Whales, Bears and Hot Springs, Oh My! Vancouver's Best Tours and Excursions



Whether you're looking for a heart-pumping activity, or a relaxing day at the lake, Vancouver is the right starting place for you.

The North Shore mountains are home to three major mountain resorts, all with varying tours at your disposal. Grouse Mountain is where you can get an incredible workout in by hiking up the Grouse Grind, enjoy a meal with a view, soar down a zipline course, see Grizzly bears, ski and ride a gondola–that's not even covering it all.

Bowen Island will leave you feeling as though you're miles from civilization, when in fact  you're just a 20 minute ferry ride from the city. Bowen has a number of trails and beaches, plus a golf course. It's a lovely escape from the bustle of Vancouver.

Landsea Tours & Adventures is ideal if you're looking to get out of town, but would like a guided experience. Their fleet ranges from a SUV to a mini coach and each of the tour guides are knowledgeable, friendly and ready to show you a good time. Explore Vancouver, Whistler, Victoria and more with their chartered or scheduled tours.

Ready to see some wildlife? Book a tour with Wild Whales Vancouver and prepare for a once in a lifetime adventure! Departing from Granville Island, this guided boat tour may take you through the Canadian Gulf Islands, the US San Juan Islands and other surrounding areas–the tour goes where the whales are and no two trips are identical.

Now, where to start?



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Outside the City


 

Harrison Lake is the largest lake in the southern region of the Coast Mountains and stretches about 95 miles. The main boat launch is located just off of the main strip of the small town of Harrison Hot Springs, Esplanade Avenue. The lake is well known for it's fishing, water sports and swimming. The setting itself is absolutely beautiful with huge, green mountains that surround much of the lake. Located about an hour and a half away from Vancouver, it's a great spot to go for a day, or make a weekend out of it. There are a few sandy areas around the south side of the lake in Harrison Hot Springs, and they're the perfect spot to have a little picnic and catch some sunshine.


9
Outside the City


 

You would never know it, but a 20 minute ferry ride from West Vancouer's Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal is an idyllic island that feels as though it's hundreds of miles away from a busy city due to its serene and laid back lifestyle. Instead of hundreds of miles, it's actually just 25km/15.5mi northwest of Vancouver and is accessible by BC Ferries and a private water taxi from Granville Island. Both boats arrive at Snug Cove on Bowen Island, so which method you choose to get there is up to you. Bowen Island is home to many artists and it's very prominent that art and crafts is a big way of life there, only adding to the charm. There are plenty of trails to bike and hike on, beaches to soak up the sun, a grocery store, cottages to rent, and quaint pubs, cafes and restaurants. With just under 4000 residents, this island is the perfect mix of creature comforts and nature's finest.


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About 10 minutes from downtown Vancouver is the area's most famous attraction, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which sees some 800,000 visitors each year. The original bridge was built in 1889, and although it's been replaced since then, there's been a bridge here ever since. Swaying 230 feet above the Capilano River, the plank and cable bridge stretches 450 feet from one side to the other. Other attractions at the park include the world's largest privately owned collection of totem poles, totem carving demonstrations, hiking trails, two restaurants and a gift shop.


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Grouse Mountain is open all year long for outdoorsmen and women to enjoy and it's conveniently located right across the water from downtown Vancouver. Hike the Grind, or ride up the Gondola to reach the top, and once there, the scene of the city and ocean in front of you will captivate you, leaving you speechless and in awe. "The Grind", as locals call it, is not for the unfit and is a 2.9-kilometer steep trek up the mountain. Catering to all fitness levels, there are more relaxing walks on the mountain. If you're visiting Vancouver in the winter, you've come at the perfect time to take advantage of the mountain's skiing conditions, without having to leave Vancouver.


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Landsea Tours & Adventures is a great way to explore Vancouver and the surrounding areas. Tours include a trip up to Whistler, over to Victoria, around Vancouver, up to the Sea to Sky Gondola and more. Their fleet included a six-passenger SUV, 11-passenger Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van and a 24- to 32-passenger mini coach. Whether you're chartering a tour or joining one of their existing tours, Landsea Tours & Adventures will provide you with an intimate and knowledgeable tour. Enjoying a quick stopover in Vancouver pre- or post-cruise? They offer plenty of tours that can fit a whole lot in without demanding too much of your time.


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Vancouver is a cyclists dream! There are paved pathways throughout the city, a stunning path that edges the ocean and makes its way around the city and through Stanley Park, and there are a host of bike trails on the North Shore mountains. Cycle City Tours was created from a love of biking around Vancouver and it's an awesome way to explore the city. They offer bike rentals for adults and children and a variety of tours that will take you through Stanley Park, along the Seawall, Granville Island, Gastown, Chinatown and Olympic Village, to name some highlights. Private tours are also available.


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Ski Magazine has dubbed Whistler-Blackcomb the best ski resort in the world, thanks in large part to an average annual snowfall of 30 feet and glacier skiing that often lasts into August. The two mountains have a combined acreage of over 8100 acres, with 200 marked trails and 38 lifts able to move 61,407 skiers per hour. The longest runs are seven miles, and there are several snowboarding parks and pipes. Each mountain has a number of restaurants and gift shops as well. Tots six and under ski free. After the end of your run, enjoy Whistler Village as it greets you and welcomes you to enjoy apres ski. There are plenty of ski in and ski out hotels and lodging options around the mountain. During the summer, ride down the mountains rugged terrain on a mountain bike.


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Vancouver Food Tour
Photo courtesy of Vancouver Food Tour


 

There are a handful of tour operators in Vancouver that take you around the city to soak up all the sights, but this has been the first tour of its kind for food lovers. If you're passionate about what's on your plate, being poured into your glass, and the environment you're enjoying them in, you and the Vancouver Food Tour company have quite a few things in common. The knowledgeable guides take you around Vancouver to their favorite haunts to dig into perfectly paired dishes and drinks that they have carefully chosen. Taking a tour with these guys is a guaranteed way to make sure that you don't get stuck in a tourist trap or chain restaurant. Most tours can accommodate up to 14 people. If your group is larger, you can contact them and they may be able to organize a private tour for your group.


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British Columbia is so fortunate to have a multitude of wildlife that call this land and surrounding ocean home. It's not every day that you get to see a transient pod of orca whales on the hunt, or a humpback whale playing with her new baby, but with Wild Whales Vancouver your chances look good! In fact, they have a high percentage of seeing whales and if you don't see any that day, you can return for another trip that's free of charge. Trips depart from Granville Island and last between three and seven hours, depending on wildlife and no two trips are identical. Enjoy the scenery as you explore explore the Canadian Gulf Islands, the US San Juan Islands and surrounding areas.


1
Outside the City


 

The Sea to Sky Gondola takes you on a 10-minute ride up the mountain to the Summit Lodge. Once at the top, this magnificent piece of nature is yours to explore. There are hiking trails, a suspension bridge, viewing platforms, mountain biking trails, walking paths, rock climbing, a lodge and more. For the experienced hiker, there are an abundant number of trails that will challenge and inspire. Those who are less experienced, there are two walking trails that have been carved out and are great for all ages. The Panorama trail and Spirit trail are pretty flat, making them very easy to navigate. They offer guided tours every day at 11am and 2pm. If you're unfamiliar with the area, or worried about getting lost, these guided tours are awesome and take out the guess work for you. Hungry? There's a fully licensed restaurant and bar at the top.


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Meet Natasha John

Natasha is not born and raised in Vancouver, but is pretty certain it's her spirit hometown. After jumping around Canada, Texas, Arkansas and the UK, she has her feet firmly planted in...  More About Natasha

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