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North Vancouver is a mostly suburban area situated across the Burrard Inlet from downtown Vancouver. Surrounded by mountains and water on three sides, it's the ideal playground for the outdoor-minded. You can wander on miles of hiking trails (or test yourself on Nature's stairmaster), take in steep descents on a mountain bike or skis, kayak a fjord and cross canyons on a suspension bridge. If you're not looking for something that gets the heart going, there are always the stellar views the city affords. Ride the gondola to the top of Grouse Mountain for a view of Vancouver and beyond, stroll along the waterfront by Lonsdale Quay or relax in one of the many coffee shops. And that's one of the great things about North Vancouver — it's close to the sophistication offered by Vancouver but in 30 minutes you can be in the wilderness or a beautiful spot like Deep Cove and forget you're in a metropolitan area of over two million people.
The history and culture of North Vancouver is largely shaped by its geography and climate. Drawing on the frequent rain and temperate climate, the slopes of the Coastal Mountains were forested with massive trees and lush vegetation. The streams and rivers cascading down the mountains were ideal sources of salmon and the forests had abundant wildlife. The first inhabitants of the area, the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, had a number of villages and camps on the shores of Burrard Inlet and relied on the rivers and forests for food and resources.
The same giant trees attracted European settlers, who started arriving in the mid 1800s. Logging became the principle industry and for a stretch of time in the late 1800s, the sale of logs from the Moodyville mill in North Vancouver was one of British Columbia's largest sources of export revenue. By the early 1900s, most of the old growth forest had been chopped down and the industrial focus switched to shipbuilding. The North Vancouver shipyards were at their peak during World War II and the decades immediately following, and are estimated to have built half of Canada's wartime cargo vessels. Much of the old shipyards are gone now, but their story is still told in the Shipyards area close to Lonsdale Quay.
One thing any visitor to North Vancouver will notice is the mountains rising up behind the city. More than just a beautiful backdrop on a pretty postcard, the mountains are an attraction onto themselves. Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour became popular in the 1920s and 30s with hikers and skiers. Chalets and cabins were built, followed by rope tows and chair lifts. Development has continued, with Mount Seymour now protected as a provincial park, while Grouse Mountain has become one of the Vancouver region's top tourist attractions with its views and year-round activities. The mountains were early hot-spots for and helped push snowboarding and mountain biking, and remain favorite locations for pro photo shoots. Many people choose to live in North Vancouver today for the easy access it provides to outdoor recreation.
It's more a technicality than anything else, but there are actually two municipalities called North Vancouver: the City of North Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver. The city is centred on Lonsdale Ave and is more dense and urban in character. The district is more suburban and is largely composed of single-family homes. The distinction between the two is irrelevant for travellers, and most locals would have a difficult time telling you where the city ends and the district begins (it's all just "North Vancouver"). However, if you get a parking ticket or need to visit one of the city halls, make sure to check which one — city or district — you need to go to.
Climate and when to go
The weather in North Van follows what happens in Vancouver, with sunny dry summers (July & Aug) and wet winters (Nov-Mar). The proximity of the mountains does influence the local weather though, with somewhat more rain and less sunshine than Vancouver. There's also more snow the further up the mountain you go. All of this will often be irrelevant to visitors, but if you are planning on hiking or skiing in the mountains, be aware the weather may be quite different than what you see in Lonsdale Quay, or can change quickly, so be prepared.
It's hard to pin down when is a best time to visit North Vancouver (and the region as a whole). The main attractions like Grouse Mountain and the suspension bridges are open year-round, as are hikes at lower elevations. If you have your heart set on doing the Grouse Grind or back-country hikes, then May-Oct are when they are open. The local ski hills are normally open from Dec to early/mid April, while kayaking and Deep Cove are at their best May through Sept.
- 1 North Vancouver Tourist Information Centre, Lonsdale Quay (north end of the ground floor), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. mid-May to early Sept: 10AM-6PM; other times of the year: 11AM-3PM; closed January. Easy-to-miss kiosk at the northern end of the Lonsdale Quay Market. Has brochures and maps on attractions in the area. Staff can make activity and hotel bookings, too.
The utilitarian but efficient passenger-only SeaBus is an easy option to get to North Vancouver from downtown Vancouver. Departing from Waterfront Station downtown and Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver, the ferry ride takes 12 minutes to cross the harbour and the big windows at the front and back provide great views of the North Shore mountains and the downtown Vancouver skyline. Departures are generally every 15 minutes until the 9PM departure from North Vancouver and the 9:15PM departure from Vancouver; after that it runs every half hour until last sailing. The SeaBus operates from 6:02AM to 1:22AM M-Sa, and from 8:02AM-11:16PM on Sunday and public holidays. A schedule is available on TransLink's website.
The SeaBus is part of Metro Vancouver's public transit system and uses the same Compass tickets and Compass Cards. Passage is considered two zones so the standard adult fare is $4.10 on weekdays until 6:30PM and $2.85 at other times. Cash is not accepted on the SeaBus so you must buy a Compass ticket or Compass Card from the vending machines outside the SeaBus terminal if you don't already have one.
If you're coming from anywhere other than downtown Vancouver, driving is probably the easiest way to get to North Vancouver. From downtown, the Lion's Gate Bridge (Hwy 99) provides a scenic although sometimes congested entrance point. Highway 1 and the Second Narrows Bridge (also called the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge) generally moves better. Both bridges slow down significantly during rush hour on weekdays; traffic can backup on weekend afternoons, as well.
It's possible to get to North Vancouver from other spots in Metro Vancouver using the Translink bus system, but it will likely involve a number of transfers to get to where you're going. The main bus routes of note are:
- 28 - Connects North Van (at Phibbs Exchange) with the Millenium and Expo Skytrain routes (Gilmore and Joyce stations, respectively).
- 210 & 211 - Connects North Van and downtown Vancouver via Gastown, East Van and the Second Narrows Bridge. The bus routes continue on to Deep Cove with a stop at Phibbs Exchange for transfers to other North Van bus routes.
