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Vancouver is a beautiful city to visit at any time of year, autumn included. With stunning scenery on the doorstep of the city, there is plenty to see, do and most importantly enjoy, whether you are looking for city experiences or something in the great outdoors. Here are our top six activities to do in autumn in Vancouver.
Explore forests and river canyons from suspension bridges
What better place to start than at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, just across Vancouver Harbour in North Vancouver. The park is easy to get to, with a free shuttle bus connecting downtown Vancouver with the park.
As the name might suggest, the main attraction here is a suspension bridge! Stretching out for 170m, the bridge offers great views of the Capilano River 70m below. To put that in perspective, if the Statue of Liberty was placed in the canyon the bridge would be at the same height as her shoulder. If that height is enough to make you feel a little queasy, rest assured that the bridge isn’t going anywhere, as it can support the weight of 96 elephants!
A suspension bridge of sorts has been in place here since 1889, so visiting the park is a must- do-activity in Vancouver, but that’s not all the park has to offer. Head off onto the Treetop Adventure for a squirrel eye view of British Columbia’s coastal rainforest. A series of seven suspension bridges, suspended up to 33.5m high and from 250 year old Douglas-firs, takes you on an enchanting tour of the forest canopy.
If you are feeling a little more adventurous, then head for the Cliffwalk, where narrow and occasional glass walkways suspended from the granite cliffs of the Capilano River, give you a fresh perspective on the forest. Entry to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park costs $46.95 for an adult ticket, with concessions available.
If you haven’t quite got your fill of suspension bridges, then head east to the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge in the Lynn Valley. At 50m it may not be quite as high as Capilano, but you will probably find that it is a quieter location and unlike Capilano, it is also free to visit. Once you’ve crossed over the bridge, there are a series of beautiful trails along the Lynn Creek and through the forest to enjoy.
Fly through the mountains with Grouse Mountain’s ziplines
If those suspension bridges whetted your appetite for outdoor activities, then head further north to Grouse Mountain. The cooler days of autumn are perfect for taking on the challenging hike of the Grouse Grind, as it climbs over 850 metres and 2,830 stairs in 1.8 miles. The trail is only open from spring to autumn due to snow and ice over winter.
If the Grouse Grind sounds too much, the Skyride can take you both up and down the mountain, and is well worth it for the views from the top, as well as the chance to see a couple of grizzly bears at a wildlife refuge.
Even though autumn days are cooler, you can still enjoy one of Grouse Mountains top attractions, the Mountain Ziplines. Riding with your partner on a neighbouring line, you zoom over the peaks and canyons of Grouse and Dam Mountains on five ziplines for two hours, reaching speeds of 80km/hr and flying up to 70m above the ground below.
Experience autumn colours
Autumn would not be autumn without seeing some beautiful foliage colours. Covering 22 hectares and home to 7,000 plants and a hedge labyrinth, VanDusen Botanical Garden to the south of downtown certainly has enough to keep you occupied, but is also your best bet for seeing autumn colours. With Japanese maples at Heron lake, red maples in the Eastern North America Garden and bronze swamp cypress trees at Cypress Pond, there are plenty of photo opportunities across the Gardens.
Explore Stanley Park
Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s most iconic locations, and offers another opportunity to see the autumn colours in the city. The park is almost 4 square kilometres, making it North America’s largest urban park. There is plenty to see in the park, whether exploring the forested interior, or the city, mountain, beach and ocean views that can be found on the coastal trails.
One of the best ways to see the park is by walking or cycling along the Seawall path which runs along the park’s perimeter. Walking the route takes around 2 hours, but autumn is a great time to cycle it, with summer’s heat gone, but winter yet to strike. Bicycles can be rented from one of the bicycle rental outlets found at the corner of Denman and Georgia Streets, only a short distance from the park.
Get spooked for Halloween
The fun in Stanley Park doesn’t stop there, as the Stanley Park Train is transformed into the Ghost Train just in time for Halloween.
The whole family can enjoy this night time ride through the forest complete with live-action tableaux. The theme is different each year, and in 2018 is ‘Jack O’ Lantern’s journey through the Dark Forest’. The Ghost Train is open from 11th – 31st October 2018.
For more of a fright, visit the Pacific National Exhibition’s (PNE) Halloween Fright Nights for Halloween themed rides and haunted houses, or ride the Haunted Vancouver Trolley Tour. You’ll hear gruesome tales as you take a night time tour through eerie locations such as Stanley Park and Mountain View Cemetery, before finishing at Vancouver Police Museum, home to the first city morgue and 15,000 autopsies.
Rainy day activities
Vancouver is so green thanks to its west coast rainfall (so you’ll probably need some rainy-day activities up your sleeve). The Vancouver Police Museum is surprisingly interesting, and should be at the top of your list. From the autopsy room and morgue, to the exhibits on confiscated weapons, and clues from resolved and unresolved murders, the museum is a fascinating insight into Vancouver policing.
The whole family will enjoy the domed Science World – one of Vancouver’s landmarks – with its hands-on exhibits. Vancouver Aquarium is also an excellent place to spend the day, and you could spend forever watching the sea otters play.
The city is also home to a number of museums, including the Museum of Vancouver and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre with its forty-minute star shows. The Museum of Anthropology which focuses on the region’s First Nations peoples; culture and history should be on your museum to-do-list. With indoor and outdoor displays, the museum houses an extensive collection of totem poles, carvings and other First Nations artefacts.
If you want to visit Canada this autumn, click here.
Cover photo : Brown Bear Travels