If you’re like me and not an outdoorsy person by nature, then I’ll be honest with you: initially you will struggle with things to do in the summertime here. But never fear, because even this lazyass managed to get on board the fitness train and not melt in the heat (kind of).
The whole reason I’d chosen Vancouver was because of its weather. I like the cold to an extent, but there was no way in hell that I was going to willingly submit myself to the -30 degrees in winter bullshit that is Ontario and Quebec. Vancouver, with its temperate summers and wet-but-not-too-cold winters was much more my speed (and closest to London). Plus there are pretty mountains here, which always helps.
Anyway the main thing to do here is, shock horror, all manner of outdoorsy things like hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, camping, and hiking again. You can’t go two steps without running into an outdoors shop or a vegan pudding café. Namely, if you want to make friends, get off your ass and go for a hike (or a soy chai latte).
Vancouver is pretty handy in this respect as it is at the base of the mountains, so you can jump on a bus and in an hour you can be climbing the Grouse Grind. There are a ton of hikes in the general vicinity that can you get to using public transport, but anything on the way to Whistler and beyond will definitely need to be driven to.
So far I’ve been hiking to:
- Norvan Falls
- Joffre Lakes
- Deep Cove
- Bowen Island
You can also wander around Lynn Canyon in North Vancouver (a free and much prettier alternative to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park), which has plenty of all level trails, and a cool suspension bridge too.
Grouse Mountain is home to the famous Grouse Grind hike (basically 1.5 hours on a stairmaster). I’ve not been game enough to try this and instead paid a small fortune to get the gondola up to the top. It was very beautiful however, and there are two cool bears up there as well. It’s also the closest place to go skiing in the winter time.
Stanley Park is a great example of a park in a city done very well. It’s massive, has several beaches and has a long seawall which people seem to enjoy bike riding around. The trails across this are very peaceful and gorgeous.
If you love the beach then there are heaps to choose from, Stanley Park itself has like three. Kitsilano and English Bay are also nice, as well as Spanish Banks. And if you’re feeling a little more adventurous you can check out the clothing-optional Wreck Beach out by UBC.
Vancouver is also known as Hollywood North because of all the movies/TV shows that film up here, and unsurprisingly, that means there are a lot of actors and creative types that come here for work. This also means that there’s a tonne of up-and-coming performers all itching to get some stage time in. Surprisingly the theatre scene of musicals/plays isn’t that huge, instead the majority of shows lean more towards things like stand-up comedy, spoken word, music, burlesque, and biggest of all, improv.
I never would’ve contemplated going to an improv show in a million years, but I am very happy that my old housemate Sam (actor/comedian/pirate) got the whole house into going to shows. True they can be a bit hit and miss, but they’re a cheap and ridiculously entertaining night out. The best is the Sunday Service, and basically anything involving one of their members will be brilliant – see also Little Mountain Improv. Open mic and comedy nights are also all over the city, Havana on a Monday is always good value for a selection of comedians.
Vancouver is a hipster’s paradise, which means there is a lot of good food, alcohol and coffee. Breweries are almost a dime a dozen here and you could easily spend a few days sampling their wares. People will specific dietary needs are in their element here, and you can get gluten/sugar/nut/dairy free stuff everywhere. On my main street alone there are two vegan supermarkets. Whatever you need, you’ll find it here.
Gig-wise I’ve sadly found that not many of my favourite bands bother making the trip to Vancouver, but a lot of bigger names will do so (and those that don’t usually go to Seattle so they’re not too far away). I’ve only been to a handful of gigs, but so far my favourite venue is the Fox Cabaret.
There is way more stuff to do, especially now that winter is coming, and I’ll figure it all out eventually. What have I missed??
Listening to: Reply All podcast
Gigs: Japanese Breakfast, INVSN
Watching: Scream Queens
Reading: Almost French by Sarah Turnbull