- 239 - Connects Lonsdale Quay (and the SeaBus) with Phibbs Exchange, Capilano University and Park Royal. This is the only bus with connections to West Vancouver bus routes.
- 240 - Connects the Central Lonsdale area of North Van and Marine Dr with downtown Vancouver via the Lions Gate Bridge and the West End.
If your trip only involves the bus system, the standard adult fare is $2.75. Trips that combine the bus with either the SeaBus or Skytrain follow the normal three zone pricing system.
Car and bus are both convenient ways to get around North Vancouver, although a car will generally be a little faster and more direct. Cycling is also possible with the network of bike lanes, but the terrain is hilly and the distance between attractions tends to be large, so a bike may not be the most efficient way to get around.
Hwy 1, or the Upper Levels Highway, runs east-west from the Second Narrows Bridge to West Vancouver and provides quick transit across the city. However, if you're going to see the attractions, you'll need to get off the highway. Lonsdale Avenue runs north-south through the middle of the City of North Vancouver, while Capilano Road, Lynn Valley Road and Mount Seymour Parkway provide access to the areas above and east of the highway. Many shops, restaurants and businesses are located along Marine Drive and Lonsdale Avenue. As with most cities, traffic on these roads can be busy at morning and evening rush hours. Parking is quite plentiful and usually free on the North Shore.
The North Shore bus system is built around the three hubs of Park Royal in West Van, Lonsdale Quay in North Van and Phibbs Exchange in North Van. Buses run between each of these hubs and out to the various attractions and parts of the region (e.g., Grouse Mountain, Horseshoe Bay, and Deep Cove). Park Royal and Lonsdale Quay have buses that connect with downtown Vancouver while Phibbs Exchange has buses that connect with Vancouver and Burnaby. Travel within North and West Vancouver is considered one zone and costs $2.75.
The city has made a real effort to be more bicycle-friendly, enhancing existing bike lanes and building new separated lanes across some parts of the city. The network is particularly useful for getting from Lonsdale Quay/Lower Lonsdale to the Lions Gate Bridge but is less useful for getting to attractions at the edge of the city like Lynn Canyon, Grouse Mountain and Deep Cove. A map is available from the Translink website.
The North Shore mountains are a beautiful spot and much of the area's attractions are designed to capture that beauty or to take in what people have built to overcome the obstacles posed by the mountains. Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge are the big attractions and popular with tour buses. To get a more local feel and North Shore experience, check out Deep Cove, Lynn Canyon or one of the parks listed below.
Lonsdale Quay and the Waterfront
Lonsdale Quay is a market, gathering place and transportation hub for North Vancouver, and often the starting point for exploring the city. The waterfront as a whole is still in development, but there are parks, public spaces, some history of the area and great views of the downtown Vancouver skyline.
- 1 Lonsdale Quay Market, 123 Carrie Cates Court. 9AM-7PM. A bustling and popular market, especially around lunch and early afternoon. The first floor has a variety of shops, mostly selling tourist-oriented souvenirs of varying quality and tackiness. The second floor has a more eclectic variety of shops and boutiques, as well as a children's play area. The best value is the food options, with a diverse food court and a number of sweet smelling shops that entice with baked goods, sandwiches and treats. Climbing the steps outside to the revolving Q provides nice views across the harbour to downtown Vancouver.
- 2 Polygon Gallery, 101 Carrie Cates Court (at the foot of Lonsdale on the waterfront), ☎ . Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. Art gallery focusing on contemporary art. The rotating exhibits often incorporate North Vancouver or Vancouver, and feature a variety of media including photos, video, textiles, sculpture and prints. While not a exhibit, the balcony on the second floor provides a nice elevated view of Lonsdale Quay and downtown Vancouver. Admission by donation, $5-10 recommended.
- 3 The Shipyards (Shipyards Historic Precinct), Lonsdale Ave & Victory Ship Way (from Lonsdale Quay, head east on Carrie Cates Court past the Seaspan office to the red-roofed buildings that mark the entrance to the Shipyards). This is the site of what was once the largest shipyard in British Columbia. There are a number of displays that go through the history of shipbuilding on the North Shore, and Shipbuilders Square hosts community events throughout the year, including free summer concerts, a summer night market on Friday evenings and a Christmas market. For views of Vancouver, the Burrard Inlet and North Vancouver, head east along the waterfront to the 700 ft (210 m) Burrard Dry Dock Pier.
- 4 Waterfront Park, foot of Chesterfield Ave on the west side (from Lonsdale Quay, head west past the McDonald's and the SeaBus drop-off area (follow the Trans-Canada Trail signs)). Small park on the waterfront looking across to downtown Vancouver. There is a small Japanese garden, a gazebo on the water and lots of green space and benches to enjoy the view or have a picnic. The curvy bars in the middle of the park are an artist's interpretation of the North Shore mountains. The park also hosts a number of summer festivals including Canada Day activities and Caribbean Days.
Grouse Mountain is an all-season attraction with a wide range of activities. The Skyride whisks you up the side of the mountain while providing views of Metro Vancouver and the North Shore Mountains. Up top, the 5 Grouse Mountain Chalet has three restaurants, two shops, viewing windows and Theatre in the Sky, which shows short films about the area. Immediately outside of the chalet, is the summer patio that becomes the 6 skating pond in winter. Beyond that are a number of fairly easy walking trails that lead to the Lumberjack Show, the Birds in Motion show and wildlife refuge area. There are a number of chainsaw-made wood carvings that are worth a look and on clear days you can catch a glimpse of Mt Baker.
From around April to October, trails are available to reach Grouse Mountain instead of taking the Skyride, which are covered in the Do section below. The Grouse Grind is only intended for one-way travel, up the mountain. Those who hike to the top can take the Grouse Mountain Skyride for $10 per descent.
