Flying into Vancouver airport you are awed by the contrast of the ocean and stunning coastal mountains that guard the city. This is super, natural British Columbia. Get your bearings on the Hop On Hop Off bus for a narrated tour and history of all the neighborhoods and corners of the city. Then decide where you want to spend more time. Green is gold in Vancouver. Flowers and grass intermingle with city architecture and the glass menagerie of skyscrapers along the waterfronts. At Coal Harbor a symphony of freighters, power yachts, zodiacs, and water floatplanes weave their way in and out of the marinas. Reserve seats on a Sea Vancouver zodiac that zooms over the water for a different point of view or rent a kayak or paddle board at Granville Island, an industrial park converted to an eclectic center for shopping, galleries, and festivals.
Stroll along the shore of Coal Harbor where every few feet plaques tell the stories of settlers, inventors and heroes. Otis Redding could have penned his song at Canada Place, “sitting on the dock of the bay…” At Canada Place the Fly Over attraction is a virtual reality ride that tickles your tummy as you take flight over the diverse landscapes of Canada, from majestic mountains to Niagara Falls. Motion and actual mist while flying through clouds and over waterfalls makes this inspirational journey seem very real.
Rest on driftwood logs along the beaches at sunset or hit the rain forest trails through Stanley Park, same namesake as the Stanley Cup. This is the way to the First Nation totem poles, Prospect Point and the amazing aquarium. Visit Chinatown, the third largest in North America or party and shop along the cobblestone streets and Maple Tree Square in Gastown, so named for Gassy the gabber who supplied booze to lumberjacks in the early days.
For a break from city life, consider Grouse Mountain. There are two ways to ascend from the parking base – the Skyride gondola or by foot – an extreme test of fitness known as the Grouse Grind. At the top, get up close and personal, well not too personal, with Grinder and Coola, two orphaned grizzlies in their natural habitat. Ranger Maria is love obsessed with their care and sharing their story. Hike while admiring the chain saw sculptures by Glenn Greenside, which he calls a “treebute” to BC. Catch the bird of flight or lumberjack shows and take the chair lift to the very top for the ultimate birds eye view of the entire city.
Go back to school at the University Golf Club situated near the campus of UBC. Just minutes from the busy city, this is a walk in the woods as giant cedars and spruces line the fairways. The course has a lighted driving range, putting areas and a Taylormade fitting and training facility. It is the marquis pro shop in western Canada for Adidas apparel. Since GM Michael Mather hails from the private sector, he and his staff make everyone feel like a special member. Non-golfing locals love to dine at the Westward Ho! Public House and Grill Room where lamb chops and halibut share the menu with a diverse mix of cuisine and pub fare. Learn a little something in the British Columbia Golf House Museum on the front nine.
PGA and ASU alum Wayne Vollmer is the Director of Golf at Morgan Creek Golf Club in the town of Surrey. The course is carved out of the densely populated cedars and wetlands about an hour outside of Vancouver and only a few miles from the U.S. border where visitors take the drive over to play this semi-private club. The fairways are generous as are the streams and ponds along the way with snowcapped Mount Baker in the distance. An extensive training and teaching facility is very popular with family and junior programs. The restaurant menu is superb and a well-stocked wine cellar makes locals happy.
By foot, bike, bus, boat or plane, Vancouver has much to discover.