Welcome to Vancouver. Surrounded by majestic geological formations, the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean, and lush rainforests, the capital city of British Columbia, Canada, boasts of a vibrant cultural and entertainment scene.
You will never get bored here. Choose your own travel adventure, from cavorting with nature and soaring to new heights with adrenaline-fueled adventure to experiencing culture or indulging in the finest gourmet encounters.
But what if you wish to indulge your inner YOLO and explore the lesser-known side of Vancouver?
1. Go au naturel in clothing-optional Wreck Beach
Address: 6344 University Boulevard (Foot of Spanish Banks), Vancouver
Shed your inhibitions and hang loose, literally, at Wreck Beach.
A 7.8 km stretch of paradise for clothing-optional tourists, the popular nudist beach is located just 20 minutes away from Pan Pacific Vancouver in the city.
Zoom in on the most popular part of the beach—a large sandy area at the bottom of Trail Six, where you will find vendors selling clothing, accessories, beach-related items, food, and beverages.
Enjoy the bold liberation.
2. Pick up circus arts at the Vancouver Circus School
Address: 1525 Welch Street, North Vancouver
Ever dreamed of running away to join the circus?
Pick up some jaw-dropping skills at the Vancouver Circus School first. The family-owned institution provides a physical education in circus arts, and offers regular as well as single classes for aspiring performers.
If you are travelling with family, you can bring your little ones along—the school offers classes for babies and children too. Younger ones can practise with juggling toys and other circus apparatus, while older kids and adults can hone their trampoline, uni-cycling, juggling, and aerial silk dancing skills.
3. Experience a chilling living history walking tour of 1890s Gastown
Meeting point: Cathedral Square beneath the bells of the Holy Rosary Cathedral, Downtown Vancouver
Walking tours are a fantastic way to see a city—until it gets too mundane. If you relish uncovering grisly finds in the pristine city, try the ones at Forbidden Vancouver. Combining history with theatre, the tours bring to life the seedy side of the old city, regaling tourists with shocking tales of crime, corruption, sin, and even murder.
One of the tours, The Lost Souls of Gastown, will take you back in time to 1898 Gastown. Venture down back streets and alleyways, through smallpox outbreaks, a devastating fire, and the gruesome unsolved murder of gold prospector John Bray.
Led by a professional actor, the living history tour will vividly bring to life Vancouver places of interest such as Gaoler’s Mews, the Gassy Jack statue, Gastown Steam Clock, and the sites of Vancouver’s first jailhouse, bawdy house, and saloon.
4. Pilot a Cessna aircraft in Sea to Sky Air
Address: 46041 Government Rd, Garibaldi Highlands
Opening hours: (April to September) Monday to Sunday: 9:00am to 5.00pm
(October to March) Wednesday to Sunday: 9:00am to 5.00pm
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return,” said the great Leonardo da Vinci.
Inspired to spread your wings and fly? Step into the cockpit with a 60-minute Introductory Flight Experience from Sea to Sky Air.
In this soul-stirring trip, you will take control of a small plane and fly up to 3,000 feet above sea level, covering 150 square kilometres over the wondrous coast mountains in the Squamish valley.
Before you take off, pick up the fundamentals of aviation in a ground briefing with your pilot. Then, take your place in the co-pilot’s seat and practice basic flight manoeuvres in the air with a professional pilot by your side. The plane seats another two, so bring your family, or friends along for this amazing adventure at a reduced rate.
5. Experience First Nation history down an Ice Age fjord
Address: 4141 Dollarton Hwy, North Vancouver
Opening hours: Open seasonally from May 1 to October 31
Your Vancouver holiday gets even better, as you go from flying in the sky to rowing down the Indian Arm. This steep-sided 20km glacial fjord was created more than 11,000 years ago in the last Ice Age.
Experience for two hours the authentic culture of the Tsleil-Waututh (pronounced as slay-wah-tuth) Nation—one of the indigenous peoples of Canada—as you gently paddle in a replica ocean-going canoe similar to those used by these native Canadians in the past.
As you travel down the protected waters of the Indian Arm—the Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s traditional territory for thousands of years—your guide with Takaya Tours will sing age-old songs, share time-honoured stories of local legends, and point out ancient village sites.
6. Learn taxidermy and preserve a rodent
Address: 2244 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V5L 1V4, Canada
Telephone number: +1 778-379-9389
Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 11:00am to 7.00pm
Saturday: 10:00am to 7.00pm
Sunday: 10:00am to 6.00pm
Have a penchant for the macabre? This Taxidermy for Beginners class by oddities store This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven may be right up your alley.
Covering three hours, the workshop will introduce you to the processes involved in small mammal taxidermy. Not for the squeamish, you will learn how to skin and mount a small mouse, and receive all the materials needed for the undertaking, including the deceased and disease-free specimen.
As you mount your specimen, feel free to bring along miniature props to add to the preserved carcass. Classes are held occasionally—if it is not available when you are in town, you can check out their Giant Bug Pinning Class and Butterfly Mounting Class. Here you will learn how to set, preserve, and mount two insect specimens.
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