- 7 Grouse Mountain Skyride, 6400 Nancy Greene Way (head north on Capilano Rd until it ends, or take bus #236 from Lonsdale Quay), ☎ . Daily 9AM-10PM. The iconic ride up Grouse Mountain to the "Peak of Vancouver". The view is lovely although it can be quite cramped in the gondola when it's busy. Admission includes (depending on the time of the year) hiking, Theatre in the Sky, ice skating, sleigh ride, snowshoeing, the lumberjack show and the refuge for endangered animals. The Skyride does not provide admission to the ski area, ziplines or the Eye of the Wind. $16 child, $25 youth, $40 senior, $44 adult. Download only is $10.
- 8 Eye of the Wind, peak of Grouse Mountain (take the Peak Chair (when operating, $4 extra) or walk up the road on the side of the mountain). drop-in basis during summer, 11AM-4PM via scheduled tour mid Oct-May. Wind turbine with a glass viewing pod at the top of the tower. It's on the peak of Grouse Mountain so the 360° views are spectacular (weather permitting, of course). $20 from Guest services in the chalet, or $58 if purchased in combination with the Skyride ticket.
- 9 Wildlife Refuge (follow the painted bear paws from the Chalet to the enclosure). spring through fall 9:30AM-10PM. The purpose-built enclosure to house Coola and Grinder, two grizzly bear cubs that were orphaned. There are periodic ranger talks about the bears and feeding sessions. Free.
Capilano River attractions
The Capilano River and canyon, along North Vancouver's western side, serves a number of roles. It's a spawning ground for salmon, the reservoir above the dam provides a large portion of Metro Vancouver's drinking water, and it's a recreation area, including one of the city's biggest tourist attractions, Capilano Suspension Bridge.
- 10 Capilano Suspension Bridge, 3735 Capilano Rd (a few minutes north of Hwy 1 off Exit 14, or by bus #236 from Lonsdale Quay), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Open daily June to Labour Day: 8:30AM - 8PM; winter: 9AM - 5PM (except Dec when it's 10AM - 9PM for the Canyon Lights); closed Dec 25. The largest of the two suspension bridges in the North Shore at 137 m across and sitting 70 m above the Capilano River, the Capilano Suspension Bridge offers visitors more than a wobbly walk. The area includes nature trails, Treetops (a series of elevated platforms near the tree canopy), Cliffwalk (a series of narrow platforms suspended over the edge of the canyon), a First Nations (Aboriginal) cultural centre and several restaurants. BC residents can exchange their full-price ticket for a 365-day membership which gives discounts on shopping and on future tickets for visitors. Bridge and far side of park are not wheelchair accessible. There is a free shuttle from downtown Vancouver and Coal Harbour with departures every 10-15 minutes in the summer during the day. $14 child (6-12), $27 youth (13-16), $33 student (17+ with student ID), $37 senior, $40 adult.
- 11 Capilano Fish Hatchery, 4500 Capilano Rd, ☎ . Open daily spring/summer: 8AM - 9PM; at other times: 8AM - dusk. This is a working fish hatchery on the Capilano river in the Capilano River Regional Park. There are many displays about salmon and the glass walls allow you to see the salmon jumping up the ladder during spawning season (roughly July to November). Within the park, there are many hiking trails and a picnic area at the Cleveland Dam. Free.
- 12 Cleveland Dam, Capilano Rd, just north of Montroyal. A good spot to take in the view. Looking north from the dam are the Lions and Capilano Lake, while south is the nearly 300 ft (91 m) high spillway from the dam and Capilano Canyon. There are also some picnic tables nearby. The dam was built to build a reservoir for Metro Vancouver's drinking water and has appeared in TV shows (Smallville) and movies (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). Free.
- 13 Cates Park, Dollarton Hwy. 6AM-10PM. Good-sized community park with beaches, views, play areas and trails. The western part of the park has a sand and pebble beach with views of the Second Narrows Bridge, Burnaby Mountain, Burrard Inlet and the entrance to Indian Arm. There are a number of picnic tables, grassy areas and two playgrounds for children. In summer, there's a concession stand (Wally's Burgers). Easy to walk trails through the forest along the shore lead to the eastern part of the park, which has another playground, tennis courts, rocky beach and views of Indian Arm. Free.
- 14 Deep Cove & Panorama Park, Gallant Ave & Panorama Dr (Car: from Hwy 1, take exit 22 (Mt Seymour Pkwy) or 23 (Dollarton Hwy) and follow to Deep Cove Rd; Bus: take route 211 or 212). One of the prettier spots on the North Shore, with a beach, a couple of marinas and a cove framed by mountains. Panorama Park has picnic tables and grassy areas to sit and enjoy the view, as well as a beach with a roped off area for swimming. Across the street from the north end of the park, is the start of the popular Quarry Rock hike. At the south end of the park is Deep Cove Kayak, which has canoe, kayak and stand-up paddle board rentals and lessons. Gallant Ave is the main street and has shops and restaurants. Deep Cove is very popular on summer weekends, so take public transit or come early if you want to find a parking spot.
- 15 Lynn Canyon Park & Suspension Bridge, Peters Rd (head north on Lynn Valley Rd from Hwy 1 (exit 19), turn right onto Peters Rd and follow it until it ends), ☎ . Open daily 7AM-dusk. A great little park set on the forested slopes of Lynn Creek. The main draw is the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, which is shorter, less busy but almost as high as the more noted Capilano Suspension Bridge. The bridge connects to hiking trails on the both sides of the creek, with a common 20-30 minute hike being a loop that crosses the suspension bridge and follows the canyon down to Twin Falls. The creek is a popular swimming spot in the summer with pools above the suspension bridge and below Twin Falls. But be careful if swimming — the water is icy cold (it is snow melt, after all) and read the warning signs; there are deaths almost every year. Free.
- 16 Lynn Valley Ecology Centre, Peters Rd (at the end of Peters Rd before the suspension bridge and cafe), ☎ . Summer: 10AM-5PM daily, Oct-May: M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa-Su noon-4PM. The ecology centre has displays on ecology and many activities for young kids. Admission by donation (suggested donation is $2).
