5 things to do under $50 in Vancouver
The Vancouver Art Gallery has wonderful exhibitions and outstanding works in a gorgeous downtown building. JIM BYERS PHOTO
VANCOUVER – Like any big city, Canada’s west coast hub can be a little on the expensive side. But also like any big city, there are plenty of affordable things to see and do. Here’s a look at five great activities for under $50.
VANCOUVER ART GALLERY I’d been to Vancouver dozens of times but somehow hadn’t made it to the gallery until my last visit. It’s pretty outside and even more stately on the inside, with a glorious main rotunda and lovely, natural light. There are some gorgeous works by stars such as Emily Carr, lovely First Nations art and cutting-edge photographic works. Current exhibits include a contemporary art display called Ambivalent Pleasures, with varied and wildly abstract works by 40 artists. There’s also a lovely cafe on site.
STANLEY PARK GOLF Even a lot of Vancouver folks don’t seem to know there’s an adorable and extremely affordable pitch and putt golf course inside Stanley Park. It’s not exactly Pebble Beach - the longest hole is only about 100 yards. But you’re surrounded by towering, sweet-smelling cedars and lush green lawns, as well as flowering rhododendrons in spring that are as pretty as anything at Augusta National in Georgia. Best of all, it’s only $12.95 for adults, less for kids and seniors. It’s only a couple bucks to rent clubs, and you also can buy golf balls. The course should open soon for spring play.
FLY OVER CANADA This is a great family thing to do on a rainy day. You buckle yourself into upright seats that move up and down and forward a bit to simulate motion as you take a flight over this wonderful country of ours, with lovely footage of polar bears, wild Canadian national parks, a glorious fall day in Ontario and the harbour in Vancouver. You might feel a bit dizzy now and then as it’s quite realistic, especially at the beginning as you fly over the rim of the fjord-like inlet at Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. For now they’re also showing a film that simulates a flight over China, dipping and soaring over the Great Wall, up the Yangtze River and almost into the sides of the brilliantly lit skyscrapers in Shanghai. Fly Over Canada is located behind the convention centre on the waterfront. General admission tickets are $20.75 for adults; with discounts for kids and seniors.
VANCOUVER AQUARIUM Another Stanley Park delight, Vancouver’s Aquarium is a large (the biggest in Canada) and very well laid out facility with something for just about everyone. There’s a large tank with massive turtles and, of course, a shark display. Kids will love the chance to interact with rays at the touch pool, and just about everyone loves a dolphin show or a penguin talk. One of the best things are the jellyfish displays, with gorgeous light and dozens of dozens of jellyfish that float and dance through the water like diaphanous, otherworldly clouds. Admission is $36 for adults including tax. Seniors and students 13-19 are $27 and kids 4-12 cost $21.
KAYAK GRANVILLE If you really want to feel like a Vancouverite, you need to get out on the water with a paddle in your hands. There are a couple of places at Granville Island that let you cruise around False Creek, where you’ll pass underneath overhead bridges and skirt past the pretty, waterfront parks that make this city so attractive to visitors. Ecomarine Paddlesport Centres rents single kayaks for $39 for two hours. A standup paddleboard goes for $19 for the first hour or $29 for two hours. You also can try Vancouver Water Adventures, which also rents stand-up paddleboards, and sea-doos. Their kayaks cost $25 plus tax for an hour and $15 for each additional hour. Both companies have other locations.
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Book a room at the lovely Le Germain Maple Leaf Square in downtown Toronto (next to the Air Canada Centre) and save 20% for stays between March 10 and 19. Must book by March 3.
Jim Byers is a freelance writer based in Toronto.