Vancouver is the perfect blend of urban metropolis and natural beauty. There are so many things to do in Vancouver, it is no wonder Vancouver is one of the most expensive places in the world to live. From downtown Vancouver, you will see beautiful oceanside beaches, lush rainforest and huge glacier mountains. We love this town and think it’s one of the best cities in BC.
Vancouver BC is one of the greenest cities in the world. Vancouver city planners have set a huge priority of keeping this bustling city in touch with nature and you will find many forests right in the middle of town. This Pacific Northwest City receives a ton of rain, on average 192 days of rainfall a year. Luckily, there are tons of things to do in Vancouver even when it rains.
Vancouver is the perfect city for outdoorsy people who love living life. This list of the best things to do in Vancouver includes both downtown city-life hotspots and adventurous heart-pumping activities. Grab a cold beer and read about all the fun things to do in Vancouver for your next trip.
1. Do a Vancouver city tour
We love acting like a tourist in our home town. Even though we were both raised in Vancouver, we love seeing it through the eyes of first time visitors and there is no better way to do that than with touring through the city.
Downtown Vancouver has so many epic sites all within a relatively small distance. The city is flat enough to be walkable but is fairly spread out. It is full of bike lanes and is a great area to bike around. There is also a good amount of public transportation with the Skytrain, buses, and aqua buses making it so getting around is quite easy.
Just some of the top sights in downtown Vancouver include: Stanley Park, Olympic Village (Vancouver hosted the 2010 Olympics), Granville Island, Robson Street, Gastown, Chinatown, and English Bay… to name a few!
This Vancouver grand tour bike tour is one of the best ways to see the city. You will pass by all the major sites including Olympic Village, Gastown, Chinatown, Stanley Park, and more. The 5 hour tour costs $116.55 CAD ($87.10 USD) per person and includes your tour guide and all biking gear. If the tour sounds good but you’d be more comfortable on an e-bike, you can upgrade for $35 CAD ($25 USD) extra. You will stop at Granville Island for lunch at your own expense.
If you’d rather drive than walk, this Vancouver sightseeing tour is about 3.5 hours and will take you past all the major city sites. Costing $72.45 CAD ($54.14 USD) per person, this tour includes hotel or port pick up. You will get a drive-by view of many of the top sights in Vancouver and then have the opportunity to get out and take photos at both Granville Island and Stanley Park.
2. Bike the seawall at Stanley Park
Stanley Park is one of the most famous areas in Vancouver. We could (and often do) spend the whole day meandering through the park, biking the seawall and getting lost in the trails. Plus the city views you get are honestly some of the best views in the city. It’s also an epic place to go to watch the sunset in Vancouver.
The perfect balance of nature mixed into the urban setting, Stanley park is an impressive 1000 acre urban forest almost completely surrounded by the ocean. Taking in the city views while submerged in the Stanley Park forest is one of the best things to do in Vancouver.
The park is full of many intricate forest trails. Some lead to lakes, beaches, and even the Lost Lagoon. If you’d prefer to stay along the ocean you can enjoy the paved 10km Stanley Park Seawall. Walk, rollerblade or bike the seawall and bring your camera as you are sure to see some great sights.
One of the best ways to see Stanley Park is by bike. There are so many trails it can be hard to see in one day. If you didn’t bring your bike this Stanley Park Bike Tour comes with a bike to use.
Some of the top things to do in Stanley Park include:
- Stanley Park Seawall
- Prospect Point
- Stanley Park totem poles
- Stanley Park waterparks, playgrounds and railway
Stanley Park is also home to the Vancouver Aquarium. We do not support animals being held in captivity and we recommend this is avoided. Read more about heartbreaking things you should avoid when travelling.
3. Enjoy a shopping day at Granville Island Public Market
Located across the inlet from downtown Vancouver you will find the iconic Granville Island. This place is so much fun to explore, no matter what age you are. We highly recommend planning to visit around a meal time as you’ll find some of the freshest food in the city here!
Surprisingly this is not an island but rather a peninsula stretching into False Creek. Famous for the Granville Island public market, this is a great place to buy some fresh seafood and locally made arts and crafts.
Families will love the Granville Island Kids Market where you will find a child’s paradise. Inside you will find many different toy stores. Older kids will love the Granville Island arcade and the bumper cars. Younger kids will want to spend their whole day at the massive multi level Granville Island playground.
While the kids play you can enjoy the Beanstalk Bistro and grab a bubble tea or some chicken strips to keep the family happy. If you visit in the summer months, there is also the Granville Island Waterpark located not too far from the Kids Market.
Granville Island is extremely walkable so consider parking near Granville Island and taking the charming and dog-friendly Aquabus. This water bus departs from many different ports throughout the inlet. Taking the Aquabus through the inlet to Granville Island is easily one of the top things to do in Vancouver.