- 17 Maplewood Farm, 405 Seymour River Place (take Exit 23 (Dollarton Hwy) from Hwy 1, turn left onto Old Dollarton Rd and then left onto Seymour River Place), ☎ . Open April to mid-Sept daily, and mid-Sept to March Tu-Su: 10AM-4PM;. Very popular attraction for families with young children looking to see farm animals up close. Animals include cows, pigs, ponies, horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, turkeys and a sometimes talkative parrot. Most of the animals are behind fences but you can pet the rabbits and the goat area is often open the public. There are also some free-range chickens and ducks that can be fed with bags of seed purchased at the entrance). Other activities include daily milking demonstrations and pony rides (extra charge) on summer weekends. Adults $7.80, children and seniors $4.70.
- 18 Park and Tilford Gardens, 440-333 Brooksbank Ave (next to the JJ Bean coffee shop), ☎ . Open until dusk. Well maintained and pleasant garden in the southwest corner of the Park & Tilford shops. From the entrance, it doesn't look large, but there are eight themed gardens blended together with over 300 plants. The gardens include: the Oriental Garden, the White Garden, the Rock Pool, the Native Garden, the Herb Garden, the Display Garden, the Colonade Garden and the Rose Garden. During December, the garden opens at night for a Christmas lights display and a room with Santa Claus. Opened in 1969, the garden was a gift to North Vancouver from the distillery that owned the land, and a promotional tool for the distillery's liquor. The distillery is long gone now but the garden is still enjoyed. Free.
There are beautiful hikes to do on the North Shore.
- Baden Powell Trail named after the founder of the Boy Scouts goes across the entire North Shore from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove. This is generally done in sections and can be accessed in a number of different locations.
- Capilano Canyon
- 1 The Grouse Grind. A stiff 2.9-km hike, with 1,000-m elevation gain, to the peak of Grouse Mountain. The busiest and best-known hiking trail in the Lower Mainland, this is more of a fitness thing than an outdoor experience. Proper footwear is highly recommended, and in the late afternoon, make sure to allow enough time to complete the climb before dusk. Stick to the trail as it is dangerous to stray off it. Admission is free. A tram ride back down is only $10 if you want to save your knees.
- 2 Lynn Headwaters Park, end of Lynn Valley Rd (access from the corner of Lynn Valley Rd & Dempsey Rd). A popular spot with locals that has picnic tables on the river close to the parking lot. There are a number of trails of varying difficulty on the other side of the river.
- 3 Maplewood Flats, Dollarton Hwy. A popular birders' destination on Burrard Inlet with walking trails.
- 4 Mount Seymour Provincial Park, at the end of the Mount Seymour road. Provincial park with 14 hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulty, from a couple of km to 14 km (all distances round trip). Sights include views of Greater Vancouver, lakes, forest trails and climbing some peaks. The trail to Dinky Bluff is under 1 km with a small elevation gain and provides views of the Lower Mainland. Dog Mountain is a popular trail with views of Vancouver and the Seymour River valley. The trail is rolling and mostly in forest until you reach the bluff, distance is about 6 km roundtrip. Another popular but more difficult trail is to the top of Mount Seymour. Return distance is 8 km and the elevation gain is 450 m. Hikers are rewarded at the top with panoramic views of the Lower Mainland, the North Shore Mountains, and on clear days, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Most trails are accessed from the north end of Parking Lot 4 (the parking lot at the end of the road). There are also information boards with trail maps at a few of the parking lots along the access road (including the main trailheads at Parking Lot 4). Most trails are not open in winter due to the snowy conditions and the operations of the ski resort. Free.
- 5 Quarry Rock hike (trailhead across the street from the north end of Panorama Park). An up-and-down hike through the forest with plenty of cedars, waterfalls and wooden bridges along the way. The reward is a big outcrop with nice views of Deep Cove and Burnaby Mountain. It's a very popular hike so expect to share the trail. Total hiking time is typically around 45 minutes each way and the hike can be done any time of the year.
One of the things that drew people over to the North Shore in the early days was skiing and it continues to draw the crowds, particularly on weekends in January and February. The three ski hills offer a mix of downhill and cross-country skiing, tubing and snowshoeing. Opening and closing dates depend on the weather, but they are usually open by late November and close in early/mid April.
- 6 Grouse Mountain. Accessed through the Grouse Mountain Skyride at the northern end of Capilano Road (Exit 14 from Hwy 1 or bus #236 or #232). It is known for its terrain parks (Jib, Rookie and Advanced) and the great views it provides of Vancouver. You can also snowshoe on the trails at the top of the mountain. The ski area is usually open as long as the Skyride is open (9 am to 10 pm). Full day Downhill tickets are $45 (adult), $35 (youth), $35 (seniors) and $20 (child) with discounts for night skiing (4 pm).
- 7 Mount Seymour, 1700 Mount Seymour Rd (top of Mount Seymour Rd), ☎ . 9:30AM–4PM, with night skiing until 10PM as snow conditions permit (usually early/mid Dec to March). $51/39 (adult full day/after 4PM), $44/34 (youth & student), $42/32 (senior), $24/20 (child 6-12).
On the water
You'd never be able to describe the water as warm, but there are beaches at Deep Cove and Cates Park if you want a refreshing dip. The real attraction though, is the excellent kayaking in Indian Arm. Novice kayakers, or paddlers just looking for a couple of hours on the water, can paddle around Deep Cove and the nearby shoreline; the more experienced can explore the further reaches of Indian Arm. If you head up the Arm in a kayak, watch for motorboats as some move very quickly and be aware the wind normally picks up in the afternoon and will usually be against you on the way back to Deep Cove, so plan accordingly.
