Top 10 Places to Photograph in Vancouver and Things to do in and around Vancouver
Heading to Vancouver? Be prepared for one of the most adventurous and picturesque cities Canada has to offer. Vancouver and the West Coast of Canada offer some of the best hikes, scenery, and all around outdoor activities you could ask for. I will breakdown what to do in Vancouver, what to do in Squamish, and what to do in Whistler. I understand your time is limited so I will narrow the adventure activities based on my experiences.
My perfect trip here would be to spend some time in Vancouver, Squamish, and Whistler, but I will separate the articles for each location.
The top things to do in the Vancouver area would break down like this in no particular order:
- Golden Ears Provincial Park – Located in Maple Ridge. This park offers some of the most beautiful views regardless of the weather. If it is raining, I would still recommend going to check out a true West Coast rain forest! Some popular hikes in this area are:
- Alouette Lake: Right beside parking lot, you can walk to the day camp ground and take in the amazing mountain reflection in the lake. I would recommend coming here during the sunrise and/or sunset.
- Pitt Lake: A great spot to witness the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis given the conditions are right!
- Gold Creek Falls: 5.5km, 2hrs, witness some turquoise waterfalls and streams
- Mike Lake: 2km, 1 hr max, a quick walk for West Coast boardwalk photos
- St. Mark’s Summit – A popular hike that only takes a morning, 4-5 hours roundtrip. The views are spectacular of the Howe Sound and the islands. You will see the trailhead starts at Cypress Mountain, from here go to the beginning of Lion’s Express chairlift and take the Howe Sound Crest Trail. Follow the trailhead markers, you will follow the ones for the Howe Sound Crest Trail and The Lions rather than it actually saying St. Mark’s Summit as St. Mark’s comes first. Another indicator for the trail is Bowen Lookout. Take your time at the top to soak it all in. The St. Mark’s trail head is here
- Tunnel Bluffs Hike – This hike is 4-5 hours there and back. Check out Google Images of the Tunnel Bluffs Hike and the parking lot for the Tunnel Bluffs Trailhead is located here. It’s 3km from Lion’s Bay and you will drive over a bridge and the parking lot is on the opposite side of the highway so you will need to drive 1km past the bridge for a safe turnaround on the south way of the highway. Then cross the highway to the north side safely to reach the trailhead. Tunnel Bluffs is a moderate hike with little elevation gain of 650m and 7km total trail distance.
- Capilano Suspension Bridge – Do you recall seeing the suspension bridge fading into the fog in a dense rain-forest? This place is magical and I would recommend going on a rainy day, in the early morning when it opens or be one of the last people to leave when it closes. The cost is a bit pricey for adults $39.95+tax or $32.95 for students and if you’re just going to see the suspension bridge over Lynn gorge, but makes it worthwhile if you go to the tree top walks. It is an extremely popular tourist spot so be strategic when you go. Visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge website here. Otherwise you will look like me on the bridge here.
- Cyrpress Mountain lookout – Drive up the mountain and at about half way up you get to the lookout point. You can take it the stunning city of Vancouver from high up and watch the clouds move below you. Type in Cypress Mountain in your Google Maps or GPS and it’s located in West Vancouver. No hiking here, this is just for a photographic opportunity.
- Point Atkinson Lighthouse otherwise known as the West Vancouver lighthouse. Take Marine Drive West and take a left onto Beacon Lane into Lighthouse Park. This is a great spot for a quick nature fix and only an hour or less walk round trip. This is an extremely photogenic spot so it’s a great place to photograph the sunrise or the sunset. BONUS TIP: Whytecliff Park – continue further down Marine Drive to this incredible beach location located near Horseshoe Bay Ferry terminal. There’s a small island called Whyte Islet, and it’s a photographer’s dream location during sunset.
- Stanley Park Seawall walk, Siwash Rock, and Third Beach – On a sunny day one of my favourite things to do here is to run around the Stanley Park Seawall which is approximately around 8.5km. It takes about 2 hours to complete the loop, but if you are limited with time I would recommend going to Siwash Rock. Siwash Rock is the incredible island rock formation that is located on the North Western side of Stanley Park. How you get there without doing the entire Seawall perimeter walk is by driving just past Prospect Point lookout and before or around Third Beach parking lots.
- Grouse Grind – How fast can you go?! This is a popular hike used by all fitness levels. The hike consists of wooden stairs up alongside Grouse Mountain. The way up will take between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on the length of your breaks and fitness level. Ensure you bring your wallet, debit/credit, cash to buy lunch, snacks or beer at the top where the gondola is at. I recommend a bottle of water as well. On the way down you have 2 options to go down the east side trail (not the stairs) or the gondola. This hike takes 2-3 hours roundtrip or 1.5 hours with the gondola down. The record on the way up is 23:48 min and the record amount of ascents in one day is 16, but doing it once is okay too.
- While in Vancouver, I recommend visiting Kitslano Beach. It’s one of the most popular beaches and park locations year round and it’s an ideal location to relax for the day. Kitslano Beach has all of the amenities you could ask for including restaurants, coffee shops, walking paths, and even a swimming pool for a low cost if the ocean is too cold for you.
- Skim boarding at Spanish Banks. Spanish Banks Beach Park is near UBC and it offers some of the best conditions for skim boarding you could ask for. Low tides create large shallow pools perfect for skim boarding or even just beach walks. I recommend visiting this spot during all times of the day, but especially sunset due to its west facing location.
My next article will be for Squamish, British Columbia and all of the top hikes in the area. It’s known to be the outdoor capital of the world!