Frequent Flyer Destinations - - FEATURE -

Look­ing for ad­ven­tures in the great out­doors and to grab a bit of the city life while you’re at it? The Greater Van­cou­ver area and its in­cred­i­ble day trips are a one-stop-shop for any­one who likes to match out­doorsy ex­cur­sions with the bus­tle and quirk of a thriv­ing me­trop­o­lis.

In the heart of Van­cou­ver there is a trans­porta­tion hub-meets-cul­tural cen­ter named Canada Way, lo­cated at the down­town har­bor. If you take a cruise ship to Van­cou­ver, this is where you’ll pull in, and what you’ll im­me­di­ately find is that here, like ev­ery­where in Van­cou­ver, you have op­tions. Right from Canada Way you can book a bus, sea­plane, he­li­copter or high-speed boat to ex­plore the land – and ex­plore you must.

Start by get­ting your bear­ings with a bird’s eye view tour. The sea­plane and he­li­copter trips sur­vey the sur­round­ing ar­chi­pel­ago and end­less green stretches of fir and cedar trees in trips that can last from 20 min­utes to over an hour in the air. They’ll even fly you up north to Vic­to­ria Is­land area for a stroll around the artis­tic pageantry of the Butchart Gar­dens or the sweep­ing grounds of the par­lia­ment build­ings for the af­ter­noon.

Th­ese kinds of daytrips are key to dis­cov­er­ing the ad­ven­tures in and around greater Van­cou­ver. An easy one is Grouse Moun­tain, tow­er­ing be­hind the west end of the city. Open all year round, Grouse Moun­tain of­fers some­thing for the thrill-seeker at any time. Ski­ing in the win­ter and zip-lin­ing in the sum­mer are most pop­u­lar. Grouse Moun­tain also boasts the world’s only ob­ser­va­tion deck tucked into a wind tur­bine, aptly called The

Eye of the Wind. A stun­ning 360 de­gree view is well worth the ex­tra bucks. What’s even bet­ter: Grouse is only a 25 minute trip from the cen­ter of down­town!

Ven­tur­ing a lit­tle fur­ther from the

Van­cou­ver city lim­its and you’ll find Squamish, a small town with some big moun­tains. For the best view of them, check out the Sea to Sky Gon­dola for $40 CAD. The ex­hil­a­rat­ing, 10 minute ride brings you up al­most 3,000 feet above sea level for an un­par­al­leled panorama of the moun­tains and fjords that de­fine the Pa­cific North­west. At the sum­mit, kick back and have a bite to eat at the lodge be­fore check­ing out the world fa­mous Sky Pi­lot Sus­pen­sion Bridge. It’s strung across two cliffs, thou­sands of feet in the air, and it jig­gles as you walk across it: def­i­nitely not for the acro­phobes out there. Mossy hik­ing trails or a day of back­coun­try ski­ing await you de­pend­ing on when you go. No car, no wor­ries: shut­tles leave for Squamish daily from Canada Place.

Steve­ston Vil­lage in Rich­mond, BC, only about an hour away from down­town Van­cou­ver, is the spot for another ad­ven­ture: killer whale watch­ing. The North­ern Pa­cific is teem­ing with dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies of or­cas, not to men­tion hump­back whales, sea lions, bald ea­gles, and more. The Van­cou­ver Whale Watch com­pany, tour­ing the wa­ters for al­most 20 years, knows where to go to find the pods. Friendly cap­tains and knowl­edge­able wildlife ex­perts are on board to elab­o­rate on the ma­jes­tic nat­u­ral world be­fore you. On the off-chance that you miss the good stuff, Van­cou­ver Whale Watch guar­an­tees “come again for free un­til you do, for life, no ex­piry.” Typ­i­cal trips go for $130 CAD, but spend the ex­tra $10 dol­lars and go for the smaller, faster boats to re­ally get your blood pump­ing.

Now that you’ve scoured the Greater Van­cou­ver area, it’s time

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