Vancouver Is Ideal for a Long Weekend—Here's Everything I Packed Into a Trip

"Breathe in deep!" my brother Kevin yelled as I stared into the open water beyond the tip of our boat. We were floating just beyond West Vancouver, around the cluster of islands that scatter like pebbles from the Burrard Inlet. He smiled as I turned to him and inhaled, taking in the cool air in one energizing gulp.

It was a perfect morning. The sky was a grayish blue, in contrast to the rolling navy sea, and we skipped along wind-blasted crests to see a crisp view of evergreens hugging the cliffs above the water. Our cousin, Nick, was with us too, grinning as we moved our necks back and forth constantly, trying our best to take it all in. "The air is so fresh. I feel like my brain is operating at a different level," my brother joked. "I could write a thesis out here."

Vancouver, the capital of British Columbia, is famous for its natural beauty. As part of the Pacific Northwest, and because of its setting on the Burrard Peninsula, this Canadian city is often seen as an increasingly ritzy shelter to its otherwise pristine outdoors. When Kevin, Nick, and I crossed the emerald-hued Lions Gate Bridge earlier that morning, we saw the uniform sheen of the city's skyscrapers give way to the thousand verdant acres of Stanley Park. Hiking, biking, and camping are popular pursuits because of these surroundings—it isn't uncommon, Nick, a Vancouver resident himself, told us, for Friday night bars to be sparse in preparation for Saturday morning adventures.