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terryr Jan 11th, 2006 10:11 PM

Vancouver or Vancouver Island if have two days
This coming June, my family and I (husband and two daughters, ages 19 and 23) will be flying into Vancouver and have two days to tour before taking a cruise to Alaska with Celebrity cruise line. We were in Vancouver and Vancouver Island ten years ago for a week and had a wonderful time; this is a great opportunity to re-visit one of these destinations again, with our daughters much older, for the two days that we have. Given the time of year, we would prefer to do outdoors activities.

What destination would you most recommend to our family, and why? Would going over to Vancouver Island and seeing Butchart Gardens again be too much to cover in the time we have (and should we rent a car or go by public transportation)? But then again, what might we be missing in Vancouver if we did that? Thank you for your feedback and suggestions to us!

Judy_in_Calgary Jan 12th, 2006 07:21 AM

I would not go to Vancouver Island if I were you. You say you want to enjoy nature. But with only 2 days at your disposal, you won't be able to do justice to the nature on Vancouver Island (by, for example, visiting the Tofino area). The ferry crossing from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, which goes through the Southern Gulf Islands, is pretty. But you'll be going on a cruise to Alaska, so the Southern Gulf Islands will be small potatoes.

If you use a bus or a car and a ferry, it takes 4 hours to get from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria. The return journey would take 8 hours out of your 2 days.

I think you'd be better off staying in Vancouver, renting bikes, and riding the sea wall around Stanley Park. Then rent some kayaks at Granville Island Market. Then, if you're so inclined, do the "Grouse Grind" (climb the steps up Grouse Mountain instead of riding the air tram).

BAK Jan 12th, 2006 08:17 AM

Another vote for the mainland.

You'll be, sort of, inthe wilderness on the cruise, so have a dose of the big city before you leave. And,with Vancouver, the big city includes lots of outdoors, from Stanley PArk to Grouse Mountain to just walking along Robson and through various other districts, and a tour of Granville Island.

For lots of people, the ferry ride to Vancouver island is a treat, but you'll be on a boat...

Vancouver, too, is a great city for young adults (and their parrents), so take advantage of the opportunity.


ltt Jan 12th, 2006 08:34 AM

with such little time, just stay in vancouver.

terryr Jan 12th, 2006 12:53 PM

Thank you for your feedback! With your information as to distance to Vancouver Island, I would agree that it makes more sense to stay in Vancouver.

Therefore, do you have any suggestions as to where we should stay if we want to be in the city near interesting shops (not looking for a mall) and good restaurants, but also close enough to the Stanley Park area? Suggestions as to location in the city and/or name of hotel? Also, would we need to rent a car to get to Grouse Mountain or is there public transportation to get we need to decide whether or not we should rent a car for the two days that we are visiting Vancouver.

Judy_in_Calgary Jan 12th, 2006 03:12 PM

I think the Westin Bayshore would meet your needs. I have only driven past it, but my husband has stayed there on business, and he likes it.

You can use public transportation to get to Grouse Mountain. Here is the Trip Planning page of TransLink's web site:

Something that several visitors to Vancouver do, which seems to work well, is to rent a car on an as-needed basis (if they decide that they want to rent a car at all). They pick up a car in the morning and return it that evening. That saves the parking fee that almost all downtown hotels charge.

terryr Jan 13th, 2006 10:36 AM

Many thanks Judy in Calgary for your invaluable input! Can you say any more about your recommending the Westin Bayshore (location to restaurants and shops or to public transportation or Stanley Park?). We will look into that and your other suggestions.

Carmanah Jan 13th, 2006 06:00 PM

The Westin Bayshore is in downtown Vancouver. If you look at a map of Vancouver, you'll notice that downtown is actually a tiny peninsula and that Stanley Park is also a tiny peninsula in the north-western corner of downtown. Downtown Vancouver is small, compact, and walkable, and as long as you're staying downtown, you're always going to be within walking distance to literally hundreds of restaurants and shops.

The Westin Bayshore overlooks Coal Harbour, which is the waterfront at the entrance to Stanley Park. You'd be located at the northern foot of Denman Street. If you leisurely stroll 5-10 minutes south down Denman Street, you're going to have dozens of restaurants of every kind. At the very southern foot of Denman Street (about a 20 minute leisurely walk away from your hotel), you have English Bay - a beautiful beach where you can watch the sunset. Personally, this is my favourite part of downtown, scenery wise, and I think it's the prettiest waterfront in all of downtown. The area's especially lively in June, when people are sunbathing on warm days, and busking entertainers gather crowds during the evening. Okay - enough on English Bay!

