, it provides the backdrop for an enriching and dynamic outdoor experience.

Pro tip:
Take a moment to understand the basics of kayaking, especially if you’re a beginner. Knowing how to paddle efficiently and steer will enhance your experience on the water.

6. Ice skating at Grouse Mountain

Media: ioiosui

Location: North Vancouver, BC V7R 4K9


Contact Details: +1 604-980-9311

Operating Hours: Monday-Friday: 11 AM–8 PM, Saturday & Sunday: 9 AM–9 PM

Grouse Mountain, a year-round gem near Vancouver, transforms into a winter wonderland. Amidst its snowy splendor, the mountain becomes a playground for winter enthusiasts, featuring skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and ziplining adventures.

At the pinnacle of Grouse Mountain, an 8,000-square-foot skating pond beckons visitors for a delightful spin on the ice. The pond welcomes skaters of all ages, creating a family-friendly atmosphere where even toddlers can enjoy the frozen fun.

Pro tip:
For a magical experience, hit the ice during the evening when the pond is illuminated. The twinkling lights create a cozy ambiance, and the crisp night air adds a touch of winter enchantment.

7. Walking the Capilano Suspension Bridge

Location: 3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4J1


Contact Details: +1 604-985-7474, [email protected]

Operating Hours: Monday & Tuesday: 10 AM–8 PM, Wednesday-Sunday: 10 AM–9 PM

Entry Fee: $63 for adults

At a lofty 230 feet above the Capilano River, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is a marvel of plank and cable engineering. It offers an exhilarating experience within Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.

Winding through the verdant landscapes of North Vancouver, the bridge is a scenic stroll, inviting nature enthusiasts to traverse its 460-foot span. The panoramic views provide a breathtaking perspective of the surrounding river valley.

This suspension bridge really stands out as one of the premier outdoor activities in Vancouver. However, the park also offers other family-friendly activities, including totem carving demonstrations and scenic hiking trails.

Pro tip:
You may consider taking a delightful detour to the Story Centre. Here, you’ll learn about the bridge’s rich history and the indigenous cultures that contribute to the region’s heritage.

8. Stroll through VanDusen Botanical Garden

Location: 5251 Oak St, Vancouver, BC V6M 4H1


Contact Details: +1 604-257-8463

Operating Hours: Monday-Sunday: 10 AM–2 PM

Wandering through VanDusen Botanical Garden unveils a vibrant autumn tapestry. It features crocuses, asters, angelica trees, hydrangeas, and an array of herbaceous perennials.

This 55-acre oasis in the heart of Vancouver teems with over 7,500 plant species from around the world. As autumn sets in, elusive native wildlife graces the gardens, with owls often perched among the golden foliage of gingko trees.

Autumn presents an ideal time to explore VanDusen’s diverse beauty. During winter, it transforms into a holiday wonderland for the Festival of Lights around Livingstone Lake.

VanDusen Botanical Garden promises a rich experience for all who revel in the outdoors. Some of the activities here include navigating the Elizabethan hedge maze, dining at Truffles Cafe, and browsing the garden-themed gift shop.

Pro tip:
You can pack a picnic and unwind in one of the garden’s serene spots. Whether it’s beneath the shade of a majestic tree or by the edge of a tranquil pond, you’ll find numerous picturesque settings to enjoy your meal.

9. Hiking through Stanley Park

Media: Tour Canada 🇨🇦

Location: Vancouver, BC V6G 1Z4


Contact Details: +1 604-681-6728

Operating Hours: Monday-Sunday: 9 AM–5 PM

In the vibrant canvas of Vancouver’s autumn, Stanley Park emerges as a captivating masterpiece. With a sprawling expanse of 400 hectares, this urban oasis transforms into a kaleidoscope of colors, unveiling the seasonal drama of changing leaves.

With its vast cedar forests and a wooded seawall, this park is a captivating haven for those seeking a leisurely outdoor escape. Here, you can wander along the pathways and hiking trails that unveil nature’s captivating displays.

The park was inaugurated in 1888 and serves as a testament to Vancouver’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty. Besides the scenic seawall, it boasts an aquarium, monuments, inviting beaches, and a picturesque lighthouse.

Pro tip:
You can grab a park map at the entrance. While the trails are well-marked, the map can be a handy companion to explore lesser-known paths and hidden gems.

