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5 days in Vancouver before Alaska Cruise - where to go

5 days in Vancouver before Alaska Cruise - where to go

Old Jan 7th, 2020, 02:43 AM
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5 days in Vancouver before Alaska Cruise - where to go

Hello all!
In August I am traveling to Vancouver with my family of 5 (3 kids in the age of 15, 12 and 9). After our 5 full days in Vancouver we will leave for a one week Alaska Cruise.
I hope someone can give great ideas to fill these five days. We are thinking about driving up to Whistler (maybe spend a day there so we can also enjoy a sunset in Whistler the next morning) because the drive seems to be so scenic I've read.
Is Vancouver Island something we can't miss or will we not have enough time to fit this in + keeping in mind that we will see a lot of nature on our Alaska Cruise the week after...

Looking forward to ideas for these 5 full days (we are arriving on a Monday and I am not counting that day in our stay, the cruise leaves on that Sunday, so we really have 5 full days in Vancouver, 6 nights.

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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 07:27 AM
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You could go over to Vancouver Island, but plan on an overnight if you do. You could easily fill a day with Butchart Gardens, and in Victoria visit the Royal BC Museum (with an array of totem poles outside), stroll around the Inner Harbour, etc.

If you do a search on this forum, you'll get tons of recommendations including Grouse Mountain, Lynn Canyon, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Stanley Park, etc. etc. Vancouver's public transportation is excellent and even includes "aquabus." https://vancouver.ca/streets-transpo...nd-planes.aspx

What are you and your kids' interests?
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 07:37 AM
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Hi Sludick,

Thanks for your reply! Do you think we'd have enough time to fit in a trip to Whistler when we also plan to stay overnight at Vancouver Island? My wife is afraid of heights and I am quite sure we will not get to the Suspension Bridge area ;-)
The kids would love to see bears in Canada and the mountain views. We would like to see things in Vancouver itself as well of course and think Stanley Park is especially nice. Still looking for other things we definitely need to see in Vancouver. The kids need dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe as well ;-) is that a nice area?

We opt to rent a car so we can easily get around to both Whister, get around Vancouver and possibly also use it to get around on Vancouver Island. It that something you recommend?
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Old Jan 8th, 2020, 05:18 AM
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We've always had a car when taking the ferry across to Vancouver Island, which makes it convenient to get to Butchart Gardens. However, it's not a requirement, and others here can better advise you on that. The car does drive up the price of the ferry ride, of course. Also, you will need to factor in arriving at the terminal early enough to get a spot. Summertime can be busy, so you would probably do well to get a reservation, otherwise you might have to wait for the next ferry. Trips across are about an hour and a half, so that plus lining up will take you, at a minimum, 2-1/2 hours each way. Here is a link: https://www.bcferries.com/schedules/mainland/

For bears... Grouse Mountain has 2 orphaned grizzlies on top of the mountain. They also have raptor demonstrations that will let the kids get a close look at these beautiful birds and get to see them fly. There are also things such as a lumberjack show, etc. The views from the top of the mountain cannot be beat. You will have to take a gondola up, though, if your wife can handle that. https://www.grousemountain.com/?season=summer

Vancouver itself has SO much. The downtown area is very walkable. Cars are not helpful here, and parking will be costly. You could easily spend a week just in Vancouver and still barely scratch the surface. Besides the many discussions you will be able to find by searching this Canada forum, here are a couple of links with suggestions: https://www.thecrazytourist.com/top-...ver-bc-canada/ https://www.tourismvancouver.com/act...-in-vancouver/

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Old Jan 8th, 2020, 06:34 AM
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thanks again for your reply. Do you (or anyone else) think we should or should not fit in a trip to Whistler? We would like the drive up there since it is not too long from Vancouver, but are having doubts if we can add it to our schedule when we also visit Vancouver Island with an overnight stay.
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Old Jan 8th, 2020, 08:18 AM
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What month will you be visiting? Where do you plan to stay in Vancouver?

With five people logistics can become difficult and transportation expensive. Personally I'd be inclined to stay on the mainland; the time and cost for five people to travel to Vancouver Island would be taxing, especially when you're going to be on the ship for the next week, seeing lots of islands.

