Adrenaline, Nature and Immersive Escapes: Stress-busting Experiences in Vancouver

Nature experiences can help to combat stress and restore calm (courtesy Albert Normandin).

With more people receiving their COVID-19 vaccines every day, there’s hope we can enjoy the type of summer we’re used to: spending time outdoors, visiting our favourite parts of Vancouver, and seeing our loved ones.

Until then, with the pandemic (understandably) ramping up tension and stress, it’s vital that people prioritize their health and wellness. Luckily, experiences based on mindfulness and being in nature, as well as endorphin-boosting activities and temporary (virtual) escapes, can help to restore calm and realign balance. Read on for some of our favourite ways to combat stress in Vancouver.

Adrenaline boosters

The Grouse Grind is a perfect endorphin-booster (courtesy Destination BC/Grouse Mountain).

Grouse Grind  This 2.9-kilometre trail straight up the face of Grouse Mountain offers a heart-pumping escape from the everyday. Here, surrounded by nothing but leafy trees and singing birds, you’ll rediscover your zen while getting an endorphin-boosting workout. While the trail is currently closed, we’re crossing our fingers it opens this summer!

Sea Vancouver  Hop aboard a zodiac and feel the exhilarating rush of wind as you fly along Vancouver’s Inner Harbour and into Burrard Inlet. You’ll see the city from an entirely different perspective, along with marine wildlife ranging from adorable harbour seals to playful dolphins. We can’t think of anything more stress-melting!

Melt away stress on a leisurely bike ride with Cycle City Vancouver.

Cycle City Vancouver  Enjoy an easy cycle into temperate rainforest on a guided tour hosted by one of Vancouver’s oldest bike tour companies. Cycle City Vancouver’s Stanley Park Tour combines trail riding with seawall cruising, and plenty of photo stops along the way; you’ll also learn about the park’s amazing biodiversity and the history of the coastal First Nations and their legendary totem poles (which you’ll see on the tour). Bonus: you’ll also be supporting a local small business!

Tranquility inducers

UBC Botanical Garden  Did you know stress can be relieved within minutes of exposure to nature? Pay a visit to Canada’s oldest university botanical garden, where there are plenty of tranquil greenspaces to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and boost dopamine (the happiness hormone). Pay homage to our coastal home by popping into the BC Rainforest Garden, which represents elements of the coastal rainforest that you can view from a network of trails and wooden bridges.

Restore your balance at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden  Speaking of gardens, this exquisite exemplar is the first of its kind to have been built outside of China. Styled after the Ming Dynasty, the garden was designed to elicit harmony, longevity and prosperity, and intended to encourage reflection and contemplation – a great spot to practice the stress-busting art of mindfulness.

Bloedel Conservatory  Step into this commanding dome and you’ll be immediately transported into a tropical paradise. Here, more than 500 exotic plants and flowers thrive within a temperature-controlled environment, and exotic birds fly overhead. If you’re feeling particularly blue, head for the healing garden, which engages the senses and promotes an uplifted emotional, mental, physical and spiritual state.

Immersive escapes

Recapture the thrill of travel at FlyOver Canada.

Flyover Canada  While travel is restricted, you can virtually tour the entire country (hey, we’ll take it!) on Flyover Canada. The experience employs state-of-the-art technology to spotlight 18 scenes that will leave you feeling patriotic and proud to be Canadian, with an immersive preshow created by acclaimed multimedia production company Moment Factory (producers of the dreamy Vallea Lumina in Whistler). Strap yourself in and forget your worries as you soar over Canada’s breathtaking landscapes and dream about the day you can explore IRL.

Forbidden Vancouver  Did you know Vancouver’s history is filled with dark crime, outrageous intrigue and filthy scandals? Leave your stress at home and embark on a Forbidden Vancouver outdoor walking tour, where you’ll learn about the dramatic, and often sordid, sagas of Vancouver’s past. The tours are guided by ultra-engaging storytellers who will easily pull you into the fascinating world of secrets, lies and sinister stories.

Jump into a real-life detective story with Vancouver Mysteries.

Vancouver Mysteries  Sick of playing the same old Scrabble? Join a Vancouver Mysteries outdoor game (great for kids!) where you’ll jump into a different persona as you trawl the city for clues. The best part is, you’ll be so focused on finding out who killed Jimmy that you’ll forget all about your worries!   

Burnaby Village Museum  This free attraction packs centuries of history into a picturesque, 10-acre site. Here, you can pop into a blacksmith shop, learn about local First Nations, browse the Chinese herbalist shop and treat yourself to delicious desserts at the old-fashioned ice cream parlour. You can easily while away an afternoon strolling around the museum, with nary a modern-day problem in sight!

What are your favourite ways to fall in love with Vancouver’s wellness activities? Let us know in the comments using the hashtag #LoveVancouver.

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