by LaDawn Murphy Stone

Our family summer vacation included spending a few days in the Northwest before heading North to Alaska.  Some of us drove to Vancouver, while others of us took the Amtrak train from Seattle to Vancouver and most of the train ride was along the Northwestern shores.

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Here are a few activities we enjoyed together in Vancouver:

Grouse Mountain—just 20 minutes outside of Vancouver, ride a one mile aerial tram to the ‘Peak of Vancouver,” Grouse Mountain.  With spectacular panoramic views, this quiet place is not only a natural habitat to two orphaned Grizzly Bears, but also Timber Wolves.  There are things to do here anytime of the year.  We were there on a sunny summer day—greeted by a yoga class on the large lawn, and mountain bikers riding the slopes of this mountain top.  Our boys LOVED the bears, the large wood carvings, the owls and hawks.  There is golfing, zip lining, a lumberjack show, parasailing, running paths in this completely unspoiled wilderness.  Skiing in the winter.  Many locals sport annual passes because Grouse Mountain has become part of their lives.  See www.grousemountain.com/

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Capilano—since 1889, visitors from across the world who come to Vancouver know to visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.  The Suspension Bridge itself spans a rushing stream below as guests walk marveling at the breathtaking views all around them—“it puts you right in the middle of it all,” said one of our sons.  Next, be sure to take the time for Treetop Adventures!  This is an unusual series of tree-friendly platforms (or “Homes,” as our youngest referred to them as) connected by cable bridges.  “I feel like an owl!” “I feel like a squirrel!”  “I feel like Swiss Family Robinson!”  The Cliffwalk is an engineering feat that offers to take you beyond the cliff face high above the canyon below.  There are opportunities for self-guided Rainforest Explorer tours, a Story Centre, and be sure to mingle among the story poles (totem poles) that the First Nations artists have been creating for the past 90 years. (604)-985-7474 or visit capbridge.com

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Granville Island – be sure to visit Granville Island, just minutes from downtown, where you can walk through the market with fresh produce, visit shops, have lunch.

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Walk through Gastown – the Gastown neighborhood is minutes from Canada Place and has some great shops and restaurants.

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FLY OVER CANADA—Both soul stirring and adventuresome, this magical virtual flight ride takes you from the easternmost places of Newfoundland, across Canada to the westernmost Northern Lights.  It is truly an awe inspiring experience for the whole family!  Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Vancouver at Canada Place.  (604) 620 8455, www.flyovercanada.com

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Great way to get around – Call Vancouver Private Tours:  #778-388-6643

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For more information, contact the Vancouver Tourism Office at:  www.tourismvancouver.com

We’d like to thank the Vancouver Tourism Office for helping us plan our family vacation and providing access to many of these activities in Vancouver.