An excellent resource for outdoor enthusiasts is Mountain Equipment Co-op (130 W. Broadway; tel. 604/872-7858; www.mec.ca).
Visit Olympic Sports Venues
One of the best legacies of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games was the venues that remained after the athletes left. It wasn’t just the Canada Line and an improved Sea to Sky Highway that were the result, but several world-class places to walk, skate, ski, or snowboard. Want to work out like an Olympian? You can, at these venues:
Richmond Olympic Oval, a venue for speed skating during the 2010 Winter Games, now offers multiple skating rinks, ball courts, and a first-class fitness center. The facility is open Monday through Friday 6am to 11pm, and weekends 8am to 9pm.
Cypress Mountain. For many winters to come, you’ll be able to ski and snowboard the Olympic runs on Cypress Mountain, home of Canada’s first gold medal of the 2010 Winter Games.
Vancouver Olympic Centre (4575 Clancy Loranger Way; www.vancouver.ca/parks/info/2010olympics/hillcrest.htm). Home to the Olympic and Paralympic curling events, this is now an aquatic center, although eight curling ice sheets still remain.
BC Place Stadium (777 Pacific Blvd.; tel. 604/669-2300; www.bcplacestadium.com). You may remember the stadium from the opening and closing ceremonies—if not, the Olympic memorabilia in the BC Sports Hall of Fame & Museum (tel. 604/687-5520; www.bcsportshalloffame.com) may remind you. Find Olympic and Paralympic torches, medals, and uniforms, as well as artifacts from other sporting events. Open daily; C$15 adult; C$12 seniors, students, and children 6–17; free children 5 and under.
Olympic Village (Southeast False Creek). Once where the athletes stayed, this is now Vancouver’s hottest new neighborhood. Walk the False Creek seawall from Science World toward Granville Island and check out the new Creekside community center, inviting public spaces, and historical Salt Building at 85 W. 1st Ave., which has been converted into a restaurant.
Whistler Sliding Centre (4910 Glacier Lane, Whistler; tel. 604/964-0040; www.whistlerslidingcentre.com). If you ever wanted to hurl yourself head first at insane speeds down a narrow, winding, icy chute, then this is the place for you. Site of the bobsled, skeleton, and luge events during the Games, this is now a training facility that is also open to the public. A tour with one ride down the track is about C$90 a person.
Canoeing, Kayaking & Paddleboarding
Both placid, urban False Creek and the beautiful 30km (20-mile) North Vancouver fjord known as Indian Arm have launching points that can be reached by car or bus.
Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre (1668 Duranleau St., Granville Island; tel. 888/425-2925 or 604/689-7575; www.ecomarine.com) has 2-hour, daily, and weekly kayak rentals, as well as courses and organized tours. The company also has an office at the Jericho Sailing Centre (1300 Discovery St., at Jericho Beach; tel. 604/224-4177; www.jsca.bc.ca). In North Vancouver, Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak Rentals (2156 Banbury Rd., at the foot of Gallant St.; tel. 604/929-2268; www.deepcovekayak.com) is an easy starting point for anyone planning an Indian Arm run. It offers hourly and daily rentals of canoes and kayaks, as well as lessons and customized tours. Prices range from about C$40 per 2-hour minimum rental to C$80 per 4 hours for single kayaks and about C$60 for canoe rentals. Customized tours range from C$75 to C$150 per person. Paddleboards generally run C$19 per hour, or C$29 for 2 hours.
Lotus Land Tours (2005–1251 Cardero St.; tel. 800/528-3531 or 604/684-4922; www.lotuslandtours.com) runs guided kayak tours on Indian Arm that come with hotel pickup, a barbecue salmon lunch, and incredible scenery. The wide, stable kayaks are perfect for first-time paddlers. One-day tours are C$200 adults, C$190 seniors, C$130 children 5 to 12.
Cycling & Mountain Biking
Cycling in Vancouver is fun, scenic, and very, very popular. It helps that there are so many bike paths around the city, including along many of the busiest streets. Cycling maps are available at most bicycle retailers and rental outlets. Some West End hotels offer guests bike storage and rentals, even free bikes to tootle around on. Rentals run around C$8 to C$16 an hour for a mountain or city bike, C$30 to C$60 for a day; helmets and locks are included. Popular shops that rent city and mountain bikes, child trailers, child seats, and in-line skates (protective gear included) include Spokes Bicycle Rentals & Espresso Bar (1798 W. Georgia St.; tel. 604/688-5141; www.spokesbicyclerentals.com) and Bayshore Bicycle and Rollerblade Rentals (745 Denman St.; tel. 604/688-2453; www.bayshorebikerentals.ca), both right near the entrance to Stanley Park. Note: Be advised that wearing a helmet is mandatory, and one will be included in your bike rental.
The most popular cycling path in the city runs along the Seawall around the perimeter of Stanley Park. Offering magnificent views of the city, the Burrard Inlet, the mountains, and English Bay, this flat, approximately 10km (6 1/4-mile) pathway attracts year-round bicyclists, in-line skaters, and pedestrians. (Note: Runners and cyclists have separate lanes on developed park and beach paths.) Another popular route is the seaside bicycle route, a 15km (9-mile) ride that begins at English Bay and continues around False Creek to the University of British Columbia. Some of this route follows city streets that are well marked with cycle-path signs.
Serious mountain bikers also have a wealth of world-class options within a short drive from downtown Vancouver. The trails on Mount Fromme near Grouse Mountain are some of the Lower Mainland’s best. Local mountain bikers love the cross-country ski trails on around Hollyburn Lodge in Cypress Provincial Park, just northeast of Vancouver on the road to Whistler on Highway 99. Closer to downtown, both Pacific Spirit Park and Burnaby Mountain offer excellent beginner and intermediate off-road trails.
