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Five under $50: Best things to see and do in Vancouver on a budget

Beautiful view of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Bookmark these tips ahead of your next visit to Vancouver, B.C. (Getty Images)

When it comes to the world’s most-loved cities, things don't often come cheap. However, if you know where to look, you can still enjoy a great vacation (or staycation!) on a budget.

If you're headed to Vancouver or are looking for new ways to enjoy your home city, keep reading to find five fun things to try for less than $50 CAD.

Sensational Stanley Park

Young couple cycling, others walking or jogging late afternoon and enjoying the sunset at Stanley Park Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Enjoy the sights and sounds of Stanley Park in Vancouver. (Getty Images)

Rent a bike at Spokes Bicycle Rentals (or any number of other shops near the park) and explore spacious Stanley Park, one of the world’s most beautiful urban parks. Discover spectacular ocean and mountain views along the park’s famous seawall, as well as First Nations totem poles and lush forests of towering, sweet-smelling evergreens. Adult bikes start at $8.57 per hour, while kids bikes start at $4.76 per hour.

If you’re a golfer, the Stanley Park Pitch & Putt golf course is a beauty, a short layout with towering evergreens and, in season, beautiful flowering rhododendrons. A round of 18 holes costs just $15.12 for adults and $10.61 for seniors and those 18 and under.

Suburban food trails

Overhead view of Korean Barbecue meal, table set with dishes of food
The Dumpling Trail in Richmond, B.C. has tons of great, inexpensive restaurants you can try. Photo courtesy Tourism Richmond.

Downtown Vancouver has plenty of great restaurants, but you’ll find superb food (and often cheaper prices) if you venture out a little bit. The city of Richmond, near Vancouver International Airport, has a Dumpling Trail that you can follow for all kinds of great Asian food, including Dim Sum, Hong Kong-style barbecue and sinfully delicious xiao long bao (soup dumplings).

The city of Surrey has also created a Spice Trail, which highlights neighbourhood spots offering everything from Indian and Thai food to Mexican, Jamaican and Afghan cuisine. You should be able to find a great lunch for $10 or less.

Ferry to North Vancouver

View from North Vancouver Park: The Spirit Trail in North Vancouver takes you to parks with magnificent downtown Vancouver views
North Vancouver Park: The Spirit Trail in North Vancouver takes you to parks with magnificent downtown Vancouver views. Jim Byers Photo.

The Sea Bus offers a scenic, 12-minute ride from downtown to North Vancouver that’s high on value and extremely low on price. One-way tickets from Waterfront Station to Lonsdale Quay cost $3.10 for those 19 to 64, with discounts for teens and seniors. The Sea Bus runs seven days a week, with departures every 15 minutes from early morning to late at night.

The mountain views as you approach North Van are terrific, with the deep green slopes of Grouse Mountain looming overhead. Lonsdale Quay has a great public market with some 80 local vendors selling everything from crafts to food and flowers. Stop in at Olde World Confections for hand-made chocolate and other sweets.

After your shopping, take a walk (or a bike if you’ve rented one) on the Spirit Trail, which leads you to a beautiful park with great views of downtown Vancouver. You’ll also find some brightly painted, floating homes at Mosquito Creek Marina, which likely wasn’t named by the local tourism board.

The new Museum of North Vancouver has great local and Indigenous/First Nations exhibits ($14 for adults), while the Polygon Gallery focuses on contemporary art and photography (free admission or donation).

Swoop and soar over Canada

Families enjoy the FlyOver Canada screen while sitting in suspended chairs
The FlyOver Canada attraction is a real treat, a ride that makes you feel you're swooping and soaring across Canada. Photo courtesy Flyover Canada and Destination Vancouver.

Soar above the country from coast-to-coast-to-coast with the FlyOver Canada flight simulation ride, which you'll find on the waterfront at Canada Place. You’ll be suspended in mid-air in front of a massive, wrap-around screen that projects images of the glories of Canada: rugged, snow-capped mountains, herds of charging animals and colourful, vibrant cities.

It’s quite realistic; you’ll feel like you’re swooping and flying over the country from coast to coast. You’ll even feel the mist from Niagara Falls and feel the wind in your face. Adult prices range from about $25 to $34, depending on the day. Tickets for children are $10 off adult price (age 15 or under and at least 102 cm/40 inches tall).

Up close with great art

Staircase and artwork inside The Vancouver Art Gallery
The Vancouver Art Gallery is one of the best places in Canada to see amazing art works. Jim Byers Photo.

Located in the heart of downtown, the Vancouver Art Gallery is one of Canada’s finest places for art lovers. It’s a beautiful space with a magical interior design that’s very open and airy. The permanent collection includes works from prominent Canadians such as Emily Carr and Canada’s famous Group of Seven, as well as art from what’s called “The Vancouver School.”

Temporary exhibits rotate through the gallery. On until January 8, 2023 is “Uninvited: Canadian women artists in the modern moment.” Admission is $29 for adults, and free for those 18 and under.

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