Summer Bliss in Vancouver: Your Guide to 12 Best Activities

12 Min Read
May 2, 2024

Welcome to Vancouver, where summer ignites a world of excitement and exploration! In this article, we're your personal tour guides to the city's best summertime adventures.

Picture yourself biking along Stanley Park's lush trails, the cool ocean breeze refreshing your senses. Or imagine wandering through bustling food markets, sampling local delicacies that tantalize your taste buds. From vibrant festivals celebrating music, art, and food to leisurely strolls through charming neighborhoods, Vancouver offers endless opportunities for fun and discovery during the summer months.

So, whether you're seeking heart-pounding outdoor thrills or simply craving a lazy day by the beach, Vancouver's has something for everyone. Grab your sunscreen, lace up your hiking boots, and let's dive into a season of sunshine and smiles as we uncover the best summer things to do in Vancouver!

1. Bike the Vancouver Seawall

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Cycling along the Vancouver Seawall offers an unbeatable blend of scenic beauty and leisurely exercise, making it a top pick for summer activities. As the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront path, the Seawall stretches over 28 kilometers, winding through the iconic Stanley Park and beyond.

This expansive pathway invites both locals and visitors to explore Vancouver's stunning coastline at their own pace.

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On a bike, you can cover much of the Seawall, enjoying the cool ocean breeze and picturesque views of the city skyline intertwined with the natural landscape. The route is well-marked and caters to all levels of cycling ability, ensuring a pleasant ride without the hassle of traffic.

Along the way, numerous rest spots offer chances to pause and soak in the panoramic vistas or snap a photo to remember the day.

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Whether you’re looking for a full day’s adventure or a brief escape into nature, biking the Seawall is a perfect way to experience the essence of Vancouver’s outdoor charm.

Location: Vancouver Seawall - Google Maps

2. Relax at Kitsilano Beach

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Kitsilano Beach is a prime spot for those looking to unwind and enjoy Vancouver's natural beauty during the summer. Known to locals as "Kits Beach," this popular destination boasts a fantastic atmosphere for relaxation, complete with breathtaking sunset views.

The beach is lined with ample seating options from benches to strategically placed logs, inviting visitors to linger longer and soak in the tranquil beach vibes.

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Adding to the serene ambiance, palm trees sway gently around the entrance, setting a distinctly laid-back tone that feels almost tropical.

Kits Beach isn’t just for lounging; it offers a wide range of activities, including volleyball courts, Wing Surfing & Foiling Lessons, and a large Saltwater Swimming Pool.

Location: Kitsilano Beach - Google Maps

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3. Go Whale Watching

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Embarking on a Whale Watching Adventure in Vancouver is an awe-inspiring experience that connects you with the majestic world of marine wildlife.

The waters around Vancouver are home to a diverse array of whale species, including the iconic orca. Observing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat offers a unique perspective on nature’s splendor.

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Whale watching tours are readily available and provide a safe and respectful way to see these giants of the ocean.

Experienced guides help spot the whales and share insights about their behaviors, feeding habits, and migrations.

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Boats equipped with viewing decks make the journey comfortable and engaging for all ages, ensuring that every guest has the opportunity to witness these breathtaking animals up close.

4. Explore Deep Cove

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Deep Cove, nestled on Vancouver's scenic North Shore, is a haven for outdoor lovers looking to immerse themselves in nature.

This picturesque enclave is ideal for a variety of activities that allow you to appreciate its serene beauty—whether you’re paddling in the calm waters or hiking the lush trails.

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Kayaking, Canoeing, and Paddleboarding are among the favorite pursuits in Deep Cove. The sheltered bay offers smooth, crystal-clear waters perfect for beginners and seasoned paddlers alike.

As you glide across the surface, keep an eye out for local wildlife and enjoy the stunning backdrop of forested mountains.

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Hiking enthusiasts will find their bliss on the trails that wind through the area, each providing rewarding views and a peaceful trek through the verdant landscape.

The well-known Quarry Rock hike is a must-do, offering panoramic views of the cove and beyond from its summit.

