It’s common knowledge that Vancouver is one of Canada’s greatest outdoor adventure hubs. Places to visit in Vancouver include great beaches, amazing paddling opportunities for kayakers and paddleboarders, stunning hikes and so much more—to go along with cultural attractions and a unique laid-back vibe. Let this be your jumping off point for discovering outdoor activities in Vancouver.
Things to do in Vancouver
Best beaches in Vancouver
What to do in Vancouver? Let’s start with the beaches. There’s literally a swath of oceanfront sand for everyone in Vancouver. Check out our list of the 15 Best Beaches In Vancouver for everything—family-friendly beaches, waterfront dog parks, Vancouver beaches with kayak rentals, nude beaches and so much more.
Easy access to the Pacific Ocean makes Vancouver one of Canada’s top places to paddle. We’ve assembled a Complete List Of Vancouver Paddling Destinations. Dream destinations include Say Nuth Khaw Yum Provincial Park in Indian Arm, which features free overnight wilderness camping within an hour’s drive of downtown Vancouver; Howe Sound’s Sea to Sky Marine Trail, a kayaking destination with stunning mountain views and rugged island campsites; and downtown Vancouver itself, where day paddlers can explore the watery margins of one of Canada’s most vibrant cities.
What’s more, it’s an easy drive and relaxing ferry ride from Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast, which features more superlative British Columbia kayak trips, warm ocean water and a comfortable Mediterranean climate. Find out more about the Best Places To Kayak On The Sunshine Coast.
Where to rent a kayak in Vancouver
You’ll find plenty of options for kayak rentals in Vancouver to make your trip planning easy. Outfitters are located in the heart of downtown on False Creek and at popular beaches like Jericho and Kitsilano. Want to venture farther? Rental kayaks are available in the community of Deep Cove to explore the semi-wilderness of Indian Arm and Bowen Island, on the rugged fringe of Howe Sound. Read 15 Best Places To Rent Kayaks & Paddleboards In Vancouver to find out more.
Looking for great paddleboarding near Vancouver? Best to start downtown. Rent a board and cruise the sheltered waters of False Creek. Or launch from Kitsilano Beach to get a unique glimpse of the city’s most exclusive neighborhood. North Vancouver provides its own list of paddleboarding options and several places for rentals, including Deep Cove.
Best hikes In Vancouver
These three best hikes near Vancouver feature great views and heart-pumping exercise in the mountains and oceanfront.
This popular 2.9-km hike on Vancouver’s North Shore is often referred to as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster,” as it gains nearly 3,000 feet of elevation. The trailhead is located at Grouse Mountain, off of Capilano Road. Set aside two hours for this epic Vancouver hike, leaving some time at the summit for great Vancouver views and photography. Hikers must descend on the Skyride gondola.
Starting at the Rose Garden in the northwest corner of the University of British Columbia campus, this 2.4-km hike goes up and down to Tower Beach, between Trails 3 and 4 (stairs leading to the oceanfront). Expect to climb and descend a total of over 800 stair steps.
Set aside a day to complete this classic hike in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, near Squamish on the Sea to Sky Highway. The 11-km trail climbs to the bare summit of Stawamus Chief to provide some of the best views in British Columbia.
Vancouver bike paths
Vancouver is a bike town. Whether you’re into mountain, road or just plain riding for the joy and exercise, you’ll find plenty of Vancouver bike paths to choose from.
Stanley Park Seawall
Cyclists can ride the entire 28-km length of the Vancouver Seaside Greenway, the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path. Riding the 9-km perimeter of Stanley Park is a classic Vancouver cycling experience, with great views of English Bay, Burrard Inlet and Coal Harbour.
Pacific Spirit Regional Park
For easy riding with a taste of primeval West Coast forest look to Pacific Spirit Regional Park, located in Vancouver near the University of British Columbia. You’ll find plenty of smooth cycling for mountain bikes and hybrids on wide, well-groomed trails. Access the park via Blanca Avenue.
Mountain biking has deep roots in North Vancouver, where diehard riders have carved some of the world’s best trails from the Coast Mountains. Check out the Stupid Grouse Trail at Cypress Mountain (access via 21st Street exit on Highway 1) for a mellow introduction to the North Shore. Mount Seymour also features trails suitable for novice and intermediate riders.
Where to stay in Vancouver
As an outdoor hub, you’ll find no shortage of great camping near Vancouver. There are drive-in campgrounds catering to families and RVs, oceanfront campgrounds, backcountry campsites and free camping areas within close proximity of the city. Many campgrounds near Vancouver are great for kayakers, canoeists and standup paddleboarders, with waterfront on stunning alpine lakes or the rugged, tide-washed Pacific Ocean coast. Make the short drive and ferry trip to the Sunshine Coast to discover even more great camping near Vancouver.
Find the ideal place to pitch your tent or park your RV for the night among these 19 Best Places To Go Camping Near Vancouver For Paddlers.
Vancouver hotels & resorts for outdoor enthusiasts
Bowen Island Lodge
Located at the mouth of Howe Sound, only 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver, Bowen Island is a fantastic destination for paddlers, nature lovers and those seeking solitude on Vancouver’s doorstep. Bowen Island Lodge (604-947-2129) features ocean-view rooms and easy access to hiking and paddling.
Sunshine Coast Resort
Located only a scenic two-hour drive and ferry ride from Vancouver, Sunshine Coast Resort (604-883-9177) is a perfect base camp for adventure in Pender Harbour, in the heart of the Sunshine Coast. You’ll find suites and hotel-style accommodations with easy access to the Pacific Ocean.
Granville Island Hotel
Looking for boutique accommodations surrounded by water—in the heart of Vancouver’s vibrant downtown? Granville Island Hotel (604-683-7373) ticks all boxes. The hotel offers easy access to kayak and paddleboard rentals on the waterfront, and is an easy walk to dozens of artisanal shops and unique dining experiences.
Vancouver may be notorious for damp winters, but its summer weather ranks amongst Canada’s best. Expect ample sunshine from May through late September, with mild temperatures (daytime highs of 20 to 22 degrees Celsius in June, July and August) and little humidity. Don’t discount September, which features fewer tourists and pleasant 19-degree days (and on average only six days of rain).