Lotus Land Tours runs guided kayak tours on Indian Arm. From late November to the end of January, this small local company also offers unique float trips on the Squamish River to see the large concentration of bald eagles up close.
Rockwood Adventures (tel. 888/236-6606 or 604/741-0802; www.rockwoodadventures.com) has 4-hour guided walks of the North Shore rainforest, complete with a trained naturalist, stops in Capilano Canyon and at the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, and lunch. Cost is C$95 adults, C$85 seniors and students 12 to 25, and C$60 children 4 to 11.
Sewell’s Marina in Horseshoe Bay (tel. 604/921-3474; www.sewellsmarina.com) offers “sea safari” Zodiac tours of Howe Sound, its islands, and its population of seabirds and marine mammals. Two-hour sea safari C$85 adults, C$75 seniors and students, C$55 children 5 to 12. Shuttle transfer available at C$18 per person. Daily, April to October. Reservations required.
The highest ice-skating rink in Canada is located on Grouse Mountain; it’s an outdoor pond rink, and with the altitude and all, can be quite chilly in winter, so be sure to bundle up. Skating is free with your Skyride ticket, and you can rent skates on location. In the city, Robson Square Ice Rink also offers free outdoor skating in winter.
The Richmond Olympic Oval (6111 River Rd., Burnaby; tel. 778/296-1400; www.richmondoval.ca), home to the long-track speed skating events during the 2010 Winter Games, now has two Olympic-size rinks available year-round for drop-in skating. It’s a gorgeous building, and a fantastic, state-of-the art facility. Another good venue is the enormous Burnaby 8 Rinks Ice Sports Centre (6501 Sprott St., Burnaby; tel. 604/291-0626; www.icesports.com/burnaby8rinks), which is also open year-round, and offers lessons and rentals. Call ahead to check hours for public skating at all these rinks.
In Surrey, Deimos Paragliding Flight School (tel. 877/359-7413 or 604/200-2029; www.deimospg.com) offers tandem flights from Burnaby Mountain and other locations starting at C$160 per person. No experience is necessary for this unforgettable adventure; the actual flights, controlled by an experienced instructor, take 10–30 minutes.
Local runners traverse the Stanley Park Seawall and the park paths around Lost Lagoon and Beaver Lake. If you’re a dawn or dusk runner, take note that this is one of the world’s safer city parks. However, if you’re alone, don’t tempt fate—stick to open and lighted areas. Other prime jogging areas are Kitsilano Beach, Jericho Beach, and Spanish Banks; all of them offer flat running paths along the ocean. You can also take the seawall path from English Bay Beach south along False Creek. If you feel like doing a little racing, competitions take place throughout the year; ask for information at any runners’ outfitters such as Forerunners (3504 W. 4th Ave.; tel. 604/732-4535) or Running Room (679 Denman St., near the entrance to Stanley Park; tel. 604/684-9771). Check www.runningroom.com for information on clinics and events around Vancouver and British Columbia.
The Vancouver Aquatic Centre (1050 Beach Ave., at the foot of Thurlow St.; tel. 604/665-3424) has a heated, 50m (164-ft.) Olympic pool, saunas, whirlpools, weight rooms, diving tanks, locker rooms, showers, child care, and a tot pool. Admission is C$6 adults, C$3 children 3 to 12. The new, coed YWCA Fitness Centre (535 Hornby St.; tel. 604/895-5800; www.ywcahealthandfitness.com), in the heart of downtown, has a 6-lane, 25m (82-ft.), ozonated (much milder than chlorinated) pool, steam room, whirlpool, conditioning gym, and aerobic studios. A day pass is C$16 adults. UBC's Aquatic Centre (6121 University Blvd.; tel. 604/822-4522; www.aquatics.ubc.ca), located next door to the Student Union Building and the bus loop, sets aside time for public use. Admission is C$6 adults, C$5 children 13 to 17, and C$4 seniors and children 3 to 12.
The city maintains more than 180 outdoor hard courts that operate on a first-come, first-served basis (with a 30-min. time limit when all courts are full) from 8am until dusk. Predictably, heavy usage times are evenings and weekends. With the exception of the Beach Avenue courts, which charge a nominal fee in summer, all city courts are free.
Stanley Park has four courts near Lost Lagoon and 17 courts near the Beach Avenue entrance, next to the Fish House Restaurant on Stanley Park Drive. During the summer season (May–Sept), six courts are taken over for pay tennis and can be pre-booked by calling tel. 604/605-8224. Queen Elizabeth Park’s 17 courts service the central Vancouver area, and Kitsilano Beach Park’s 10 courts service the beach area between Vanier Park and the UBC campus.The UBC Tennis Centre (6160 Thunderbird Blvd.; tel. 604/822-2505; www.tennis.ubc.ca) re-opened in 2011 with 12 indoor courts and one outdoor court. Indoor courts are C$25 to C$31 per hour, depending on the time.
Windsurfing is not allowed at the mouth of False Creek near Granville Island, but you can bring a board to Jericho and English Bay beaches, or rent one there. Equipment sales, rentals (including wet suits), and instruction can be found at Windsure Windsurfing School (1300 Discovery St., at Jericho Beach; tel. 604/224-0615; windshore.com). Rentals start at about C$20 per hour, wet suit and life jacket included. Windsure also rents skimboards, C$22 per day, which can be used on the sandy flats along the Point Grey Foreshore.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.