Coyotes, bears and cougars populate the forested slopes of the North Shore Mountains, the stunning backyard to North Vancouver, British Columbia. The front yard is Burrard Inlet, which separates Vancouver on the south from North Vancouver.
The term North Vancouver sometimes confuses visitors because it may refer to either of two distinct municipalities, or in some cases, to both at the same time. The larger District of North Vancouver surrounds the more densely populated City of North Vancouver on three sides. Regardless of what anyone means by North Vancouver, this part of the metro area is a jumping-off point for outdoor adventures.
One of the favourite tourist spots in North Vancouver is the 27-acre Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. The park takes its name from a 450-foot-long bridge dangling 230 feet above the Capilano River. Two other unique trails in the park challenge more daring hikers. Treetops Adventure explores the rainforest from suspension bridges and platforms as much as 100 feet above the forest floor. The Cliffwalk, with cantilevered bridges jutting from a granite cliffside and a network of platforms and stairs, is no ordinary walk in the park. Families on tight budgets might prefer the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, a free option nearby to the west.
Any visit to North Vancouver, whether in summer or winter, should include time at Grouse Mountain. In addition to participating in the more traditional sports of skiing and snowboarding, winter guests can book sleigh rides, go ice skating or trek across the mountain on snowshoes. Summer visitors may opt for the two-hour, five-zip-line circuit, one of the best things to do in North Vancouver. This extensive network of zip lines blends the thrill of a 50-mph descent with the inspiration of alpine scenery.
Each fall Grouse Mountain is the venue of the Artists for Conservation Festival, a 10-day event sponsored by the non-profit Artists for Conservation Foundation. The October festival brings together the works of some of the world’s best nature and wildlife artists, representing six continents. This event is more than an art exhibit, offering lectures and workshops as well. Attending the festival is a great reason to visit North Vancouver.
At the other end of the event spectrum is the Caribbean Days Festival, held each year at Waterfront Park. This annual weekend celebration of island culture begins with a carnival-like street parade, with costumed dancers moving to island tunes. A highlight of this festival is the live music, including reggae, calypso, Latin and African rhythms, performed at the main sound stage. Authentic Jamaican dishes, such as jerk chicken and curry goat, round out the weekend, placing this festival on the short list of things to do in North Vancouver.
The big draw for North Vancouver, though, is the unspoiled natural beauty all around. The 7,400-acre Cypress Provincial Park is a mere 27-kilometre drive to the northwest, while the 8,700-acre Mount Seymour Provincial Park is not quite 18 kilometres to the northeast. North Vancouver is a gateway to adventure.