With the magnificent North Shore Mountains on one side and the gorgeous Strait of Georgia on the other, West Vancouver boasts a wealth of pursuits that would make any outdoor enthusiast swoon. Hikers amble over picturesque suspension bridges, mountain bikers zip through old-growth forest and ocean kayakers can paddle along a sumptuously long stretch of Canadian shoreline.
When looking for things to do in West Vancouver, many fitness-minded travellers choose to take on The Grouse Grind, a deceptively short trail that is one of the North Shore's most famous and challenging hikes. Winding up the side of Grouse Mountain, the trail boasts such a steady elevation gain that locals have nicknamed it "Mother Nature's Stairmaster."
For a longer hiking day on a West Vancouver visit, opt for Cypress Provincial Park, northeast of the city centre. Popular for its backcountry camping and rugged wilderness, the park offers Alpine ski areas, mountain plateaus and several trails that vary in difficulty and length. Hikers can challenge themselves with sudden elevation gains on the Howe Sound Crest Trail or wander leisurely among white heather and native wildflowers on the flat Yew Trail.
Closer to town is the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a top West Vancouver attraction. High above the Capilano River, the bridge was built in 1889, and since then, its wobbly and thrilling stretch has become a landmark. The area also offers Cliffwalk, a series of narrow cantilevered bridges, stairs and platforms with only 16 anchor points in the cliff face. Treetops Adventure, a series of seven suspension bridges and viewing platforms, gives visitors a fresh perspective on the old-growth Douglas firs growing beneath.
Thanks to its geography, West Vancouver gives visitors equal access to mountains and sea, and a ferry service provides transport to nearby Bowen Island. Known for its kayaking, the island offers sheltered waters that are perfect for easy paddling and wildlife viewing, favorite things to do in West Vancouver.
With its proximity to so many natural vistas, West Vancouver is a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts, but high-caliber dining options also prove a welcome draw. Since the city is situated on a Pacific Ocean gulf, restaurant menus feature myriad seafood selections. One popular spot for fresh fare is The Beach House, tucked along the shore near the centre of town. Lodged in a restored teahouse built in 1912, the restaurant's expansive windows and beachside patio provide ample views of the water and a sense of historical roots.
Dig into more seafood specialties at Dundarave Fish Market, a pub-like eatery with signature crab and shrimp cakes. An attached fresh seafood counter includes a dizzying array of just-caught delights, including red snapper and sea asparagus. The restaurant is a short stroll from Dundarave Pier, a nice spot for watching the sun set over the gulf.
Whether feeling the stomach-dropping thrill on a major suspension bridge or taking in seaside views from a new favorite dinner house, travellers will appreciate the blend of cosy community and wide-open spaces that define West Vancouver attractions.