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Real Adventures in Vancouver

Turn off the TV and live out your own reality show this summer

By LUCAS AYKROYD
Aug. 2019

Kayaking in False Creek offers unique views of landmarks such as BC Place Stadium (Photo © Leonu/istock.com)

Are you addicted to reality-TV shows? With their glamorous settings, pulsating soundtracks and over-the-top personality conflicts, it’s easy to understand why you might be. However, on a beautiful summer day, it’s time to switch off the set, get outside and explore Metro Vancouver’s amazing adventures. To help you make the transition, we’ve themed each of our five suggested activities around one of our favourite guilty-pleasure shows. And you won’t get eliminated!

IF YOU LIKE The Amazing Race

YOU’LL LOVE Cycling and Biking Around Vancouver

The seawall is one of Vancouver’s most popular attractions (Photo © Michael Wells/istock.com)

Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson set a franchise record for an all-female team by winning seven legs on The Amazing Race Canada in 2014. And if you want strong legs like these two stars of the Canadian Olympic women’s hockey team, hopping on a bicycle is an amazing start. Rent a bike on Denman Street and cycle around the 9-km (5.5-mi) Stanley Park seawall, stopping to photograph classic sights like the Lions Gate Bridge and the totem poles at Brockton Point. The ultra-flat community of Richmond has close to 70 km (43 mi) of designated on- and off-street bike routes, including the waterfront West Dyke Recreational Trail. Or challenge your thighs—along with other body parts—on world-class mountain biking trails in North Vancouver, such as Bobsled on Mount Fromme and Penny Lane on Mount Seymour. You’ll feel like a winner without racing around the world or putting on a big show. 

IF YOU LIKE The Bachelor

YOU’LL LOVE Hiking the Grouse Grind

Unlike Colton, you shouldn’t have to jump over a fence when you do the Grouse Grind. However, if you’re hiking this near-vertical 2.9-km (1.8-mi) trail up Grouse Mountain on Vancouver’s North Shore, you do need to be here for the right reasons. Budget an hour and a half if you’re a Grind virgin, and expect lots of heavy breathing as you clamber up wooden staircases and over boulders. (Tears and heartache are optional.) At the summit, take a moment and say your goodbyes with nachos and beer on the spectacular Altitudes Bistro patio. Alternatively, check out grizzly bears in the Wildlife Refuge or enjoy an exciting lumberjack show. Then come back down to earth—like most Bachelor couples not named Trista and Ryan—via the Skyride aerial tramway, admiring the city and ocean panorama.

IF YOU LIKE Survivor

YOU’LL LOVE Kayaking in False Creek and English Bay

On Survivor, everybody wants immunity. In real life, nobody wants a summer cold. So boost your immune system by going kayaking next to downtown. It’s a great workout and a fun challenge you can tackle—even without host Jeff Probst—in Vancouver’s tranquil Pacific Ocean waters. In False Creek, lined with glass condo towers, paddle past classic landmarks like Science World’s geodesic dome and Rogers Arena, home to the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. Floating on adjoining English Bay, admire the western red cedars and Douglas firs of Stanley Park as runners and rollerbladers zoom along the paved seawall. You can rent kayaks on Granville Island—one island you won’t get voted off—or at the beach in English Bay. 

IF YOU LIKE Big Brother

YOU’LL LOVE Whale Watching in the Salish Sea

Orcas make a splash for onlookers (Photo © Tory Kallman/shutterstock.com)

On the CBS production of Big Brother, there are nearly 90 cameras watching the houseguests. On a whale watching tour off Vancouver, you’ll want to have your camera ready for exciting sightings of resident orca (killer whale) pods, from the Gulf Islands to the San Juan Islands. From April to October, you can take a guided tour in a high-speed Zodiac or fully equipped cruiser. Also keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales, sea lions or cormorants, among other marine wildlife. Recommended tour operators include Prince of Whales, Vancouver Whale Watch and Wild Whales Vancouver. Bigg’s Transient orcas can be viewed from just 200 m (650 ft) away, but for the endangered Southern Resident orca population, an approach distance of 400 m (1,312 ft) or more is mandated. Unlike houseguests, these majestic creatures should never be evicted.

IF YOU LIKE Dancing with the Stars

YOU’LL LOVE Axe-Throwing in Surrey

Would-be lumberjacks can sharpen their axe-throwing skills in nearby Surrey (Photo © AP Group of Photographers/shutterstock.com)

Everyone remembers where they were when actor Juan Pablo Di Pace and professional dancer Cheryl Burke shockingly got the axe on season 27 of Dancing With the Stars. You don’t? OK, whatever. Probably on your couch. Regardless, for a different way to stay on your toes, head out to Bad Axe Throwing in Surrey. An hour’s drive southeast of Vancouver, you can become a star—at least in your own mind—as you hurl metal blades at wooden targets. It’s like bowling for Vikings. Bad Axe coaches teach you to throw safely and refine your technique, without being judged by Len Goodman. Whether you’re seeking family fun, throwing a bachelorette party or celebrating a birthday, you’ve come to the right place. Birthday celebrants throw for free, and discounted rates for firefighters, nurses, soldiers and police officers leave them dancing with joy.

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