Big Trees, Island Walks & Cinnamon Buns

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With beautiful sea views and forest walks, the North Shore is a perfect place to spend the day in all seasons, in all kinds of weather, with out-of-town guests or with friends and family. We have lived in Vancouver for a year now and last week we visited Lighthouse Park and Whytecliff Park for the first time.

Whytecliff Park
Whytecliff Park is pretty much the ideal place to have a picnic. The views are incredible and there are lots of small trails and walks along the cliffs and along the shoreline. When we visited, we saw people picnicking, reading books on the rocks, relaxing by the water and even a father and son swimming in from a shore dive. There is a hexagon shaped picnic table at the top of one of the viewpoints that you can reserve for you and all your friends. If you didn’t bring a picnic, you can buy food at the park concession in summer months.

If you want to get some exercise after gazing out at the sea, you can play a game of tennis (they have two courts). Or use Whytecliff’s grassy field and get a game of ultimate going. Or embrace your inner child and play tag. You will find a few hiking trails with great views near the overflow parking lot and if you visit during low tide you can walk across the rocks to Whyte Island.

Whytecliff Marine Park is also a good place to dive, if the cold water doesn’t scare you off. Diving clubs report spotting wolf-eels, octopus, and even occasional harbour seals and Pacific white-sided dolphins. With washrooms, change rooms and a rinse station, Whytecliffe Park has become a popular Vancouver dive spot.

How to Get There: From Downtown Vancouver, cross the Lions Gate Bridge and head towards Marine Drive. Turn right at Taylor Way and exit onto Highway #1 Westbound. Follow the highway and take exit #2 for Eagleridge Drive. Follow the road and make a left onto Marine Drive after the overpass. Whytecliff Park is located at 7102 Marine Dr.

Lighthouse Park
Lighthouse Park, in West Vancouver, is a combination of beach and forest trails. With 75 hectares of forest, you have a lot of trails to choose from. The trails are good for short walks or longer hikes if you do all of the loops. When you are in the forest, Vancouver feels far away, with eagles overhead and leaves rustling, woodpeckers and branches clicking in the wind but no city noises.

When you are walking along the cliffs or following the little trails that lead down to beaches and rocks and inlets, you’ll have gorgeous views of the faraway city. It’s as if you are on an island in the middle of the sea.

Lighthouse Park also has some history to it. It became a designated park in 1881, which protected its Douglas Firs and red cedars. The Valley of the Giants trail takes you on a walk right through these beautiful giant trees, some of the only old growth trees left in the lower mainland. Point Atkinson Lighthouse, was originally built in the early 1800s and the one in the pictures was built in 1914. The original lighthouse, or the remains of it, are still there as is the cedar bunkhouse built to house some soldiers during World War 2.

Whether our visit to the North Shore includes hiking in the mountains or along the water, we love to stop off at our favourite wine store, Everything Wine. They have a great variety of wines, free tastings from 2 – 6 pm and very helpful staff so it’s always worth stopping by to pick up some bottles. Everything Wine has at least one wine-tasting event per month and if you want to, you can even plan your own event in their tasting room. They are located at 998 Marine Drive and they are open from 10 – 9, Monday through Saturday and from 11 – 7 on Sundays and holidays.

On the way home, we discovered that one of our favourite coffee and cinnamon bun places in Vancouver has a store in Dundarave Village, near Lighthouse Park – Delany’s Coffee House. Delany’s is still a family owned business, their coffee is certified organic and fair trade and their baked goods are delicious. Definitely pop in there for a coffee and a treat before or after your hike.

This photo of Delany’s Coffee House is courtesy of TripAdvisor

We wish we had visited Whytecliff and Lighthouse parks earlier so that we could have taken more advantage of the beautiful forests and shore walks so close to the city. Luckily we will have lots of out of town guests this summer so we can make up for lost time.