- 8 Deep Cove Kayak, 2156 Banbury Rd, ☎ . Open Mar-Oct. Offers lessons, guided tours, and rents kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards. There are a variety of boat styles to suit your skill level and rentals range from a couple of hours to multi-day kayaking trips up Indian Arm. Reservations are recommended on summer weekends. Starts at $35 (stand-up paddleboard), $39 (single kayak or canoe), and $55 (double kayak) for two hours.
- 9 Indian Arm / Say Nuth Khaw Yum Provincial Park (Indian Arm Provincial Park) (Note: Map location is approximate. There is no road access to the park.). Charter a boat or rent a kayak in Deep Cove to explore this nearly 20 km long fjord. Sights include the mountain scenery, the two pumphouses along the eastern shore, and two waterfalls: Silver Falls and Granite Falls. Activities include fishing, crabbing or swimming. There are also three camp sites with minimal facilities within the park if you wish to stay overnight: Twin Islands (49°20'55.1"N 122°53'29.2"W), Granite Falls (49°27'02.4"N 122°51'43.1"W) and Bishops Creek (49°25'58.5"N 122°52'24.3"W). All but Bishops Creek have government wharves but no overnight moorage is allowed. These campsites are all boat-in only. Remember leave no trace.
Cycling and mountain biking
North Vancouver, and the entire North Shore, is world-famous among mountain bikers as one of the best places to mountain bike. The obstacles created by the local terrain — roots, fallen trees, drops and the mountains — have led to a unique style of trails which combine man-made features and natural obstacles that has become known around the world as “North Shore” style. Trails are graded using a green/blue/black system, with green being beginner, blue for intermediate and black/double black for advanced. Many of the trails are maintained by the North Shore Mountain Bike Association and the Trailforks app (available for both iPhone and Android) has an abundance of detailed trail information. Local bike shops are also good sources of information.
Not every trail in North Vancouver is a heart-pumping gnarly descent, though. There’s a growing network of paved trails that provide some easy riding and nice views. The main one is the Spirit Trail, which can be easily accessed from the Seabus and Lonsdale Quay.
Bike rentals are scarce on the North Shore so if you’re looking for a cruiser, it’s easiest to rent a bike downtown and take it on the Seabus. Endless Biking, in North Vancouver, isn’t as easy to get to but it has a good selection of bikes that can handle the level of riding you want.
- 10 Endless Biking, 101-1467 Crown St, ☎ . 9AM-6PM. Rentals, lessons and guided rides. The guided rides range from scenic cross-country (bike rental included) to all-mountain rides (bike rental extra). Rentals range from e-bikes and cruisers to hardtail and full-suspension bikes, and can be booked by the hour or over several days. Rentals: $35-65 for 4 hours, $50-95 for 24 hours; Guided rides $175-$220 per person (scenic), $275-465 for two riders (all-mountain & gravity tours).
North Vancouver trails cover the range from city cruising to forest paths to downhill descents. They’re listed below in approximate level of difficulty (wide paved trails at the top, mountain biking trails at the end).
- Spirit Trail. Paved multi-use trail stretching across most of North Vancouver with some waterfront and nature sections, a couple of interesting bridges, and access to Lonsdale Quay and the Shipyards.
- 11 Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, end of Lilloet Rd. The main feature is the paved multi-use 10-km trail in the Seymour River valley. There are also a number of side trails of varying length and trail quality.
- 12 Inter River Bike Park, Inter River Park Rd (from Lillooet Rd turn onto Inter River Park Rd at the equestrian center and turn at the next left). A bike skills park with three tracks: a beginner paved pump track, a more advanced dirt track and a BMX track. All tracks are open to the public, although the BMX track is closed when events are on.
- Mount Seymour trails
- Mount Fromme trails
- Caribbean Days: 28–29 July 2018, Waterfront Park (Chesterfield & Esplanade). An annual celebration of Caribbean culture with a colourful parade, Caribbean food, music and dancing. The parade begins at 10AM and runs down Lonsdale Ave from 13th to Esplanade, and then follows Esplanade to the Waterfront Park. Food and the beverage garden are on the north side of the park, music and performers are on the south side. Entry is free.
- Fun City Festival: 21–22 July 2018, Victoria Park (Keith Rd & Lonsdale). Annual two-day summer event featuring a water slide that spans three city blocks. The lower part of Lonsdale Ave is turned into a pedestrian-only zone with booths, food trucks and live music. The water slide is $20-25 for three slides and $40-45 for a whole day.
- Shipyards Night Market: 4 May – 28 Sept 2018, Shipbuilders Square (Wallace Mews & Victory Ship Way). Friday nights 5PM-10PM. Popular Friday night event in summer with live music, a few vendors, a beer garden (with local craft beers) and a whole lot of food trucks. Free.
- Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival: 9–17 Feb 2018. Annual festival celebrating film, culture and the outdoors, with screenings, speakers and photography at Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver (Lonsdale & 23rd) and other venues in Metro Vancouver. $15-20 in advance, $17-22 at the door. (date needs updating)
Post secondary education on the North Shore is through Capilano University. Capilano University grants degrees, diplomas, and certificates in a wide area of programs, though mainly in trades and vocational programs. It also offers many continuing education courses.
- 1 Capilano Mall, 935 Marine Drive, ☎ . Open every day. At Hamilton Ave (North Vancouver). Anchor tenants are Sears and Walmart.
- 2 Lynn Valley Centre, 1199 Lynn Valley Rd (North Vancouver), ☎ . M-W, Sa 10AM-6PM; Th-F 10AM-9PM; Su noon-5PM.
- 3 Park & Tilford Shops & Gardens, 333 Brooksbank Ave (North Vancouver), ☎ . An outdoor shopping mall built around a unique garden. The garden was built when the mall site was occupied by a distillery.
Many of the small villages within the North Shore have shopping districts, including Deep Cove and [http://www.edgemontvillage.ca/ Edgemont Village (Ridgewood Drive and Edgemont Boulevard). A drive or walk along Lonsdale Avenue, Marine Drive and Main Street will also yield plenty of shopping opportunities.