10. Visit the Lighthouse Park

Media: Rishab Shekar

Location: 4902 Beacon Ln, West Vancouver, BC V7W 1K5


Contact Details: +1 604-925-7275

Operating Hours: Monday-Sunday: 7 AM–10 PM

The sprawling expanse of Lighthouse Park encompasses approximately 75 hectares, earning recognition as a national historic site. Accessible by both public transport and car, this Vancouver gem attracts visitors to immerse themselves in its natural splendor.

This park is revered as one of the most photographed spots in the Lower Mainland. It’s not only a haven for serene picnics but also an ideal setting for leisurely nature walks and invigorating medium-to-challenging hikes.

Adding to its allure, Lighthouse Park is designated as a rockfish protection area. This ensures the crystal-clear blue waters provide an enchanting backdrop for a relaxing picnic or a peaceful escape into nature.

Pro tip:
Be a responsible adventurer and let’s keep this stunning place pristine for others. Whatever you bring in, take it back out.

11. Swimming at Kitsilano Beach and Pool

Media: Curiocity Vancouver

Location: 2305 Cornwall Ave, Vancouver, BC V6K 1B6

Contact Details: +1 604-731-0011

Kitsilano Beach, or Kits Beach as the locals affectionately call it, is the epitome of Vancouver’s vibrant summer scene. Bustling with beachgoers and volleyball enthusiasts, it’s the go-to spot for sun-soaked afternoons.

With its vast stretch of greenery and inviting volleyball courts, the beach is not just for sandcastles but also for energetic matches under the sun. Adjacent to the sandy shores is Kitsilano Pool, a colossal outdoor oasis.

Stretching nearly triple the size of an Olympic pool, it’s an aquatic playground accommodating everyone. Here, you picture yourself leisurely swimming while surrounded by the lively buzz of summer excitement.

The beauty of Kitsilano lies not only in its beach and pool but also in the breathtaking backdrop it provides for witnessing Vancouver’s dramatic sunsets. It’s a double delight, offering the best of beachfront bliss and refreshing poolside relaxation

Pro tip:
You can opt for the lap lanes at the pool if you’re serious about swimming. They offer a more focused and uninterrupted experience.

12. Embrace thrills at Wildplay Elements Park

Location: 23485 Fern Crescent, Maple Ridge, BC V4R 2S6


Contact Details: +1 855-595-2251

Operating Hours:

  • Monday: 10 AM–4 PM
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: Closed
  • Thursday: Closed
  • Friday: Closed
  • Saturday: 10 AM–4 PM
  • Sunday: 10 AM–4 PM

Wildplay Elements Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure. Designed for both children above 12 years and adults, this park is a perfect escape from the bustling city.

Surrounded by natural beauty, Wildplay Elements Park is one of the most picturesque spots in Vancouver. The park offers an array of exhilarating activities, including hanging nets, zip lines, suspended ladders, axe throwing, and more.

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or looking for a unique family day out, Wildplay has something for everyone. Here, you can unleash your inner adventurer, challenge yourself on the suspended ladders, or soar through the air on thrilling zip lines.

Pro tip:
Don’t rush through the courses. You can take your time to enjoy the scenery, conquer the challenges, and savor the feeling of accomplishment.

13. Soar to new heights with Sea to Sky Gondola Adventure

Address: W Cordova St &, Howe St, Vancouver, BC V6C 3N2


Contact Details: +1-855-732-8675, [email protected]

Operating Hours: Opens at 9 AM


  • Shuttle and Gondola Package
  • Adult (19-64) Round Trip – $105
  • Senior (65+) Round Trip – $98
  • Youth (13-18) Round Trip – $68
  • Child (6-12) Round Trip – $56
  • Child (3-5) Round Trip – $30
  • Child (2 and under) Round Trip – Free

The Sea to Sky Gondola Adventure is a captivating journey up Mount Habrich in Squamish. With floor-to-ceiling windows and a limited capacity of eight people per car, the gondola experience ensures an intimate and awe-inspiring ride.

In just 10 minutes, the gondola ascends 885 meters, revealing panoramic views of Howe Sound Fjord, the towering Coast Mountains, and the iconic Stawamus Chief. The minimal wait time for one of the 20 available cars enhances the seamless adventure.

Then, you will arrive at the Summit Lodge, where your adventure continues. The 100-meter Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge awaits, offering a favored spot for capturing breathtaking photographs.

Pro tip:
Keep an eye on the weather forecast and try to visit on a clear day for the best views. The panoramic vistas are absolutely jaw-dropping when the skies are clear.

