Vancouver, Coast & Mountains
Vancouverites pride themselves on their city's beauty and versatility. No more than an hour either way of cosmopolitan downtown will take you into the heart of the Pacific Coast Mountains, put you in cozy seaside villages or at the mouth of the might Fraser Canyon. It is this same abundance of easily accessible scenery that has made the Vancouver region a favourite setting for TV and movie producers. (more)
Vancouver, Coast & Mountains: Overview
Seated at the lap of the Pacific Ocean and at the feet of the Coast Mountains, Vancouver is a world-class city of theatres, five-star restaurants and ethnic diversity. The people are friendly and accommodating and play host to visitors seeking a taste of West Coast cuisine and culture. Dine on fresh Pacific seafood at harbour side bistros, or try sushi at any number of fine Japanese restaurants.
At the outskirts of the city there are a number of ski hills to choose from. Grouse Mountain is known for its scenic skyride and panoramic view of Vancouver where on a clear day, you can see as far as Vancouver Island. Spend a sunny day in the forested Stanley Park or bike or roller blade around the city seawall. The Capilano suspension bridge is popular with visitors who get a thrill from dizzying heights. Enjoy gourmet coffees while strolling through the up-beat and trendy neighbourhoods of Yaletown or Kitsilano, or experience culture at the Vancouver Art Gallery - both inside and out on bustling Robson Street. Festivals, architecture and a small city feel make Vancouver a favourite place for tourists to visit and for residents to call home.
You don't have to go far to leave Vancouver's bustle and hustle behind. Travel up the sea-to-sky highway and into the steep and rugged Coast Mountains. You can drive the winding, scenic highway, but sightseers often prefer to travel by rail. The Royal Hudson, the only steam engine in mainline service in North America, winds its way through the mountains and stops in Squamish, a recreation wonderland. The surrounding mountains boast some of British Columbia's most scenic parks, hikes, rock climbing and mountain biking. Offering lush old growth forests and glimpses of bears and eagles, the area is a popular outdoors adventure destination. Further up the highway is Whistler, the world-renowned ski and snowboard resort. Some runs are still open during the early summer months, but the alpine village itself stays vibrant and active all year round.
A short ferry trip from Vancouver is the Sunshine Coast, a magical string of rocky, forested beaches and small, funky communities. There are no roads up the secluded inlets and coves, but BC Ferries provides several daily sailings to and from Langdale. Home to artisans, writers and musicians, the Sunshine Coast holds several arts and crafts fairs and festivals through the summer months. In Gibsons, stop and explore shops, the scenic marina, harbour side pubs and Molly's Reach - known from the television series "The Beacombers". As a recreation destination, the sheltered coast provides great scuba diving, canoeing and sea kayaking. The water gives a unique perspective of the coves, inlets and wildlife such as harbour seals. The wildlife is abundant, but it is the people who populate the Sunshine Coast that give it a unique and individual charm while only miles from Vancouver. It's close enough to be explored as a day-trip, but feels like a whole different world.
Travelling east from Vancouver will bring you to the Lower Fraser Valley, a rural region of berry fields and dairy farms. Built along the fertile Fraser River floodplain, forested hills rise abruptly at the edge of the fields. Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia's first resort community was built on the shore of Harrison Lake. A popular vacation destination, the town's sandy beaches and two mineral hot springs beckon to tourists. During the second week in September, the beaches at Harrison Lake are host to the world championship sand sculpture competition. Further up the valley the Fraser River narrows at the town of Hope. Cutting through the Cascade Mountains, the Fraser flows through a region of deep gorges and narrow canyons. Follow the Trans-Canada along this magnificent section of highway and stop at Hell's Gate, the narrowest point along the whole river's length. Here, you can descend into the canyon in an air-tram for a close-up look at the raging river. Manning Park, along the Hope-Princeton highway, offers skiing for all levels in the winter, horseback excursions, mountain bike rentals and hiking during the summer. The park has many wildlife viewing opportunities and is best known for its abundant populations of marmots, ground squirrels and pikas.
The Vancouver Coast and Mountain region boasts not only a range of scenery and terrain, but activities and culture as well. From the cosmopolitan and trendy neighbourhoods of downtown Vancouver to the rainforests and secluded coves of the Sunshine Coast, a wide variety of spectacular scenery and diverse attractions are never more than a short drive away.