You will be happy you didn’t bring your car once you visit the Granville Island Brewing Company and taste some local craft beer. If you do decide to drive, note that all parking in the area is paid. You can easily spend the day here with many Granville Island restaurants to choose from as well as some cafes and fast food options.
This VIP Granville Island Market tour is a great way to learn about the area’s history while trying all the delicious food it is so known for. You will taste about 20 different foods while you walk through the area, costing $129.29 CAD ($96.62 USD) per person.
Some of the top things to do in Granville Island include:
- Taste the fresh produce from Granville Island Market
- Visit Granville Island Brewery
- Take in a show at the Granville Island Theatre
- Take the family to enjoy the Granville Island Kids Market
4. Walk one of the most famous Vancouver Neighbourhoods: GasTown
GasTown is a cute Vancouver neighbourhood that features old Victorian architecture and eclectic artsy vibes. Located a short walk east of Canada Place, you will know you are in the right area as the pavement is traded for quaint cobblestone streets.
Gastown BC is located just off the water making this picturesque Vancouver city that much more appealing. One of the best ways to start off a trip to this neighbourhood is to stop at one of the cute Gastown coffee shops.
Both Milano Espresso Lounge and Timbertrain Coffee Roasters are great options for your morning coffee. One of the top things to do in Vancouver is to enjoy some Gastown Vancouver restaurants such as The Birds & The Beets.
One of the best things to do in Gastown is to EAT! It doesn’t get much better than this Gastown walking food tour gives you a full rundown of the area’s history while showcasing some of the best food in the city. The tour costs $124.95 CAD ($93.37 USD) per person and includes 7 food tastings and 3 alcohol tastings while passing through the iconic sites of the area.
Nestled into the heart of downtown, a trip to Gastown is one of the best things to do in Vancouver, especially if you’re short on time. A trip to the Gastown Steam Clock should be at the top of your list. Every 15 minutes it emits steam with an hourly show of whistles and steam. Ironically, this steam clock is actually electric now but still emits steam for historic appeal.
One of the most interesting ways to see this area is by taking a Vancouver Lost Souls of Gastown Walking Tour. This is an hour and a half walk through the famous Vancouver area that includes 5 stops showcasing Gastown’s storied history.
Gastown is known to locals as being home to some of the best restaurants and pubs in Vancouver. This is an area you will want to do a pub crawl. Whether you are looking for high end restaurants or a beer chugging Vancouver Irish pub, you’ll find it all. If you’re looking for great family restaurants in Vancouver Gas Town is home to the Old Spaghetti Factory where you can have your dinner served inside an old train car.
Some of the top things to do in Gastown include:
- Visit the Gastown steam clock
- Grab a cold beer from one of the many Gastown Pubs
- Marvel at the old architecture as you walk down cobblestone streets
5. Visit Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver
One of the best hikes in North Vancouver is the Grouse Grind trail on Grouse Mountain. We’ll warn you, she’s a challenge but 100% worth the effort! Heading to North Vancouver you will find this urban mountain hiking trail. The Grouse Grind is a gruelling 2,830 stair climb that will take you 800 metres up the mountain for this vertical hike.
Looking to beat the crowd? Head to the lesser known BCMC trail. This Grouse Mountain trail has the same starting point as the Grind but has much fewer stairs and instead just has the hill up.
Notes about the hike:
- Grouse Grind elevation gain is 800 metres (2,625 feet)
- You cannot hike down the mountain. You will need to bring $20 to pay for the Grouse Grind Gondola to take you back down the mountain.
For those looking for a ride to the top, there is the option of taking the Grouse gondola. This easily transports you from the parking lot and runs up to the village. Once on Grouse Mountain, you can go mountain biking, try a treetop obstacle course and even visit some Grizzly bears at the wildlife refuge.
If you are looking for the best things to do in Vancouver in the winter, the most popular activity here is downhill skiing and snowboarding. There is also a network of cross-country trails. Bring some ice skates and try out the mountain’s 8,000 sqft skating pond. There is a rental shop on the mountain that offers ski, snowboard, skates and snowshoes for rent.
If you’re wanting to see a couple top sites in North Vancouver, this Capilano Suspension Bridge & Grouse Mountain combo tour is a great way to do so. This full day tour costs $227.90 CAD ($170.31 USD) and includes transportation from Vancouver hotels, entrance fees to Capilano Suspension Bridge, and a roundtrip ride up the Grouse Gondola.
Some of the top things to do in Grouse Mountain include:
- Go skiing or snowboarding in the winter months
- Take in the sights as you ride the Grouse Mountain Gondola
- Visit the rescued grizzly bears at the Grouse Mountain Wildlife Refuge
- Get your heart pumping at Grouse Mountain’s zip lines or mountain ropes adventure courses
6. Cross a Vancouver suspension bridge
There are a few different suspension bridges in the Vancouver area. These hanging bridges sweep across valleys and have you suspended in the air walking amongst the top of the trees. Vancouver’s rainforest is one of the greatest draws to the city so getting an aerial view of the forest is one of the best things to do in Vancouver. There are two beautiful suspension bridges, both are great things to do in North Vancouver.
