Looking out from my Kitsilano apartment, I can see the snow-capped mountains to the distant north. While snow is something Vancouverites do not handle well on our downtown city steets, there are many who, like myself, are more than happy to see it creep down the hills calling to us “come out to play”.
Growing up in the Okanagan, we packed our family jeep full of ski gear and drove over an hour to get to Big White, Silver Star or Apex for a day of skiing, but Vancouver is lucky enough to have several spots much closer to home. In fact, it’s just a quick trip across the Lions Gate Bridge to a mountain that certainly knows how to celebrate the holiday season – Grouse Mountain. With skating, skiing, boarding, zip trecking, fine dining, sleigh rides and even Santa on the scene, its a must for the holiday season. And this is just one of the spots the North Shore has to offer to get you and your family into the holiday spirit.
This winter we decided to take a staycation in North Vancouver in order to experience a night out without having to worry about the drive home, and the chance to explore a neighbourhood other than our own. Until January 2, 2011 the Pinnacle Inn at the Pier is offering “A Christmas Rainforest Getaway”. (starting at $339 and if booked before Dec. 4 it was $239). Along with a night at the hotel, there is entry to Capilano Suspension Bridge, Treetops Adventure and Canyon Lights, Guided Rainforest Eco Tour at Lynn Canyon and Capilano Canyon, $50.00 gift card for Park Royal Shopping Centre with 250 stores to choose from, a Bottle of Wine and a Rainforest Experience Experience Umbrella.
The hotel opened just last winter and is still shiny and new, and it’s is conveniently located right near Lonsdale Quay, so we were able to wander about the shops. My boyfriend even bought a hat and we got a bit of Christmas shopping out of the way.
Recently the Pinnacle brough on Chef Joel Green to lead the kitchen in the Pacific West Coast menu. Our dinner included Oceanwise a delectable screwer scallops and prawns, Dungeness crab cakes and perfectly cooked duck for me and steak cooked as requested, very rare. The servers are on their game here, friendly and knowlegeable. The wine list has an assortment of BC and International labels and there’s many tasting cocktails, such as the mango mojito, if you just want a drink or two.
Too full for dessert we took a chocolate cake back to the room in case a craving hit us later.
Unfortunately as it was just prior to superbowl Sunday, I was forced to watch some football highlights, but they bored me right to sleep, and since the beds were so comfortable it didn’t take long.
In the morning we were up early and had a a substantial breakfast before checking out and heading back across the bridge where room service is not an option. I definitely understand how many of the rich and famous chose to live in hotels rather than a private residence.
Since the holiday lights weren’t up yet on the Capilano Suspension Bridge, I waited until the following Monday until returning to check out both lights and to head up to Grouse Mountain for some winter fun. Playing tourist in my own town, I even took the seabus over from the downtown Vancouver waterfront to the Lonsdale Quay. It’s hard to believe the trip costs just regular bus fair. I met Jane from the North Shore, Cindy from Tourism BC and Cheryl, another travel writer and broadcaster at the Pinnacle and after a quick warm up coffee, we ventured up to Grouse for some zip trecking (I’ve copied the details for rates, etc from the website below).
I managed to get some pictures and video with my Blackberry, but didn’t want to lug my camera along, so they’re a little bit distorted. I highly recommend zipping in the winter. Once you are bundled up it’s pretty cozy and these lines are have just the right amount of thrill factor. As you can see from the video Jane and Cindy were definitely in the enjoyment zone!
Let Grouse Mountain take your breath away on the most unforgettable outdoor experience in the Lower Mainland! Start with the stunning trek around Blue Grouse Lake on the first few lines and then zip at top speeds of 80km/hr across the peaks of Grouse Mountain and Dam Mountain. Traverse the canyon and tell your friends. The lines will give you a unique perspective on the Blue Grouse Lake region of the mountain, combining heart pounding thrills with an exploration of BC’s breathtaking old-growth forests. Along the way you will learn about indigenous flora and fauna and its significance to First Nations people.
Cost & Times:
- $105 + tax including Skyride & dual-track, five-line Zip circuit
- $75 + tax for Grouse Mountain Members
- Tour duration is approximately 2 hours
- Monday – Friday 11am-3pm (departing every 2 hours)
- Saturday & Sunday 11am-3pm (departing every 1 hour)
- Group Bookings are available with a minimum of 48hrs advance notice
We warmed up with dinner up the mountain, where fine dining, burgers and pizza and middle of the road fare are all options with the various dining areas. Pictured above are the mussels, pork tacos, gumbo and steak salad from Altitudes Bistro. I also made a note to get up to the Observatory for fine dining again sometime soon.
The Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension are on the way down from Grouse and with over 250,000 lights sprinkled through the Rainforest and across the bridge, its a not to miss experience. Walking through the tree tops, decorating cookies, glass blowing and music from the Holiday band are added bonuses. For the kids there are magical glowing reindeer are hiding in the Rainforest. See how many you can find and report back to Guest Services to be entered in a draw to win a very special prize.
After experiencing a night away at the Pinnacle, Grouse Mountain and the lights of the bridge, I’m right in the holiday spirit. Now I just to get someone to help me to string up holiday lights!