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Vancouver See And Do

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Bard on the Beach
Whyte Avenue
Vanier Park
Kitsilano
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6J 3J9
Tel: 604 739 0559
www.bardonthebeach.org

This annual June-September festival of Shakespeare en plein air—or in open tents, anyhow—has a backdrop no set designer could compete with: a waterfront park in the Kitsilano neighborhood surrounded by ocean, sky, and mountains. The festival runs alternating performances of four different Shakespeare plays with two evening performances Tuesdays through Fridays and two afternoon and two evening shows most weekends. Seating is by general admission, so arrive early to "select and sticker" your seat. Cushions are recommended, as are comfortable layers for when the temperature drops quickly after sunset. Tickets are about $30 each. Look out for the special festival spin-offs, from Bard-B-Q and wine tastings to auctions and opera recitals.

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Capilano Suspension Bridge
3735 Capilano Road
North Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V7R 4J1
Tel: 604 985 7474
www.capbridge.com

This 450-foot-long pedestrian suspension bridge, which gently (terrifyingly?) sways 230 feet above the tree-lined Capilano River Canyon, is the world's longest. The Treetops Adventure attraction, opened in 2004, added an additional 650 feet of bridge linking eight Douglas fir trees up to 100 feet above the forest floor. The bridge gained some notoriety in 1999, when a 17-month-old infant fell from her mother's arms and survived a 154-foot plunge into the trees below. But it's safe, really—though even mild acrophobics should stay far, far away.

Although shorter than the Capilano bridge, the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is every bit as breathtaking—and it's free. Swinging 20 stories above Lynn Creek in North Vancouver, the bridge offers views of the steep cliffs and tree-lined edges of the canyon (open daily at 7 am; closing times vary by season; 3663 Park Rd.; 604-990-3755).—Kasey Wilson

Capilano bridge open daily except Christmas; hours vary by season.

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Granville Island
Beneath the Granville Street Bridge
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada
Tel: 604 666 5784
www.granvilleisland.bc.ca

Mini-ferries called "aquabuses" take you from one of several downtown stops (including Yaletown at Davie Street and the southern end of Hornby Street) to this happening enclave underneath the Granville Bridge—home to artisans, art galleries, and one of the best daily farmers markets anywhere, the Public Market. The "island" is actually a small peninsula attached to the south shore of False Creek and just a five-minute ferry ride from the Hornby Street stop. You can easily spend an entire morning or afternoon here, munching your way through the market and browsing the fun little shops and galleries in the surrounding maze of streets. Check out the Wood Co-op, with its impressive selection of beautifully crafted wood furniture, art, and housewares (1592 Johnston St.; 604-408-2553). If you have children, hit the Kids Market for two levels of shops selling toys, books, kites, and marionettes (1496 Cartwright St.; 604-689-8447). For a full-size meal, stop in for cedar-planked salmon or sushi at the Sandbar restaurant. In the summer, a visit to the Water Park and adventure playground is a must for parents with young children.

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Kitsilano
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada
www.kitsilano.net

The Vancouver equivalent of Haight-Ashbury, this '60s hippie community across False Creek from downtown Vancouver is now a laid-back family neighborhood of beachfront parks and streets lined with historic wooden homes, bookstores, and cafés. The main drag, West Fourth Avenue, is known for its trendy shops, though lately the selection seems to lean heavily toward maternity and baby wear, yoga gear, kitchen items, and other housewares. Sophie's Cosmic Café is a great spot for breakfast, which is available all day (2095 W. Fourth Ave.; 604-732-6810).

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Museum of Anthropology
University of British Columbia
6393 N.W. Marine Drive
Point Grey
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6T 1Z2
Tel: 604 822 5087
www.moa.ubc.ca

You'll see a whole lot of totem poles while you're in Vancouver; they're the most striking evidence of the First Nations Indian population living in the area. The poles, usually 15 to 30 feet high and made from local red cedar, are intricately carved with faces and figures depicting important historical and tribal events. This compact museum is the best place to learn more about the totem tradition; the high-ceilinged Great Hall displays dozens of poles (many over 100 years old) and explains how they were made and what they symbolize. There are plenty of other draws, too: a huge trove of Northwest Coast art, masks, textiles, jewelry, and canoes, plus two traditional First Nations houses re-created on the grounds. In 2008, the museum underwent a $55 million expansion that increased its size by 50 percent. It's part of a larger project to relaunch the MOA by January 2010 to coincide with the Cultural Oympiad.

Closed Mondays mid-October through mid-May.

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Skiing and Snowboarding around Vancouver

If you don't have time for a side trip to Whistler, Vancouver has a handful of terrific little ski areas (and summer hiking destinations) just a quick drive from the city. The aerial tramway to the summit of Grouse Mountain alone is worth the visit—bring your camera for the views of Vancouver from 3,700 feet up. In the winter, there are 200 acres of mainly intermediate skiing terrain, with a few beginner and expert slopes mixed in. (There's night skiing until 11 pm.) In summer, the various hiking trails include the popular Grouse Grind, the city's sweatiest hiking trip and one taken each year by over 100,000 locals. The two-mile track climbs from the parking lot to the mountain's Peak Chalet, where there's a year-round café, a fine-dining restaurant, a wildlife refuge, and hiking to further peaks. The average hiking time is one and a half hours, but those in a rush should know the record: 26 minutes, 19 seconds. Be sure to wear sensible shoes and to carry at least one water bottle. If you don't want to schlep back down, spend $5 to ride the gondola.

