Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Grouse Mountain BC

There is a good reason that I didn’t recommend you putting Grouse Mountain on the top of your Vancouver destination list:  it is also called the Grouse Grind.  If you choose not to take the gondola up, which is currently priced at $37.95 for a round trip, you can hike the trail during the summer months when it is open.  The hike is free, and you can take the gondola down for $5 once you’ve reached the summit.  However, be prepared if you are a novice hiker like me who don’t exercise much.  This hike is allegedly the most formidable in Vancouver.  I did it several times with friends, and my average time was 2 hours.  It is doable but very strenuous.  During its entire length of 2.9 kilometers, a hiker gains an elevation of more than 850 meters.  Yes, the trail constantly goes up.  Once reached the summit, you will be rewarded with a panorama view of Vancouver, which will definitely take your breath away.  However, you might be disappointed if it is cloudy or foggy.  I have been on Grouse Mountain in the summer.  There were a variety of programs and shows available on the top of the mountain.  Its mountain top wildlife habitat is an enclosure housing two huge grizzly bears and a gray wolf.   Grouse Mountain also offers a range of winter activities, which I have yet to explore.          

General Admission: $37.95 (round-trip gondola); $5 (hike the trail up and take the gondola down)

Hours of Operation:  Open year round from 9am to 10pm daily.  Hours vary for specific programs and shows.

Transportation:  Grouse Mountain is situated in the north shore of the Metro Vancouver area.  It is a short drive from Vancouver downtown.
The North Shore’s bus depot, situated right outside of Lonsdale Quay, accommodate buses that provide access to many of north shore’s tourist attractions, including Grouse Mountain, and Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park (coming up next on my list).  Seabus connects downtown Vancouver with Lonsdale Quay.  Taking the seabus is a unique and pleasant experience.  It offers great views of the north shore when travelling northbound, and the striking landscape of Downtown Vancouver on the way back.  The seabus requires a 2-zone ticket that costs $3.75

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park

Another place you might enjoy in Stanley Park is the Aquarium.  The aquarium in Stanley Park is not the biggest I have visited, in fact, it is rather small.  However, it has nevertheless made my visit a very enjoyable experience.   On top of the entertaining shows involving lovely sea animals such as belugas, dolphins, seals, and otters, the aquarium has recently added a 4D theatre, the only one in west Canada.  I was impressed and loved it. 

General Admission: $22 (Adult)
Hours of Operation: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm daily
Transportation:  You can reach the aquarium by walking or biking from Vancouver Downtown.  There is also public transit available.  If you choose to drive, parking is $4/day in winter, and $8/day in summer.     

If you can afford to stay longer in Vancouver, the next place coming up on your list of Vancouver destinations might well be the world famous Grouse Mountain. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

VanDusen Botanical Garden

Situated right in the heart of the City of Vancouver, this beautiful garden is the number one hidden gem in Vancouver.  I took my parents to this garden this fall, and all of us have enjoyed it tremendously.  I think it took us about 3 hours to cover the most scenic routes in the Garden, while immersing ourselves in the garden’s naturally beautiful environment, and taking tons of pictures.  I have been to the world famous Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, and if I have to choose between these two places, I would not hesitate to go for VanDusen Botanical Garden.  Because it is as beautiful in its own way and costs much less.  You may find the following information helpful in preparing your trip to this garden: 

General Admission:  $8.85 (Adult) in summer, $6.50 (Adult) in winter

Hours of Operation: Open year round at 9am or 10am.  Closing time varies by season from 4pm in winter to as late as 9pm in summer.

Transportation: You can get there by bus.  However, driving might be the best option if you are not familiar with Vancouver’s public transit system.  You can park right outside the Garden in its parking lot, which is big and free.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vancouver Sightseeing

Vancouver is undeniably one of the most desirable travel destinations in North America.  I am very fortunate to have lived in this beautiful city for many years.  Whenever my family and friends come into down, I have always tried to tour them around the city.  After many trips, I have come up with a list of Vancouver designations that you might want to accommodate in your itinerary if you ever prepare to visit the city.   

If you are bound by a tight schedule, the places I'll be suggesting should be on the top of your Vancouver Destination list!