I'm attending a conference in Vancouver early February. I'm planning on heading there a couple of days early to see the sights. The question is: what are the sights, and how many days should I plan for them? Winter's my least favorite season, so I won't be really wanting to go out in the cold too often (although I prefer wandering a city and sniffing up atmosphere over doing museums), but I do want to see if I can make the trip more worthwhile.
I know it's probably too much to ask for, but would there happen to be easy hikes through the mountains that are doable as just hikes that time of year? Which offer decent views of the landscape, and are accessible by public transport? (And I'd like a pony, too, please!) Or perhaps somewhere nearby (again, reachable by public transport) there's a small village set at the edge of a beautiful lake with a stunning backdrop of mountains behind it and a cozy hostel nestled at right on the lake? Something that evokes feelings like this?
(Skiing at Whistler might already be done as part of the conference 'afterparty' - still trying to make up my mind on that.)
One place you should definitely visit is Stanley Park (catch bus 19 Stanley Park). You can walk along the Sea Wall, or hike inside the park amongst the trees, there are a few lakes to view including a lagoon. This is also where you will find the Vancouver Aquarium, quite a popular tourist attraction.
If you wish to hike amongst the mountains, you will need to take the Seabus across Howe Sound to North Vancouver to hike in the North Shore mountains. From Lonsdale Quay catch the 236 Grouse Mountain bus. There is the locally popular 'Grouse Grind' a trail that promises a good cardiovascular workout up Grouse mountain - but it may be closed due to heavy snow at that time of year. Or, visit the Capilano Suspension bridge, there are some nice walks in the woods in that area as well. Check this website out for hiking trails on the North Shore:
Here is the local public transit website: http://www.translink.bc.ca/default.asp
If you like shopping the best places are downtown on Robson and Granville Streets, historic Gastown, Granville Island markets, or 4th Avenue and West 10th Avenue in Kitsilano (southern Vancouver). Here are some websites you may like to look at:
Have a good trip!
Petra M, Vancouver BC Canada
Thanks, very useful this! I hadn't realized there were worthwhile mountains that close to the city; crossing my fingers for lack of snow and clear skies so I can actually go and hike some.
One thing I spotted at one of the links you gave was the Chinese Garden. Those are a favorite of mine. I'll visit regardless, but do you happen to know how nice that place is in winter? and/or how it compares with, say, the Japanese Garden in San Francisco, or the Chinese Garden in Sydney?
DO NOT GO TO STANLEY PARK AT NIGHT! can be dangerous