Head Out of Downtown to Explore Vancouver’s North Shore
Whether you are walking, biking or taking transit there is lots to do if you visit Vancouver and stay downtown. But you can easily head out to travel north of Vancouver and feel like you have escaped the city. You can visit North Vancouver, cross the Iron Workers Memorial bridge and hike Lynne Valley, head further up the Fraser River to Deep Cove or drive the shoreline to Horseshoe Bay and grab a ferry to Gibsons Landing. If you want to go a little further afield, you can visit Whistler. No matter which direction you go after you cross a bridge going north from Vancouver city centre, you can explore Vancouver’s North Shore and the great natural beauty that surrounds Vancouver.
North Vancouver By Ferry
While you can certainly drive to North Vancouver, if you just want to experience the waterfront it is easy to do this from downtown by public transit. A transit day pass will get you on the Skytrains (all zones), all buses and also on the ferry over to North Van. When you get off the ferry, you could hop on a number of buses if you wanted to explore further afield in North Van.
When you land on the other side, you are in the Lonsdale Quay Market.
The main market inside is open all the time but the outside artisan vendors are only there on Saturday. One vendor had a most interesting ginger beer that you could buy by the cup or by the gallon (if you brought your own gallon jug). The homemade chocolates and cookies were a big draw. Inside the market there were a wide mix of food and wares, with even a Shiatsu massage booth in one corner.
The ferry ride over and back is a nice adventure. We got a great view of North Van and the mountains behind it. The harbour is always very busy, with commercial and pleasure boats churning the water and slowing down the ferry progress. The trip back offered a great view of the Vancouver Harbour vista, including a paddleboat tour boat.
Lynne Valley Suspension Bridge
Most people who visit Vancouver and are looking for tourist attractions will consider going to the Capilano Narrows Suspension Bridge. While that is certainly an adventure, you can instead visit the Lynne Valley Suspension Bridge and hike the park. While the suspension bridge might not be as high, it was still fun to feel the bridge sway as we crossed and see most tourists gingerly make their way across. Looking over you could see the fast running river far below.
There are a number of different paths to walk around the park. The main trails in Lynn Canyon Park lead you through temperate rainforest, beside the creek, and over waterfalls.
The shorter routes should generally be ok for most average walkers although in a few areas there is uneven ground and some ups and downs. If you want a little more challenge, you can hike the longer paths for a couple of hours.
One of the major draws when it is hot is to swim in the beautiful green waters of the 30-foot pool. The braver kids were jumping and diving off the higher rocks.
There are picnic areas in the park and a snack bar if you didn’t pack your lunch.
Head Up the Fraser River to Deep Cove
Once you cross the Fraser River in North Vancouver, it is a short drive along the north shore of the Fraser to Deep Cove. If you are staying on the roads close to the shore, you may find Cates Park Whey-Ah-Whichen Wharf first. This is a large park with a very large area for launching boats into the river. You can wander the large park or the waterfront. Looking out over the Fraser River you can get a good view back to Vancouver.
The dock runs out into the river. On the day we visited we could see swarms of jellyfish in the colder water areas. It was fascinating to watch them undulate and move up and down as they passed by.
Entering the small town of Deep Cove at the foot of Mount Seymour, you will find a busy marina. Originally called “Deepwater”, you can imagine the steep cliffs along the river extending deep into the water.
When you visit Deep Cove you can visit downtown to shop or eat, walk the paths along the river or enjoy the varied water sports you will find.
One of the favourite activities is kayaking along the shore or out to the nearby Racoon Island.
When you drive to or from Deep Cove, make sure to travel on the small roads close to the water. You can peek at the lives of those who claim the great water views. A quick look at the real estate office board in town, showed that for a mere several million dollars, these views could be yours too!
Drive the Shoreline to Horseshoe Bay
Take the scenic road north of Vancouver along the Sea to Sky Highway and spend some time in Horseshoe Bay!
When you walk along the shoreline, you can see that whale watching is one of the things that you can do from various areas in the Vancouver area including Horseshoe Bay.
Easily finding Sewells Marina, we found the gate for the evening romantic sunset sailboat ride up the coast.
On this evening, the winds were calm so we didn’t get very far up the shore but we did get to enjoy a great bbq on board and watched the fire fighting helicopter training on water scooping and stared at the display of great waterfront properties that would have awesome sunset views.
Take The Ferry From Horseshoe Bay to Gibsons Landing
From Horseshoe Bay you can catch a BC Ferry to Vancouver Island or grab a smaller ferry to hop over to visit Gibsons Landing or Bowen Island.
If you are old enough and Canadian enough, you can wander through the town of Gibsons Landing and pretend you are walking on the set of the Canadian tv show The Beachcombers.
You can spend the day visiting Gibsons Landing by car, by foot or by bike. If you want to do a longer trip, you can head north from there along the Sunshine Coast.
Go Head Further Afield To Whistler
Most people hear “Whistler” and think winter Olympics and skiing. While visiting Whistler in the winter is a magical experience, don’t think that Whistler closes down in “off season”. It is a short drive north to get to Whistler. In June you can enjoy Whistler – the Village, the gondolas to the heights and hiking to the summits!
Vancouver is a great scenic city to visit and explore. But if you visit for awhile, make sure to explore Vancouver’s North Shore for a view of the natural beauty so close to this big city.
Where else should you visit when you head north of Vancouver? Did we miss anything in the places we did visit? Did you love Vancouver?