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incipientraveler Jul 22nd, 2004 11:17 AM

First time to Vancouver-need itinerary help!

I've read several helpful postings on itineraries for Vancouver but am still confused on what to do for our length of stay. My husband and I will be flying into Seattle on a Monday afternoon (mid August), plan to rent a car and head to Vancouver. We would like to stay there, or other recommended spots nearby, for 4 nights (3 full days) and then head back to visit with friends in Seattle Friday afternoon before flying back home on Sunday. We have never been to Canada and fully recognize that there is far more to BC than we can cram into 3 days...we're trying to make a vacation out of a one day business visit on the west coast.

We would like to see things that are unique to the area- no museums- outdoorsy preferably. We'd like to do a little hiking, visit a quaint town where we can people watch (not shoppers), and just want to take in as much as possible. I'm intrigued by Torfino and Vancouver Island ideas...should we visit these places instead? We'll have a car so hopfully that helps if there are places we should definitely see off the beaten path on our way from Seattle to Vancouver. Any suggestions would be greatly greatly appreciated.

samma Jul 22nd, 2004 12:12 PM

Hi,My suggestion would be go see Victoria for a couple of days. Take a ferry from Vancouver over. Beautiful and lots to see. Check out this web site it will give you lots of info.
Hope this helps :)

GaryA Jul 22nd, 2004 12:20 PM

The beauty of South Western BC is that there is such a huge variety of environments within a couple of hours' drivetime to choose from. The problem with that of course is that you're going to have to choose because many of the places, Vancouver in particular, just cannot be properly explored in a day or two.

Since this is your first visit, not just to BC but to Canada, I would reccomend that you confine your visit to Vancouver and environs. There is a huge amount of outdoor recreational possibilities all within Greater Vancouver from the Grouse Grind marathon hike up Grouse Mountain to Stanley Park to the many beaches, themed gardens and wilderness trails.

In Vancouver I would concentrate one day with a morning hop on hop off orientation tour and the afternoon walking the seawall around Stanley Park and the Harbour. In the early evening, before sunset take a drive around Point Grey starting at Kitsalano Beach along Cornwall, Point Grey Road and then Marine Drive around UBC. The drive is actually more scenic traveling in the other direction but from downtown it's easier to go drive westward.

The second day take one of the little False Creek ferries to Granville Island. i know you said you didn't want to do or watch shopping but the little island is much more than the shops, studios, theatres and restaurants on it. After lunch you can drive over the Lions Gate Bridge to the North Shore. Take a drive through West Vancouver on Marine Drive to Horseshoe Bay. Return along the Upper Level Freeway to Capilano Road. There are two options for spectacular swinging bridges over steep river canyons. Capilano is very touristy and strongly disliked by purists but loved by tourists. About 3 miles furthar along the Upper Levels is Lynn Canyon with a more environment friendly bridge. You choose.

After the bridges head to the Grouse Mountain Gondola base. From there you can go up the mountain by foot on the challenging Grouse Grind or by Gondola. At the top revel in the fantastic view and take in some of the attractions. Stay for dinner and wait at least till sunset when you will get another spectacular vista.

On the third day you can choose one of three day trips. To Whistler,( about 2 hours each way), to Tofino & Long Beach(about 6 hours including ferry each way), or to Victoria and the Gulf Islands, (about 3 hours each way including Ferry). You could decide to overnite in any of these places though you should definately have reservations for Tofino unless you want to sleep on the beach.

After all that you'll just have to come back for more because you'll only have had a taste.

BowenLinda Jul 22nd, 2004 02:28 PM

Hi traveler,

A suggestion for a day trip from Vancouver is to drive to Horseshoe Bay (as GaryA mentioned) and hop the ferry to where I live, Bowen Island, a 20 min. ferry ride. Leave your car in Horseshoe Bay, walk on the ferry and enjoy the view of the ocean and various islands. Pre-arrange a guided kayak trip with Bowen Island Kayaks (immediately to the right of the ferry dock) and spend a glorious couple of hours, or a half day, exploring local waters. End the day with an excellent dinner at Blue Eyed Mary's (also right in Snug Cove, make reservations, though), a very good restaurant featuring West Coast/fusion style cooking. Hop on the ferry to return to your Vancouver hotel.

Come on over!


Vorkuta Jul 22nd, 2004 02:47 PM

Ditto to everything posted here - my only comment being that for me, the round trip to Long Beach/Tofino is just too far for one day. (As GaryA says, about six hours each way). That's a pity - it's one of my favourite spots in British Columbia.

If you do decide to go to Tofino, take GaryA's advice and call ahead to reserve accommodations. Know also that at this time of year, many places require a two-night minimum stay. (And personally two nights is the absolute minimum that I'd want to spend there...two months would be more to my liking.)

viking Jul 22nd, 2004 02:58 PM

WHY, WHY, WHY do folks gravitate toward car trips when much more pleasant alternative are staring them in the face? Well, there are conceivable reasons, but consider at least getting started with these pedestrian ferries...

One example is Bowen Island - why bash thru traffic (and bridge restrictions) to a remote ferry terminal, when the perfect one is departing from from practically in front of your hotel (by Stanley Park) thru the most scenic imaginable route:

If going Seattle to Victoria, instead of bashing thru dreary utilitarian roadways and checkpoints, why not slice thru the beautiful waterways (then if necc. there rent an anti-social-mobile):

If going Vancouver to mid or upper Vancouver island, why get in terrible competitions for ferry lineups when you can just fall out of your hotelbed directly into a high speed ferry from just to the right of Canada Place to downtown Nanaimo (then taking coordinated shuttles or else renting the anti-social-mobile):

incipientraveler Jul 22nd, 2004 08:51 PM

I can't thank you enough for all the great information. GaryA- you have given me a lot to think about and I really appreciate it. Linda- the day trip sounds perfect. I wish I could say that I'm thrilled at all the possibilites but the truth is that I'm sad I don't have more time! I know I should save it for another trip but I really want to visit Tofino too...I don't want to let the dream go just yet.

BowenLinda Jul 23rd, 2004 11:00 AM

If your heart is set on Tofino (whose isn't?) why don't you fly from Seattle to Tofino (one stop in Victoria) via North Vancouver Air's schedule? Spend three nights there (for me, two is an absolute minimum) and then fly back to Seattle for your flight home?


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