Myles is scared of heights and even he loves visiting these suspension bridges – although he walks over them as fast as he can!
Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge is one of the most popular suspension bridges in Vancouver. One of the best FREE things to do in Vancouver, you can easily spend your whole day here. Located in North Vancouver, this Vancouver suspension bridge swings 160 feet (50m) over the Lynn Canyon.
The Lynn Canyon Park is an impressive 617 acres in size offering numerous hiking trails, lakes and crystal clear river access points to swim in. We recommend a trip through the Lynn Canyon trails to Twin Falls where you will find a less busy swimming hole to explore. Entry into the park is completely free but you will have to pay for parking ($3/hr) if visiting between March and October.
Capilano Suspension Bridge is located not far away from Lynn Canyon, also in North Vancouver. This park has a few different attractions including the walk amongst the treetops at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. This is a network of bridges from treetop to treetop and a thrilling cliff walk and of course, the suspension bridges that sit 230 feet (70m) above the Capilano River.
Buy your Capilano Suspension Bridge tickets ahead of time online to save a few dollars as entry fees are around $65CAD. While entrance fees are high, you can trust that you will have a great time in this treetop adventure. After all, it’s one of the top things to do in Vancouver.
If you are a resident of BC, your one-time ticket will allow you a full year of access to the park.
If you don’t have a car, there is the Capilano Suspension Bridge shuttle that picks you up from downtown Vancouver and brings you to the suspension bridge. The Capilano Canyon lights operate between November and January and are one of the best times to visit.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, book this seaplane and Capilano Suspension bridge combo tour. For $184 CAD ($139 USD) you can fly above Vancouver’s harbor taking in the stunning sights in the area. Once you’re done with the birds-eye view of the city, you can submerge yourself in the treetops at Capilano Suspension Bridge. This tour includes the $63 CAD ($47 USD) entrance fee and transportation to Capilano Suspension Bridge, making it a great deal.
Another less well-known Vancouver suspension bridge is at the top of the Sea-to-Sky Gondola called the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge. Offering gorgeous views of the Howe Sound area, this is another beautiful way to get your thrill walking above the rainforest.
If you’re heading to Whistler, this is one of the best stops you can do on your journey up!
7. Take a cable car up the Sea-To-Sky Gondola
If you are looking for adventurous things to do in Vancouver, head towards Squamish along the Sea to Sky Highway. The Sea to Sky Summit offers some of the best views of the Howe Sound and the Lower Mainland. The Sea To Sky Gondola up the mountain has large floor-to-ceiling windows which will leave you feeling like you’re flying above the treetops. En route up the mountain, you will have a unique view of the nearby Shannon Falls and the infamous Stawamus Chief.
If you’re looking for a heart-pumping hike, you can take the Sea to Sky Summit Trail which will have you trekking 6.5km up the mountain. This is an intense hike with the first half of the trail being the steepest part. With a 918 metre elevation gain up this trail, you can expect to pass by the Stawamus Chief Trail and Shannon Falls.
While this hike is dog friendly, it is not an easy hike so make sure your dog can handle the trek. Dogs are not allowed up the gondola but they are allowed to ride down ($20 ride down fee – dogs are free).
Read about how to keep your pet cool in the summer.
Once you reach the top of the mountain, you will be met with stunning views of the entire Howe Sound area. This area is best visited in the summer months when you can fully explore the many walking trails at the top of the mountain. There is a restaurant and cafe at the top along with a large suspension bridge. In the summer months, you can even enjoy live music and a bbq on Friday nights.
Adventure seekers will want to try out the Squamish Via Ferrata located at this mountain peak. Try your hand at some great mountain climbing where you will get harnessed in to climb steep rock surfaces and climb across narrow bridges. Steel rungs have been put into the mountain making this more accessible and safe for families and inexperienced mountain climbers.
Some of the top things to do at the Sea-To-Sky Summit include:
- Take in the sights riding the Sea to Sky gondola up the mountain
- Walk the Sea to Sky suspension bridge
- Hike through the outback
- Sip coffee with unbelievable views
8. Head to a Vancouver Beach
Vancouver is home to some of the best beaches in a big city. Being almost completely surrounded by water, enjoying the many beaches in the city is one of the top things to do in Vancouver. The area south of Stanley Park is lined with sandy beaches and cold Pacific waters.
English Bay Beach
One of the best places to catch the sunset in the whole city is English Bay Beach. You can sit here for hours watching the waves crash against the long white sandy beach. Nestled right beside Stanley Park, the seawall actually runs right past this beach. Centrally located in Vancouver’s thriving West End, this Vancouver BC beach is notoriously busy, especially on sunny afternoons. Arrive early, or stop by for the sunset, to ensure you get a good spot on the beach for some Vancouver beach swimming.
Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver is one of the best beaches in the city. This is a great place for fun summertime sports with its volleyball, basketball and tennis courts. If the ocean is too cold for you, take a soak in the outdoor saltwater pool. There is even a specially dedicated dog off-leash area on the beach. (YES! This is a dog friendly beach in Vancouver!) Centrally located you can plan to head to one of the nearby Vancouver beach restaurants or cafes after you’re done at the beach.
One of the best family-friendly beach in Vancouver, Second Beach offers fun for the whole family. The large outdoor heated swimming pool makes it so you don’t even have to brave cold ocean temperatures to cool down from the heat.
With two parks at this beach, kids are sure to be entertained. For the best family-friendly things to do in Vancouver on a hot summer evening, check out the summer outdoor theatre located in Stanley Park.
This quiet beach in Vancouver offers the tranquillity you wouldn’t expect from a downtown Vancouver beach. One of the best Stanley Park beaches for escaping the crowds, this is a great place to go to relax.
If you are looking for more of an upscale beach with stunning views of the city, this is the one for you. Get beautiful downtown views across the ocean as you lay on the white sandy beach of Vancouver. Home to both the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and the Jericho Tennis Club, this is a fairly busy beach that hosts tons of regulars. If you are looking to get out onto the ocean in Vancouver, water sports lessons and rentals are offered at the Jericho Sailing Centre.
Wreck Beach Vancouver is for those looking to push past their comfort zone. If you’re looking for unique (aka risky) things to do in Vancouver, this is certainly that! Wreck Beach is Vancouver’s only nude beach. This Vancouver beach is clothing optional but takes a fair amount of effort to get to.
Located on the coastline at UBC, about a half hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver, you will find parking on what seems like the side of the road. Hundreds of stairs down this cliff (literally, about 500 steps) you’ll be at the topless beach.
9. Paddleboard through False Creek
With recent popularity surrounding stand up paddle boarding, more and more people are getting into this watersport. False Creek is a very popular area of downtown Vancouver. This is especially picturesque at dusk when you can catch the sunset in Vancouver.
False Creek is an inlet meaning the waters are well protected and you won’t be fighting large ocean waves and strong currents. Kayaking and paddleboarding in this area can be done year-round making this a great activity, no matter when you’re heading to the city.
This is one of the best things to do in Vancouver because it gives you unbeatable views of the most popular sights in Vancouver. Paddle past Science World giving you a great view of this Vancouver landmark. You can stop in on your way past Granville Island to grab a snack. Expect to see a lot of birds in the Vancouver inlet as well as potentially some harbor seals (don’t worry, they’re super friendly!).
10. Go on a Brewery Tour in East Vancouver
With more than 40 breweries in Vancouver (and more than 75 in the metro area), it is clear drinking beer is one of the most popular things to do in Vancouver. Brewery tours, much like winery tours, mean you stop at many different spots to sample their beer.
We like to get beer flights when we brewery hop in Vancouver so that we can sample a few different beers from each brewery. Samara loves a good sour but Myles prefers a hazy IPA.
This behind the scenes brewery tour gives you VIP tours through 3 different local craft breweries. The tour costs $110 CAD ($82.20 USD) and will meet downtown Vancouver and provide transportation between the breweries, samples at each brewery and a souvenir beer glass.
Craft breweries in Vancouver are super popular! It seems like every month a new Vancouver brewery is opening up. You may be wondering what the best breweries in Vancouver are.
- One of our favourites is East Van Brewing Company, especially if visiting during happy hour between 3-6 pm where you can get a 4 beer flight for only $6!
- Strange Fellows Brewing is another great Vancouver brewery that we love for one main reason: their sours!
- We also recommend 33 Acres Brewing, and Stanley Park Brewing.
Really, you can’t go wrong with any breweries in Vancouver, they’re all delicious!
11. Take the family to Science World
Science World in Vancouver is one of those places from our childhood that we couldn’t wait to bring our kids to. It is famously known for its large globe shape that sits right in the Vancouver harbour. Science World is an area with a lot of nostalgia for locals like us having been built in 1977, it is a trademark of the city’s skyline. Easily one of the best things to do in Vancouver for families, a trip to Science World is the best way to make learning fun and let your curiosity wander.
Inside Science World you will find a bunch of great family friendly (but fun for adults too) interactive demonstrations. Individual science related experiments are set up throughout the building to allow kids to interactively learn and explore the world of science. Science World often features different large temporary exhibits that are more geared towards adults here such as the Body exhibit. For the rest of 2022, they have a dinosaur exhibit called T-Rex: The Ultimate Predator. There is also an OMNIMAX theatre on site.
12. Go on a Whale Watching Tour
One of the main draws to Vancouver is its coastal location alongside the Pacific Ocean. One of the best things to do in Vancouver for ocean lovers is to go whale watching. Vancouver waters are packed with marine life – they’re just too cold to be explored as easily as in tropical destinations. The best way to get up close with animal interactions is to visit them in their natural habitat and witness their activities.
In our dedication to supporting ecotourism and promoting sustainable travel, we do not support places like the Vancovuer Aquarium who keep animals in captivity, we absolutely love supporting ethical animal encounters like this one!
Whale watching in Vancouver will have you seeing a ton of sea life. Seals, sea lions, river otters, orcas and even the occasional humpback whales are all commonly seen on Vancouver whale watching tours. While not as common, there is a chance that you may even see grey whales, porpoises or dolphins.
There are many companies that offer whale watching tours in Vancouver. We recommend this half-day whale watching tour from Vancouver is $199 CAD ($151 USD) and guarantees you will see whales – or you can get on another tour!
Be sure to dress warmly as you will spend a good amount of time on these windy waters (3-5 hours) and run a good chance of getting sprayed by water.
The best time to see whales in Vancouver waters is in the warmer months, April through October. While killer whales are common in these waters, humpback whales are more commonly seen en route migrating north to Alaska. The best time for humpback whale sightings is in the spring and fall months.
13. Try Sea Kayaking in Deep Cove
Deep Cove in North Vancouver is one of the most beautiful areas in BC. You can easily spend the day in this part of town. Kayaking in Deep Cove is one of the most popular areas in all of Vancouver.
Departing from Deep Cove beach you will take your kayak and head north up the Indian Arm. One of the most beautiful things to do in Vancouver, you can expect panoramic mountain views as you paddle your way up the Indian Arm.
If you don’t have your own kayak, Deep Cove Kayak rentals is right on the water for convenience.
There is a good chance you will see some great wildlife on your paddle. The waters here are packed with lots of marine life including starfish, jellyfish and salmon. It is very common to see seals in Deep Cove as well. If you paddle along the shore, you may even get lucky enough to see bald eagles, bears and other wildlife.
There are so many things to do in Deep Cove. The Quarry Rock hiking trail is one of Vancouver’s most popular hikes. Deep Cove hiking trails will not disappoint. Head to Baden Powell Trail where you will find a network of trails that weave up Burrard Inlet.
This seaside town has great restaurants, quaint cafes and the beautiful Deep Cove park beach. The beach is small but great for swimming and the large grass area has a park that is great for kids.
If you are travelling over New Years, Deep Cove is famous for its January 1st polar bear swim where thousands of locals take the plunge into the cold ocean waters.
Some of the top things to do in Deep Cove include:
- Hike Quarry Rock in Deep Cove
- Grab a cold craft beer from Deep Cove Brewery
- Have a picnic at Deep Cove Park
14. Make a splash at Cultus Lake Waterpark
If you are out of things to do in Vancouver, head to Cultus Lake. This area is a relaxing lakeside resort town in Vancouver’s suburb of Chilliwack. About 100 kms (62 miles) from downtown Vancouver, you will need a car to visit this area. Worth the trip, Cultus Lake in BC is a vacation destination of its own. Here you can find the best waterpark in BC, an amusement park, great hiking trails, a large lake and awesome camping.
It may seem like quite the drive from the city, but trust us it’s worth it!
Cultus Lake Waterpark is the biggest in the area with tons of rides ranging in difficulty. Young kids will love splashing in the Family Spray Park, Pirates Cove and the Tots Castle. Thrill seekers of any age will love swirling down the Bazooka Bowls, the Cultus Lake Valley of Fear or the 72’ vertical drop in the Freefall ride.
If you are looking to stay dry, a quick walk across the street will get you to the Cultus Lake Adventure Park. Weave through the trees on thrilling roller coasters, get an aerial view in the park’s Cloud Buster or take a ride on the Wave Swinger. The area also has a mini golf course. Adults will also appreciate The Cultus Lake Golf Club.
Cultus Lake itself is a big beautiful lake with surprisingly warm water you will want to jump right in. There is a main Cultus Lake beach that sits at the provincial park as well as many smaller beaches that run along the edge of the lake.
With multiple campgrounds on the water and many resort-style villas offering AirBNBs, there are tons of places to stay overnight in the area. One of the most popular family friendly hikes in the area is Teapot Hill where, just as the name describes, you will walk through the forest greeted by teapots along the way.
Some of the top things to do in Cultus Lake include:
- Make a splash at the Cultus Lake Waterpark
- Book at one of the Cultus Lake campsites and enjoy a weekend in the woods
- Take a ride at the Cultus Lake amusement park
15. Ride the Seabus to North Vancouver and visit the Lonsdale Quay
A short 12 minute ride on Vancouver’s SeaBus will transport you across the ocean from Vancouver’s downtown core to North Vancouver. Departing from downtown’s Waterfront station, the SeaBus Vancouver will float you across the Burrard Inlet and drop you right in the Lonsdale Quay. While the Lonsdale Quay has a lot to offer, a ride on the SeaBus is one of the best things to do in Vancouver in its own right. Make sure to have your camera ready.
