Harbour seals and scuba divers are a common site at Whyteclyff Park
So far CityCaucus.com has received 1.3 million page views this month, and there's still 11 days left to go in February. Our popular Where 2 Be for Free guide has led the way with hundreds of thousands of you checking out where you can have Olympic fun at no cost. With a little over one week to go before the Olympic flame burns out, we thought we'd pull together another "free" destinations list that may be of interest to our out-of-town guests. The best part of these free venues is they have NO lineups! Here are our top recommendations:
Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge: The Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre first opened in 1971 as a project to honour British Columbia's 100th birthday. Operated by the District of North Vancouver, this unique centre offers visitors an introduction to the temperate rain forest and provides environmental education for the local community. Informative and interactive displays present information on the plants and animals of the temperate rain forest and global environmental issues. Children love to have fun and learn about nature in the Kid's Exploratorium. Shop for nature-themed gifts from our gift shop or choose from over 80 nature videos to watch on our large screen for free! The lush temperate rain forest is the focus of our educational nature programs. Explore their web site for more information about Lynn Canyon Park and the Ecology Centre. As for the suspension bridge, you will want to avoid it if you're afraid of heights! This free venue is located at 3663 Park Road in North Vancouver. For directions on how to get there, click here.
Capilano Fish Hatchery: Although there may not be many spawning salmon at this time of the year, the hatchery is a great place to explore and soak up some of the beautiful scenery of Canada's West Coast. Located in the District of North Vancouver, this venue provides you with an opportunity to view a working hatchery and learn more about the amazing journey of wild salmon. To get there, take Capilano Road north (Capilano Road exit from Highway #1 or North Vancouver exit off Lions Gate Bridge, then left up Capilano Road) .5 km past the Suspension Bridge. Turn left on to Capilano Park Road (Look for sign "Capilano River Regional Park") and proceed down 1 km to end of the road. For a Google map, click here.
Whyteclyffe Park: This beautiful park located in West Vancouver offers some spectacular views of the Straight of Georgia and Vancouver Island. It's a hidden gem frequented mainly by local residents. If you're lucky, you might see the occasional seal resting on the rugged rocks or witness a few scuba divers swimming in the ocean below. There is plenty of parking on site. If the weather cooperates, be sure to bring your camera for this picture perfect moment! For directions on how to get there, click here.
Lighthouse Park: By a twist of fate, the dark background provided by a stand of old-growth rain forest on Point Atkinson's shore in West Vancouver turns out to be its saving grace. If it weren't for the contrast that it provides for a powerful lighthouse beacon built here in 1888, this primarily Douglas fir forest would have been logged long ago.
As it stands, Lighthouse Park contains the largest uncut, coastal-elevation trees in the Lower Mainland. And what a beautiful environment in which to view them. Waves crash against an outcropping of granite as the ocean breeze whistles through the boughs above. All this within a 10-minute walk of the parking lot. The trees are so large and, in places, poised at such precarious angles to each other that one walks past them with bated breath. The sight of an occasional bench hewn from the trunk of a downed predecessor helps to steady one's nerve. Pause here under the shelter of their moisture-trapping limbs (some cloaked with an estimated billion or more needles) and marvel at the lushness of the understorey. For directions on how to get there, click here.
Gastown: This was Vancouver's first downtown core and is named after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, a Geordie seaman, steamboat captain and barkeep who arrived in 1867 to open the area's first saloon. The town soon prospered as the site of a sawmill, seaport, and quickly became a general centre of trade and commerce on Burrard Inlet as well as a rough-and-rowdy resort for off-work loggers and fishermen as well as the crews and captains of the many sailing ships which came to Gastown or Moodyville, on the north side of the inlet (which was a dry town) to load logs and timber.
In 1886, the town was incorporated as the City of Vancouver. It fell victim to the "Great Vancouver Fire" that same year, losing all but two of its buildings. The area was completely rebuilt and continued to thrive, finding new life as the centre of the city's wholesale produce distribution until the Great Depression in the 1930s and until the instigation of Prohibition, the centre of the city's drinking life (there were 300 licensed establishments the twelve-block area of the former Granville, B.I.) After the Depression Gastown was a largely forgotten neighbourhood of the larger city and fell into decline and disrepair until the 1960s.
In the 1960s, citizens became concerned with preserving Gastown's distinctive and historic architecture, which like the nearby Chinatown and Strathcona were scheduled to be demolished to build a major freeway into the city's downtown. A campaign led by businessmen and property owners as well as the counterculture and associated political protesters, some of them American draft dodgers, pressured the provincial government to declare the area a historical site in 1971, protecting its heritage buildings to this day. For directions on how to get there, click here.
Cleveland Dam: The Cleveland Dam is a concrete dam at the head of the Capilano River in North Vancouver that holds back Capilano Lake. Part of the Capilano River Regional Park, it is not used for generating hydroelectricity, but rather for storing a portion of the Lower Mainland's drinking water. It was completed in 1954, and is named after Ernest Cleveland, first chief commissioner of the Greater Vancouver Water District. You can get some great photos of the Lions peaks from this vantage point. There popular destination has plenty of parking on site and the venue is free to the public. For directions on how to get there, click here.
Commercial Drive: There may not be much Olympic hoopla on "The Drive", but it's a cool place to hang out and have a great cup of java. There is an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and people that await you when you arrive. For directions on how to get there, click here.
Tomorrow we'll discover some places in Vancouver that should have been free and we'll discuss why.