So you've seen the local mountains, ventured around downtown, explored Stanley Park, cycled the Seawall and even taken a trip to Whistler. This post is for those of you who crave more, those who wish to venture down the less travelled path. Below is a list of our top 7 lesser known favorites. The first four are easily accessible by bus. The last three, you will likely need a car for.
1. PUGET STAIRWAY
|From Downtown||25 min|
If you find yourself in the heart of residential Vancouver, be sure to check out this quiet view along Puget Drive. It's nestled in the hills of the Arbutus Ridge neighborhood between 29th and 31st street. At the halfway point you will find a staircase -- climb up and enjoy the spectacular sight of the Vancouver city skyline from a distance. This one is pretty off the radar so it is extremely likely you will be the only one there. Bring a date and a blanket and settle in for a romantic sunset.
2. TOWER BEACH
|From Downtown||50 min|
Along the Foreshore trail, just a few minutes walk from the UBC Museum of Anthropology and down a short, well-maintained, wooden staircase (Trail 3) lies Tower Beach. The beach is most known for its two 10m C.A.S.L (Coast Artillery Search Light) installments built for WWII to aid the Point Grey Battery atop the steep, lush cliffs in protecting the harbor. Tower Beach is a unique piece of Vancouver's history and a great spot for quiet sunsets and bonfires.
3. DR. SUN YAT-SEN CLASSICAL CHINESE GARDEN
|From Downtown||5 min|
|Time||10am - 6pm*|
Nestled in the heart of China Town, between Downtown and Strathcona, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden is a self-sustaining little piece of China. I would recommend just visiting the free portion of the garden, as you can see about 80% of the grounds this way. One thing to note is that the free portion was designed by local architects using materials primarily from North and South America. The paid portion was designed by Chinese architects using traditional construction methods and materials sourced from China. If you want the most authentic experience, spring for the paid entry.
4. BURNABY MOUNTAIN
|From Downtown||1 hr 15 min|
This one is a personal favorite summertime spot. Not only do you get a spectacular view of Vancouver, the Lions Gate bridge and the surrounding mountains, but you also have sight lines into Richmond, Burnaby, New West and Surrey. After exploring the mountain top and hiking trails, sit back, relax and grab a drink at Horizons Restaurant.
5. LIGHTHOUSE PARK
|From Downtown||30 min|
Lighthouse Park offers yet another one of Vancouver's most unique landmarks. It was first charted and named Point Atkinson in 1792 by Captain George Vancouver himself. The current tower was built in 1912 to replace the 1874 original. There is more to see than just this beautiful landmark of course -- the park is home to hiking trails, great picnic spots, first growth Douglas Firs and even rock climbing. It also offers a unique view of the Lions Gate Bridge and English Bay that you're sure not to find anywhere else! I really hope you enjoy sunsets because this is another fantastic spot to catch them.
6. Abbotsford Tulip Festival
|From Downtown||1 hr|
|Time||Sunrise - Dusk|
In 1974, the Warmerdam family purchased and began growing outdoor tulips in Abbotsford’s Sumas Prairie. Every year they open the field to tourists during bloom season to take in the spectacular sights. Once inside, there is not much to do beyond walking between the countless rows of flowers, but it is well worth the entry cost. Aim to go as early as possible to avoid the crowds and catch the best lighting and photo opportunities. Technically you are not allowed to walk between the rows of flowers, but if you go quickly while no one is looking you should be able to snap a few ;) Be sure to purchase your tickets online in advance to guarantee access and avoid making an unnecessary and disappointing trip out.
7. Lindeman Lake
|From Downtown||1 hr 50 min|
|Season||Spring - Fall|
This last one is perfect for those of you that want to see a turquoise lake that has made Alberta so famous without having to leave the lower mainland. This one is a little off the beaten path but it is well worth it. Situated inside the Canadian Cascade mountain range, once you get to the lake you will have an awesome view of the surrounding peaks. The lake is perfect for cooling off in the summer and even features several walk-in campsites with tent platforms. The hike itself is moderate difficulty with a hike time between 35-45 minutes one way and a 300 m elevation gain. A word of warning if you go in the spring/early summer as the trail can get quite muddy!
* Season/time dependent
So there you have it, some of our favorite secluded spots. Be sure to stay tuned for more in the near future! Thanks for reading and please let us know if you have any questions or if you would like to share what some of your favorite hidden gems in the Lower Mainland are in the comments section below.