Up, up, and away: Exploring Vancouver from above

North AmericaVancouver

You may have to see it to believe it, but Vancouver looks even more stunning from the air than it does the ground. Get a bird’s-eye view of British Columbia’s largest city from these top attractions.

Grouse Mountain Skyride: Soar above the mountains

vancouver gondola

Image via Shutterstock by Lissandra Melo

While hiking to the top of Grouse Mountain provides a great way to get a workout in on vacation, the Skyride offers the most scenic and relaxing way to reach the top of this peak. The largest of its kind in North America, this Swiss Garaventa-style aerial tramway starts at the mountain’s base 1,000 feet above sea level, and rising to 3,700 feet above sea level in just 12 minutes. The Instagram-worthy ascent provides incredible views of the Vancouver cityscape, Pacific Ocean, Gulf Islands and beyond, whether lush and green or bathed in snow.

When: The Skyride operates every day of the year, including public holidays. The Skyride departs every 15 minutes, typically from 8:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. However, in the summer months, the first downhill Skyride leaves at 7:30 a.m.

Tourist tip: An Alpine Experience pass provides the most affordable way to experience the Skyride and includes access to plateau activities, including disc golf, and visits with grizzly bears. Grouse Mountain is a 15-minute drive from North Vancouver hotels, including the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites North Vancouver. Check out other IHG Vancouver hotels nearby, too.

SKY Helicopters: Charter a chopper flight

See the sights in style with “flightseeing” tours from SKY Helicopters, which depart from Vancouver Heliport and Pitt Meadows Regional Airport. Stick to the city center or explore Vancouver’s surrounds with tours of North Shore Mountains, Howe Sound, Coast Mountains, and Pitt River.

When: Most SKY Helicopters tours last between 15 to 30 minutes. Prices vary, starting from $229 (for up to three passengers) for the 15-minute West Coast River helicopter tour, including tax.

Tourist tip: For those who prefer the beauty of active glaciers, ice, and snow over greenery, June is the perfect month to experience an incredible view.

Vancouver Lookout Tower: Get the bird’s-eye view in the heart of the city

Part of the Harbour Centre complex, the Vancouver Lookout tower stands more than 553 feet above the city streets. By glass elevator, guests rise to admire the 360-degree view from the tower’s observation deck. Here, all of Vancouver’s stunning sights are on display, from historic Gastown and Coal Harbour, to natural wonders including Stanley Park, the North Shore, Olympic Peninsula Mountains, and the majestic Pacific Ocean. The Tower provides a choice of complimentary, in-depth guided tours in a range of languages, and insights into Vancouver’s history and infrastructure from the tower’s displays, at your own pace. Linger longer with a meal at the Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant, which includes a full menu of salads, pastas, seafood, and more.

When: Vancouver Lookout Tower operates from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. in summer (May 10 through September), and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in winter (October through early May). Daily admission tickets and group rates are available.

Tourist tip: For a tantalizing dinner, try Top of Vancouver’s braised, slow-roasted lamb shank with rosemary mint demi-glaze.

Take to the sky and reserve an IHG Vancouver hotel room today to stay within convenient distance of these three attractions.

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