To be sure, traffic and parking can be an issue, but again, with five, it might work out better to have a vehicle and stay someplace with inexpensive or free parking, and use the vehicle to drive to some central place and park it before fanning out. Multiply bus fare x 5 in both directions, or taxis x 2 (unlikely you'll find one seating five easily) and see what it looks like. A vehicle would make excursions to places like Grouse Mountain easy, or to one of the several suspension bridges (I know, heights) in the area. (Look at Lynn Canyon Park, where the bridge is free as opposed to major money for Capilano. The park also has lots of other attractions for the heights-averse.) https://lynncanyon.ca/

Butchart Gardens is terrific, but the parks in Vancouver city are no slouches by any means. The gardens in Queen Elizabeth Park are also fabulous, and the Bloedel Conservatory in the middle of that park offers fantastic tropical plants and birds flying about. The nearby Van Dusen Gardens is also a world-class botanical garden, and there are wonderful gardens (including a big rose garden) in Stanley Park. You can also visit a lovely Chinese Garden in the city's huge Chinatown. https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreatio...d-beaches.aspx

With a vehicle you could travel up to Whistler, but even an abbreviated trip as far as Squamish would give you terrific scenery, although the gondola - https://www.seatoskygondola.com/ - might give pause to the heights-conscious. Or stay at sea level with visits to several beaches within the city such as the Spanish Banks, or down to Vancouver's fishing port of Steveston.

Steveston was the filming location for the Once Upon a Time TV series, and on that subject, it might be interesting to take one of the various tours offered around Vancouver highlighting all the TV and movie filming locations in "Hollywood North." Filming in Vancouver - Current Movies and TV Shows and https://www.tourismvancouver.com/van...-in-vancouver/

Of course visit in-town iconic locations like the Granville Island market and Stanley Park (fab aquarium) but also consider the night market in Richmond - https://www.visitrichmondbc.com/food...night-markets/ or attend a performance at the wonderful Bard on the Beach Shakespeare festival, with one of the most dramatic settings possible - https://bardonthebeach.org/

In short, five days can be filled without breaking a sweat.

Last edited by Gardyloo; Jan 8th, 2020 at 08:27 AM.
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Old Jan 8th, 2020, 08:28 AM
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The archaeology museum at the University of British Columbia is a treasure for young and old. The glass-walled building sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean inlet so that its displays naturally blend with the outdoors. Workshops are also behind glass to give some idea of on-going research. And the collection of First Nations crafts and artifacts -- contemporary as well as historic -- is eye-opening.
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Old Jan 9th, 2020, 12:16 PM
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I say go to Whistler, and stay overnight or two. You have teenagers, and there is more for them to do in Whistler than Victoria. If your kids bike, there are great downhill trails, where you take your bike up the ski lift and bike down. The zip line there is unbelievable, and you can leave the wife to wander the shops or go to Scandanave spa (which is a wonderful experience). There are lots of trails around Whistler joining small lakes with swimming or kayaking and bike rentals in town. The trails at the top of the mountain are beautiful as well, but once again involves a gondola to get up. There is also a First Nations Cultural Center called Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre with many activities.

I really love Victoria, but it's more gardens, walking downtown and museums. Save that to return with the wife when the kids are older.
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Old Jan 10th, 2020, 06:56 PM
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With 5 people including 3 kids I too would remain on the mainland and not go to Victoria.

As to Whistler, (particularly in August ), I don't even think I would go there with the 3 kids.

Opt instead for a gondola ride up Grouse Mountain. Brace yourselves - it costs a pretty penny, BUT it is local. (park in a Vancouver suburb and take a gondola 3000 feet up the side of a mountain)

A sensible cost-saving measure would be to finesse a hotel spot along a SKYTRAIN route and somewhat away from the central city scene, for lower hotel rates (esp. since you need 2 rooms).

Central Vancouver is relatively compact, with lots of stuff to do once you get there from your outlying area.

(instead of loading up on souvenirs at first impulse, it MIGHT be easier on everyone to do a great job of documenting what you saw where, and how much retracing your steps would be involved to time purchases to match your return to your suburban hotel spot via SKYTRAIN) (of course that would lead to wiser purchases all around - merely to avoid needing to carry things when on foot in the center of town)

(maybe later in the week you DRIVE the vehicle into town, park somewhere, and have the vehicle available to store purchased souvenirs on that day)

Three kids of those ages are going to want to do all sorts of things in opposite directions... and central Vancouver is safe... and rarely does a place have so many normal people walking the streets all night long.

These days, you probably shouldn't go near to the intersections of Hastings and Main, but although an eyesore, it isn't too bad by American standards.

Make it a priority to land a hotel reservation someplace extremely near to a SKYTRAIN station, and then plot your daily activities around those parameters, perhaps even saving some spots for exploration after dark, having then driven in with the vehicle.

*** nothing says you even NEED a rental car for such a trip - even Grouse Mountain can be accessed via city bus, unlike Whistler.

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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 05:53 PM
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a very reasonable place to stay within 2 blocks of the stadium chinatown skytrain stop and adjacent to BC Place and a block from the beginning of Robson , the main shopping street. if you wander long enough you get to stanley park (maybe 45 -50 minute windowshopping stroll)
the YWCA Hotel is my stay of choice all kinds of accomodations from dorms with plentiful washrooms and kitchens down the hall to double with private or shared washrooms. rates are the most reasonable in the DT core and although modest, quite comfortable, quiet and welcoming. they are finishing up an adddition which will expand the number of ensuite rooms
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