The Lonsdale Quay Market offers great food, farm fresh local food markets and boutique style shopping. Here you will find food, clothing, jewellery, hand-carved wood, wine, handmade crafts and more. If you find yourself here on a sunny day, stroll through the nearby Waterfront Park or Victoria Park or take the family to the Shipyards Splash Park.
The North Vancouver SeaBus runs from 6 am to 1 am Monday to Saturday and 8 am to 11 pm on Sundays and holidays. SeaBus fares are also reasonable making this a fun thing to do in Vancouver. This also makes staying in North Vancouver a great option while not having to compromise the big city vibes.
Some of the top things to do in the Lonsdale Quay include:
- Shop at the Lonsdale Quay Market
- Take the family to splash in Shipyards Splash Park
- Enjoy the city views from the pier
16. Drive the Sea-To-Sky Highway
The stretch of highway (Highway 99) between West Vancouver and Whistler is known to locals as the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Driving along this stretch of Vancouver is a trip on its own where you can expect stunning views, rocky coastal beaches, gorgeous waterfalls and mountainous hiking trails. The road is narrow and windy and is frequented by supercars looking to test out performance.
If you are looking for the best outdoorsy things to do in Vancouver, this road will take you to some of the best hikes in the city. Along the route, a popular stopping point is at Whytecliff Park, a beachfront area frequented by scuba divers and offering unbeatable views of the Howe Sound.
Further up the road you will find the Britannia Mine Museum which can be seen from the highway. Formerly a large copper mine, taking a tour through the mine can be a lot of fun for the whole family.
The town of Squamish is small with a definitive hippie-vibe. A hub for outdoor enthusiasts, you will find tons of rock climbers and mountain bikers living in this city.
The Shannon Falls are some of the most popular waterfalls in the area stretching an impressive 1,100 feet (334 metres) into the air. Not far from the falls you can take a gondola ride up to the Sea-to-Sky Summit and get an aerial view of the area. This area is famous for the Squamish Chief, a 6km loop hike that leads you through the forest and scales you up the mountainside.
Hands down the best way to see this road is with a Sea to Sky exotic driving experience! Myles is a car guy and his dream is to take a Lamborghini or Ferrari down this road. The cost varies on the number of people in your booking and includes fuel and hotel pick up. You will get the chance to drive multiple exotic cars.
Some of the top things to do on the Sea to Sky highway include:
- Hike the Squamish Chief
- Have a picnic on the ocean at Whytecliff Park
- Check out Shannon Falls in Squamish
17. Visit the Lighthouse Park
This 185 acre park is located on the coast of West Vancouver. Made up of a network of some of the best Vancouver hiking trails that take you around the park, Lighthouse Park is a place for the whole family. Pack a picnic and head to this coastal park. If you are looking for some things to do in Vancouver in the forest, this is a great place to spend the afternoon.
The main draw to Lighthouse Park is the historic lighthouse that sits on the rocky shoreline. A protected area, you will see some beautiful old growth trees sitting in this forest. There are tons of picnic areas and ideal spots on the rocks to have a picnic with a view.
18. Go snorkeling or scuba diving
After getting PADI scuba diving certified in Thailand in 2017, there are few things we love more than jumping in the water and exploring marine life. While Vancouver doesn’t have the same warm tropical waters that may come to mind when thinking of going snorkeling or scuba diving, the waters are packed with life such as seals, octopus, eels, and impressive reefs.
If you are wanting to go scuba diving, this Vancouver scuba diving tour costs $139.95 CAD ($104.58 USD) and is a great way to get into these beautiful waters.
If you’re not convinced about scuba diving, you may prefer to snorkel. This half day snorkel, kayak, and seal adventure is a great way to explore the coastal waters. You will get up close and personal with seals as you jump in the water and snorkel alongside them. The tour costs $99.95 CAD ($74.69 USD) and is a great way to spend your afternoon.
19. Take a trip to the Tri-Cities
One of the best things to do in Vancouver is to check out the many neighbouring cities that make up the Greater Vancouver Area. Three cities make up an area known to locals as “the tri cities” including Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.
This is a great area to visit for those who like to mix a whole lot of outdoors into their urban lifestyle. A fast growing area of metro Vancouver, the tri cities are designed to be a part of the forest instead of demolishing it. This makes the area especially green and allows a very dense population of wildlife (such as coyotes, deer, raccoons, bears, cougars, etc) to co-exist with the people here.
Port Moody is a city that wraps around the Burrard Inlet. Known for its artsy vibes, this thriving city offers the perfect balance between beachfront bliss and urban busyness.
Newport Village is packed with restaurants and markets making it a great place to get some lunch. Or you can grab fresh ingredients for a picnic on the ocean in nearby Rocky Point Park.If you’d prefer to dip into freshwater or looking for a good hike, head up into the mountains where you will find two beautiful wilderness lakes: Buntzen Lake and White Pine.
Rocky Point is Port Moody’s shining star. With gorgeous trails that weave along the water, a kids playground and splash park, an outdoor pool and a skateboard park there is guaranteed fun for the whole family.
