Archive for the ‘Parks & Recreation’ Category

Winter Solstice and Christmas in Vancouver

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

December 21st is the shortest day of the year which marks the Winter Solstice, this means it is the peak of the long dark nights in the northern hemisphere and in a few weeks time the longer days will be noticeable and celebrated.

It is also Christmas day on Friday and it is going to be a special one as we have the rare event of a Full Moon dazzling the night skies for the first time since 1977, the next Christmas full moon will be way into the future in the year 2034!

There are still many events to look forward too during the Christmas week – here are some highlights we feel you and the families will all enjoy!

Flyover Canada at CANADA PLACE
Fly over Canada has transformed itself into a Christmas Winter wonderland and continues to wow the masses with their 20 minute experience including a visit to the North Pole where we visit Santa himself. It is just as well too as you will be helping Santa with a problem as his Elves are missing, so while you are up there saying hello and enjoying the scenery you will be helping him find his missing elves!

Hours of Operation
Daily 10AM until 9PM
December 24 10AM until 6PM
December 25 Closed
December 26 10AM until 9PM

https://www.flyovercanada.com/tickets/christmas/

Enchanted Nights at the Bloedel Conservatory
Enchanted Nights at the Bloedel Conservatory starts at 4:30 every day (save Christmas Day) until January 3rd. Here you will visit an enchanted Forest wonderland that is home to magical Sprites and Fairies. You will be walking through gorgeous Art installations of Jelly Fish and Dragons – this will be spectacular and sure to fire up anyones imagination!

http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/bloedel-conservatory.aspx

Vancouver Christmas Market – open until Christmas Eve
The Vancouver Christmas Market has become known as one of British Columbia’s most delightful holiday attractions. The much-anticipated event is a magical outdoor experience, featuring more than 50 traditional wooden huts decorated with thousands of twinkling lights, all showcasing an assortment of vendors selling authentic food, handcrafted decorations, sweets and gifts.

http://vancouverchristmasmarket.com/

We hope you all have a great holiday season and a prosperous new year!

Snowbus is now running excursions from Vancouver to Whistler

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Courtesy of Westcoast sightseeing and Big bus tours we welcome the return of the Snowbus for the Whistler winter season of 2015/2016. This runs until March 28th 2016

You can book tours with us at the Front desk so you can make the most of your stay by visiting the winter wonderland that is Whistler. Snowbus offers round trips and one way excursions with packages available to add on if you wish to ski the fantastic hills of Whistler Blackcomb.

So far the season has not disappointed. In Vancouver we are experiencing a succession of relentless rainstorms and mild temperatures, however, the same cannot be said for Whistler as this has been generally a pure snow storm event, as we write this blog there is around 153cm of Snow at the base and summit with more predicted to come with a drop in temperatures which is fantastic news.

Our closest stop to the Sunset inn and suites is at the Comfort Inn hotel on 654 Nelson Street – it is the same corner as Doolins Irish bar on the corner of Granville St.
Pick up times: Comfort Inn Downtown, Vancouver 6:30am & 1:45pm & 5:45pm (Fri Only)

Website: https://snowbus.com/

Christmas season at the Vancouver Aquarium

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

The Vancouver Aquarium will be open all through the festive season and Santa will be taking a dip among the marine life as he travels the globe throughout December. Here are the events at the aquarium between now and January 3rd.

SCUBA CLAUS!
Did you know that Santa is quite an excellent swimmer? If you didn’t you do now and you can witness this firsthand at the aquarium. You will get an excellent chance to wave hello to Santa as he makes his annual visit to Vancouver – you can watch him take his daily dive among the gorgeous Beluga Whales and other aquatic friends.

CHRISTMAS TREE POWERED BY ELECTRIC EELS.
How cool is this – the aquarium came up with this genius idea that puts the Electric Eels to work albeit in a festive mood – these are remarkable animals and of course it is all in the name, these Eels have the ability to produce electricity, the power they can create can be up to 600 volts of electricity! Ouch.
Fear not – these Eels want you to enjoy the season just as much as they do and they will harness their power to light up the Christmas tree – making this a must see unique holiday display.