Location: Deep Cove - Google Maps

5. Attend a Summer Event

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Summer in Vancouver is packed with vibrant events that bring the community together and offer something for everyone.

Three of the city’s standout celebrations are the Vancouver Pride Parade, the Honda Celebration of Light, and Canada Day festivities.

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Pride Vancouver is a colorful and exuberant annual event that champions diversity and inclusion. Highlighted by the Pride Parade, this festival fills the streets with rainbow flags, lively music, and dance. It's a powerful expression of solidarity and support for the LGBT community, drawing participants and spectators from all walks of life.

Moving from the streets to the skies, the Honda Celebration of Light is an extraordinary pyrotechnic spectacle that lights up Vancouver’s night sky. This musical fireworks competition is held annually and sees international teams compete to dazzle the crowds with their elaborate fireworks synchronized to music. The event transforms the beachfront into a festive party atmosphere, perfect for family outings or a night out with friends.

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On Canada Day, head to Mission’s Fraser River Heritage Park for a day full of traditional festivities.

Starting with a pancake breakfast and moving through a day filled with live music, dog agility shows, and more, it’s a true celebration of Canadian spirit in a scenic setting.

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6. Go Paddleboarding or Kayaking

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Vancouver's stunning natural scenery makes it a premier destination for water sports, with Paddleboarding and Kayaking leading the way as favorite activities for both locals and tourists.

The city's expansive shoreline, surrounded by lush mountains and vibrant greenery, creates a picturesque setting for a day on the water.

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With over 60 kayaks and 80 paddleboards available for rent, you can easily find the right gear to suit your experience level.

Moreover, the increase in the number of tour boats to three ensures that there are more ways than ever to explore the waters.

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Guided tours can enhance your experience by taking you through hidden gems along the shoreline and pointing out sightseeing attractions that are best viewed from the water.

7. Go for a Hike

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Hiking in Vancouver offers an escape into some of the most breathtaking landscapes in British Columbia, with trails that cater to all levels of experience.

Among the top destinations for hikers are Golden Ears Provincial Park, Cypress Provincial Park, and Joffre Lakes.

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Golden Ears Provincial Park is one of the largest parks in the province, featuring expansive forests and alpine vistas. It hosts three large campgrounds, making it perfect for multi-day trekking adventures. The park's trails range from easy walks to challenging climbs, offering something for everyone.

Cypress Provincial Park, accessible via the Upper Levels Highway in West Vancouver, starts at an elevation of 300 metres. This park is a favorite for both day-trippers and serious hikers. Its higher altitude trails provide stunning views of the surrounding area and a cooler climate perfect for summer hikes.

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Joffre Lakes offers one of the most iconic hiking experiences in Vancouver with its trio of turquoise-blue lakes set against jagged peaks and icefields.

The hike to these lakes is relatively short but offers a dramatic backdrop that is a photographer’s dream. Each of the three lakes, Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre, features stunning water colors and scenic vistas.

8. Visit Granville Island

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Granville Island is a thriving hub of activity and culture in Vancouver, famously known for its public market, artisan workshops, and vibrant arts scene.

But it's not just about browsing and shopping; the island offers unique recreational activities like Water Biking, adding a splash of adventure to your visit.

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Water biking on Granville Island is a fun and unusual way to explore Vancouver's waterways. Positioned as one of the coolest activities in the area, these water bikes give you a low-impact workout while providing a duck's-eye view of the city’s picturesque skyline and marine environment.

Easy to balance and navigate, water bikes offer a stable platform from which to enjoy the bustling activity around False Creek without getting too wet.

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Visitors can easily rent these innovative bikes and set off on a leisurely circuit around the island or venture further afield to nearby attractions.

Location: Granville Island - Google Maps

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9. Rent Seadoo or Jet Ski

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Renting a Seadoo or Jet Ski in Vancouver offers an exhilarating way to explore the city’s stunning waterways and get an adrenaline rush while taking in the scenic views.

This activity has become a favorite for both thrill-seekers and those looking to try something new during their summer adventures.

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The Vancouver Water Adventures (VWA) provides a fleet of 35 jet skis that are perfect for zooming across the waves. Founded by a brother and sister duo who wanted to share their love for Vancouver’s outdoors, VWA has grown into a well-respected provider in the local tourism industry.

