Have more than two days? Then try this itinerary for Day 3. If Day 2 was all about museums, shops, and restaurants, today is all about the great outdoors. You’ll head north to the mountains that overlook Vancouver, where you will find ski hills and hiking trails galore as well as old-school English-style pubs and some breathtaking attractions. It helps if you have a car, but if you don’t, there are plenty of other ways to get yourself up into them thar hills, including shuttles, tour buses, city buses, and the foot-passenger ferry called the SeaBus.
1. Lions Gate Bridge
This graceful green span, officially known as the First Narrows Bridge, was built in 1938 to connect the communities of North and West Vancouver to the City of Vancouver. It has three reversible lanes, which are the bane of many commuters’ existence, but the inevitable traffic jams do offer lots of opportunity to take in those magnificent views of the North Shore Mountains. If you’re driving, your route will take you through Stanley Park and across the nearly 1,800m (6,000-ft.) bridge span; at its northern end, you can choose to take the exit left to West Vancouver and on to Whistler Mountain Resort or right to North Vancouver and Capilano Road. Point yourself up Capilano Road.
2. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
About halfway up Capilano Road, you’ll come across one of British Columbia’s most famous—and famously terrifying—attractions. It’s a simple wood-and-cable footbridge that stretches 140m (460 ft.) across a deep gorge, gently swaying 70m (230 ft.) above the Capilano River so very, very far below. The bridge is the main attraction, but the park also features a Treetops Adventure, cantilevered Cliffwalk, gift shop, interpretive story center, and First Nations exhibits. One of the best times to go is during the holidays, when the park is lit up with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights.
3. Grouse Mountain
Keep going up Capilano Road and you’ll reach the parking lot for Grouse Mountain, one of three ski hills on the North Shore (the other two are Cypress Mountain and Mount Seymour). If you feel energetic, take the Grouse Grind, a tough 2.9km (1.8-mile) hike that goes straight uphill. Otherwise, hop aboard the Skyride for a leisurely journey to “The Peak of Vancouver.” At the top, you can explore hiking trails, go zip lining, and visit the grizzly bears in the wildlife refuge; in winter, you can also ski, snowboard, skate, or take a sleigh ride. You can also enjoy a romantic gourmet dinner at The Observatory or a casual burger at the Rusty Rail BBQ. Above all—quite literally—you’ll enjoy the spectacular views of Vancouver, the Salish Sea, and the Gulf Islands.
4. Lighthouse Park
From Grouse Mountain, you can head east to North Vancouver or west to West Vancouver. (And yes, all those “wests” are confusing for locals, too.) If you choose to explore West Vancouver, drive down to Marine Drive and turn right, but be careful not to get caught up in the bridge traffic or you’ll end up back in Vancouver. West Van is a series of small seaside villages such as Ambleside and Dundarave that have combined to become one of the wealthiest addresses in Canada. Keep following Marine Drive to Lighthouse Park, a 75-hectare (185-acre) cliffside park of towering old-growth rainforest, easy hiking trails, and scenic picnic areas.
5. Lynn Headwaters Regional Park
If you decide to go east to North Vancouver instead, you’ll find this spectacular park gathered around the rushing waters of Lynn Creek. You’ll find another suspension bridge here, and, while this one doesn’t have a gift store or interpretive center, it is free. The park itself is riddled with terrific hiking trails that range from easy ambles to rugged backcountry treks, as well as lakes, rivers, waterfalls, majestic forests, and towering mountain peaks. And all of this is just minutes from the heart of the city.
6. Dinner with a View
While the North Shore isn’t known for its gourmet dining, it does offer a handful of decent casual-upscale restaurants with spectacular views. If you’re ending your day in West Vancouver, the Beach House at Dundarave is a great place to nibble on local seafood, sip a glass of wine, and enjoy the beachside view of Lions Gate Bridge and Stanley Park. Should you be in North Vancouver, Pier 7 next to the Lonsdale Quay is also a good place for dinner. It, too, offers a seafood-intense menu, with classic cocktails and interesting wine selection, with a lively view of downtown Vancouver and the busy port.