THE POLAR EXPRESS 4-D EXPERIENCE.
If you have never experienced 4-D now is your moment at the Aquarium. This has been a staple over the last 10 years and has wowed the audiences that visit the aquarium. If you are a thrill seeker then this is a must for you, so hop on and enjoy this incredible ride – you will feel the rumble of the train, be among magical falling snow with the scent of hot chocolate making this feel very festive indeed!
Experience the Youtube trailer here:dmO-4wXgB9Y

CANADA’S ARCTIC GALLERY.
Time to bundle up and visit the the far north of Canada albeit under water in the frigid waters of the Arctic. The tour will highlight what the exhibits and inhabitants of this world, you may have a chance encounter with the feeding animals, you can test your cold tolerance and experience the freezing temperatures of these chilly waters. Tours are daily.

BECOME AN ANIMAL TRAINER!
If you are a true animal lover then this is the job for you! Put on those rubber boots, grab yourself a bucket filled with yummy fish and you are ready for a fantastic animal encounter. You will be up close and personal with beluga whales, dolphins, Sea lions and Sea otters.

For further information on the Vancouver Aquarium click here: http://www.vanaqua.org/

Big Bus Hop on Hop off Winter Hours & Vantage Whistler Winter tours

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

The BIG BUS Hop on, Hop off sightseeing tours have officially switched to their Winter hours and routes as of mid October 2015.

The frequency of these tours will be every 60 minutes every day with the first buses leaving at 9.15am and the final routes at 3.15pm. The closest stop to the Sunset Inn and Suites will be on Burrard Street outside the Century Plaza hotel pick up stop #16. The first Bus arrives at this stop at 10.16am.

Rain or shine Big Bus have a great reputation for an easy no fuss tour that enables you to see the very best of Vancouver and you will be fed plenty of information about Vancouver. Tickets can be purchased directly at the Hotel with payment by credit Card only.

About Big Bus Hop on Hop off
The Hop-On, Hop-Off Sightseeing Pass is a fun and flexible way to see the best of Vancouver! Check out their Live Bus Map to find a stop near you. http://westcoastsightseeing.com/live-bus-map/ Our buses are equipped with GPS so you know exactly where we are in the city!

Cruise and choose from over 20 stops at world-class attractions. Enjoy a birds-eye view of Vancouver at your own pace, complete with one-of-a-kind commentary.

Included with your Hop-On, Hop-Off Sightseeing Pass:
Mix it up! Choose from over 20 stops to create your adventure
Free one-way ferry ride to the public market, galleries and colourful culture of Granville Island
As many as 7 stops in Stanley Park, voted the best urban park in the world
World-class commentary in English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin
Vancouver’s only company with convertible, clear-top bus covers for stunning views rain or shine

For further information on their city tours click here: https://westcoastsightseeing.com/hop-on-hop-off/

VANTAGE WHISTLER TOURS
With the Winter season soon knocking on our doors it is time to look north and towards Whistler – Canada’s premier Ski resort – one of the best ways to enjoy Whistler and this Winter wonderland is by using Vantage Whistler tours!

Vantage Whistler offers daily sightseeing tours from Vancouver to Whistler. We provide hotel service, pick up and drop off at your downtown location. Experience 6 stops on our tour, which include Prospect Point in Stanley Park, Cypress Mountain, Porteau Cove, Shannon Falls, Brandywine Falls, and Whistler Village. Spend over 4 hours of free time exploring Whistler which is full of great attractions. The tours are commentated and include complimentary snacks and drinks. And if it happens to rain on the day of your tour, we also provide you with an umbrella. The duration of the round trip tour is approximately 11 hours, starting at 8:00am in Vancouver and returning by 7:00pm. We provide all tours using Mercedes-Benz Sprinters. We also keep the tour groups to a maximum of 11 guests per bus, offering a more private tour experience.

Website: http://www.vantagewhistler.com/

Queen Elizabeth Park is 75 years old!

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015


Come celebrate Queen Elizabeth Park’s 75th year. Take in a free concert, enjoy our licensed area, free pitch and putt, free admission at the Bloedel Conservatory, $5.00 zipline rides, food trucks, family fun, and much more!