Souvenirs, sports equipment and other stuff
A good spot for souvenirs (plus fresh produce, seafood and baked goods) is the 5 Lonsdale Quay Market, 123 Carrie Cates Court (at the SeaBus terminal). Grouse Mountain has a gift shop in the bottom floor of the chalet with postcards, books, T-shirts, Native Art and other items. The Trading Post at Capilano Suspension Bridge has a large selection of First Nations art. There are also small gift shops in Deep Cove, Ambleside and Horseshoe Bay.
If your equipment needs a tune-up or you just want something new, Lonsdale Avenue has a number of shops that sell and repair bikes, snowboards and skis, as well as related accessories. If you need outdoor gear, there is a 6 Mountain Equipment Co-op, 212 Brooksbank Ave (corner of Main & Brooksbank). There are also shops along Marine Drive that cater for these sports.
If you're looking to buy your own food, there are plenty of grocery stores (Safeway, Save-on-Foods, Superstore, IGA) scattered across the North Shore. There are also smaller stores that sell produce (Kin's Market is one chain), as does the market at Lonsdale Quay.
North Vancouver has a large number of restaurants serving a variety of tastes. Generally, if you drive along Marine Drive or Lonsdale Avenue you won't have a problem finding a restaurant. A selection of restaurants is below.
- 1 Beans on Lonsdale, 1804 Lonsdale Ave (18th and Lonsdale), ☎ . M-F 6AM-7PM, Sa 7:30AM-7PM, Su 8AM-7PM. Popular coffee shop with sandwiches and soups, and some gluten-free and vegan option. There's quite a bit of seating indoors and on the sidewalk and a fireplace for some added warmth on the cool damp days. $3-$7.
- 2 Brazza, 1846 Lonsdale Avenue, ☎ . M-F 6AM-11PM, Sa-Su 8AM-11PM. Coffee and one of the largest selections of gelato in the North Shore. $3-$7.
- 3 Honey's, 4373 Gallant Ave (main street of Deep Cove), ☎ . Daily 6AM-5PM. Popular cafe with sandwiches, soups, salads and a variety of baked goods. The donuts are legendary - freshly baked and generously sized with a cakey texture, honey-glazed coating and a bit of oil. Very tasty, but not the best thing for your diet. $5-11.
- 4 Pegster's Coffee, 1111 Lonsdale Ave, ☎ . Neighbourhood coffee shop that serves a range of wraps and sandwiches made fresh when you order, plus soups, an excellent Thai curry and baked goods. $5-10.
- 5 Rosemary Rocksalt, 1669 Lonsdale Ave (Lonsdale & 17th), ☎ . M-F 7AM-8PM, Sa-Su 7AM-7:30PM. This cafe serves up a little taste of Montreal with bagels and Montreal smoked meat. The bagels are made fresh in the wood-fired oven in the shop and the sandwiches are stuffed full. Options include the Montreal smoked meat, turkey, vegetarian and breakfast sandwiches. One bagel $1.50, bagel & cream cheese $3.50-4, bagel sandwiches $7-13.
- 6 Sushi Station, 1643 Lonsdale Ave, ☎ . Very cheap and reasonably good sushi.
- 7 S'Wich Cafe, 644 Queensbury Ave, ☎ . M-F 6:30AM-5PM, Sa 8AM-3PM, closed holidays. A little cafe and sandwich shop that makes some great sandwiches. The portions are a good size and have a good mix of seasoning, tasty spreads, veggies and meat. The bread is your choice of white or multigrain, and it is pretty thick. There's just over ten sandwich choices with traditional and more modern favourites like the reuben, pulled pork, turkey brie, roast beef & cheddar, spicy Italian, chicken pesto and a couple of vegetarian options. $10.
- 8 Waves Coffee House, 3050 Mountain Highway (Lynn Valley), ☎ . This coffee shop also offers a selection of coffee alternatives while providing free wireless internet access.
- 9 Andrea's, 153 West 16th St (one block west of Lonsdale), ☎ . A neighbourhood restaurant that's been around for a while. It serves mostly Greek and Italian food with large portions for reasonable prices. $10-20.
- 10 Burgoo, 3 Lonsdale Ave, ☎ . Su-W 11AM-10PM; Th-Sa 11AM-11PM. Cozy restaurant with homey wood decor and a warm fireplace for those rainy Vancouver days. The kitchen serves up fairly large portions of soups, sandwiches, stews and curries. It's a frequent winner of best comfort food in local readers choice awards. Starters $5-16; Mains $11-18.
- 11 Colosseum Pizza, 100-124 West 1st St, ☎ . Daily from 4PM. Pizza, pasta, but mostly pizza. There are two styles of pizza: "Canadiana" and "Italian classic". Canadiana is the fairly typical North American pizza with plenty of sauce and the usual toppings and flavours (pepperoni, Hawaiian, etc.) The "Italian classic" pizzas are different and really shine — there's no tomato sauce, just the crust, seasoning and a select few vegetables and/or cured meats. The classic pizza selection is reputedly based on the owners' travels through the Mediterranean. For the garlic lover, the Caesar salad is also excellent. Pasta $12-16, pizzas $13-35.
- 12 Daisy Sandwiches & Such, 1089 Roosevelt Cres, ☎ . M-F 7:30AM-2:30PM, Sa 8AM-2PM. Breakfast and lunch spot with a splash of French style. The food is generally good with generous portions. Meals come with nice touches like a little pot of beans and a mini muffin or cookie. Menu focuses on eggs, omelettes and sandwiches. Tends to be busy over brunch or lunch. $10-20.
- 13 Krua Thai, 1445 Lonsdale Ave, ☎ . M-F 11:30AM-2PM, M-Sa 5PM-9PM. Not as spicy as some but very good Thai food. $8-15 for a curry.
