A little way out of Whistler - about five minutes in the car if that - is a complex of accommodation called Whiskey Jack. It's pretty quiet and wooded so great for people wanting a bit more of a chilled time or with families. We were a couple and the apartment we had was massive. It was like flat sitting for a mate. Set over two floors, balcony, two double bedrooms, huge lounge with TV and a great kitchen and all for so much cheaper than we were being quoted for Whistler Village itself. The one downside is the drive to the slopes (although there's loads of parking in Whistler) and home from a night out which can limit your hedonism somewhat but for the money you save you can easily treat yourself to the odd cab.
Head office (where you need to go to pick up your keys: 4314 Main Street Whistler, BC V0N 1B4, Canada
+1 (604) 932 6599
Actual apartment complex: 2400 Cavendish Way
+1 (604) 932 6500
Google map: bit.ly/SixGn5
This is much larger than i had anticipated and could be a full day trip with a picnic. The walk or preferably a cycle around the water's edge is a good starting point but there is so much more to it. Go up to the viewing point to see Vancouver beneath you - cruise liners and sea planes etc. A great way to start a Canadian adventure.
I'm a snowboard and ski instructor and I've been lucky enough to go to many mountains and resorts in the world.
People always ask about a good place to take the family to ski or learn to ski. I think Vancouver is perfect. People always think of Whistler but don't know that there are three great mountains in Vancouver itself - Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Seymour Mountain.
For beginner skiers or families of skiers this has a lot of great advantages. By staying in the city there is a much wider range of accomodation (cheaper than Whistler to extravagant). There is also a lot of other activities on your doorstep so maybe when mum, dad or one of the kids gets tired or bored of every day skiing they can venture into the city easily and cheaply and take their minds off the sore muscles. Shopping, aquarium, Stanly Park, golf, sailing, nightclubs means there is always something to do.
All the mountains offer a great range of snowsports from beginner to advanced terrain and terrain parks. Whistler is little over an hour away for an extra day out. All the mountains have stunning views of the city and as a bonus Cypress Mountain will be holding some events in the 2010 Winter Olympics. The mountains are easily accessible by highways so there are no tricky mountain roads and the instruction at Cypress Mountain in particular is excellent for the whole family. They have also had a record winter of snowfall.
Plus, as the exchange rate is currently nearly two Canadian dollars to the pound it's not as expensive a destination as you may think.
All in all, a great place for everyone to go and enjoy on many different levels.
Nothing beats a summer's sunset than watching it along Spanish Banks. Just aim for Jericho Beach and walk along the beach until you find your perfect log.
The view stretches from the cruise ships on the horizon off to Alaska to the mountains to the city.
The atmosphere of couples and families just relaxing is unbeatable. Truly the best way to see the city's beauty.
Worth the trip alone. The Pacific beaches are stunning and Tofino is a great little town - posh-hippy, laid back, with great restaurants. The Rainforest Cafe offers sublime high quality food. Walk through the temperate rainforests and the cathedrals of tall cedars and pines. You will probably see bears on your way too. In Tofino try the Wolf House bed and breakfast, a really great bed and breakfast with lots of character.
Tofino is on Vancouver Island;
Rainforest Cafe: 250 725 2215;
Wolf House: 250 725-2330
Walking tours of many parts of central Vancouver, run by Simon Fraser Uuniversity Architecture Department (www.sfu.ca)
Slide shows about outdoor activities in Canada and around the world at Mountain Equipment Co-op (www.mec.ca).
Slide Shows about kayaking activities locally and around the world at Ecomarine (www.ecomarine.com) on Granville Island, monthly from January - July. Also go to their free kayak try out day at Jerico in July, and try paddling 20 different types of kayaks.
Water Parks for kids at False Creek Community Centre, Stanley Park and other Parks Board venues (www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/Parks/events/events.htm).
Go to the Stanley Park Bike Fetival in June and try out the races for kids or one of the guided trail rides (www.stanleyparkbikefest.ca).
Watch the Tour de Gastown (www.tourdegastown.com).
Watch The Kite Festival at Vanier Park in July, and make your own kite to fly (www.bcka.bc.ca/Events/PacRim.htm).
The world's longest (and highest!) suspension bridge, over a river at the foot of Grouse mountain. Get the SeaBus from the Waterfront Station, and then a bus towards Grouse Mountain (a two zone ticket will cover the whole journey). There are great filmset-like views from the bridge itself, plus a network of platforms linking huge pine trees once you reach the other side. Keep your ticket for a discount on entry to Grouse Mountain. Get the SeaBus back to downtown Vancouver in the evening for fantastic views of the skyline as the sun sets.
Commercial drive is a piece of unique heritage in an area of the world that is dominated by chain stores and coffee shops. The Drive is bucking franchises in favour of amazing shops and stores that are complete one offs.
Start by stocking up with fresh breads, fruits, herbal remedies and more, punctuated by a few coffee breaks along the way in one of many of the NON franchised coffee shops. Then finish your experience in one of the fantastic restaurants (many with outdoor heated patios) dotted along Commercial.
