How to Get Off the Beaten Path in Vancouver

Whale skeleton at Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver

Photo: Beaty Biodiversity Museum

If you want to see a side of Vancouver that locals know, skip the crowds at popular attractions. Get off the beaten path at foodie destinations, hikes, parks, and more.


Go at Non-Peak Times

Stanley Park seawall with fall colours

Stanle Park Seawall with fall colours. Photo: Destination Vancouver / Nelson Mouellic

Most visitors come to Vancouver in June, July, and August. Consider visiting in the spring, fall, and winter instead. Except for a few days in the dead of winter, the weather is relatively mild and you may have some attractions mostly to yourself.

Hitting popular spots on weekdays or early in the morning is another great strategy. But be sure to check opening hours first.


Ride the Skytrain and Seabus

People walking at The Shipyards District in North Vancouver

The Shipyards District in North Vancouver. Photo: Destination BC/Hubert Kang

Downtown Vancouver has lots of great things to see and do. But there is even more to discover if you get out of the city a little bit.

Ride the Skytrain east via the Expo Line to New Westminster to stroll along the banks of the mighty Fraser River at Westminster Pier Park, then pop into the River Market to browse through specialty food stores and cute boutiques.

Or head south on the Skytrains’s Canada Line to Richmond to sample Asian food and fashion at Aberdeen Centre, Yaohan Centre, and Parker Place.

North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay is easy to reach via the scenic Seabus ferry from downtown Vancouver. Get lost amongst the many food stalls, then grab a snack to-go and wander over to nearby Shipyards District to catch some local music or just enjoy the incredible views of Vancouver’s skyline.


Explore a Park

A woman walks along a trail in Pacific Spirit Regional Park in Vancouver

Hiking in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Photo: Taryn Eyton/

Stanley Park and Queen Elizabeth Park get all the attention (and rightly so!), but Vancouver has dozens of other gorgeous green spaces.

Check out Pacific Spirit Regional Park in the Point Grey neighbourhood to explore over 50 km of walking trails that take you through the rainforest and to the beach.

To find nature in the heart of the city, visit Hinge Park and Habitat Island in the Olympic Village neighbourhood. This naturalized wetland park was built on former industrial land to rewild the waterfront. Today it hosts many species of birds as well as raccoons, coyotes, and river otters. For a few years, a family of beavers even took up residence.

Browse through our park guide archives to find even more green oases in Vancouver.


Go For a Bike Ride

Cyclists on the seawall

Cyclists on the False Creek Seawall. Photo: Destination Vancouver/Tanya Goehring

The most famous bike path in Vancouver is the loop around the Stanley Park Seawall. But our city has tons of other equally scenic places to cycle. Cruise along the False Creek Seawall, which runs past the Yaletown and Olympic Village neighbourhoods. Or bike along the Arbutus Greenway which cuts a quiet swatch through Vancouver along the route of an old rail lane. Our guide to car-free places to bike has more options.


Head to UBC

People walk on an elevated bridge at the Greenheart Treewalk at the UBC Botanical Garden in Vancouver

Greenheart Treewalk, UBC Botanical Garden. Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Destination Canada (CTC) / Asymetric/Jason Van Bruggen

The leafy University of British Columbia campus on the west side of Vancouver has lots of hidden gems. Wander the manicured paths of the Nitobe Memorial Japanese Garden or through the forest canopy at the Greenheart Treewalk at the UBC Botanical Garden. Learn about plants and animals at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. Or enjoy Indigenous art from around the world at the Museum of Anthropology (scheduled to re-open after a renovation in late 2023).


Hit the Hiking Trails

Lighthouse Park

Lighthouse Park. Photo: Destination BC/Tom Ryan

Vancouver is famous for its hiking trails which meander through the forest, beside the ocean, and to mountain tops. You can hike right in downtown Vancouver in the wooded interior of Stanley Park. North Vancouver’s Lynn Canyon has tons of picturesque trails and a spectacular suspension bridge. Or venture to Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver to explore the coastline. Browse through our hike of the month archives to find the right trail for your visit.

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