There are also lots of places to get replenishments. A lively string of Port Moody breweries lines the street across from the park, one of the best being Yellowdog Brewing. This Port Moody brewery offers parkside views and a lively upbeat vibe.
In the summer months, Rocky Point Ice Cream Parlour opens up and is the place to be. There are also food trucks serving fish and chips in the Rocky Point park. There is also a watersports rental offered here for those looking to kayak in the Burrard inlet.
Coquitlam, located just beside Port Moody, is the largest of the 3 cities. This outdoor playground offers lots in terms of hiking trails, lakes and waterfalls. Minnekhada Regional Park in Coquitlam is one of the most serene and beautiful places in the city to go for a hike in Vancouver.
Coquitlam parks are plentiful and can be found around every corner in this family friendly city. If you are looking for a great area for kids, head to either Mundy Park or the bigger Town Centre Park. These areas are especially big during festive seasons such as Christmas, Halloween and July 1st (Canada Day) where there are often fireworks shows.
Town Centre Park in Coquitlam is home to the beautiful Lafarge Lake. When exploring this Coquitlam park, be sure to keep a look out for some resident beavers that roam the area.
Port Coquitlam is the runt of the three with significantly less wilderness to offer. One of the best things to do in this city is to walk along the Fraser River boardwalk. The Traboulay PoCo Trail has many access points, our favourite being at the DeBoville Slough Trailhead. There is tons of wildlife in the area so make sure to bring a bell.
Some of the top things to do in the Tri Cities include:
- Go for a hike at Minnekhada Regional Park
- Spend the day at Rocky Point Park
- Spend the day at Buntzen Lake beach
20. Go on a walk through Yaletown
Yaletown is one of the most famous areas of Vancouver. Known for the best restaurants in Vancouver, hip Yaletown bars and a young lively atmosphere. If you are looking for things to do in Vancouver that revel in city life, be sure to visit Yaletown.
Walking the False Creek boardwalk in Yaletown is a great way to get fit and enjoy some stunning views. Walk this picturesque stretch and pass many cafes and coffee stands along the way. You will pass large grassy parks with playgrounds for the kids. Be sure to keep a lookout over the water where you may even spot some marine life.
Yaletown itself has a buzz of its own. With many great restaurants and pubs, this is a great area to find a patio to hang out. Yaletown happy hour is the place to be. If you find yourself in Yaletown between 2-6 pm-ish, be sure to check in at the many restaurants offering great happy hour deals. There are also lots of boutique-style shopping in this area.
Some of the top things to do in Yaletown include:
- Eating at one of the best Yaletown restaurants
- Grab a beer at one of the Yaletown Breweries
- Enjoy the ocean views along the False Creek boardwalk
21. Spend the day (and night) in Langley
If you are looking for some fun things to do in Vancouvers suburbs, head about 45km east from downtown Vancouver to Langley. The city itself is on the rise with large developments turning this once rural farm town into an urban hub.
Nestled up to the Fraser River you will find the quaint historic trading village of Fort Langley. A former fur trading hub for Hudson Bay Company, you can now take walking tours through the fort and explore all the history in the area.
Fort Langley is packed full of cafes, boutique shops and breweries. With an expansive trail system that walks along the river and networks up into the fields of Langley, there is tons to do around here. There’s even an off-leash dog park in the area.
If you’re hungry, a visit to the Langley Olive Garden is a must do – in fact it is the only Olive Garden in BC.
The Twilight Drive In Theatre in Langley is one of the best summer things to do in Vancouver. Pack some snacks, or head to the concession, and get cozy enjoying the double features playing at the drive-in movie. The drive in theatre is pet friendly making this a great summer night for the whole family.
You know what else the Fraser Valley is known for? Wine! Taking a Fraser Valley wine tour will have you visiting 4 wineries in the lower mainland. The tour lasts 6 hours and costs $165 CAD ($123.30 USD) per person and includes all wine tastings, a wine tour, lunch, and round trip transportation from Vancouver.
Some of the top things to do in Langley BC include:
- Having dinner at one of the restaurants in Fort Langley
- Catch a movie at the Twilight Drive In Theatre
- Go on a hike through the trails in Fort Langley
22. Day trip to Whistler
We may have saved the best things to do in Vancouver for last. Whistler is Vancouver’s not-so-secret gem of a mountain town. To get to Whistler from downtown Vancouver, you will first need to cross the Lion’s Gate Bridge into West Vancouver and then jump on the Sea to Sky Highway. For those who don’t have a car, the Whistler shuttle bus takes you from either Vancouver Airport or downtown Vancouver to Whistler.
Riding the Peak 2 Peak Gondola is one of the best things to do in Whistler. A glass bottomed gondola spanning between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains delivers epic views.