La Grotta del Formaggio is a treasured local purveyor of the best new-world Italian Deli sandwiches and cheeses. If you like kitsch then Urban Empire is the place for you - a shop filled with wonders and surprises. Havana is a great restaurant for good (if not traditional) Cuban food and it has a great photo gallery at the back. Waazubee is also a good rest stop or even better dining experience with a wide range of veggie dishes.
This all comes from a person who doesn't even live in Vancouver. Guess it must be great eh?
Between Broadway and Venables;
Just outside downtown Vancouver, Stanley park is a delightful wooded and grassed park on a peninsula in Burrard Inlet with wonderful views of Lion's Gate Bridge and Vancouver Harbour. You can spend several days here wandering around the forest paths, bathing at the beaches, seeing the impressive totem poles, as well as visiting the fantastic aquarium or relaxing in the Rose Garden.
Just go there and see for yourself why it's so great!
1 mile to the west of downtown Vancouver;
It's the second-largest Chinatown outside of China, and perfectly authentic. It's a living, breathing cultural artefact. Go in the daytime, as everything shuts at six pm, unless it's a Friday or Saturday; the street market is on then in the summer.
See the Sun Yat-Sen garden and park, the Chinese Cultural Centre, and Pender Street between Carrall and Gore. Keefer Street is also Chinatown, between Columbia and Gore, and in the summer (late May-September) on Friday and Saturday nights it's closed to host the street market. This features entertainment, games, children's rides (dinky ones, but fun) and lots of bargains along the cheap bag/sunglasses/clothing line.
Good restaurants include Goldstone on Keefer (closes early), Hon's on Keefer, and Gain Wah on Keefer, which is open late. Great groceries are to be had at many of the local stores, or the local Asian supermarket, T&T, on Keefer near the Stadium Skytrain station.
After the street market (which runs till nine or so) walk over to La Casa Gelato on Venables and get one of their 200+ flavours of ice cream: rocky road, yes, but also durian, basil and pernod, or gorgonzola.
East Pender street between Carrall and Gore, Keefer Street between Columbia and Gore, East Georgia Street between Main and Gore. North-south axis is Main Street.
Get on the little passenger ferry across False Creek to visit Granville Island. Former industrial buidlings have been converted into galleries, shops, craft workshops and restaurants. There is also a fantastic farmer's market and a brewery.
South Shore under Granville Street Bridge, catch the False Creek Ferry or Aquabus;
Don't limit your stay in Vancouver to just seeing Vancouver. The dormitory town of North Vancouver is separated from Vancouver by the Burrard Inlet and your choice of one of two road bridges (we like it that way).
The best way to get there from downtown Vancouver is by taking the Seabus from Waterfront Station in Gastown (a 15 minute ferry ride costing $3.25 and is valid on all buses for 90 minutes). You arrive at Lonsdale Quay, a smaller version of Granville Island, but this is just the jumping off point for a whole range of activities. You can use your ferry ticket to take a bus to Grouse Mountain & take the cable car up to see the bears they have there. You can take a different bus to Lynn Valley & hike through forested trails. You can take yet another bus and browse the Persian stores on Lonsdale Avenue & end up at Brazza's (19th and Lonsdale) for a Cappucino and a gelato. The more energetic of you can take a bus to Lighthouse park in West Vancouver. A 30 minute hike through ancient forest rewards you with a view over the waters at the edge of Howe Sound, to downtown Vancouver.
If you are really committed to do something extensive like visit Whistler, then you probably have to drive. Take the Lions' Gate bridge from downtown Vancouver and follow the highway & signs there (don't forget to gasp in admiration at the North Shore mountains as you cross the bridge). You must appoint a designated driver who will watch the treacherous highway 99 (Sea to Sky Highway) while everyone else oohs and ahhs at the view up Howe Sound to the glaciers at the top.
I live in North Vancouver & I think it represents the more natural side of the city.
Take the Seabus (www.translink.bc.ca/Transportation_Services/SeaBus). Driving to North Vancouver requires an understanding of the local drivers - something even the local drivers don't have.
A special coffee bar in a town full of coffee bars. What makes this place on Granville Island so special is the view of the North Shore mountains and the water of False Creek leading out under Burrard Street bridge. Commercial and pleasure boats are always going by, heading off into Howe Sound and beyond. A truly relaxing way to enjoy a great cup of coffee.
2698 West 4th Avenue (west end of the Granville Island market, close by the water);
tel: 604 688 1173
A beautiful complex designed by Moshe Safdi (he designed Habitat in Montreal). The courtyard is a great place to grab a snack and sit. There is a calendar of readings/performances, etc.
350 West Georgia Street;
tel: 604 331 3603;
A Chinese garden of the Ming Dynasty 'Scholar's Garden' style. It is the first full-sized classical Chinese garden outside of China. Located in Vancouver's Chinatown, it is tranquil and beautiful. Take a tour or experience a musical presentation here, then enjoy a meal in Chinatown.
578 Carrall St. (604) 662-3207 www.vancouverchinesegarden.com/index.html
Not just a toy store for all ages, in the summer months Kids Market hosts several special events and is a great venue for birthday parties. There is an old fashioned arcade, a multi-level play area and outside, in an old fashioned caboose, a deli dedicated to your dog or cat.
1494 Cartwright; Tel: 682 2116; www.kidsmarket.ca
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