Just across the Vancouver Harbour from downtown Vancouver lies the beautiful city of North Van. North Vancouver is well known amongst Vancouverites as the place to go for the most beautiful hiking trails and outdoor activities. The North Shore mountains are thickly forested and are filled with trails like the Baden-Powell Trail, the Howe Sound Crest Trail, and the Binkert/Lions Trail. An escape to nature isn’t the only reason to visit North Vancouver. There is plenty of shopping and dining, as well as other unique attractions that will lure you across the harbour to explore the unforgettable scenery of the North Shore.
North Vancouver is about 15-20 minutes from downtown Vancouver, depending on traffic. You can cross over to the North Shore via the Lions Gate Bridge, which will take you from Stanley Park to Marine Drive, or you can take the Second Narrows Bridge from McGill St onto Mountain Highway.
To save you from traffic and parking, you can also just catch the Seabus and it will take you directly across the Vancouver Harbour. From Waterfront Station in Vancouver to the Lonsdale Quay Seabus Terminal in North Van, you’ll be looking at a pleasant 12 minute boat ride across the harbour. From Lonsdale Quay you can hop on any number of different busses and quickly get wherever you need to go, including many popular hiking destinations such as Grouse Mountain, Lynn Canyon, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
Many of North Vancouver’s best attractions will keep you outdoors. You can check out the 200+ birds and animals on Maplewood Farm with the little ones, or spend the day on the links at Northlands Golf Course amidst the lush trees and scenic surroundings. The city is simply filled to the brim with gorgeous parks and sandy beaches. Check out Cates Park or Panorama Park if you want to take a dip, or head over to John Lawson Park or Waterfront Park to play with the kids, host a picnic, or just sit back and enjoy some incredible views.
During the warmer months, from May to September, you can have a great time on any Friday night at the Shipyards Night Market. The market consists of artisans, vendors, food trucks, live music, and a beer garden. There are around 60 vendors inside and 65 outside, with over 40 different food trucks and food vendors providing the most delectable eats. You can spend the evening eating, drinking, shopping, and just enjoying the electric atmosphere and vibrant vibe of the night.
Surrounding North Vancouver you’ll find not one but three different ski hills. To the west is Cypress Mountain, to the east is Mount Seymour, and directly north of North Van is Grouse Mountain. You can ski and snowboard at these beautiful mountain destinations and check out a number of other wintry activities, but the fun doesn’t stop when the sun comes out. During the summer you can visit these mountains for hiking, biking, sightseeing, and a variety of other seasonal activities.
At Grouse Mountain you can enjoy some of the best views of the city from the Skyride gondola, or stand inside the Eye of the Wind and experience a 360-degree view of Vancouver from the clear glass view pod of Grouse Mountain’s massive wind turbine. Grouse also features ziplines that will send you flying over tree tops and forest floors, or you can challenge yourself on the steep incline of the famous Grouse Grind.
Follow any road out of the city of North Vancouver and you’re bound to hit some sort of regional or provincial park. Any of the previously mentioned ski hills are great places to go for hiking and nature adventures, but they’re hardly your only option. North Van is the place to go for hiking in the lower mainland and while you could hit a hiking trail but just accidentally stepping off a main road, there are a few really excellent spots you shouldn’t miss.
Capilano Canyon and Suspension Bridge is one of the most popular spots to go for outdoorsy fun in North Van. The suspension bridge is 140 metres long and sits 70 metres above the Capilano River. Visitors can also check out the Treetops Adventure with its 7 suspended footbridges, or the new Cliffwalk which takes hikers along a granite precipice via narrow bridges, stairs and platforms.
While the Capilano Park requires an entry fee, nature enthusiasts can visit the Lynn Canyon Park and Suspension Bridge at no cost. You can first cross over the 50 metre high suspension bridge, then venture into the park and explore the various trails, admire the breathtaking waterfalls, and go for a swim in the 30 foot pool.
You’ll also find excellent hiking options at the Cleveland Dam, which is up towards Grouse Mountains, or at Deep Cove with the Quarry Rock hike. All over North Vancouver you’ll find waterfalls, serene nature environments, and crisscrossing trails that cover the densely wooded landscape of this scenic city.
There are plenty of stores and shops all over North Vancouver but one of the most notable shopping locations is the Lonsdale Quay Market. Here you’ll find countless artisans, boutiques, food vendors, restaurants, and a variety of different services. You can also stay at the Lonsdale Quay Hotel if you plan on spending a lot of time in the area.
With over 400 stores to browse through, Park Royal Shopping Centre is another excellent choice to spend the day exploring your favorite stores and grabbing a bite at the many fast food vendors. Edgemont Village, not far from the Capilano Suspension Bridge, is one of the most adorable spots you could visit for shopping. Within this quaint village you’ll find cafes, butchers, bakers, and lovely gift shops filled with works from the talented artisans of British Columbia.
Enjoy Your Stay
It’s easy to come to North Van and feel like you want to just spend the rest of your visit within this beautiful area of Vancouver. The scenery is unforgettable, the locals are some of the friendliest people you’ll find in Vancouver, and the city itself is always pristine and inviting. North Vancouver is easy to get to from downtown, just a quick Seabus ride away, or you might just want to grab a hotel and stay for a few nights to really immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and feel of this magnificent city.