Summer is when Vancouver shines — with more things to do than you can pack into the extra-long sunny days. If you’ve been thinking about a visit to the British Columbia metropolis, we’ve got seven great reasons why you should head for Western Canada’s largest city this season. Book your tickets and add these experiences to your itinerary now.
Sightsee in a Lamborghini
Here’s a bucket list-worthy thrill: drive a Lamborghini and other exotic cars along the winding Sea-to-Sky Highway. Scenic Rush offers several experiences where you can pilot a Lamborghini Gallardo, a Ferrari F430 Spider, an Audi R8 and a Nissan GT-R along the iconic mountain- and ocean-hugging road from Vancouver north to Whistler.
The Sea-to-Sky Experience gives you a chance to try out all four vehicles along the 60-mile route to the town of Squamish, where you’ll stop to take in the views over Howe Sound with a ride up the Sea-to-Sky Gondola. On the full-day Whistler Experience, you’ll drive these cool cars all the way to Whistler and back, a 135-mile round-trip journey that includes the gondola, a picturesque look around Whistler, and a stop for lunch. Bragging rights? No extra charge.
What makes you smile? If you’d like to find out, and delight yourself, wander over to the Museum of Vancouver to take in “The Happy Show,” an exhibition by New York-based Stefan Sagmeister that explores the things that give us joy. Perhaps better known for the album covers he designed for musicians like the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and the Talking Heads, Sagmeister conceived this exhibit after taking a client-free sabbatical to figure out what was contributing to his own joyfulness. “The Happy Show,” which even extends into the museum’s rest rooms, runs through September 7.
Snorkel with the Seals
Looking for a unique eco-adventure? Combine a scenic floatplane trip with an unusual snorkeling experience. Here’s how: Book a 20-minute flight from downtown Vancouver to the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. After you land, take a short cruise to Snake Island, just outside Nanaimo Harbor, where you don a mask and flippers to snorkel with a resident colony of harbor seals, paddling alongside these surprisingly graceful marine creatures as they swim through the sea. Harbour Air, in partnership with Sundown Diving, offers packages that include round-trip flights, boat transportation and all the gear you need, including extra-warm wetsuits. Just bring your bathing suit and a sense of adventure.
Discover Vancouver — At The Spa
You could take a run-of-the-mill tour, but if you’d rather explore Vancouver with an afternoon at the spa, choose a Discover Vancouver wellness package at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Sense Spa, Rosewood Hotel Georgia. It’s a hyper-local experience pairing an invigorating walk along Vancouver’s Seawall and through Stanley Park, with a refreshing body treatment and a Canadian maple pedicure.
Become a Social Bruncher
If you like your bacon and eggs by yourself, this won’t be for you. But if you think that brunch is something to be shared, preferably with good friends and a bubbly beverage, book a weekend table at Market by Jean-Georges at the Four-Star Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver. Every Saturday and Sunday until Labor Day, this celebrity-chef-designed restaurant is offering “Bubbles, Beats & Brunch,” with a DJ to keep things lively and a menu of shareable small plates, from Korean fried chicken to mini French toasts with apple butter and bacon crumb. If you’ve brought the gang, order a pitcher of “Patio Spritz” (prosecco, Italian Aperol, elderflower liqueur, pink grapefruit, Thai basil and bitters) or a vodka-, absinthe-, and ginger ale-filled Parisian punch bowl, and make your summertime brunch all the more social.
Drink in a Classy New Lounge
Three Forbes Travel Guide-rated hotels have opened new or revamped lounges this year, each offering fresh, stylish spaces to raise a glass. The Four-Star Fairmont Hotel Vancouver has debuted the glam Notch8 Restaurant and Bar, while at the Five-Star Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Prohibition channels the Roaring Twenties with vintage cocktails and a speakeasy vibe. And the Four-Star Opus Hotel Vancouver has redone its lobby bar, offering locally made treats by day (we’re looking at you, Cartems donuts) and music by night.
Zip the Sasquatch
Like to fly? Then, take a day-trip to Whistler to try out a record-breaking new zip line. Launching later this summer and dubbed “The Sasquatch,” it will be the longest zip in the U.S. and Canada, stretching more than 7,000 feet between Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains. This is just one more exhilarating reason to plan your Western Canada holiday this summer.