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Published: March 22nd 2015
Lynn Canyon suspension bridge
A free alternative to the more famous Capilano suspension bridge
Few destinations in the world can boast the backdrop that Vancouver has. Even fewer can proclaim themselves as livable as Vancouver, which is the only city ranked in the "Top 10 Most Livable" list for 5 consecutive years, a testament to its commitment to sustainability and cleanliness. This quality of life comes at a price, however, for it is Canada's most expensive city; real estate here is the world's 6th most expensive (2nd in the Americas only to Los Angeles), and it's the 4th most densely packed municipality in North America (after NYC, San Francisco, and Mexico City). But while it may be suited for living, Vancouver also makes for a perfect escape from your hometown, which is unlikely to be sandwiched between gorgeous mountains, calm waters, and lush forests.
Vancouver's original settlement was established in what is now known as Gastown, by "Gassy" Jack Deighton in 1867. He promised endless whiskey if the local millworkers and lumberjacks helped him build a bar, and the rest is history. Today, the lumber industry has diminished and the gold is long gone from the Fraser Rush of 1858, but this town has bustling port activity along with a booming film industry that
Prospect Point overlook on northern end of Stanley Park
earned it the title, "Hollywood North." With a growing economy and beautiful landscapes, there's much to explore in this wild, urban oasis.
Kristina and I arrived after a 2.5 hour drive from Seattle at Granville Island, our favorite part of the city. The Public Market (1661 Duranleau St.) is a cozy yet expansive housing for fresh produce, honey, maple syrup, tea, cheese, and deli meat. We found a cheap place for lunch here and enjoyed perusing the various vendors at this market, which is among our favorite markets in the world, rivaled only by La Boqueria in Barcelona.
After an hour on Granville, we made our way north pass the downtown area and into the mountains to arrive at Lynn Canyon Park (3993 Peters Rd.), one of Vancouver's free natural wonders among the slopes of Mount Seymour, east of the more famous Grouse Mountain. At the entrance of the park is the popular suspension bridge, a cheaper alternative to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park that charges $33/person for admission into their grounds. After crossing the canyon, turn left and hike 5 minutes to the 30-foot swimming pool, or go right for 10 minutes to Twin Falls for beautiful
Lynn Canyon Park
Hiking trail leading to Twin Falls
vistas. Roam around the park for a good hour before driving back into town to experience the distinct neighborhoods of Vancouver.
Kristina and I decided to wander around Gastown since it was voted one of the world's trendiest neighborhoods, visited the Steamclock on Water Street, and walked alongside the waterfront for great views of the mountains across Burrard Inlet. We skipped Yaletown (chic, trendy district with restaurants and bars) and Robson Street (main shopping avenue downtown), but both warrant a visit if time permits. Instead, we opted to drive around Stanley Park, which many hail as the best public park in the world. It's perfectly situated at the northern tip of Vancouver, offering pristine outlooks of the city to the south and slopes to the north, while surrounded on 3 sides by water. Encircling this peninsula is a 13-mile walking path called the Seawall--a necessity in a town full of bikers and walkers--as well as a road for cars, something we utilized to its fullest by stopping at every vantage point along the way; our favorite overlook was Prospect Point on the northern end of the park where at dusk the habitual fog blankets the area, conveying a sense
View of Vancouver
A stunning vista of Grouse Mountain and North Vancouver from Canada Place in Gastown
of spirituality for any visitor who has the luck of witnessing this moment.
Once we circled the park, we decided it was time to bid farewell and continued onward to Tacoma where we would spend the night with some friends. On our way back, we were so preoccupied with the gorgeous sunset we accidentally used the Nexus line at the U.S./Canada border; we were warned our next infraction would incur a $5,000 ticket. We laughed off the incident and proceeded to our friends' house, arriving at 11 p.m. and barely getting enough sleep before embarking on the next leg of our roadtrip to Portland!
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