In the coastal city of Vancouver, you’ll find a thriving metropolis that merges seamlessly with its natural surroundings, blending nearby pristine wilderness with easy access to abundant outdoor activities. Dive into British Columbia’s stunning nature by land, sky, or water and prepare to be swept off your feet by its rugged coastline and endless breathtaking scenery.
From beach and forest adventures to diverse state parks galore, Vancouver’s wild side has something for every type of explorer. Discover Vancouver nature at its best with these 11 experiences.
1: Walk the Capilano Suspension Bridge
Just 15 minutes north of Vancouver, you’ll find yourself completely immersed in another world as you cross over the 450-foot long suspension bridge built in 1889. Peer down into the deep gorge below, formed by the Capilano River, and marvel at the sights and sounds of the diverse forest around you.
Combine the bridge with the most recent addition to the park, the Cliffwalk, for panoramic views into the rainforest. The park has plenty of refreshments available, as well as a gift shop and the ‘Story Centre,’ where you can learn about the history involving the group of pioneer adventurers that traversed the original bridge.
2: Uncover a New Perspective at the Treetops Adventure
Take yourself to new heights (and test your fear of heights!) with a series of suspension bridges and walkways through Vancouver’s nature. The Treetops Adventure within the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park will extend your woodland adventure with a bit of a challenge that reaps a big reward.
Marvel at the surrounding rainforest as you trek through seven wooden bridges built to accommodate the natural growth of the trees that hold them. The design of this park makes it one of the most unique of its kind.
Soaring Douglas-fir trees are the anchor posts for this incredible canopy adventure, some stretching as tall as 110 feet. As you traverse this aerial track, take in the sounds and sights of the ecosystem, including the flora, fauna, and wildlife that reside in the park. The views from the canopy trail offer a glimpse into unexplored regions of the coastal forest, which will make you feel like a true pioneer.
3: Find the Balance of City and Nature at Stanley Park
As Vancouver’s first and perhaps most well-loved urban green space, Stanley Park is filled to the brim with walking and biking trails, a scenic seawall, gardens, beaches, historic landmarks, and even the largest aquarium in Canada.
At Brockton Point, see the famous artistic totem pole display as well as the lighthouse by the same name. From the historic lighthouse, you’ll have views of Burrard Inlet and the Lions Gate Bridge.
In addition to First Nation artwork, many monuments and statues can be found throughout the grounds, including the popular Hollow Tree landmark and the life-sized ‘girl in a wetsuit’ statue. Stanley Park is the perfect destination to experience Vancouver’s nature for all ages.
4: Hike to Shannon Falls
Just outside of Squamish on the Sea to Sky Highway, the Shannon Falls Provincial Park is an idyllic place to stretch your legs within an hour of Vancouver.
Shannon Falls, the third-highest waterfall in British Columbia, is accessible via a hike along the boardwalk to the boulders at the base of the waterfall. There, you can marvel at the cliffside cascade, stretching 335 meters in height.
Another longer alternative will have you hiking just over four miles to the upper section of Shannon Falls on an intermediate trail. If you’re lucky enough to visit after a sizable rainfall, you’ll see a thundering chute of water complete with cinematic mist.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, this is also a destination for some fantastic rock climbing just south of the waterfall. The Gobsmacking Wall and Klahanie Crack present a true challenge for skilled climbers.
5: Ride the Sea to Sky Gondola
Glide high above one of the most postcard-perfect places in British Columbia, just 45-minutes outside of Vancouver. The Sea to Sky Gondola will present you with expansive views of Howe Sound sprinkled with gorgeous islands and the village of Squamish cradled by majestic mountains, all from a comfortable and enclosed lift car.
Once you reach the top, home to the Summit Lodge, you’ll have the option to venture across the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, rock climb, or explore one of the surrounding hiking trails. Make sure to take a moment and absorb the truly spectacular scenery from the lodge.
Even if you choose to just take the gondola ride, it’s a worthy adventure in and of itself, with views you’re not soon to forget.
6: Get Splashed at Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park
This large park with an iconic waterfall is a noteworthy stop along the Trans-Canada Highway, approximately an hour and a half east of Vancouver. A short 15-minute hike amongst moss-adorned trees will land you at the base of the falls, where a viewing platform keeps you safe while still providing an up-close and personal look at this natural wonder.
Historically, the falls were used to power the Bridal Falls Chalet, providing electricity in the early 1900s. The relatively easy walk from the parking area makes this site very accessible and perfect for families. Picnic and barbeque facilities provide a great excuse to linger in the idyllic setting with a meal or snack while immersed in the gorgeous forest area.
7: Relax at Lighthouse Park
Perched in West Vancouver, Lighthouse Park is a long-standing city favorite. Point Atkinson grounds make for a picture-perfect capture with the lighthouse, a national historic site since the late 1800s, as the main attraction.
Hiking, walking, bird-watching, and picnicking are popular activities to appreciate Vancouver’s nature within this waterside green space. Hiking to the lighthouse will reward you with sweeping views of the surrounding area. Views of the Burrard Inlet and the old-growth rainforest are stunning, adding to the rugged seaside landscape.
Seals and seabirds are common sights along the easy walking trails, and educational plaques give a dash of history and information to bring the experience full circle.
8: Paddle-Board in Deep Cove
Northern Vancouver’s community of Deep Cove is an optimal spot to explore off-shore for a coastal perspective of the region. The village itself is like stepping in a postcard, where the beauty extends to the waters.
Go kayaking, paddle-boarding, or canoeing to take in the natural scenery as well as the quaint village. Cool off with a swim against a dazzling backdrop at the small beach. The main street in town is ready to fill you up with its restaurants, cafes, doughnut and ice cream shops.
If you have some extra time, pair your water-based adventure with a solid hike on the nearby Baden Powell trail, a 45-minute trek to a cliff with panoramic views of the village and bay below.
9: Whale Watch on the Salish Sea
One of the most exciting Vancouver nature attractions is whale watching. Between March and October, you’ll have ample opportunity to view whales in the wild due to migration patterns of the various species from Baja California, Mexico to Alaska.
You can spot orcas (killer whales), humpback, gray, and minke whales, as well as porpoises, seals, and seabirds. Enjoy a thrilling adventure as you keep your eyes peeled for pods of whales while exploring the weaving waterways of the Salish Sea aboard your vessel.
10: Stroll the White Rock Beach and Pier
Enjoy the Pacific Ocean air at this well-known landmark and seaside community. Less than an hour south of Vancouver, this resort town is marked by the iconic White Rock Pier, constructed in 1914, and is situated just north of the border with the United States.
The historic pier itself stretches almost half a kilometer over the ocean, making it an excellent spot for a leisurely stroll any time of day. Absorb the views over Semiahmoo Bay, the distant snow-capped mountains, and the San Juan Islands. Restaurants and bars line the promenade for a diverse set of dining options before or after a walk on the beach and exploring the pier.
If you’re looking for a tranquil way to spend time in British Columbia’s natural setting by the beach, look no further than White Rock.
11: Golden Ears Provincial Park
About an hour east of the city, you can escape to pure natural beauty in Golden Ears Provincial Park, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. As one of British Columbia’s largest parks, its proximity to Vancouver and activity-packed features make it an easy choice for appreciating Vancouver nature.
Hiking trails abound, as well as opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and even camping. Alouette Lake is a popular spot for the beach and boating, as well as Gold Creek, where dipping in the river is a favorite pastime.
You may spot local wildlife, see waterfalls, and breathe in the crisp, fresh air; it’s all possible at Golden Ears. Little to no cell reception makes this the perfect spot to unplug and truly immerse yourself in a spectacular natural playground.
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