From trendy neighbourhood cafes to moss covered hiking trails, we’re on a quest to get off the couch and discover all that Vancouver has to offer to this mostly home-satisfied family of three. (And yes, we’ve broken the cardinal rule for every true Vancouverite and lumped the surrounding cities into our definition of “Vancouver.”) And so, launching this exploration mission on Canada Day, we figured that there was no better place to start than at the very peak of the city: Grouse Mountain.
Three years ago, I convinced myself that doing the Grouse Grind was a rite of passage for every Vancouverite. Against my better judgement, I decided to spend one foggy morning crawling and crying my way up two thousand stairs of pure torture. Miraculously arriving at the top, I vowed to never to do that again. (Cue embarrassing applause from super-fit hikers who obviously assumed they’d be required to hike back down and retrieve my body.) And so, for this family adventure, we handed over our VISA, hopped on a half-full Gondola car and took the easy way up the mountain.
While Grouse Mountain naturally brings to mind mental pictures of snowy, winter sports, there’s actually an abundance of activities to be found during the warmer weather as well. All of the below activities are included in your ticket price up the mountain and well worth every penny.
The Bird Show: We arrived at the summit just in time for the “Birds in Motion Demonstration.” With giant feathered friends swooping over the audience and landing on perches almost close enough to touch, this thirty minute presentation was informative and exciting. The free flying birds even managed to keep the attention of our eleven month old for the entirety of the show. While the birds were occasionally reluctant to fly (the day was stifling hot – I don’t blame them), I loved that we got to see them both in motion and up close.
Wildlife Refuge: Next, we headed over to check out Grinder and Coola, the two resident Grizzly Bears at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. We caught them at the perfect moment – the bears had just decided to show off and pose for a few photos! This was the closest I’ve ever been to a Grizzly Bear (and closest I probably ever want to be) and it was incredible to see just how large and majestic these creatures really are.
The Lumberjack Show: This highly entertaining show is probably one of the summer highlights at Grouse Mountain. With two lumberjacks “competing” in a series of events, we cheered our way through forty-five minutes of impressive stunts and incredible skill. While I felt that the script could have been a bit smoother, I did appreciate the fact that what they lacked in acting skills, they made up for in axe tossing and log rolling. The only thing missing from the show is shade, so if it’s a hot day be sure to plop on a hat and slather on some sunscreen.
Food: Our little man had crashed in his stroller by this point and so we headed inside to grab some lunch and cool off a bit. We found ourselves at the Lupins Cafe, seated inside a cozy, cedar-beamed dining room. Although the summit has limited dining options, I was pleasantly surprised by the comparatively reasonable prices. While the food was okay, the real star of the lunch was the view. Chowing down on an abundance of french fries, we sat and soaked up an absolutely unbeatable city view.
And really, the view is probably one of your top reasons for trekking up the mountain in the first place. (I mean, they don’t call it the Peak of Vancouver for nothing!) As the city view stretches off into a hazy distance, the camera’s shutter just won’t stop clicking. This is the perfect place for a few family photos or to just sit and marvel at the beauty of the place we call home.
This is definitely a very popular tourist spot (as reflected by the ticket price and somewhat crowded gondola ride) but definitely a really great family activity for locals too. The peak was very stroller friendly and had enough activities to keep both kids and adults entertained for several hours.
Arriving home with an extremely sunburnt husband and somewhat dehydrated wife, I’d say that this is one family adventure we can successfully check off our Vancouver To-Do list.