Which way to the beach?

Whether you’re looking for a stretch of sand to spread out and relax with a good book, an outdoor court to spike a volleyball, or a catwalk to strut your stuff, Vancouver’s got it. You’ll easily find a beach everywhere you turn.

The following is a list of some of the best beaches in the city.

Kitsilano Beach

Kitsilano Beach

If Vancouver is “Hollywood North,” then Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach – or “Kits Beach” to the locals – is our Venice Beach. Buff and bronzed bodies are sure to make their rounds but don’t be wary, you’re sure to fit in somewhere amidst the mix of joggers, stroller-pushing families, sun-worshippers, and everyday loungers. Grassy patches above the tide line are perfect for tossing the disc, the tennis courts are always popular, and the beach attracts volleyball players from all over the city. And don’t forget Kits Pool where kids and adults can splash away the day in an outdoor, heated salt-water pool with a wrap-around view of the city, ocean, and mountains. It’s almost three times the size of an Olympic pool.

Jericho Beach

Jericho Beach

When all the elements are right, fishing and a picnic at the Jericho Beach pier makes for a perfect evening. Enjoy the long, sandy stretch with stunning views of the North Shore Mountains and downtown core. It’s also a great spot for sailing, windsurfing, sea kayaking, and beach volleyball.

Spanish Banks

Spanish Banks

To commemorate the discovery of the Spanish explorers in 1792, the British named this particular shore Spanish Banks. The least crowded of Vancouver’s beaches, this stretch of sand is a wonderful retreat for those who wish to escape from the pace of city life. Skimmers alert: this is the perfect place for skim boarding once you learn the optimal tidal conditions.

English Bay

West End Beaches

The southern edge of the West End neighbourhood has two of the most attractive waterfront urban environments – English Bay and Sunset Beach. Amazingly, this large stretch of sand is no more than a 30-minute walk from Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre and an easy 10-minute walk from Sandman Suites Vancouver Davie – Street, with no commercial exploitation intruding on the peaceful environment. In summer, English Bay becomes a jumping off point for rollerblading adventures, strolling for ice cream, and picnics. Kids will love the floating slide and parents will appreciate the full time lifeguard. It’s also the place to lay down your blanket and look up to the sky during the Honda Celebration of Light international fireworks competition (2014 dates: July 26th, 30th & August 2nd)

Third Beach

Second & Third Beaches

Second Beach is a quick stroll north from English Bay into Stanley Park. Like Kitsilano Beach, Second Beach also has an immense, heated outdoor pool. Further along the seawall lies secluded Third Beach, which is due north of Stanley Park Drive. Locals tote grills and coolers to this spot, a popular place for summer evening barbecues and sunset watching.

Wreck Beach

Wreck Beach

This six-kilometre long, secluded beach is Canada’s first and largest, legal, clothing-optional beach. It’s located at the western tip of Vancouver, adjacent to the University of British Columbia campus, down a long flight of steep stairs. On a summer weekend, as many as 14,000 visitors flock to the beach which stretches from the Musqueam Reserve to Spanish Banks West. Vendors Row, located down the middle of the beach below Trail 6, offers snacks and refreshments. Note: Wreck Beach enthusiasts are a loyal and protective bunch who take their right to “bare” arms, legs and everything else pretty seriously.

Why Waste Time at the Beach?

Research shows that the sound of waves alters wave patterns in the brain lulling you into a deeply relaxed state. Relaxing in this way can help rejuvenate the mind and body.

Also, floating in water means blood is diverted around from our lower limbs and pumped towards our abdominal region – the part of the body near the heart – because we are no longer standing upright. Fresh blood being pumped around the body brings more oxygen to our brain which makes us more alert and active.

Fresh air for sleep

If you’ve ever wondered why we always sleep more soundly after spending the day on the beach, it’s because of the sea air. Sea air is charged with healthy negative ions that accelerate our ability to absorb oxygen. Negative ions also balance levels of seratonin, a body chemical linked with mood and stress. Which is why after a holiday you feel more alert, relaxed, and energized.

So next time you’re looking for an excuse to spend the day at the beach, the real question is, “Which beautiful Vancouver beach?”

 

Unusual Summer Activities in Canada

The sun is shining. Shorts have come out of the closet. Summer must be here! But what should you do on your weekends and during your vacation? We’ve compiled a list of exciting adventures, that are off the beaten path, for you to embark on no matter which Sandman location you are at.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

sea lion

*Photo courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium

Feed the sea lions

Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Vancouver Aquarium. Learn all about the sea lions and sea otters from staff, prepare some of their favourite treats, and get up close to the animals while working alongside their trainers.

Seek a sea serpent

Did you know that Canada has its own version of the Loch Ness monster? There have been plenty of sightings of Ogopogo, a snakelike creature said to be anywhere from six to 20 metres long, in Okanagan Lake in the B.C. Interior. Sightings have been reported throughout the length of the lake but the monster appears to favour an area just south of Kelowna in waters near Peachland. Try your luck.

kayakingPaddle into the setting sun

Victoria is almost completely surrounded by water and its location on Vancouver Island’s southern tip creates several great paddling locations. To the southwest is the Juan de Fuca Strait, which opens to the Pacific Ocean and is home to boat-access only Discovery Island Marine Provincial Park. To the southeast, Haro Strait leads to dozens of small islands and islets. Victoria’s Inner Harbour and the adjacent Gorge Waterway allow kayakers to begin saltwater adventures directly from downtown.