14. Paddleboarding at Buntzen Lake

Media: Rhiannon

Location: Anmore, British Columbia; northern part of the Metro Vancouver region

Area: 182 ha

Buntzen Lake, situated approximately an hour from Vancouver, offers a unique blend of suburban tranquility and natural wilderness. The main draw here is the scenic lake hike, making it an ideal destination for dog owners or those seeking a refreshing day trip.

Paddleboarding enthusiasts can also seize the opportunity to explore various sections of the lake. Notable attractions within the lake include the Buntzen Lake Suspension Bridge and a serene, swampy area that exudes tranquility.

With diverse spots to observe, paddleboarding becomes a delightful way to experience the lake’s charm. Adventurous souls might even consider engaging in Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) Yoga amidst the serene surroundings.

Pro tip:
Paddleboarding is more enjoyable with a friend. Not only does it enhance safety, but it also provides someone to share the scenic moments and take photos of your paddleboarding prowess.

15. Discover False Creek

Media: Tati Pinheiro

Location: stretches from the Burrard Street Bridge to the east, past Granville Island, and out to the Strait of Georgia to the west

False Creek offers a convenient escape for those seeking outdoor activities without venturing too far from the city. A leisurely stroll along the waterfront, stretching from the Vancouver Science Center to Granville Island, unveils a variety of exploration options.

Whether you choose to rent kayaks, bikes, or paddleboards, False Creek provides an opportunity for aquatic adventures. The area is also dotted with patio restaurants, creating perfect spots to relax and enjoy the waterfront ambiance.

You can also visit Granville Island which offers highly-rated restaurants and a vibrant market boasting fresh, local produce. False Creek is recommended for those seeking a laid-back afternoon with a mix of recreation and delightful attractions.

Pro tip:
Tides can influence your experience, especially if you’re planning water activities. Know the tide schedule beforehand to make the most of your kayaking or paddle boarding adventure.

16. Hike the trail up the Stawamus Chief in Squamish

Media: Ryan Wiseman

Location: Squamish, British Columbia

Just 45 minutes from Downtown Vancouver, the Stawamus Chief in Squamish offers a hiking experience for those seeking a bit more challenge. It presents three distinct routes—each leading to a different peak—suitable for various hiking skill levels.

Most opt for the first peak, a rewarding journey that takes around 2-3 hours for the average hiker. The seasoned enthusiasts though may conquer it in just 90 minutes.

The trail unveils panoramic views, with the surrounding natural beauty serving as both a challenge and a captivating reward. Atop the peaks, hikers can soak in breathtaking vistas, occasionally sharing the moment with friendly squirrels and chipmunks.

Pro tip:
Opt for sturdy, comfortable hiking boots with good grip. The rocky terrain demands proper footwear for a safer and more enjoyable experience.

17. Unwind at the Bloedel Floral Conservatory

Address: 4600 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V5Y 2M4


Contact Details: +1 604-257-8584

Operating Hours: Monday-Sunday: 10 AM–4 PM

The Bloedel Conservatory is an iconic aviary and greenhouse, offering a captivating experience for nature enthusiasts. Spanning an impressive 16,386 square feet, the conservatory resides under a unique triodesic dome within Queen Elizabeth Park.

It houses over 120 free-flying birds and 500 tropical plant species. Within this verdant oasis, three distinct climatic zones—tropical, subtropical, and desert—harbor an exquisite collection of non-native flora and fauna from across the globe.

Here, you’ll step into a world where the parrots, cockatoos, and macaws harmonize with the lush foliage, creating a natural wonder. It has also a temperature-controlled environment that allows for the flourishing of diverse ecosystems.

Pro tip:
You may consider getting a membership to get some cool perks. It’s a non-profit, and your support helps in maintaining this incredible space.

18. Go snowshoeing at Seymour Mountain

Media: Kaplan Vancouver

Location: Mount Seymour Provincial Park in the District of North Vancouver, British Columbia

Venturing into the winter landscape just a half-hour drive from downtown Vancouver, Seymour Mountain offers a hidden haven for snowshoeing enthusiasts. It beckons both beginners and experienced individuals to explore its pristine surroundings.

If you’re without your own snowshoes, worry not; guided tours are available, allowing you to entrust the equipment and navigation to expert guides. Here, you’ll embrace the peacefulness of nature as you effortlessly traverse the snowy terrain.

Pro tip:
Familiarize yourself with the trail map beforehand. Being aware of the route and any potential challenges ensures a smoother and more enjoyable experience.