Robson Street is a 10 minute walk away from the Westin Bayshore - it's known for its shopping and restaurants... most of the shops stay open until 9 or 10pm, especially in June. The majority of the stores on Robson Street are clothing and shoe stores, and most of them are global chains (ie: Nike, Banana Republic, Bebe Zara, the Body Shop, Godiva Chocolates, Aldo, etc), however, it's still fun to stroll along Robson, and I'm sure your daughters would appreciate it.

If you're looking for more independent boutiques and shops, you might want to check out Yaletown - the neighbourhood around Hamilton Street and Mainland Street in the south-east corner of downtown. This used to be an old industrial area decades ago, but brick warehouses have been converted into trendy lofts, funky restaurants, lounges, etc. Some fantastic restaurants are located here, and the stores are all unique. If your daughters are into fashion at all, they'd love to the boutiques in Yaletown. While most of the boutiques are closed by 6pm in Yaletown, the restaurants often stay open until 1am or 2am. I actually live in Yaletown, and I often walk to Stanley Park. It would probably take me half an hour to 40 minutes to walk to the Westin Bayshore, but it's one of those walks that can be done leisurely, as you pass through various neighbourhoods along the way. You can also take the seawall which forms a perimeter walk around the peninsula.

Personally, I don't think you need a car in Vancouver. As I said already, all the downtown attractions are walkable. Grouse Mountain would be easily accessible via public transit - it's located just north from downtown.

Note that the Grouse Grind isn't so much a "hike" than it is a staircase leading all the way up the mountain. It's not really a leisure activity, nor is it something I'd subject to my family, unless they wanted to exhaust themselves. The locals do it as a form of exercise, but it's not particularly known for its scenery until you get to the very top.

You can pay the $30 to take the tram to the top of Grouse mountain, where there's a stunning view and fantastic and scenic hiking trails.

Or... if you decide to rent a car, I'd suggest driving up to the top of Mount Cypress or Mount Seymour instead. They're the neighbouring mountain peaks of Grouse. Grouse is the only mountain you can't drive up, hence the Grouse Grind "stairmaster" or the $30 tram ride.

Another option is to take the bus to Lynn Canyon - - a nice alternative to the tourist trappy Capilano Suspension Bridge. While the Capilano Suspension Bridge is more famous, they also charge money, and they run the park like a theme park. Lynn Canyon is completely free, and it's a regional park with hours worth of trails to explore.

Finally, if you're a huge gardening fan, you can visit Van Dusen Botanical Garden, which is fantastic in June. I took pictures of it when I last visited in May 2005 -

There's also Queen Elizabeth Park, which is completely free to visit, and it isn't that far from downtown Vancouver. Just like Victoria's Butchart Gardens, it too used to be an old rock quarry that was turned into a beautiful garden. Here's a few websites:

terryr Jan 13th, 2006 10:15 PM

Thank you Carmanah for all of your additional feedback to my questions as well as your suggestions! Your points are excellent, and I will add your information as part of my guide. Also, really loved your photos of Van Dusen Botanical Garden. Now that we have decided not to go to Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, maybe we can head to Van Dusen's? What do you think?

Carmanah Jan 14th, 2006 12:17 PM

You're very welcome!

Van Dusen Gardens would be very feasible.. it's only located south of downtown Vancouver, but still within the city. I could drive from downtown Vancouver and be at Van Dusen in 20 minutes, so it's really not far at all. It's about a $15 cab ride from downtown Vancouver, and you can also take public transit there, although I don't know the bus route off hand.

Take a look at Van Dusen's website, as it contains a lot of pertinent info:

rosieh Jan 15th, 2006 01:44 AM

Hello - I have four nights in Vancouver before we start our trip into the Rockies (this July). My travel agent is recommending 4 nights in the Rosedale on Robson. Does anybody know this hotel? It gets good reviews but I'm not sure if the location is ok? Another hotel we looked at is the Renaissance Harbourside. Any views?
Also - I wondered if we should do 2 nights in Victoria but the travel agent said to stay on mainland and go over on day trips. The comment that it takes 4 hours to get to Victoria from Vancouver has me worried! Any opinions on whether we should do 2 nights in each?
Many thanks in advance.

joxxxxx Jan 17th, 2006 12:08 AM

Dear rosieh,

I've stayed in the Rosedale a number of times and have had very good experiences.

From the Rosedale you are literally 3 mins from the heart of Yaletown, 5 mins from the Aquabus to Granville Island, 10 mins to Pacific Centre/Robson Street/Art Gallery/Canada Place/BC and GM Place.

We prefer the location of the Rosedale opposed to the hotels situated at the other end of Robson near the park.

rosieh Jan 18th, 2006 02:03 AM

Thanks jo... sounds like the Rosedale is in a good location.

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