Thanks to its relatively mild weather all year round, there’s always something outdoorsy to do in Vancouver. But in the summertime, when the sun is shining and the skies are blue, the options for outdoor urban adventure in this West Coast city seem endless. Here are just a few of our favourite reasons to spend time in Vancouver during the summer.
1. Stanley Park is stunning
Just north of downtown, Vancouver’s first, largest and most celebrated urban park stretches across almost 1,000 acres and is the perfect place to while away a summer’s day. Stop and smell the flowers in one of the park’s stunning gardens, take in views of the Lions Gate Bridge and North Shore Mountains at Prospect Point, head to the Brockton Point Visitor Centre to check out the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people, then hit the forest trails to find a shady spot for a picnic.
2. There are night markets
When the summer sun sets, Metro Vancouver’s night market scene ramps up, casting a bright and barbecue-sizzling glow that draws shoppers and food-lovers, alike. There’s a low-key vibe at Shipyards Night Market in North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood, where 100-plus artisans, bakers and farmers gather on Friday nights. Indulge your taste buds at the market’s almost 50 food trucks and tented food vendors that serve up locally made fare, then browse one-of-a-kind jewelry, pottery, art and more.
Across the Fraser River, the Richmond Night Market boasts more than 200 retail stalls—it’s the biggest in North America—with many barter-friendly vendors hawking everything from futuristic self-balancing scooters to cellphone covers. Go hungry, as the standout at this market is its international food fair, with more than 100 vendors cooking up barbecued skewers, Japanese takoyaki, German pork hock and more. Once you’ve fueled up there’s plenty of live entertainment to enjoy—think musical performances, magic, and a great kids’ zone.
3. The beaches are great
On hazy summer days, locals and visitors flock to one of the city’s many beaches to cool off with a leisurely day of sunbathing, swimming and picnicking. Which of the nine options is right for you?
English Bay Beach: Also known as First Beach. Here you can rent a kayak or hit up the slide on the floating dock.
Jericho Beach: On the north side of Jericho Park, this sandy spot also has playing fields and tennis courts.
Kits Beach: A local’s favourite, situated in the trendy Kitsilano district.
Third Beach: Located in Stanley Park, this is the best spot for a sunset barbecue.
Locarno Beach: Avoid the boom boxes and just enjoy the sounds of the ocean. There’s no amplified sound allowed at this designated quiet beach.
Second Beach: This one has volleyball courts, picnic shelters and an off-leash area. It’s also adjacent to a heated outdoor pool.
Spanish Banks Beach: There are three distinct beach sections here and, at low tide, the water recedes a whole kilometre from the shore.
Sunset Beach: Another designated quiet beach, this one is close to the West End and downtown.
Trout Lake Beach: This freshwater beach in John Hendry Park is a perfect spot for a lakeside picnic.
[A version of this story appears in the June 2016 issue of WestJet Magazine and has since been updated]