Vancouver’s peak golf season runs from April to October but many of the re-gion’s courses are also open year-round. Popular Metro Vancouver public courses (see: www.vancouverparksgolf.ca) include Langara Golf Course, a recently redeveloped par-71 course with a clubhouse and adjoining wooded jogging trails; Fraserview Golf Course, a 225-acre site with a par-72 course overlooking the Fraser River; and McCleery Golf Course, a par-71/72 course located on the north banks of the Fraser River. The University of British Columbia is also home to its own course, the par-72 University Golf Club (www.universitygolf.com), which offers some spectacular waterfront views.
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Contrast and compare three Vancouver golf courses for visitors, making sure you choose three with diverse attributes. Interview local golfers you meet along the way and get the low-down on what makes for a great golfing day in the region. Include a sidebar of insider tips culled from the locals.
Pitch & Putt
You don’t have to be Mike Weir to hit the greens on Vancouver’s golf courses. In fact, two city facilities have been attracting golfers of all ages and abilities for years. At Queen Elizabeth Park’s Pitch & Putt (www.vancouverparks.ca) weeping willows surround the fairways and offer jaw-dropping views over the city. Across town at Stanley Park, the popular Pitch & Putt (www.vancouverparks.ca) course is one of the park’s plethora of family-friendly activities.
Cycling is perhaps the best way to explore Vancouver, and its moderate climate makes it possible to pedal here year-round. There are around 300 kilometres (186 miles) of dedicated bike routes crisscrossing the region and cyclists can take their bikes for free on SeaBus and SkyTrain services as well as rack-fitted transit buses. Check out the www.vancouver.ca/cycling webpage for handy resources or pick up a copy of the Metro Vancouver Cycling Map for routes and further information.
Popular city routes include the paved 8.8-kilometre (5.5-mile) Stanley Park sea-wall and the 15-kilometre (9.4-mile) seaside trek from English Bay via False Creek to the University of British Columbia – combine both for a calf-busting day out. Bikes of all sorts – from tandem to mountain – can be rented throughout the city. Companies include Bayshore Bicycles & Rollerblade Rentals (www.bayshorebikerentals.ca), Spokes Bicycle Rentals (www.spokesbicyclerentals.com) and ezeeRIDERS Bike & Snowboard Rentals (www.ezeeriders.com).
For urban fitness-lovers who want to stay within the borders of Vancouver, there is no finer place to pound the pavement than the city’s picturesque Stanley Park seawall. On hot summer days, the cool shade of the Douglas fir and cedar trees in the park’s interior trails provide some welcome shade. Other favourite spots for running include the University of British Columbia’s Pacific Spirit Regional Park.
With its signature West Coast vistas of waterfront, mountains and dense forest, seeing Vancouver from the air is a breathtaking experience for any visitor. With one of the largest networks of floatplane routes in the world, the city offers several flighty sightseeing options for those interested in a birds-eye view of the region. “Flightseeing” excursions from the city are offered by Harbour Air Sea-planes (www.harbour-air.com) and West Coast Air (www.westcoastair.com).
Stanley Park is a walker’s paradise in the heart of the city. One of the largest urban parks in North America, its 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of woodlands, gardens, flowers, trails, lakes, beaches and wildlife are a year-round draw. Circumnavigate the park via the seawall or take the road less travelled around Lost Lagoon or Beaver Lake. In addition, the spectacular forest trails of UBC’s Pacific Spirit Regional Park offer a secluded chance to commune with nature, complete with some unrivalled ocean and mountain views. Mostly known for skiing, the region’s three mountain resorts – Cypress, Grouse and Seymour – all offer excellent walking and hiking trails in the spring and summer. Varying levels and lengths are available and each mountain provides well-marked trails and walking information from their customer service centres.
Birds: Twitchers come from all over the world to view some of the thousands of feathered visitors that flock to the region’s George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary (www.reifelbirdsanctuary.com) as part of their annual trek along the Pacific coast from Mexico to Alaska. They also come to see the birds that over-winter at the sanctuary, or spend their spring, summer and fall here. Among the highlights is the November arrival of up to 75,000 snow geese from Russia.
Eagles: From November to January, among the highest concentration of bald eagles in the world can be found an hour north of Vancouver along the Squamish River, near the village of Brackendale. Thousands of eagles usually turn-up for this spectacular wildlife treat. Canadian Outback Adventures (www.canadianoutback.com) offers guided boat treks down the river to witness this amazing sight. Their expedition rafts give you an intimate view of the eagles as they congregate to feed on the spawning salmon.
Salmon: Visitors to North Vancouver’s Capilano River Hatchery can observe one of the greatest life cycle stories in nature. Juvenile salmon are raised on site, and you can see them before they return to the river. During the fall, returning salmon struggle up the fish ladders to spawn here.
Marine: Those who don a lifejacket and board one of the high-speed Zodiac-style Sea Safari boats at West Vancouver’s Sewell’s Marina (www.sewellsmarina.com) are typically treated to up-close views of sea birds and local seals. Visiting whales are the main attraction of the tours offered by Vancouver Whale Watch (www.vancouverwhalewatch.com) and Prince of Whales (www.princeofwhales.com) and both offer pick-ups from downtown Vancouver. The whale-watching season typically runs April/May to October.
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Consider a story profiling the region’s wildlife-watching opportunities for visitors. You could check out the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary and the Capilano River Hatchery and also make time for a whale-watching boat tour with Vancouver Whale Watch.
There's no better way to spend a breezy afternoon on the Vancouver waterfront than to bring a kite and hit the currents at Vanier Park. The backdrop for your outdoor activity will be the North Shore mountains, the busy boat traffic of False Creek and passing joggers and dog walkers. When the sun is shining, bring a picnic or duck into one of the three nearby museums (Vancouver Museum, Maritime Museum, H.R. MacMillan Space Centre) before following the waterfront along to Granville Island.