Whistler Village offers tons of great boutique style shopping, restaurants and a lively mountain village vibe. If you are visiting Whistler in the winter, you will want to make sure you bring your skis and snowboard along. Whistler Blackcomb ski hills are some of the best in the province (if not the whole world).
If you are enjoying summer in Whistler, the ski hills turn into some of the best mountain biking trails in Vancouver.
For $199 CAD ($150 USD) you can take this daytrip tour through Whistler, BC. This guided tour will pick you up from your downtown Vancouver hotel and take you past Stanley Park and wind you up the Sea-to-Sky highway towards Whistler. You will take a breif stop at Shannon Falls to stretch your legs and take in the stunning views of the waterfall. You will then be taken to Whistler where you will have lots of free-time to explore Whistler Village, ride the peak-2-peak gondola or take to the slopes.
You will want to book your stay at one of the top Whistler hotels.
Some of the top things to do in Whistler include:
- Take in the sights as you ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola
- Check out the many top Whistler craft breweries
- Shop in Whistler Village
- Visit Vallea Lumina – one of our favourite experiences
- Visit a glacier on a floatplane
- Go skiing or snowboarding down Whistler or Blackcomb mountains
- Get your heart pumping by zip lining or bungee jumping in Whistler
23. Relax at the Scandinave Spa
One of the most relaxing things to do in Vancouver hands down is a trip to the Scandinave Spa Whistler. This is a meditative retreat that has a natural feel built into the mountainside. You will be soaking in hot baths, sitting in saunas and steam rooms and then plunging into ice cold pools right after. Visiting the Scandinave Spa in Winter is one of the best romantic things to do in Vancouver.
Heading to Kelowna? Read about the top romantic date ideas in Kelowna.
24. FlyOver Canada at Canada Place
We visited FlyOver Canada a couple years ago and I still sing its praises to whoever will listen! We went in without any idea of what to expect and we were so pleasantly surprised at the experience. Having driven across Canada, we absolutely reveled in the experience of flying above it.
FlyOver Canada is located at Canada Place right downtown Vancouver. The entire experience will last about 25 minutes including the 8 minute flying experience.
First you will get a brief run down of Canada’s history. You will then start your flight by entering a room and taking your seat aboard the ride. The room has a giant wraparound screen. Expect movement in your seats to mimic the feeling of flying, wind being blown and nature scents to follow as you take flight. You will fly over the rocky mountains, the prairies, Niagra Falls and more.
25. Take a day trip to BC's capital Victoria, BC
Victoria is BC’s capital city and one of the prettiest cities in the province. Located on Vancouver Island, the only way to access Victoria is by plane or ferry. Victoria is located on the southern point of Vancouver Island and has a large inlet that the city is centered around. Island life is in full effect in this city making Victoria a perfect vacation destination in BC.
This full day guided Victoria tour from Vancouver will take you through the best areas of this coastal city. The tour costs $203 CAD ($154USD) and includes pick-up from specified locations in Vancouver and takes you aboard the 95-minute ferry ride to Vancouver Island. Once in Victoria, you will take a guided tour through the Butchart Gardens, BC’s Parliament Buildings, and more top sights in Victoria. You will then be taken back on the ferry and returned to Vancouver.
If you’d rather tour yourself around, you can take this quick flight from Vancouver to Victoria riding a seaplane. During your flight, you will enjoy stunning views of Vancouver’s harbor, the Salish Sea, and will fly you above some of the 200 islands off the coast of Vancouver. For $268 CAD ($202 USD) this flight will get you to Victoria’s harbor in 35 minutes.
26. Take a sunset dinner cruise through Vancouver's harbor
I would argue that there is no better way to see the city than by doing a Vancouver sunset dinner cruise. Not only will you get a romantic date night and a gourmet meal serving up delicious west coast cuisine but you will get a unique and beautiful view of Vancouver’s skyline. Taking a sunset dinner cruise is one of our favorite things to do in Vancouver.
A Vancouver sunset dinner cruise will cost $140 CAD ($106 USD) and includes dinner and a 2.5 hour evening cruise past some of Vancouver’s top sights. Starting near Devonian Harbour Park you will board the large yacht and spend your time cruising through the Burrard Inlet. You can expect both city and forest views as you cruise past Stanley Park and Canada Place. You will circle around Stanley Park giving views of North Vancouver and West Vancouver and the beautiful Lions Gate Bridge.
If you’d like to do a day cruise through the harbor, this sightseeing cruise is a really popular way to see all the best sites of the city and take in the stunning mountain views. The cruise costs $70 CAD ($52.31 USD) and has a licensed bar on board where you can purchase drinks.
Thanks for reading!
We were both raised in Vancouver and LOVE telling people all the cool things to do in Vancouver. We may be biased but we think that Vancouver is by far the best city in BC, if not all of Canada. The city buzzes with life and offers so many great activities whether you’re looking for adventure or a lazy getaway.
We hope you liked our top things to do in Vancouver. Let us know what your favourite one is (or if we missed any) in the comment section below!
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