10 Ways to Connect with Vancouver’s Nature Close to Home

The Lions from Cleveland Dam

Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Kazutoshi Yoshimura

Studies have shown that spending time in nature has tons of health benefits including reducing stress and the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. In Vancouver, you don’t need to leave the city to increase your nature exposure. Here are 10 ways to connect with Vancouver’s nature close to home, perfect for boosting your mood during the pandemic.

 

Until February 5, 2021, in line with the public health order issued on November 20, non-essential travel into and out of BC is not recommended. BC residents let’s do our part by continuing to stay local and support local, with your immediate household or bubble, in accordance with the latest guidelines

 

Visit an Urban Wilderness Park

Vancouver has pockets of wilderness tucked right into the city. Use our list of Vancouver’s urban parks that feel like wilderness to plan a nature getaway close to home. Discover forests, wetlands, meadows, and shorelines without leaving town.

 

Take a Photo Walk

Take your camera to your backyard or local park to capture the splendor of nature around you. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but here are some photo ideas to get you started. Experiment with different angles: try close-ups or lay on the ground. Pick a theme such as flowers or wildlife, or focus on finding natural items in one colour. Capture the weather: fog, rain, snow, and sunsets all have endless photo possibilities.

A person taking photos of flowers at Van Dusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver

Photo: VanDusen Botanical Garden / Jennifer Cooper

 

Try Geocaching

Have you heard of geocaching? It’s a hobby where you use a GPS device or a phone app to find a tiny treasure hidden at specific GPS coordinates. The Vancouver area has over 4000 geocaches to discover. Read our list of the best places to try geocaching in Vancouver along with tips to get you started.

 

Stream a Local Outdoors Film

If you can’t get out into nature, outdoors films are the next best thing. Skiers, trail runners, mountain bikers, paddlers, rock climbers, and hikers in the Vancouver outdoor community have produced fabulous outdoor documentaries about their adventures. Use our list of local outdoor films you can stream to plan your own mini film festival.

 

Learn to Identify Local Plants

Get to know the plants that live in your yard, on your street, or in your local park. Use a plant identification book or an app like Seek by iNaturalist to learn plant names and helpful info like whether they are native to our local area, how indigenous people used them, and more. If you’re interested in learning about edible plants, sign up for an in-person or online foraging class with chef Robin of Swallow Tail Canada.

A person takes a photo of a fungus in Vancouver

Photo: Swallow Tail Tours

 

Go Forest Bathing

The Japanese have been practicing forest bathing since the 1980s, but this practice of nature meditation has caught on recently here in Canada. To practice forest bathing, you sit or slowly walk in nature, being mindful of what you see, hear, smell, and touch. Scientific research shows that spending time forest bathing can lower stress, increase mood, and reduce fatigue. Use our list of the best forest bathing spots around Vancouver to try it out.

 

Take a Walk

Vancouver has lots of urban parks, greenways, and seawalls that are perfect for a nature walk. Stroll along the ocean, beside the Fraser River, through gorgeous gardens, or beside tranquil lakes. Use our list of the most beautiful places to take a walk around Vancouver to plan your outing.

 

Ride Your Bike

With separated bike lanes and off-street bike paths all over the region, Vancouver is a cyclist’s paradise. Discover bike routes in your neighbourhood on these cycling maps for Vancouver-area municipalities, or use our list of the best easy bike rides around Vancouver.

Biking on the seawall in Vancouver

Biking on the seawall at English Bay. Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Cycle City Tours

 

Explore the Whistler Museum, Virtually

You can learn all about Whistler without leaving home. The Whistler Museum now has an interactive experience that lets you virtually walk through all of their exhibits including an old ski gondola and a replica of the original Rainbow Lodge. Learn about the plants, animals, and geology of Whistler, the history of skiing in the area, and the historic 2010 Olympics. There are even embedded videos of important events.

 

Become a Birder

Birds are some of the easiest animals to spot in Vancouver. Head to a local birding hot spot to spy less common birds like hawks, herons, and eagles. Take a neighbourhood walk, head to your local park, or install a backyard bird feeder to see common species like black-capped chickadees, house sparrows, American robins, Northern flickers. If you’re a beginner, download a bird ID app or pick up a guidebook.

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