By SHERI RADFORD, JILL VON SPRECKEN AND MICHAEL LEUNG
Find adventures galore on the other side of the Lions Gate Bridge
The Bridge That Beer Built
Since 1938, the elegant art deco–style Lions Gate Bridge has been connecting downtown Vancouver to the activity-filled North Shore. It’s the escape hatch from the city’s concrete jungle: at one end lies expansive Stanley Park, and at the other, the spectacular Coast Mountain Range, which includes “the Lions,” a pair of pointed peaks that lend the bridge its name.
But in the 1930s, thoughts weren’t on urban escapes; they were on developing what would become West Vancouver. Before the bridge opened, reaching the North Shore required a lengthy drive to the Second Narrows Bridge or a ferry ride across the Burrard Inlet. But the idea of cutting a swath through Stanley Park, the city’s prized gem, saw the idea sacked the first time around. The solution? Convince the Guinness family—those of Irish beer fame—to invest in land on the forested North Shore. Without an easy way to cross, the Guinnesses knew the land would be a tough sell, so they built a bridge that spanned the waterway and charged 25 cents to cross it. In 1955, the family sold the bridge to the province, but decades later contributed one last gift: the distinctive decorative night-time lights, added to the bridge for Expo ’86.
Fast-forward to today, and the bridge is one of Vancouver’s most recognizable landmarks. It’s easy to see why: from the deck the bridge reveals its elegant design and stunning, unobstructed views of the inlet and beyond. But it’s not all charm and no substance—the bridge is a National Historic Site of Canada, and it moves 70,000 vehicles a day across its 1,823-m (5,890-ft) deck. Gateway, landmark and icon: a more impressive link to the North Shore can’t be imagined.—JVS
Take a Hike… Or a Bike…
Escape from the city and into the dense forests of the North Shore, where you can hike or bike to your heart’s content on interconnected routes sprawled across the three main mountains: Cypress, Grouse and Seymour.
In West Vancouver, take a relaxing seaside stroll in Lighthouse and Whytecliff parks, or marvel at Cypress Mountain’s majestic waterfalls on the Cypress Falls trail. Cross over to North Vancouver via the Capilano Pacific Trail, a modest trek up the Capilano River from serene Ambleside Beach to the roaring waters of Cleveland Dam. Eager for a challenge? Put your body to the test with the Grouse Grind, also known as “Mother Nature’s StairMaster,” a gruelling ascent up Grouse Mountain that attracts thousands of hikers and athletes each year. If a full-day excursion is in order, the 48-km (30-mi) Baden Powell Trail, which stretches along the three mountains from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove, offers breathtaking views and challenging terrain to navigate.
For more thrills, try barrelling downhill on a bike. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a beginner, the naturally rugged and carefully cultivated paths on Mount Seymour and its neighbour, Mount Fromme, are the place to go for mountain biking. Popular trails include the moderately difficult CBC trail on Seymour and the technically demanding Expresso trail on Fromme.
Gorgeous views and a great workout? Sign us up!—ML
Shop Till You Drop
Browsers and buyers of all ages hop on the SeaBus and head to charming Lonsdale Quay Market & Shops. This unique destination, which opened just in time for the Expo ’86 World’s Fair, features an eclectic collection of artisan crafts, fresh-food vendors, specialty shops and eateries. All summer, a farmers’ market every Saturday offers locally grown produce and handmade goods. Regular concerts and festivals add to the sense of community. Those wishing to exercise their bodies (not just their credit cards) hike the 77 steps to the top of Q Tower (pictured) and admire the view of downtown Vancouver. Fashionistas more interested in the latest styles prefer to work their wallets at Park Royal. Recently renovated, this upscale shopping centre now boasts almost 300 high-end stores—enough to satisfy (and tire out) even the most dedicated shopper.—SR
Better With Age
Get ready to celebrate, because the Capilano Suspension Bridge has reached its quasquicentennial. It was 125 years ago when Scottish businessman George Grant Mackay built the 137-m- (450-ft-) long bridge, a heart-stopping 70 m (230 ft) above the Capilano River. Now one of the city’s most popular destinations, the attraction also includes two more adventures not for those afraid of heights: Cliffwalk and Treetops Adventure. Acrophobics might want to skip all of it and wait in the Trading Post, preferably with some homemade fudge.—SR