Queen Elizabeth Park
The park itself is located right in the middle of Vancouver and is one of the highest points of the city – the location is affectionately known as ‘Little Mountain’.
Some of the gardens are found to be a in a sunken hollow – this is actually the remnant scarring as the land was once used as a quarry, the rocks that were taken were used to lay down the new road systems for the growing city of Vancouver at the time.

The idea was to transform the ugly scarring of the Quarry into sunken gardens on top of the hill, the growth of plants that had become quite overgrown and not a very good sight to the eye was also transformed to create a larger park for the public to enjoy. The site had been turned over to the Vancouver Park Board for park and recreation purposes, and was dedicated as such by King George VI and his consort, Queen Elizabeth (the mother of Queen Elizabeth II) on their much lauded visit to Vancouver in 1939, as King and Queen of Canada.

Happy 75th Birthday QE
As this is a very big birthday there will be some great events and activities happening in celebration.

Live Music Stage schedule
Beginning at 12:00 noon to 12:30pm with Opening Speeches

12:30pm to 1:30pm Pop Junkies
1:45pm to 2:45pm Hot Panda
3:00pm to 4:15pm Patrick Nazemi
4:30pm to 5:30pm The Zolas
5:45pm to 7:00pm Delhi 2 Dublin

At 2:00pm, 3:30pm, and 5:00pm there will be an aerial show by CircusWest at the fountain plaza.

All day activities from 12:00 noon to 7:00pm with the Stanley Park Brewing licensed area.
$5.00 zipline rides
Free pitch & putt
Free admission at the Bloedel Conservatory
Face painting at the fountain plaza
Photo booth at the fountain plaza
Pickleball at the tennis courts
Free drop-in at the QE lawn bowling club

City of Vancouver QEP: http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/queen-elizabeth-park.aspx

Urban Wildlife in Vancouver

Saturday, August 15th, 2015

Vancouver is highly rated as one of the most stunning cities in the world to visit and it is very hard not to see why. The city is situated in a temperate rainforest that encompasses much of the Pacific Northwest and is greeted by vigorous weather systems that barrel in from the massive Pacific Ocean for 9 months of the year. Due to this and the large mountains that greet the weather Vancouver and Vancouver Island is an area that has incredible dense forests and amazing fauna that is home to some incredible wildlife.

Nature in the city – meet your fellow neighbours!
It is not unusual for a guest to come in from sightseeing and being quite surprised and astonished at some of the animals that they have just spotted in the city – to many of us it is just a normal every day occurrence, however, we really do appreciate and love the diversity of the local flora and fauna that makes up the fabric of the city. So let us introduce to you the local wildlife of Vancouver.

Skunks, Raccoons and Squirrels
These animals are everywhere and are easily spotted all year round but more especially in the Summer months and after nightfall – however, if these creatures are hungry enough you will catch them in the daytime too. It is likely you will see a skunk more regularly than a Raccoon and when you do you will probably see a few as they tend to wander around with their young.
We do not advise that you feed these animals, they are cute but there is always the possibility that they may bite and Skunks are famous for spraying an oily substance that smells like an awful strong stench of Sulphur and marijuana – not a great smell. They are harmless overall though, so if you wish to have a peak of them you can do so but give them their space as they go on their merry way.

There are so many Squirrels here it seems unreal, you will always catch them scurrying around the streets and up the trees – they are pretty tame overall and have really worked out how to live in harmony in the city.

Bald Eagles, Crows and Herons
These birds are by far the most noticeable of all the animals in the city all year round – the Bald Eagles are certainly more noticeable in the Spring and Summer months due to the Fledgling season where they have many options to hunt for food and this can easily be seen when you are out and about in the city. One of the signs that there is a bald eagle not too far above you is when you hear the Seagulls and Crows crying out a warning cry to each other as they are fearlessly protecting their young from being prey, if you hear this commotion look up – it is almost guaranteed that a large bald eagle or other type of Bird of Prey is about to swoop down and feed itself and its own chicks.

