Surrounding the downtown core lies the rest of the city of Vancouver - a multicultural mecca of fabulous restaurants and recreational activities. Divided into smaller areas on a map – Kitsilano, the East Side, the West Side, and others - to us locals, it’s all simply Vancouver.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Enjoy canoeing or kayaking? Learn the basics, grab a rental and then hit the waters within sight of downtown at Jericho Beach or Granville Island. Head out from False Creek/English Bay and enjoy the calm, cool waters where you’ll be paddling into heaven at the feet of some of the city’s most expensive high-rises. All the information you'll need and much more can be found at the Canoe Kayak BC Web site.
Just love indoor climbing? Right outside the downtown area you’ll find Cliffhanger Vancouver, located near the Telus Science World centre, that offers a clean, safe environment for adults and children to flex their muscles climbing with harnesses. Friends of mine with young children swear by Cliffhanger as the perfect spot to relax while the kids entertain and exhaust themselves! My kids beg to make a day of it - the morning spent at the science centre, and after lunch, some climbing over at the Cliffhanger....
For golfers there are more places to thwack that little white ball than you’d expect to find in a city. The Fraserview Golf Course on the East Side includes a stream on the 17th hole and a newly constructed pond on the 13th, in addition to the wide-open fairways and picture-perfect greens. For the younger, more fun-oriented golf crowd try the Queen Elizabeth Pitch and Putt course near 33rd Avenue. And further west near the UBC campus you’ll find the University Golf Club where many of the college professors enjoy their afternoons. McCleery Golf Course, with its many water hazards, gently sloping fairways and large greens, is nestled on the north banks of the Fraser River in southwest Vancouver. Featuring well-sculptured and meticulously maintained fairways and greens, Canadian architect Ted Baker designed this par-71, 18-hole course that offers a target-style golf challenge. More information on these courses can be found at Vancouver Parks Web site.
Officially located in Kerrisdale on the west side of Vancouver, check out the Kerrisdale Cyclone Taylor arena where you can go solo or bring a hundred of your closest friends to enjoy this world-class ice rink extravaganza. This arena transforms into a favourite in-line skating arena in the spring when the ice is removed. Yes, I've fallen on my bottom in both seasons. And again, near the UBC, you can stop in at the Kitsilano Community Centre where the townsfolk skate all day long. If you’ve just wrapped up your best game ever at the Q.E. Pitch and Putt course, very nearby you’ll find the Riley Park Community Centre where you can skate away what’s left of your leisurely afternoon. You'll find locations, schedules and events at Vancouver Parks rinks at-a-glance.
At Kitsilano Beach there is a heated, outdoor saltwater pool adjacent to English Bay that is maintained at a comfortable 26C (79F) - perfect for young splashers as well as more ambitious lap swimmers. Once again, the UBC campus includes the Aquatic Centre, an Olympic-sized indoor pool as well as outdoor pools with public swimming hours that offer a sauna, steam room, whirlpool, exercise gym and toddler pool, and inexpensive user fees and snacks. Across the road from the UBC you’ll find the steps to Wreck Beach - used by many locals as their workout destination of choice. Nearly one thousand steps straight down to the beautiful stretch of sand can become an intense cardio workout if done properly. Be advised, however, that Wreck Beach is “clothing optional” - a "hippies from the '60s" kind of place - not necessarily suited for younger children. The many pools and hours they are available throughout the seasons can be found at Vancouver Parks Swim For Life Web site.
Outdoor Climbing and Hiking
Climbing addicts don’t want to miss Mount Seymour Provincial Park which offers three rounded summits for a good rugged climb in the summer or a solid snowshoe trek in the winter. The eight-kilometre hike will reward you with unparallelled views in all directions, from the city skyline to the offshore islands to the northern snow-capped mountain peaks. A more leisurely climb can be had in nearby Cypress Provincial Park which offers a chairlift for those among us - including me - whose preference is to hike down and not up. Either way, it’s an excellent activity for families and beginners. Experienced climbers and hikers seeking fewer family crowds should head to Garibaldi Provincial Park where crumbling rock and high exposure provides the challenge and thrill that highly experienced climbers crave. For those who prefer to climb indoors, try The Edge Climbing Centre, western Canada’s largest climbing facility. Behave like human spiders all day long if you wish, on setups for beginners as well as experienced climbers. All sorts of climbing and hiking information can be found at the umbrella group for hikers called The Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC.