The Best Outdoor Things to Do in Vancouver

Countless hikes, endless skiing, and untamed natural beauty make Canada's Pacific gem heaven for outdoor lovers
view of vancouver with mountains


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Many cities claim to be outdoorsy, but at best, that usually amounts to a good-sized green space, a coastal location, or a state park within a few hours’ drive.

Vancouver, on the other hand, boasts ski slopes less than 30 minutes from downtown, sprawling national parks on its doorsteps, and is sandwiched perfectly by the Pacific Ocean and the mountains.

Any visit to the city should be punctuated by outdoor pursuits, whichever you prefer. To help you make the most of your time in the Canadian metropolis, here are the best outdoor things to do in Vancouver.

Get hiking

While there are endless opportunities within the city limits to stretch your legs, Vancouverites flock to the nearby hills and mountains on a weekend basis—and for good reason. A tremendous selection of hiking trails, from simple woodland walks to precariously craggy summits, are all on offer.

If you’ve only got time for one, one of the best outdoor things to do in Vancouver is hit up the iconic Grouse Grind Trailhead. Practically a Vancouver right of passage, the 853m summit is reached by a grueling staircase. It’s all one-way traffic to keep things moving, and the fastest ever recorded time is 25 minutes and one second. There’s even a timer if you want to try it. You’ll need to take the gondola back down, but not before treating yourself to a Beavertail pastry and a look around the grizzly bear refuge. 

Hit the slopes

As we mentioned earlier, Vancouver is geographically blessed enough to boast ski slopes just 30 minutes from downtown. The resort in question is Cypress Mountain, a hugely popular and wonderful place to strap up.

The resort is spread over three mountains, with 30 runs, six terrain parks, and a massive acreage available for Nordic skiing, so you’ll never be bored. It’s also massively family-friendly, so don’t worry about bringing the kids along for their first go on the slopes. Even in the summer, it’s worth heading up for the Eagle Coaster—a 1.7km toboggan ride dropping over 200 meters.

Run/walk/bike the Vancouver Seawall

Claiming to be the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path, the Vancouver Seawall is a local favorite. Spanning an impressive 28km, it’s likely to be packed at all times of the day with joggers, cyclists, skaters, and walkers. Of course, being as long as it is, you can find a quieter section pretty quickly.

Some portions are spectacular, tracing the diverse Vancouver coastline and offering a unique taste of the landscape, and an excellent place to get away from it all. It’s perfect as an early morning run or cycle on your first day to help you get acquainted with the area. If you don’t feel like doing the whole thing, stick to the Stanley Park section, which takes around two hours to walk.

Explore Capilano Suspension Bridge and Regional Park

As British Columbia’s most visited popular attraction, you’d be missing out by not paying a visit. Built around the eponymous and spectacular suspension bridge, the park itself is astounding.

It’s pricey, but the hefty entrance fee gets you a return shuttle from Downtown Vancouver, access to the bridge, the treetop canopy walk, a cliff walk, a visit to the Totem Pole collection, and a nature talk to learn about the park. It’s been an ever-present attraction for visitors since the end of the 19th century. Don’t hesitate, and check it out for yourself.

Take a seaplane tour

While not necessarily an active outdoor pursuit, you’ll be hard pushed to find a more unique activity. Vancouver’s staggeringly beautiful coastline is hard to comprehend from land. There’s only one way to fix that: check it out from the air.

Hop on a seaplane tour for an experience you won’t forget in a hurry. Easily one of the best outdoor things you can do in Vancouver. You’ll enjoy the unmatched thrill of taking off and landing on the water before enjoying the incomparable landscape and the city itself. There’s no other way to grasp the beauty of the Vancouver area.

Flights typically last between 20 minutes and half an hour and keep groups as small as four people. So you won’t be fighting for views through the window.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This post contains references to products from one or more of our partners and we may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.

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