Saturday, September 6, 2014

Vancouver Vacation - Stanley Park and the Aquarium

If you've been following along, so far you've seen how we spent time on top of Grouse Mountain and walking among the treetops at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park (that was just day 1!).  We spent the second day of our vacation at Stanley Park in Vancouver.  It's a 1,000 acre park almost completely surrounded by water, and has miles of hiking trails, 3 swimming beaches, 2 lakes, a 5+ mile "seawall" walk around the edge of the park, totem polls, an aquarium, and more.  You can easily spend an entire day exploring the park and still not see the entire thing!

We decided to begin the day at the Aquarium, which turned out to be a great idea.  Tip - you want to get to ANY aquarium as soon as it opens, because by 1pm it's completely overrun by tourists.  We were able to take our time  and really enjoy the exhibits and shows without having to fight the crowds.  My favorite exhibits at this aquarium were the jellyfish (so crazy looking), the otters, and the beluga whales.  (I feel in love with beluga whales when we went to the aquarium in Mystic, CT a few months ago...such awesome animals!)

After we finished at the aquarium, we found a picnic table and ate our lunch outside (it was beautiful!) before heading off on the seawall walk.  Along the way, you weave through city and open water views, past a lighthouse, and by a bridge - it's beautiful!  We only did about half the loop, since we wanted to explore some of the interior as well.

Once we had our fill of some of the parks and seawall loop, we decided to find a few trails in the fir forest.  The trees were tall and beautiful, and every so often you'd pass a giant, old redwood!  Mark has a pretty epic "wingspan", but he's nothing compared to these babies.  At the end of the trail, we came out at a lake overlooking the city - a nice way to end the day!

Next up...adventures in Deep Cove, including an epic hike, stand-up paddle boarding, and a canoe trip!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Grouse Mountain - Vancouver views, bears and baby birds

After finishing our time at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park (you should really check it out if you haven't already!), we made our way over to Grouse Mountain to see what we heard was the best view of Vancouver!  There are lots of things to do at Grouse Mountain, including the Grouse Grind (a crazy intense hike up the mountain), zip line trails, several gonadala/ski lifts, and bears!  We decided to stick to the views and bears and not ruin ourselves on the first day with an intense hike up a mountain.

We started with a 1 mile ride up the mountain on North America's longest aeriel tramway system.  The way up was quite smooth and relaxing, but the way down left us breathless from the initial drop.  Not expecting that!  Up at the top, there were giant wooden carvings, beautiful views of the city below, and bears (oh my!), among other things.

grouse mountain vancouver

bear vancouver

bear vancouver

bear vancouver

After spending a little time looking at the bears, we took another chairlift up the rest of the mountain to the peak.  The views just got better!  If that wasn't enough for you, there was a windmill at the top of the mountain you could go up for an even better view.  We opted out of that, since we couldn't imagine adding another 50 feet would really change that much for us.

grouse mountain

grouse mountain vancouver


vancouver mountain

Then it was time to head back down the mountain and back to the house...but not before stopping at a REAL CANADIAN SUPERSTORE.  We were so glad they specified that it was a legitimate Canadian Superstore, since going to an impostor would have been awful.

canadian superstore

All in all, day one was AMAZING.  We decided that Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a MUST DO, but to be honest, you could skip Grouse Mountain.  The views were beautiful and bears were cool, but really it was just a lot of money for scenery...spend your time elsewhere!

Up next...Stanley Park!