In our fast-paced world, wellness and slowing down are integral to maintaining a healthy balance in life. Embracing ‘slow travel’ allows us to break free from congested schedules and savor each moment, particularly when surrounded by the soothing embrace of nature. Vancouver, a haven nestled between majestic mountains and the tranquil ocean, serves as a gentle reminder of the profound impact nature has on our well-being.
This bustling metropolis, surprisingly rich with verdant parks, serene trails, and abundant wildlife, invites you to step back, breathe deeply, and immerse yourself in a nature lover’s paradise. Whether you’re marveling at exotic flora, pedaling along scenic paths, or simply basking in the quietude of ancient forests, Vancouver beckons you to explore, recharge, and reconnect with the natural world.
Nature Lover’s Guide to Vancouver
Sandwiched between the mountains and the ocean, Vancouver is a city for nature lovers. From parks to wildlife watching, hiking, and more, there are plenty of outdoor activities to discover in Vancouver.
Visit Stanley Park
Located right next to downtown, Stanley Park is Vancouver’s most famous park. The interior of the 400-hectare park is rainforest with gravel paths weaving between towering trees. Around the perimeter, you will find the paved Seawall, a popular walking and cycling path. The park also boasts beaches, Canada’s largest aquarium, totem poles, restaurants, and lots of off-the-beaten-path gems.
Vancouver is on the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south migration route for birds flying between Alaska and Patagonia, which makes it a great birding location during the spring and fall migrations. But you can spot birds like eagles, herons, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds year-round. Vancouver is a key stop on the BC Bird Trail.
Explore the Water By Kayak or Paddleboard
You can see Vancouver from a brand-new perspective when you explore by kayak or paddleboard. You can paddle in the heart of downtown in False Creek, along the beaches in Kitsilano, into the wilderness of Deep Cove and Indian Arm, or on calm lakes. Our guides to kayaking in Vancouver and paddleboarding in Vancouver have all the details.
Enjoy the Blooms at VanDusen Botanical Garden
No matter what time of year you visit, you can enjoy spectacular plant life at VanDusen Botanical Garden. The 55-acre garden boasts a huge collection of native British Columbian plants as well as plants from all over the world. Don’t miss the Elizabethan Hedge Maze.
Ride a Bike
From gnarly mountain bike trails to easy paved bike paths, Vancouver has a biking option for everyone. At the top of the must-do list is a ride around the Stanley Park Seawall. If you’re a road cyclist training for your next Fondo race, challenge yourself on the city’s hill climb routes. Or head to the North Shore, the birthplace of freestyle mountain biking, to tackle a huge network of trails ranging from beginner to expert.
Spot Some Whales
Vancouver is one of the best locations in the world for whale watching. Thousands of whales migrate through the nearby waters, and several pods of orcas live here year-round. Whale watch tour operators in Vancouver are focused on conservation and education. The best time of year to go whale watching is between March and October.
Get Tropical at the Bloedel Conservatory
When you step inside the dome of the Bloedel Conservatory, you’ll feel the increased temperature and humidity of a tropical paradise. The conservatory is home to hundreds of exotic birds, fish, and plants. In addition to the tropical area, it also contains separate subtropical and desert sections, each with its own unique plants.
Take a Hike
With trails from the mountain tops to the ocean’s edge, Vancouver is a great city to go for a hike. The Grouse Grind, also known as Mother Nature’s Stairmaster, is one of the city’s most popular and most challenging trails. But Vancouver has hundreds of other gorgeous options. Explore our Hike of the Month archives for tons of ideas perfect for each season.
Relax at Queen Elizabeth Park
Queen Elizabeth Park sits at Vancouver’s highest point, giving it a great view of the city and the North Shore Mountains. In the spring and summer, stroll through the spectacular blooms at the Quarry Garden and Rose Garden. In the winter, locals and visitors of all ages delight in sledding down the park’s steep hills. Known as QE Park to locals, the park is also a great year-round spot for a picnic, an impromptu game of tennis, or a special occasion meal at Seasons in the Park restaurant.
As the day wanes and your adventures draw to a close, Vancouver’s natural splendor leaves a lasting impression, a gentle nudge reminding us of the simple joys and profound peace found in the embrace of the great outdoors. In each tranquil garden path, mountain trail, and ocean vista, we rediscover our bond with nature, understanding anew the importance of taking a moment to simply be. So, as you bid farewell to Vancouver, you carry with you not just memories, but a rejuvenated spirit, ready to delve back into the rhythm of life, yet with a calmer, more centered soul. Whether your journey here was for respite, adventure, or a bit of both, the call of Vancouver’s wilderness lingers, an open invitation for your return.