Escapes

Q:

I've got two to three days in Vancouver. What should I do?

I'm going to Vancouver for a week on business and would like to peel off for two to three days of being outdoors. Any suggestions for a fit gal who likes to be outside, but has to be back and in a cocktail dress by seven o'clock each evening?
-Mathilda
Dallas, TX

Vancouver, British Columbia     Photo: Photodisc/Getty

A:Good for you Mathilda, for secretly playing hooky on a business trip! Professional ethics are for sissies, right? In order to protect you from being fired, I've changed your name here. We wouldn't want The Man to put you down for having a little fun on the road, now would we? To answer your question, there's so much to do in and around Vancouver, even at this time of year, that it's hard to give you a concise three-day list. But I'll try. And remember, don't even think (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) of finding a creative way to expense the costs of these outdoor adventures back to your company.

Day 1: Biking
There are nearly 500 miles of bike lanes and paths spiderwebbing the city—down major avenues, alongside its ten beaches, and throughout its network of green spaces, enabling 3,500 Vancouver residents to commute on two wheels to work every day. The most popular place to leisure ride is within the sprawling, red cedar-filled Stanley Park, which occupies a space downtown that's slightly larger than NYC's Central Park. Veer onto its scenic ten-mile paved path atop the stone Seawall, which encircles the park. The Seawall also connects to the 17-mile Seaside Bicycle Route, which traces the shoreline along Burrard Inlet, English Bay, and False Creek. Spokes Bikes rents cruisers for $35 (Canadian) a day. Fat tire fanatics, meanwhile, only need to drive about a half hour to reach the north shore of Burrard Inlet, the birthplace of freeride mountain biking and where some of the best dirt trails in North America reside on Mt. Fromme, Cypress Mountain, and Mt. Seymour. John Henry Bikes can fill you in on trails and conditions. But be aware: the season is nearing its end.

Day 2: Kayaking
Late October and November are Vancouver's rainiest times. But thanks to the warm-water currents that grace the coast, the temperatures stay relatively mild. So if you can get a clear day, definitely head to the water. You can paddle along Stanley Park in English Bay to the west, and the boat-filled but placid False Creek, which meanders into the heart of downtown. Less than 20 minutes to the east is Indian Arm, a narrow fjord flanked by steep, untamed mountain slopes. Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre rents boats and offers tours.

Day 3: Hiking
Hiking high in the North Shore Mountains starts to get dicey at this time of year, as the snow begins coating the terrain, but at lower elevations, you can hike year round. Stanley Park boasts a whopping 120 miles of trails and roads, making for an easy outdoorsy escape. To the west, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean's Georgia Strait, lies the 1,800-acre Pacific Spirit Park and its 30 miles of trails. Outside of town, the options are limitless. There are the rugged day hikes along pine-fringed Lynn Creek inside the 11,000-acre Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, and (weather permitting) the near-vertical 1.8-mile climb up Grouse Grind, which climbs 2,800 feet to the summit of 4,000-foot Grouse Mountain.

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