Crows are everywhere in Vancouver and they are one of the most respected and revered creatures that many of us have a love hate relationship with. There is a fantastic phenomenon that happens daily in Vancouver which involves thousands of Crows heading to and from their roosting spot in Burnaby. The murder of crows is quite the sight to see and happens at Sunrise and Sunset every day – if you have a keen eye you will spot the spectacular ‘Crow train’.

Check out this Video of the Crows going home: https://youtu.be/IhVdcjyKdSU

The other gorgeously majestic Bird to spot in Vancouver is the Great Blue Heron. The Herons you can find wading in the shallow waters at pretty much any Beach in and around Vancouver and soaring smoothly in the skies above you. For a better sighting of these birds you need to head to Stanley Park near the Tennis courts, here, the Herons have been nesting at this site for quite a few years and there are roughly around 80 nests at top of the trees and the months of April to June are the prime time to catch them rearing their chicks.

For further Animal watching head to the Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park where you can see all the above creatures but lots of Ducks, Canada Geese, Turtles and plenty of people if you like to people watch!

For further information on Vancouver wildlife check these sites out.
Stanley Park Ecological Society http://stanleyparkecology.ca/

Vancouver Aquarium http://www.vanaqua.org/

Popular Vancouver events that are FREE!

Friday, June 19th, 2015

There are many events and festivals to enjoy and it all starts this weekend as Summer is really here folks, plus the weather is playing ball too! Get out there and enjoy it as these events are FREE!

CAR FREE DAYS – VANCOUVER June 20th & 21st.
West EndSaturday, June 20th, Noon-6pm from Davie to Robson on Denman Street: Fun for young, old, families, couples and single folks, which includes music, artists, artisans, and lots of local community groups.

Commercial Drive – Sunday, June 21st, Noon-7pm from Venables to Grandview on Commercial Drive: Roller disco, parading drummers, healing gardens, DJs spinning beats, and all your friends and neighbours hanging out.

Main Street – Sunday, June 21st, Noon-7pm from Broadway to 30th on Main Street: Mini-festivals, community-supported stages with dozens of bands, multiple kids zones, artisan markets, roller derby, skateboarding, parkour and more!

Website: http://www.carfreevancouver.org/

National Aboriginal Day Celebrations – June 21st
Saturday, June 20, 2015 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Join us for a day of celebration that kicks off with a traditional Coast Salish welcome, followed by a variety of Aboriginal performances, including traditional dances, storytelling and more. National Aboriginal Day is officially designated on Sunday, June 21, 2015 to coincide with the summer solstice. This is a special opportunity to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.

Website: http://www.canadaplace.ca/Events/National_Aboriginal_Day_Celebration

Vancouver International Jazz Festival till July 1
While not all of the events are free, a majority of them are, giving you access to some of the best jazz acts in the city! There are endless options for free performances, including Blue Moon Marquee, Rumba Cazalda, and Karin Plato Ensemble.

Website: http://www.coastaljazz.ca/

Vancouver Buskerfest – Friday, June 26 to Sunday, June 28
Featuring astonishing and Diverse Street performers from all around Vancouver and all around the globe deliver comedy, circus, music and mayhem on Downtown Vancouver’s main entertainment area that is Granville Street.

Website: http://www.vancouverbuskerfest.com/

Canada Day at Canada Place – July 1st
Canada Day at Canada Place is a celebration that brings communities together to share our special bond of living in one of the greatest country’s in the world and celebrating our freedom, values and diversity. It all ends with a fantastic spectacular Fireworks display.

Website: http://www.canadaplace.ca/

Canada Day at Granville Island July 1, 10 a.m. to midnight
Canada Day on Granville Island is an all-ages event that goes from morning until late! This year, they’ll start with a pancake breakfast, then continue with jazz festivals, a street festival and a parade. The team at Granville Island encourages you to bring your kids!

