Vancouver Highlights

We’ve been lucky enough to visit Vancouver twice and both times we’ve seen different parts of this wonderful city.

The first time we visited, we were staying with a friend who directed us to see their favourite parts of the city. The second time, we rambled without a plan, spotting new sites. It’s hard to look around this city without marvelling at it’s beauty and diversity. Here are some of our favourite places in Vancouver to spend some time:

Gas Town

Such a beautiful mix of old and new come together in this part of the city. Twinkly-lit bars and restaurants meet victorian style street lamps. This is definitely Vancouver’s swish older sibling. A great place for some chilled out nights or grabbing a bite to eat, we absolutely loved spending time in this area of the city.

English Bay and Sunset Beach

Exactly what is says on the tin, Sunset Beach is home to some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. We are talking deep red skies and little sail boats outlined against the sea – straight off a post card. I’m a sucker for sunsets and sunrises (as I detailed in this post all about some of the most beautiful skies we’ve encountered on our travels) but Sunset Beach still wins hands down for me!

Granville Island

Granville Island is reached by a beautiful little trip across the water by water taxi. Part of the fun is the trip, bobbing up and down in the tiny crossing boat and stepping off on to the pier on the other side. Granville is full of markets and shopping locations. The most colourful and exciting is the indoor market – full of food and trinkets to catch the eye. The first time that we visited here, we were attacked by the cockiest seagulls I’ve ever encountered, however, on the second visit we were left in peace, meaning that we could explore the pier in more detail.

Stanley Park

A huge wonder of a park, this was a great place for us to visit and relax. Seeing the Lost Lagoon and its fountain spring up through the trees was stunning and as we were visiting on a fairly sunny day, we had the pleasure of watching the ducks swim out on a sun-kissed lake.

Grouse Mountain

No trip to Vancouver is complete without a trip out to Grouse Mountain. Slightly outside of the city, the trip up to higher ground is well worth it. You can read about our visits here and here. Seeing the city from above is such a great way to get a sense of how much it has to offer. Mountains, sea, beach and modern city all in one location – take us back, we’re getting nostalgic!


Vancouver is more than just a travel destination for us. It brings up memories of road trips, new friends and celebrating diversity. It definitely holds a piece of my heart.

Gondolas and Lumberjacks…oh my! 

Hate cable cars, love the view.

I hate goldolas (or cable cars as we say in England). I hate everything about them – the swaying, the height, being packed into a small space with people who don’t seem to be bothered by them in the least, making exclamations about the scenery. If I’m suspended high in the air by a tiny cable, I really don’t want to know what’s out of the window! I think it comes from watching too much James Bond when I was little, but hay, I just don’t like the height. I do like the views from the top of whatever mountain the gondola is traveling up though and so, if there is no other way to ascend, I’ll grit my teeth and deal with it like a champ.

One of the worst gondolas I have been on is the one going up Grouse Mountain. Not because of the distance from the floor (I’ve been on higher), but because of the amount of sway the car produces. The first time I did this trip, I did it with a mate of mine who was really reassuring and supportive, until the car swayed and the horizon moved dizzyingly up and down. We both went pale and I think that we left hand prints in the metal pole we were holding on to. The second time, I knew to look at the floor and ignore everyone’s gasps as the car did its thing. When a whole cable car full of people makes an ‘ohhhhh’ sound, it’s not that reassuring! Interestingly, the car swings much more as it passes the last tower (nearest the top) – one to remember if you dread the swaying as much as me. Wandering Beeb was fine (that guy has no fear of heights or edges!). He was taking pictures and looking out of the window with no problems at all.

All that being said, Grouse Mountain is worth it. It’s probably a 30 minute bus ride from Canada Place in Vancouver (free shuttle with a day ticket, approx $40-60 depending on your ticket to Grouse Mountain). We have also done the trip via boat which I found much more enjoyable. It has everything for a full day’s adventure – grizzley bear habitat, ranger talks, lumberjack shows, hiking, panaramic views and bird shows.

We took a hike up to the peak to see the views and it was stunning to see Vancouver laid out in front of us. The weather was great and so our view was really clear. It was a little strange to see snow-capped mountains in the distance whilst catching sunburn (top tip – make sure you put on sunblock on whilst you are on the mountain, you will burn and burn fast!).

The lumberjack show is lots of fun (great for big adult kids and little kids alike) with the audience cheering on ‘their’ lumberjack as they take on log-rolling, climbing and sawing tasks. Although it’s very staged, you can still see the skill involved as they climb up hugely tall posts, using nothing but spikes and a short rope to hug the pole. A 45 minute show is a long time for the lumberjacks to keep the crowd entertained, but they play off the sense of danger excellently, turning every wobble, height and blade into a source of anticipation and excitement.


“There was a good balance of fun and nervousness throughout the show as ‘Jonny Nelson’ from the Green River Logging Camp and ‘Willie McGee’ from Blue Mountain battle through axe throwing, carving, climbing and log rolling, with some high jinx thrown in to encourage gasps from the audience”


The bird show and bear habitat is one of the closest views you will get of these creatures (I certainly wouldn’t want to be that close to a bear in the wild) and we had some good reminders of the wildness of these animals as the birds decided to do their own thing and fly close enough to the audience to brush people’s hair as they passed. Check out our recent posts on bear spotting and the birds of Grouse Mountain.

Grouse Mountain is never going to be the most rural, ‘off the beaten track’ type of experience. It is a tourist attraction through and through, but it doesn’t pretend to be anything else and it’s a great day out of the City in a beautiful setting. Gondola and all, I loved it.

Tell us about your love /hate experiences with travel – what parts of a trip have you gritted your teeth through because you knew that it would be worth it once you reached your destination? Let us know in the comments!

The Birds of Grouse Mountain

Visiting the ‘Birds in Motion’ session on Grouse Mountain

Flying so close you could almost feel the wings brush your head, the mix of Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons and Owls in the ‘Birds in Motion’ session on Grouse Mountain is a good way to learn about the hunting and living habits of these beautiful creatures.

Taking the birds half way up the dirt track on the mountain, the Rangers encouraged them to fly down to where we were sitting, demonstrating how they would hunt for prey in the wild.  Small podiums and ledges were set up to allow the birds to perch, giving the audience a close up view of the birds.



Yes, its a tourist attraction, yes the birds are not living in the wild (and I would much prefer to see them in that setting) but the birds are part of a Ranger programme and are therefore well looked after, rather than part of a performing circus. Spotting one of these birds in nature is pretty difficult, so having the opportunity to sit so close to them was incredible. Throughout the session, the Rangers were able to share facts about the birds and tell stories of their activities.

Before the session, the audience was clearly told a) not to touch the birds, and b) don’t stand up whilst the birds are flying – apparently they were able to judge the distances above our heads very well, except for if we stood up / sat down quickly. One guy shifted about just a bit too much in his seat and ended up being kissed in the face by a feathery wing! After that, we made sure to sit quite still!


If you decide to visit the session, it’s well worth sitting on the back row of the benches as you will have a good view of the birds as they fly over your head to the perches at the back. Front row seats get a better view of the birds when they land, but be warned, don’t sit too far forward on the grass – the Rangers will ask you to move anyway as this is classed as the bird’s territory and you don’t want to be mistaken for prey!

Although the eagles were great to see, I have to say that I preferred the owls. There is something fascinating about them as creatures, cute and fluffy on the outside but fairly savage and violent in their kills. As a horror fan, anything that can rotate it’s head to the same degree as the owl is well worth my time!


The ‘Birds in Motion’ sessions run throughout the summer on the mountain – you can read more about them here: