What are some of Vancouver's outdoor activities I can do without leaving the city?

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Answered by: Tammie, An Expert in the Tips for Traveling Category
Turned off by vacationing in a big city due to your outdoor-loving nature? It's true that in most cities outdoor activities are hard to find without a long drive or several confusing transfers on public transportation and you have to do extensive research to find a decent place just to jog. If your only image of a city-centered vacation is endless restaurants, museums, and concrete, you need to head to Vancouver, B.C.

Sure, in this cosmopolitan metropolis, there are enough restaurants to dine out every day for the rest of your life and there's plenty of top rate museums for rainy days, but the most inviting aspect of Vancouver is its easy access to outdoor fun without having to leave the city. In Vancouver, the city and outdoor adventures await. Here is a sample of Vancouver's outdoor activities.

Kayaking – While there’s no Class 3 (or 2, or 1) rapids in town, kayaking around False Creek or along English Bay is a sporty way to view the city's towers and eco-roofs that give Vancouver its "City of Glass" nickname. You can rent kayaks for the day from Granville Island's Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Center (www.ecomarine.com), which also offers lessons and two-hour tours around the Stanley Park peninsula. And, if you've wanted to try paddle boarding, Ecomarine is the place to rent a board and get a lesson. Running – The same paths available for cycling around Stanley Park and the city are runner friendly as well. In most areas, the pedestrian portion of the path is separated from the cycling portion preventing traffic snarls and crowded passes.

Cycling – There’s no better way to get around Vancouver than by bike. With the downtown area's wealth of interconnected bike paths you can ride over 15 miles almost traffic free (go early if you want to avoid the gaggle of tourists that flock to the Stanley Park path). Road riders can take advantage of some decent climbs and courteous drivers around town. To rough it up a bit, take your mountain bike to Burnaby Mountain Park just east of downtown for beginner and intermediate trails. Several bike rental shops dot the city including Spokes (www.vancouverbikerental.com) and Bayshore Rentals (www.bayshorebikerentals.ca). Spokes provides free maps and helmets, while Bayshore offers an online reservation system for those of you that love to plan ahead. Rollerblading is also hugely popular in Vancouver and Bayshore can get you rolling with some rental wheels.

Hiking – Only a short hop away by bus is Grouse Mountain where a strenuous hike to the 3,600-foot summit helps burn off the easy-accessed calories around Vancouver (Grouse Mountain also has some steep off-road bike trails – www.grousemountain.com). For a slightly easier pace visit Lynn Canyon Park (also easily accessible by public transit) and hike along your choice of 12 trails that are rated by difficulty. Lynn Canyon also features a very cool suspension bridge. There's one at Capilano Park, but you'll have to pay a crazy amount just to walk across it. The Lynn Canyon one is smaller, but the price can't be beat (it's free).

Swimming – Vancouver has ten beaches that attract sun and fun seekers. Taking a dip at one of these beaches seems mandatory when the temperature climbs anywhere above 60 degrees. (Yes, they do have warm and sunny weather in British Columbia.) If you prefer doing laps in the pool then head to one of Vancouver’s two salt water pools. The pool in Kitsalano is 137 meters long and the one at Second Beach has 50-meter lap lanes. Both are easily accessed by bike, have plenty of room for just playing around and their beachside locations allow spectacular views. The Vancouver Parks Board also runs a dozen other indoor and outdoor pools in the city (www.vancouverparks.ca).

Windsurfing – Head to any beach (except the mouth of False Creek) with your own or a rental board and take advantage of the incoming breezes. Certain beaches have specific rules about where you can launch and all require boards to stay 300 feet from designated swimming areas. Windsure Windsurfing supplies rental boards and the price includes your wet suit (www.windsure.com). Along with Ecomarine, Windsure can also get you going on a paddleboard.

So what are you waiting for? Vancouver B.C. is a lively city with loads to do whether you enjoy city life, the outdoors or a mix of both. Vancouver's outdoor activities allow you the best of both worlds.

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