Cypress Mountain, north of downtown Vancouver, is the largest downhill facility on the North Shore and the place to ski after a big snowfall. For the advanced skier, it boasts some excellent mogul skiing, especially the Top Gun run under the Sky Chair; the half pipe draws a lot of boarders, too.

Mount Seymour is located over the Second Narrows Bridge, ten miles north of Vancouver. It's where many Vancouverites are exposed to skiing or snowboarding for the first time. All-season tires and chains are recommended for both these mountains.—Kasey Wilson

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Stanley Park
West End
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada
Tel: 604 257 8400
vancouver.ca/parks/parks/stanley

Described as a "1,000-acre therapeutic couch" of majestic evergreens, formal gardens, hiking trails, and kids' activities, Stanley Park is the third largest public park in North America. Set at the northwest corner of Downtown, it occupies a bulb-shaped peninsula that juts out into English Bay and Burrard Inlet. The park's summit, Prospect Point, is at its northern edge and has sweeping views of the inlet, North Vancouver, and the Lions Gate Bridge. Looking straight down from the point, you'll see the parade of walkers, bikers, and in-line skaters plying the park's prize attraction, the 5.5-mile seawall path that runs along the perimeter.

The entire park can be walked in two and a half hours at a brisk pace, but if you're pressed for time or have little ones in tow, you can also drive through the park and hit some of its high points—like the eight soaring totem poles carved by the Squamish people near Brockton Point. Bring your camera and in the evenings, maybe your earplugs: Nearby is the Nine O' Clock gun, an old English sea cannon placed in the park more than 100 years ago and fired nightly. The most developed area of the park includes the Vancouver Aquarium; the nearby Miniature Train, a delight for kids of all ages; and the Children's Farmyard, a petting zoo with barns full of sheep, goats, and pot-bellied pigs (and one grouchy llama).

In December 2006, hurricane-force storms uprooted and damaged some 10,000 trees in the park. All the roads and hiking trails have been cleared of debris and are again open to the public, along with the seawall. But Stanley Park is so beloved by locals that any change to the natural landscape is an issue of study and contention. Even an offer of a free concert by hometown hero Bryan Adams was turned down, as was a request from Jaguar to use the seawall as a backdrop for the unveiling of its snazzy coupes. That said, numerous annual events are held in Stanley Park; call the Parks and Recreation Board office for information and maps.—Kasey Wilson

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Vancouver Aquarium
845 Avison Way
Stanley Park
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6B 3X8
Tel: 604 659 3474
www.vanaqua.org

Visitors with kids should plan to spend at least half a day at the aquarium—it's chock-full of activities and interactive exhibits designed just for children. Among the daily doings are shows with dolphins, sea lions, and the resident beluga whales; otter-feeding sessions; and the new Clownfish Cove, where kids can handle starfish and other gentle sea creatures in touch pools, watch puppet shows, join in sing-alongs, and create sea-themed arts and crafts. The little darlings will be screaming with delight—which is why anyone liking a quiet aquarium experience should plan to go after 4 p.m., when families tend to clear out.

Open 9:30 am to 5 pm September through June, 9:30 am to 7 pm July and August.

Wreck Beach
Musqueam Reserve to Spanish Banks West
Point Grey
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada
www.wreckbeach.org

Canada's largest nude beach has become a mecca for an estimated 100,000 sun worshippers determined to avoid tan lines each summer. Officially, the 3.6-mile stretch of sand and rocks stretches from the Musqueam Reserve to Spanish Banks. On the northern flank, you find a greater concentration of gay men. The central stretch, removed from the water, is Vendor's Row, an ad hoc food court of falafels, empanadas, and cool drinks. There's often a good supply of cold beer and wine, too. On Wreck's southern edge, volleyball nets, boogie boards, Frisbees, and old hippies mix together happily. A strict code of conduct is upheld by the regulars who want to keep their stretch of sand peaceful and hassle-free, so don't come here to gawk and giggle.—Kasey Wilson

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Yaletown
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada

This downtown district, once a maze of railyards and dilapidated warehouses, has been getting trendier ever since it was cleaned up for the 1986 World's Fair. These days, swanky residential lofts, chichi boutiques, and upscale restaurants occupy the old buildings. Most of the action is centered on Mainland and Hamilton streets. Be sure to check out Fine Finds, which stocks an eclectic mix of mostly Vancouver- and Canada-made items, like Barefoot Venus bath and body-care products, Matt & Natt and Ga Ya handbags, and fashions by Peel Designs (1014 Mainland St.; 604-669-8325). The Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery is one of the best places to view and buy contemporary First Nations art (1024 Mainland St.; 604-685-9298).

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.