Our Favourite Vancouver WalksSeaside Walk – Stanley Park You could spend an entire day circling the Stanley Park seawall. It’s 9 kilometers long and jam-packed with scenic viewpoints and activities. For starters it has an incredible view of the city, totem poles, Lions Gate Bridge, North Shore Mountains, Third Beach, and Second Beach which has a playground and heated outdoor pool. On the inside of Stanley Park you’ll find the Vancouver Aquarium, miniature train, playgrounds, and a gazillion hiking trails. If you’re thinking it you may be biting off more than you can chew, take a short-cut at Lumberman’s Arch, or better yet, rent a bike or take your scooter.
Lion’s Gate Bridge One thing I can never figure out is why more people don’t walk across the Lion’s Gate Bridge. The view is awesome, and it looks like the Golden Gate Bridge (without the fog). Seaside Walk – West End to George Wainborn Park I remember walking along this stretch of seawall with Mom and Dad and thinking, “Where did all these people come from?” It turns out the West End is one of the most densely populated areas in North America. Mom said she once saw a guy there riding a bike with a python wrapped around his neck. Whoa, things could get interesting. Besides the people, the scenery is amazing: sailboats zigzagging in the harbour, gigantic freighters, sunsets like the ones you’d normally only see in Hawaii, and, you get to walk under two big bridges. Just saying, I’m not a big fan of walking under bridges: too many birds flying above you, and what if it collapses at the exact moment you’re underneath it. Seaside Walk – Yaletown (David Lam Park to Science World) This is way before my time, but Yaletown sits on the exact spot where B.C. held it’s Transportation Expo in 1986. I’m not even sure if they had cell phones back then. Anyway when Expo was over, the land got developed into high-rises, but the seawall was left as is or was, whatever the case is. On a sunny day you can’t beat it: the water in False Creek glistens; sometimes you see yachts, sailboats, maybe even dragon boats. Dad says he’d like to retire in Yaletown; but Mom says they aren’t groovy enough. She has a point. Seaside Walk – Science World to Granville Island You absolutely cannot lose on this walk: Science World and Granville Island are two of my favorite places. It probably goes without saying, but if you start at Science World be sure to watch the balls weave their way down the gigantic maze machine parked in front. Further along the Olympic Village is cool, because that’s where the athletes stayed when they competed in Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics. Dad says it’s a “green” community. It doesn’t look green to me; grey maybe. The view of Vancouver along this seawall is amazing; photo-worthy for sure. Granville Island is a show-stopper. Whatever you do, do not let this opportunity for fun slip through your fingers.
Granville Island It doesn’t get any better than this. The Kids’ Market at Granville Island is every kids’ dream: games, adventure zone, toy stores—need I say more? My Mom has a real soft spot for Granville Island. The Public Market has every fruit and vegetable known to man. The artisan shops are cool too—especially the glass blower. While you’re there see if you can spot the turtles sunning on the rocks in the pond, and if it’s hot remember to bring your bathing suits because there’s a water park. If Granville Island gets too busy for you, because it does get busy, you can take a break and go for a walk along the seawall. Seaside Walk – Granville Island to Kitsilano Pool Once you get past Granville Island, keep your eyes open for the fisherman selling fish from their boats (warm weather seasons). Dad can’t pass up the spotted prawns, which I find a little too busy with all the tentacles. What I do like however are the unbelievable kites people fly at Vanier Park. Some of these people even enter competitions they’re so good. In the same area are the Vancouver Museum, Pacific Space Centre, and the Vancouver Maritime Museum. When you get to the biggest outdoor pool I’ve ever seen, you’re at the end of this walk; but if you can talk your parents into a swim, it might just be the start of another adventure. Point Grey Road My Mom and Dad like to play this pretend game whenever we walk along Point Grey Road. It’s called, “If win the lottery, which house would we buy?” Point Grey Road has some of the snazziest homes in Canada. Last time we were there, Mom was trying to figure out which one was Chip Wilson’s (founder of Lululemon). Apparently she read in the Metro that his home was valued at 54 million dollars. Is that all? I heard the city closed to vehicle traffic the section of Point Grey Road between McDonald and Alma, which I guess is good if you’re walking or riding your bike. Jericho Beach, Locarno Beach, Spanish Banks I don’t know why anybody would go for a walk when they’re at a beach, but my Mom does. Everybody else will be fishing, flying a kite, digging in the sand, or swimming except for Mom, whose happily walking up and down these beaches. Make sure you bring your bathing suit, and see if you can sweet-talk your parents into having dinner there, so you can watch the sunset. Vancouver Financial District I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but people who work downtown tend to dress better than people who don’t work downtown. There must be a lot of important businesses downtown. Dad says all the big banks are downtown, plus a bunch of accounting and law firms, not to mention all the mining and forest product companies.
Entertainment District There’s a lot more to Granville Street than just shopping. If you like nightlife and are old enough to get into bars you might want to check it out. Some places, like the Commodore Ballroom and Orpheum Theatre, have been around so long my Mom and Dad even remember going there. Lucky I wasn’t around to see it. Robson Street Robson is one big shopping street where people like my sister love to go. It goes all the way from B.C. Place to Stanley Park, and has the Vancouver Public Library in between, which, by the way, was built to look like a coliseum. The main hard-core shopping district starts at Granville and goes to about Bute Street. From there it becomes mostly restaurants.
