Cycling through Stanley Park in Vancouver

If visiting Vancouver, make sure you take the time to walk around Stanley Park – its a beautiful spot that really shows the best of this place with its stunning mountains and ocean setting.  Some basic tips:

  • The park itself is big – more than 10 times the area of New York’s Central Park – so I’d suggest renting some bikes for getting to see all the spots
  • Make sure you check out the seawall path – which you can now take bikes on.  I used to go running around there most days, and you often can’t even see the city – amazing considering how close it is
  • Granville Island – towards the end of the day, start to leave the park and head along the south shore past English Bay and Sunset Beach (for the great sunsets) and to Granville Island where there is a market and, even better, Granville Island brewery where make your way through the different varieties until it closes around 8pm

The Grouse Grind hike and superb views of Vancouver

The Grouse grind has some fantastic views of Vancouver and you can get to the start of it within 20mins of downtown.  The hike itself is only around 3km / 1.8miles, but it is 850m / 2,800ft vertical, so will take around an hour and a half.  If haven’t got the time, or not that fit, can always take the gondola up, but its worth giving yourself the afternoon just for the views

Niagra Falls and Niagra on the Lake

Yes its eclipsed in size and power by other waterfalls round the world . . . and the tourist infrastructure around it is 10/10 tacky . . . but it’s a must see.  Watching the power of the water rushing over the horseshoe-shaped arc of the falls is mesmerising and, lets face it, one of those places that as a kid you always wanted to visit


If you’re visiting from the Canada side, and as a day trip from Toronto, I’d suggest be sure to:

1. Head up the Skylon Tower for great high up views of the falls

2. Take the Maid of the Mist boat to get up close (and wet) with the falls themselves.  You’ll wear a poncho, and get lost in it

3. Visit Niagra-on-the-lake – give yourself a couple of hours to wander through the well-preserved, and just really cute, 19th century town

4. If have time, head over to one of the ice wine vineyards to sample the relatively unusual, and super sweet, ice wine.  We went to Dan Aykroyd’s, bizarrely

Ski trip to Whistler along the Sea to Sky Highway

One of the major benefits of Vancouver is that it is less than a 2 hours drive from world-class skiing in Whistler, and the drive itself along the Sea to Sky Highway is one of the highlights of the trip.  Make sure to give yourself a bit more time to stop and gawp at the views, in particular along the coast near Howe Sound

Just a note on skiing in North America vs Europe, which I do find very different.  In Europe, you tend to find seemingly endless interlocking valleys, ski-fields and genuine alpine villages that have often developed before the boom of skiing.  North American is very different and Whistler is the classic example of this – much more commercialised, even if often more subtle.  For example, the alpine village and lovely wooden chalets that look like they’ve been there for hundreds of years, get given away a touch when you notice they have 5 floors of modern car park below them.  But, then again there are some very pleasant modern benefits – for example, sitting in the hot tub after a day of skiing is . . . ahhhhh.  In terms of the skiing itself, you don’t get the endless mountains – but you do get two, with Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, which are more than enough to keep you busy