Website: http://granvilleisland.com/top-things-do-kids-summer-granville-island

Stanley Park Free Outdoor Movies July 7 to August 25
The Evo Summer Cinema Series at Stanley Park is back for another year from July 7 to August 25. Expect classics like Jurassic Park, The Breakfast Club and Harry Potter. Don’t forget to arrive early to get a good spot since upwards of 5,000 people attend each screening

Website: http://www.freshaircinema.ca/summercinema/index.html

Swimming in Vancouver – The best outdoor Pools and Beaches near to the Sunset

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

When the BC bank Holiday known as Victoria Day passes in May we know for sure that this is where Summer begins in earnest and that marks the beginning of the activities for the late Spring and Summer season. The Patios at many restaurants and bars are open for the patrons, Farmers Markets pop up all over the various and varied districts of Vancouver, the best part for us is the opening of the many outdoor swimming pools and the freedom to swim on the many beaches of Vancouver.

Kits beach with North Vancouver in the distance

The best Beaches and Swimming Pools.
One thing you will notice with Vancouver is that it is quite literally surrounded by Beaches, with a great Sea wall hugging the downtown core all the way around False creek to the South and then ending at the Kitsilano district which is where we will begin our tour.

Kitsilano Beach.
Kits Beach as it is more commonly known with the locals is our version of ‘Venice Beach’ in California, it is an appropriate title considering Vancouver is literally known as the Hollywood north of Canada and this Beach certainly fits the bill. It has glorious views of the downtown core, Stanley Park and the North shore cities and mountains, and has no shortage of people getting some serious tans playing Frisbee and beach Volleyball, but don’t be perturbed by the beach loving sun soaked buff bodies – everyone is welcome here and so you should as it is a stunning place to visit.
There is more – Kits Beach is home to Vancouvers largest outdoor heated swimming pool.

Kits Outdoor Swimming Pool
This is the daddy of all outdoor pools in Vancouver at a length of Length 137m which means it is almost three times the size of an Olympic pool. It also features 3 Slides, a Café and is accessible for all as it is wheelchair accessible has aquatic wheelchairs and is fitted with an aquatic pool lift.
The pool is filled with salt water and is heated, this year Windbreakers will be installed as this will benefit the pool in many ways, it will prevent heat loss from the heated pool and it will also reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 220 metric tonnes which equates to removing 46 cars from city streets. This was proven the case last year when the city installed windbreakers at other pools, it is anticipated the drop in these emissions will be much more.

Sunset Beach, English Bay & Second Beach
English Bay is undoubtedly the most popular & well known Beach in Vancouver due to its prime location in the downtown Vancouver area and is sat at the entrance to the popular Stanley Park.
A great way to get to English Bay will be to walk south from the Sunset Inn hotel and in a little over 5 minutes you will reach our namesake beach Sunset Beach. Here you get gorgeous views of the Burrard Bridge and False Creek – start waking west along the Seawall and you will be greeted by the famous Inukshuk stone monument which is located at English Bay. Keep following the Sea Wall and after 10 to 15 minutes you will reach Second Beach – it is called this as English Bay is the ‘first beach’.

Second Beach Pool
Second Beach Pool is a heated, outdoor pool located near the beach & sea wall, trails, and forest of Stanley Park.
The summer pool is open May to September. It features a a sloped entry and gradual depths for families, and separated lanes for lap swimmers. The pools Length is 80m with a 50m section for some serious swimming lengths -like the Kits pool it is wheelchair accessible.

Cool photos of a Bald Eagle and Crows

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

As I was walking to work on Saturday I could hear quite a din being stirred up by a group of Crows…it was quite evident that something was spooking them as they were cawing quite loudly and dive bombing at something. As I was approaching the intersection of the street my sight was a lot clearer as to what was going on. Directly opposite me on the top of a 3 story apartment building stood a large and very intimidating bald eagle that for the most part was not too perturbed by the 4 or 5 crows that were spooked by it.

April and May is a fantastic time to Bird watch as the city of Vancouver is in the thick of the major migration of Birds who are heading North as Spring will transition to Summer time. The sight of such a huge bird of prey hanging out just a few feet above our heads is not an unusual sight in Vancouver. We actively encourage everyone to to keep looking to the skies around them as it is very very common to witness many types of Birds of Prey, Gulls, Corvids, Herons and of course Canadian Geese to name but a few.