West End – Denman and Davie Streets Denman and Davie are two of the busiest and colourful streets in Vancouver. There’s a good reason for this: they border the West End, which has about 45,000 people living there. Restaurants are everywhere. My favourite is La Belle Patate, specializing in none other than poutine. Jen can’t wait to try Coney Island Custard, a brand new place selling frozen custard. This part of town is gay friendly, so some of the shops might sell stuff you wouldn’t normally see everyday. Gastown Did you know Gastown is where Vancouver first started way back in the early 1800’s? It’s too bad that only a few of the original buildings are still standing, because the Great Fire in 1886 burned down everything else. Some of the streets are still made of cobblestone. If you go, look for Blood Alley and the steam clock. Try to guess what Gaders Mews was used for. Gastown now is mostly boutiques, souvenir shops and restaurants. Yaletown I remember going to Yaletown with my family. For some reason Dad wanted to see the Mini Cooper store. I guess he forgot how big all of us are. He said a lot of the buildings in Yaletown are made from brick because it used to be a Canadian Pacific Railway repair depot. Now it’s one of the trendiest areas in Vancouver; loft apartments, boutique stores, bars, restaurants, and offices. While you’re there look for the CP Roundhouse Community Centre. It has Engine 374, which pulled the first passenger train into Vancouver way back in 1887. Chinatown Vancouver has the second largest Chinatown in North America. What’s neat about it is that it was built by Chinese immigrant people, so it’s more like the life they left behind in China. Whenever we go there Mom and Dad always make a beeline for a bakery. Dad likes the barbecued pork buns (baked not steamed) and Mom likes the egg tarts (Portuguese style). There are lots of other things you can buy in Chinatown. How do live eel, and snakeskins sound to you? Keep a look out for the narrowest commercial building in the world. Don’t forget Chinese New Year usually comes round the end of January and the Night Market starts in June. Kitsilano – Fourth Avenue Shopping isn’t exactly on my top 10 list, but eating sure is. Mom and me make a deal whenever we hit Fourth Avenue: I let her shop without me pestering her, and she lets me pick out where we eat. Mom likes Fourth Avenue because it has one-of-a-kind stores you won’t find in malls. A number of shops cater to the young, active, energetic, outdoorsy crowd that Mom likes to think she belongs to. When it comes to eating, there are plenty of restaurants to pick from. I’m a creature of habit so I tend to pick the same places over and over again, which drives Mom crazy, but a deals a deal as they say.
Commercial Drive I don’t know what it is about Commercial Drive but it seems to attract a lot of different people. Not only do you have Italian, Asian, Latin American, East Indian, and African influences, you also have what Mom calls the new hippie generation. If you feel like eating you’ve come to the right spot. Belgian Fries is my favorite, but there are plenty more restaurants to pick from. Also kids will be happy to stumble across the playground at Brittania School.
Shaughnessy Residential Area Mom says I’m like a squirrel: I like collecting nuts. Shaughnessy in October is NUT heaven. There are chestnuts and acorns literally lying everywhere on the ground. While Mom and Dad are google-eyeing at the expensive homes I’m busy collecting nuts. It works out. Now if I could only figure out what to do with them later (the nuts I mean). Queen Elizabeth Park Queen Elizabeth Park is so pretty newlyweds get their wedding pictures taken there. It has a sunken garden with exotic and native plants, and a Conservatory filled with weird plants and birds. The view at the top is amazing: you can see all around you from 152 meters up in the air. Once your parents finish oohing and aahing at the sights, try leading them over to the recreational area where all the fun stuff is: tennis, pitch & putt golf, and Frisbee golf. Hey, what about just running down the grassy hill?
Little India – Main and 49th Avenue If you’re ever in the neighbourhood, and have some time to spare, stop and have a look around Little India. We went once to buy samosas, and ended up leaving with a bag of special Indian curry spice, two meters of silk, some take-out butter chicken, and 20 multi-coloured bangles Jen couldn’t stop herself from cascading up and down her arm the whole way home. University of British Columbia My Mom has finally made me see the light--school can be fun. We took our bikes and scooters to U.B.C. and had a blast. It was the weekend, so not many students were around. I saw the indoor and outdoor swimming pool, Museum of Anthropology, library, and the buildings my Mom and Dad used to go into. Mom said when she went to university, students had to share one mainframe computer that they never actually saw. No wonder she has such a hard time with laptops. One thing’s for sure, I’ll be in top shape if I go to U.B.C. It’s so big you have to walk at least a mile every day going from one building to the next. West Vancouver – Ambleside Beach to Dundarave Beach Seawalk There are so many neat activities kids can do here, parents might actually forget to go for a walk. You can swim, build sand castles, ride waves, play in the playgrounds, fish, look for crabs, play pitch &putt golf, eat ice-cream, and last, but not least, walk. Mom says the view is spectacular, and she’s right. On any given day, you might see tankers, fishing boats, sailboats, seals, eagles, and way off in the distance U.B.C., even further Nanaimo. Fairy Tale Lane Mom and Dad like walking along Fairy Tale Lane because they like looking at expensive dream-come-true they’ll never be able to afford. Me, I like it for a different reason: there’s a train track running alongside the road, and sometimes the train comes by so close you can almost touch it. Did I mention the road is perfect for riding your bike or scooter: flat and only the odd car goes by. Capilano Pacific Trail To be honest, trails aren’t my favorite. I mean, you see one tree, you’ve seen them all. Mom talked me into this one, because she said I’d get to see lots of cool stuff, and she was right. You get a behind-the-scenes view of the Capilano Suspension Bridge, stare down the steep rocky sides of the Canyon, maybe even see some kayakers paddling down the river, watch the salmon trying to jump up the fish ladder at the Salmon Hatchery, and, if you make it to the top, see water cascading over the Cleveland Dam.