Dubbed the “Peak of Vancouver,” British Columbia’s Grouse Mountain offers a wide range of year-round outdoor and educational activities, a wildlife refuge, hiking, dining, and more. Featuring unparalleled panoramic views of the city, sea and surrounding mountains and a summit altitude of 4,100 feet, Grouse Mountain is truly a sight to behold.
With a long history dating back to Vancouver’s earliest days, Grouse Mountain enjoys the status of Vancouver’s most-visited attraction, welcoming more than 1.3 million guests each year. Located just 15 minutes from downtown, Grouse Mountain features stunning views and an unparalleled range of on-mountain experiences. In winter, the mountain is a snowy wonderland with outdoor skating, snowshoeing, skiing, and snowboarding. In summer, it’s a hiker’s paradise with challenging trails, the famed Grouse Grind, and mountaintop alpine trails of varying intensity. Year-round, visitors can experience ziplining and the remarkable Eye of the Wind tour (weather permitting) or fine dining at The Observatory.
Hibernate in Style
After a massive renovation and rebranding, The Burrard (once a 1956 motor hotel) has reopened as a chic hotel featuring modern styling and inspiring bright decor. Each of the 72 rooms is outfitted with a cool new design palette, custom walnut furnishings, all-new bedding and upholsteries and designer fixtures. Rooms include wireless internet, iPod docking station alarms, cordless phones and 42” HDTVs, complete with internet and media connectivity.
The Burrard is a boutique hotel regularly offering specials for the most discerning traveler (case in point: right now the hotel is offering a $75 AMEX card upon check-in and a $50 AMEX card for every extra night). Parking at The Burrard will run you $28/night. Situated within walking distance to Granville Street, Davie Street, Robson Street, Yaletown, Granville Island and the city’s breathtaking seawall that leads into Stanley Park, The Burrard is a definitive must-stay while you’re in town to play.
Speaking of playing, dogs are welcome in The Burrard’s pet-friendly rooms for just $20 per night. There’s a courtyard oasis perfect for outside lounging and ping pong games; umbrellas free for use; cruiser bike rentals; a business center in case you can’t leave work at home; and gym passes to Steve Nash.
Enjoy a savory cup of java from Elysian Coffee while you’re at The Burrard. Hungry? Elysian’s signature Big Breakfast serves up a platter of eggs, ham, cheese, and avocado for the weary traveler. Elysian is open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Find a Hidden Gem
One of the hidden gems of Davie Street is the artesian restaurant and cocktail bar Exile Bistro. Supported by organically sourced items, the cuisine at Exile Bistro aims to be healthy, plant-based, ethical, and wild, with strong roots in pacific northern style, traditional and modern influences. Vegans, vegetarians, carnivores, and gluten-free feasters will enjoy seasonal foods with great pairings.
The wait staff at Exile Bistro are knowledgeable about offerings and accommodations where necessary. Seating is close, but not crowded. The space comfortably fits 14 people indoor and 8-12 outdoor. The inviting atmosphere leaves out the loud noise of television sets so that diners actually hear one another speaking. The large drink selection, includes wines, beer and cocktails, and the owner is a barista and chef.
The food presentation is as beautiful as it is delicious. When you dine at Exile Bistro, be sure to try the beet and goat cheese salad, Bison ribs, Cornish hen, elk stew, rhubarb cake, and chocolate torte and berries. Non-alcoholic “mocktails” are available upon request and are very tasty.
Another great spot to check out is Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar in the iconic Sutton Place Hotel, the perfect for anniversary or birthday dinners. Whether you’re looking for the ultimate options for pairing or have a query about portion sizes, the wait staff are friendly and resourceful. Come prepared to share sides and soups to try a little of everything.
Executive Chef Alex Chen is at the helm of Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar. Chen previously took charge of the kitchen at the legendary Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The establishment’s seafood-focused menu is grounded in classical technique and training, while artfully infusing casual West Coast flair and creative hints of Chen’s international influences.
The Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar offers their signature seafood tower, which includes both raw and prepared seafood and small salads, appropriate for a small meal or shared appetizer. Long cod is paired with mushrooms that likely outshined the cod. Roasted mushrooms are both buttery and tasty. You’ve never had a Louie salad quite like this one either!
As for the atmosphere, Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar is quiet and quaint. There’s a full bar available with separate bar area, connected to the hotel as well.
Breakfast with the Bears
Resident Grizzly bears Grinder and Coola recently emerged from their 15th winter hibernation period at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. Over the course of their 146-day winter dormancy, staff once again monitored Grinder and Coola’s hibernation via an infrared camera placed in their hibernation den and the live feed was shared with the public on the Grouse Mountain website.
Regarded as two of the most popular residents at the Peak of Vancouver, Grizzly Bears Grinder and Coola were welcomed into their habitat at Grouse Mountain’s Refuge for Endangered Wildlife in 2001 after being orphaned during separate incidents in Bella Coola and Invermere. Both Grizzlies celebrated their 15th birthday during their most recent hibernation period.
Grinder and Coola reside in a wilderness sanctuary where these endangered animals can explore and play, knowing they’re safe and secure. The Refuge offers leading-edge interpretative programs that make learning about nature fun and fascinating – and it’s all included in your Alpine Experience ticket.
After visiting with the bears, sit down in the Grizzly Lookout Cafe for a delicious bear-inspired breakfast. Visitors, make sure you wear footwear appropriate for a mountaintop walk, considering weather conditions. The menu includes: Candied and Smoked Salmon, Red Onions, Capers, Crème fraiche, Brown, White, Multigrain and Gluten Free Breads, Assorted Muffins & Pastries – including Bear Claws, Assorted Cereals and Granola, “Beary” Yogurt, Milk and Honey, Forest Apple Crumble, Fresh Cut Fruit Salad and Coastal “Bearies”, Coola Pancakes, Honey Butter, Grouse Mountain Syrup, Grinder “Bearioche” French Toast, West Coast “Bluebeary” Preserve, Scrambled Eggs, Braised Beef and Root Vegetable Hash, Bratwurst and Smoked Bacon, and Hash Browns.
The price for breakfast is included in the cost of the Alpine Experience Ticket (full list available here). Prices include gratuity but do not include tax. Babies and children who do not require a seat at breakfast are no charge, but a free ticket must be obtained by Guest Services or a designated ticket center.
Get There Now
Vancouver has been dubbed one of “the world’s most livable cities” by Economist Intelligence Unit and Mercer. Approximately two million people reside in Vancouver’s refreshing landscape and the sophisticated tech scene is brimming with opportunity. Multicultural cuisine, diverse shopping options and eclectic neighborhoods are just a few of the reasons to add Vancouver to your bucket list – and check off twice.