- 14 Lift Breakfast Bakery, 101 Lonsdale Ave, ☎ . M W 7AM-5PM, Th-F 7AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 9AM-3PM. Breakfast and brunch fare with the bread and baked goods made fresh in-house. Prices are a bit higher but most of the dishes are quite good and portion sizes are decent. The double baked croissants, when available, shouldn't be missed. Lineups are common on weekends. $6-18.
- 15 Mumbai Masala, 770-333 Brooksbank Ave (next to Moores in the Park & Tilford Centre), ☎ . A mix of Indian dishes. $8-15.
- 16 Raglans, 15 Lonsdale Ave, ☎ . Su-Th 10AM-midnight, F-Sa 10AM-1AM. Great place if you're looking for a tiki bar/surf vibe while you drink local beer and eat your burger and nachos. The service is a bit hit and miss but the burgers are excellent. $10-20.
- 17 Thai House, 180 West Esplanade, ☎ . Open daily 11AM-10:30PM. Thai cuisine from mild to spicy.
- 18 Tomahawk Restaurant (Tomahawk Barbeque), 1550 Philip Ave, ☎ . Su-Th 8AM-9PM; F-Sa 8AM-10PM. Long6time North Vancouver eatery (operating since 1926) known for its excellent breakfasts and roast beef dinner, and the North Shore and West Coast First Nations decor and artifacts that adorn the walls. The menu consists of all day breakfast, burgers and sandwiches, homemade desserts and several meat and potatoes kind of dishes — roast beef dinner, turkey dinner, steak and such. Portions are large and tend toward a diner style of cooking. Can be very busy and cramped at peak periods. $12-25.
- 19 Tommy's Cafe, 1308 Ross Rd (corner of Ross Rd and Mountain Highway, the entrance is on Ross Rd), ☎ . Daily 8AM - 2PM. This restaurant is a mountain bikers favourite. They serve very good breakfast with free range eggs and nitrate free bacon if you wish.
- 20 Tour de Feast, 319 Mountain Hwy, ☎ . M-F 8:30AM-5:30PM, Sa-Su 10:30AM-4:30PM (closed on the 4th Sun each month). Simply presented restaurant for breakfast and lunch. Sandwiches are served on a hoagie bun and are well stuffed with meat, veggies and sauce. Breakfasts typically include poached or fried eggs with meat and veggies. The dishes have lots of flavour and are made mostly with organic ingredients. $7-16.
- 21 Arms Reach Bistro, 4390 Gallant Ave #107C, ☎ . 11AM-10PM daily. More upscale restaurant overlooking Deep Cove. There's a small breakfast and lunch menu, while dinner covers seafood, pasta and a variety of meat dishes. Good spot for a romantic dinner or a nice dinner out. Brunch $8-14, lunch $10-20, dinner mains $18-45. There's also a fixed price menu on Mon and Tues for $39.
- 22 Fishworks, 91 Lonsdale Ave, ☎ . M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM and 5PM-10PM, Sa-Su 5PM-10PM. Seafood restaurant and oyster bar with a mix of traditional seafood dishes and more modern ones (clam spaghetti, lobster mac 'n' cheese, halibut poutine). Lunch $12-24, appetizers $8-16, mains $16-32.
- 23 Gusto di Quattro, 1 Lonsdale Ave, ☎ . M-F 11:30AM-3PM and 5PM-10PM, Sa-Su 5PM-10PM. Elegant Italian restaurant at the food of Lonsdale Ave. There's a lighter lunch menu that focuses on sandwiches and pasta, and the more traditional dinner menu with pasta, meat and seafood. Lunch $14-20, dinner mains $22-35.
- 24 La Cucina, 1509 Marine Dr, ☎ . M-F 11:30AM-3PM and 5:30PM-10PM, Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM. Italian restaurant with traditional antipasto, pasta, seafood and meat dishes. Pasta $18-20, mains $28-32.
- 25 The Observatory, 6400 Nancy Greene Way (located at Grouse Mountain and accessed through the Skyride), ☎ . Open daily 5PM-10PM. Pricey, but good food. Restaurant is located in the top floor of the chalet atop Grouse Mountain. Admission to Grouse Mountain is complimentary with advance dinner reservations. Mains $39, appetizers $16.
Nightlife options in North Vancouver are limited. Clubbing is pretty much non-existent (you have to go to Vancouver to find night clubs), but there are a number of good neighbourhood pubs.
- 1 Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub, 1177 Lynn Valley Rd (next to Lynn Valley Centre), ☎ . Su-Th 11AM-midnight, F-Sa 11AM-1AM. Popular spot to get a drink and watch the game. The menu has burgers, sandwiches and some traditional English fare, and the food is good. Starters and shared plates $5-17, mains $12-20.
- 2 Finch & Barley, 250 1st St E, ☎ . Tu-Su 6PM-midnight, also open for brunch Sa-Su 11AM-3PM. Pub with live music Th-Sa usually featuring local bands and DJs. The menu has burgers, flatbreads and a number of starters and mains inspired by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredients and flavours. $8-13 starters, $15-26 mains, $15-20 brunch.
- 3 Queens Cross Neighbourhood Pub, 2989 Lonsdale Avenue (Highway 1, exit 18), ☎ . Th-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su-W 11AM-1AM. Casual atmosphere and a diverse menu featuring great sandwiches.
- 4 The Raven, 1052 Deep Cove Rd, ☎ . daily 11AM-midnight. Excellent pub food at cheap prices; well worth the money. Cheap wing Wednesday nights are especially popular.
- 5 Sailor Hagar's Brew Pub, 233 W 1st St (Short walk from Lonsdale Quay), ☎ . Su-Th 11AM-midnight, F-Sa 11AM-1AM. Everything a pub should be, includes a great selection of beers, nice woodwork, and a fun atmosphere.
- 6 Seymour's Pub, 720 Old Lillooet (Highway 1, exit 22), ☎ . Usual pub fare at reasonable prices. Friday nights are busy with young locals especially during winter months.