Their passion for the area’s natural beauty and history shines through in the quality and variety of the experiences they offer.

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Jet skiing allows you to cover more area than many other water activities, offering a unique vantage point from which to appreciate Vancouver’s diverse coastline and urban landscape

Location: Vancouver Water Adventures  - Google Maps

10. Patio-hop around the city

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Exploring Vancouver’s vibrant patio scene is a must-do activity for anyone visiting during the summer months. Patio-hopping around the city allows you to soak up the laid-back, retro vibes while enjoying some of the best food and drinks Vancouver has to offer.

This leisurely pastime is perfect for a Friday night out or a relaxing afternoon with friends after work.

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Each patio in Vancouver has its unique charm and atmosphere, ranging from rooftop bars with stunning city views to cozy, garden-style terraces nestled among lush foliage. You can start your journey in the bustling neighborhoods of Gastown or Yaletown, where the patio culture is deeply embedded in the local lifestyle.

Here, you can find everything from high-energy bars to intimate bistros, each offering a different perspective on the city’s eclectic food scene.

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As you move from one spot to the next, indulge in a variety of cuisines and cocktails.

Try local craft beers, innovative mixologist creations, and dishes that showcase British Columbia’s rich, diverse culinary heritage.

11. Go Swimming in Best Lakes

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Summer in Vancouver wouldn't be complete without a dip in some of the area’s most inviting lakes.

Sasamat Lake, Cat Lake, and Cultus Lake are among the top spots for swimming and offer more than just cool waters—each has its unique charm and array of activities.

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Sasamat Lake is located within Belcarra Regional Park, just a 12-minute drive from Port Moody. It’s known for its warm waters and the scenic walking trail that encircles it, making it a perfect family getaway. The floating bridge at one end of the lake adds a fun touch to your swimming experience, and the ample beach space provides plenty of room for sunbathing and picnics.

Moving north of Squamish off Highway 99, Cat Lake is a hidden gem nestled in the woods. This lake features a small but picturesque beach area where visitors can relax or play in the sand. The lake's secluded location makes it ideal for a quiet day out in nature, swimming in the refreshing waters or simply enjoying the serene environment.

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Cultus Lake offers an action-packed experience with its famous waterpark, making it a favorite among families. Located near Chilliwack, the lake itself is also ideal for swimming, boating, and fishing.

Cultus Lake Water Park, with its numerous slides and attractions, provides endless fun for children and adults alike, ensuring a lively and memorable day for everyone.

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12. Take Scenic Boat Tours

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Taking a Scenic Boat Tour in Vancouver is an enchanting way to discover the city's breathtaking landscapes and vibrant cultural scenes from a new perspective.

These tours offer a front-row seat to the stunning vistas that define Vancouver, from its dramatic skyline to the peaceful, seldom-seen stretches of coastline.

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The boats used for these tours are state-of-the-art vessels equipped with comfortable seating and excellent vantage points, ensuring that every moment on board is both luxurious and memorable.

As you glide across the waters, knowledgeable guides share insights and stories that bring the sights to life. They point out wildlife, historical sites, and key landmarks, making your journey both educational and visually spectacular.

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For those looking to capture a comprehensive view of Vancouver, a scenic boat tour is a must-do.

It combines leisure, learning, and awe-inspiring views to create unforgettable moments and lasting memories.

Location: Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours - Google Maps

To Sum It All Up

As we wrap up our exploration of the best summer activities in Vancouver, it’s clear that this vibrant city offers something for everyone.

Whether you’re coasting along the Seawall on a bike, soaking up the sun on Kitsilano Beach, visiting Vancouver's summer outdoor movie theaters, or enjoying the thrill of a jet ski, Vancouver’s blend of natural beauty and urban charm creates the perfect backdrop for unforgettable summer adventures.

Don’t forget to check out the local festivals like Pride Vancouver and the Honda Celebration of Light to experience the city’s lively culture. Or, if tranquility is what you seek, the serene hikes around Golden Ears and the peaceful paddles at Deep Cove promise to rejuvenate your spirit.

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