ALBERTA

Embark on a fossil safariDinosaur-Park-Canada

Dino teeth and bones are literally lying around Dinosaur Provincial Park north of Brooks, in the southeast of the province. Explore the badlands or participate in a fully authentic dinosaur dig and be amazed by the abundant fossils, unusual wildlife, and stunning landscapes of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Peer at the petroglyphs

Ancient rock carvings, paintings, and pictographs at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, about 100 km southeast of Lethbridge, vividly depict hunting, vision quests, and scenes of battle. The spectacular Milk River valley contains the largest concentration of First Nation petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on the great plains of North America.

Bask in the spray of North America’s largest manmade waterfall

zipline COP

*Photo courtesy of WinSport

One of Edmonton’s most recognizable landmarks is the High Level Bridge, which carries 109 Street across the river near the Legislature building. It was built in 1913 for the Canadian Pacific Railway, but now is a beautiful drive from downtown to Old Strathcona. Every long weekend during the summer (Canada Day, Heritage Day, and Labour Day), the City turns on the waterfall. At 210 feet (64 metres) high, Edmonton’s Great Divide Waterfall is higher than Niagara Falls, and pumps out 50,000 litres of water a minute.

Go ziplining

Get big air as you soar from the top of Canada Olympic Park’s ski jump tower on North America’s fastest zipline! Riders fly down the unique cable system in a comfortable harness, reaching speeds between 120 and 140 km/h. As Calgary’s highest vantage point, the ski jump tower provides a zipline that is 500 metres long with a vertical drop of more than 100 metres.

SASKATCHEWAN

Take a Mountie crash course

Shaped like a prairie snowdrift, the new RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina celebrates all things Mountie. There’s an interactive forensics display for budding CSIs, an array of transport from dogsleds to planes, and tales of life on the frontier, when the RCMP befriended Sitting Bull, tamed Klondike prospectors, and organized manhunts.

Discover Moose Jaw’s Capone connectioncigars_83654866

Sleepy Moose Jaw earned the moniker “Little Chicago” in the 1920s, when American gangsters rode the rails north to beat the heat of Prohibition. Tour the underground tunnels — complete with animatronics — where Al Capone’s mob ran their bootleg operation.

 Act like a kid for the day

Something for everyone. Wilson’s Entertainment Park meets all your entertainment needs in Saskatoon. Get the feel of a real race car as you speed your way around the track at Velocity Raceway. Practice your golf swing on Wilson’s Driving Range or putt a round on Wilson’s Putting Course. Between the driving range, the putting course, the velocity raceway, and the jump n’slide, Wilson’s Entertainment Park is sure to amuse you for hours.

MANITOBA

skateboardingBust out a-town session

The skateboard park at the Plaza in Winnipeg’s vibrant Forks neighbourhood is distinctly gnarly. Covering an area of more than 44,000 square feet, it boasts a 30,000-square-foot plaza and 8,500-square-foot bowl complex with a 17-foot cradle.

Go snaky

Got a reptile-crazy kid? Tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes congregate in a writhing, wriggling (procreating) mass for several weeks at the snake dens of Narcisse, about two hours north of Winnipeg.

Climb a Massive Outdoor Ropes Course

Any ambitious folks out there want to go to Adrenaline Adventures in Winnipeg? Climb and zipline down a challenging ropes course that features two separate canvas covered towers connected with a 2 story High Teams skywalk challenge course. The design also offers 14 challenging elements, climbing walls with over 1,500 square feet of climbing surface, three zip lines, vertical playground, dynamically belayed high elements, a 10-person high team course, a high whale watch, giant ladder, and a multi-challenge cargo net.

ONTARIO

Sip a cocktail with the lights of Toronto strung out before you

Good bets include the Panorama (on the 51st floor of the Manulife Centre); Canoe (atop the TD Tower), and the Roof Lounge on the 18th floor of the Park Hyatt.

Parade with the swans

Heralded by horns and trumpets and led by children and pipers, at 2 p.m. Stratford’s famous swans waddle from their winter quarters to the Avon River, ushering in the arrival of spring. Other special events: concerts and tours of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s costume warehouse.

Walk in the clouds

Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve’s suspended walkway through the canopy of a 200-year-old pine forest feels a bit like an ectomorphic trampoline. Take in breathtaking views and, if you’re really lucky, catch a glimpse of wolves, foxes, and moose.

QUEBEC

schwart's smoked meatEat and drink a la Mordecai

Follow in the footsteps of the Bard of Montreal: Mordecai Richler. Down a medium-fat smoked-meat sandwich at Schwartz’s (3895 St-Laurent Boulevard), a chewy-sweet sesame bagel at St-Viateur Bagel (253 St-Viateur W.), veal marrow hors d’oeuvre at French bistro L’Express (3927 St-Denis), and a rib steak at Moishe’s (3961 St-Laurent). Chase with a nice single malt.

Navigate a water labyrinth

Rev up your paddleboat and head off along the 6.5 km of canals that wind through the marshland near Wakefield. You will be equipped with a compass, radio, and field guide (to help you identify resident plants and creatures).

Jardin des Floralies – Île Notre-Dame

Filled with 5,000 or so rose bushes, over 100,000 annuals as well as perennials, and weeping willow trees, the Jardin des Floralies is 25 acres of horticultural history and one of two major Montreal gardens. Originally created by some of the world’s best landscape artists who participated in the 1980 International Floralies fair, the gardens became a permanent city fixture and are now maintained by Parc Jean-Drapeau.