- 7 Two Lions Public House, 2601 Westview Drive (Highway 1, exit 17, close to the gas station in the Westview Plaza), ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-1:30AM, Su 11AM-11PM. Thursday nights draw in larger crowds for their feature karaoke night. Live bands on Friday and Saturday after 9PM. $5 cover F-Sa.
You'll find a smaller range of accommodation options in North Vancouver than Vancouver, with less luxury and fewer boutique hotels. Prices are a bit lower than downtown and still have reasonably easy access to Vancouver and most other destinations in the region. There are a number of chain motels located around the intersection of Capilano Rd and Marine Drive, while the fancier hotels are on the waterfront near Lonsdale Quay. B&Bs are also an option, with a number of them throughout the city.
- 1 Best Western Capilano Inn & Suites, 1634 Capilano Rd, ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11PM. Standard, deluxe and one bedroom suite rooms. Standard rooms have a single queen bed, two queen beds or two double rooms, deluxe rooms have two double beds plus a fridge and microwave. The one bedroom suite has a single king bed, with pullout sofa and kitchenette. All rooms come with free Wifi and there is an outdoor pool open May to Oct. $76-120 in winter, $145-200 in summer.
- 2 Comfort Inn & Suites, 1748 Capilano Rd, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Mix of one- and two-bed rooms, and one- and two-bedroom suites. All rooms include free Wifi and complimentary breakfast. Some rooms have a microwave or kitchenette. $200-350 in summer, with cheaper rates at other times (usually $50-100/night cheaper).
- 3 Grouse Inn, 1633 Capilano Rd, ☎ , toll-free: . Mix of one- and two-bed rooms, and one- and two-bedroom suites. All rooms include coffee maker and complimentary continental breakfast. The grounds include a seasonal outdoor pool (May-Oct) and a small children's play area. Rooms $80 (winter) - $200 (summer), Suites $110-190 (winter) to $250-315 (summer).
- 4 Holiday Inn, 700 Old Lillooet Rd (exit 22 from Hwy 1), ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Mix of one- and two-bed rooms, studios and one-bedroom suites. Rooms comes with fridge, microwave and flat screen TVs, while suites have kitchenettes. The hotel includes free high-speed internet, indoor pool, sauna and fitness facility. $150-200 (winter), $250-300 (summer).
- 5 North Vancouver Hotel, 1800 Capilano Rd, ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Standard rooms with one or two beds, plus one-bedroom suites. Rooms include coffee maker, fridge, microwave and free Wifi. Suites and some standard rooms have a kitchenette. There is also an outdoor pool open May-Sept. $100-150 (winter), $165-220 (summer).
- 6 Ocean Breeze Executive B&B, 462 1st St E, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: call ahead, check-out: 11AM. Four-room B&B. Rooms include private bathroom, bar fridge with complementary bottled water and coffee maker. Many rooms have a view of the Vancouver skyline and some have a fireplace or private patio. Includes breakfast, free Wifi and access to the lounge and fireplace. $130-200.
- 7 Lonsdale Quay Hotel, 123 Carrie Cates Court (an outside elevator is located at the northeast entrance to the market near the Bean around the World coffee shop), ☎ , toll-free: . Hotel located on the top floor of Lonsdale Quay so there are some good views and the location is excellent. Standard rooms with one or two queen beds and limited views or Executive rooms with a queen or king bed and harbour views. There are also two Waterfront Executive suites with 180° views. All rooms include free Wifi. Rack rate for rooms is $250-300 (winter), $350-400 (summer), although good deals available on website. Waterfront suites are $550-600.
- 8 Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier, 138 Victory Ship Way (Lonsdale & Esplanade), ☎ , toll-free: . Waterfront hotel that has one- and two-bed rooms with mountain or harbour views that overlook the Vancouver skyline. Rooms include free Wifi, access to complimentary hotel bicycles, Keurig coffee machines, fridge and microwave. The hotel opened in 2010 and features contemporary decor. Parking is available for a fee. It is well situated, with many restaurants nearby and an easy couple minutes walk to the Seabus. $210-240 (winter), $280-330 (summer).
All of the commercial and residential areas of the North Shore have cell phone coverage. However, the terrain is quite mountainous and therefore there are dead spots here and there. Once you get off on the hiking trails you lose cell phone coverage amazingly quickly.
When hiking in the mountains here, do not go beyond your abilities or provisions. Stay on well marked trails and leave plenty of time to get back to the trailhead before night fall which happens quite quickly in the dense forest. Many hikers have to get rescued every weekend from the trails in the summer. Most of these are unnecessary rescues where tourists were completely unprepared and got lost on the trails.
There are a lot of black bears around in the summer. Be Bear aware when hiking around the North Shore areas.
Violent crime in North Vancouver is very rare, but property crime is a serious problem.
- 2 Lions Gate Hospital, 231 East 15th St (corner of 13th St and St. George's), ☎ .
- RCMP, Fire, Ambulance, ☎ 911. Emergency Only
- North Shore News. Local paper that publishes three times a week. A good source of information for local events and restaurants. Free.
- Vancouver Metro. A free newspaper can be picked up at most BC Translink Bus stops.
If you're not ready to return to Vancouver yet, the North Vancouver offers several options for day trips and moving on.
- West Vancouver, next door, has more parks, hiking and scenic views to take in.
- West and north on Hwy 99 takes you through the Sea to Sky region, which offers varied outdoor activities including hiking, swimming, rock climbing and camping. It also takes you to the resort area of Whistler, with its nightlife, fine dining and a wide variety of activities that will keep you busy regardless of the season.
- For something more adventurous, rent a kayak in Deep Cove or charter a boat and head up Indian Arm to Indian Arm Provincial Park for the day or camp overnight with the sound of the waves lapping against the shore.
- Get on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to the Sunshine coast or Nanaimo.
|Routes through North Vancouver|
|Nanaimo ← West Vancouver ←||W E||→ Vancouver → Kamloops|
|END ←||N S||→ Vancouver City Centre → END|
|North Vancouver, British Columbia (district)|