As the Summer starts to take hold the birds really are the dominant creatures that reside in this part of the world, it can get quite noisy as there are plenty of them making each and every building, tree and where else they reside as their home, and with that you will always get predators. Listen out to the birds as some of their sounds are major warnings not to their own species but to others that there is an Eagle about to intercept, this is quite the sight above as as it is one of the few times, the Crows, Gulls and Pigeons among others all gang up together to protect themselves from the Birds of Prey.

If you like this, be sure to get down to the Sea-wall and Stanley Park and take time to observe as you will be sure to catch some spectacular nature at work before your eyes.

Check out the Stanley Park Ecology Society: http://stanleyparkecology.ca/

BC GRAND TOURS. CITY SIGHTSEEING & PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

We will like to introduce to you a brand new tour operator that will take you out on day trips around Vancouver, Whistler and Photography tours around the Canadian Rockies. Also, they offer tours to Seattle, Outlet Shopping tours in the Seattle district and winery tours in Langley! They will pick you up at the hotel and drop you off at the hotel once the tour has ended.

BC Grand Tours is a proud small business with owner Gabriel providing an A+ service and creating friendships that cannot be matched by any large-scale corporate tours. http://www.bcgrandtours.com/

BC Grand Tours feel that the best way to experience this great city is by hanging out with someone who’s knowledgeable, personable, and accommodating. They will go above and beyond to provide you with an experience that cannot be achieved by sitting on a bus with dozens of other people. After a tour with us, you’ll leave the city with good memories, great photos, interesting knowledge, and of course, new friends.

They are fully flexible and your day will be delivered by a guide who works to make sure your day is everything that you want it to be, exactly to suit for you special interests. They stop and start as you wish not as the guide might find convenient. Changes to the day’s plan, according to the options available can be accommodated to suit your requirements.
Your safe, considerate and calm driver offers a late model 11 passenger Mercedes Sprinter that has all the latest safety and comfort features such as multi-zone climate control with a 23 inch dvd monitor and a luxurious Cadillac Escalade for small groups when more privacy is required.

SIGHTSEEING TOURS
VANCOUVER Sightseeing Photo Tour
year round 10am/6h tour/ adult $79/child $49
Vancouver Library – Gastown – Canada Place
Stanley Park – Totem Poles – Prospect Point
Maritime Museum – Granville Island – False Creek
VanDussen – Botanical Garden
North Shore – Deep Cove marina
Suspension Bridge – Lynn Canyon Park

WHISTLER Sightseeing
year round 8.30am /10h tour/ adult $98 /child $65
WHISTLER Direct
Dec 01 to Apr 15 / 11h tour /adult $69 / student $50
Sea-to-Sky Highway
Whistler Village – Peak 2 Peak Gondola
Squamish Lil’wat Aboriginal Cultural Centre
Scandinave Spa
Shannon Falls – Squamish

VICTORIA Sightseeing
Year Round 7am /13h tour /adult $155/child $95
BC Ferry to Vancouver Island
Oak Bay marina
Parliament Buildings – Empress Hotel
Royal British Columbia Museum – Craigdarroch Castle,
Miniature World – Butchart Gardens

LANGLEY WINERY
Feb-Nov 10am/ 6h tour /adult $60 only Saturdays & Sundays
(off season tours available by request for minimum group of 6)
Vista D’oro Farm
Chaberton Estate Winery – Bistro Bacchus
Krause Berry Farm – The Market
Township 7 – Winery
Fort Langley City

HARRISON HOT SPRINGS
June-Sept 9am/ 8h tour /adult $70/child $45
Bridal Veil Falls
Harrison Hot Springs
BC Art Galleries

SEATTLE Sightseeing
Year Round 8am/10h tour/adult $99/child $59
& Seattle Premium Outlets
Year Round 8am/10h tour/adult $79/child $49

Museum of Flight -Sky View Observatory
Pike Fish Market – Great Wheel
Space Needle – Experience Music Project
Tulalip – Premium Outlets Mall.

The tours can be booked via the Front Desk, please ask the staff for further details.

They have glowing reviews on Tripadvisor – Click here to see what the people have to say about them http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g154943-d7391612-Reviews-BC_Grand_Tours-Vancouver_British_Columbia.html