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Kayaking in False Creek | © Hayley Simpson
Kayaking in False Creek | © Hayley Simpson

Why Spring Is the Perfect Time to Visit Vancouver

Picture of Hayley Simpson
Updated: 18 December 2017

Although there are reasons to visit Vancouver in every season, spring is the perfect time. The city and its residents are coming out of hibernation; all of its parks and gardens look beautiful in full bloom, and travel prices are lower in the off-season. If you need more reasons to visit Vancouver in spring, keep reading!

The parks spring to life

Vancouver is known for its natural side. It’s surrounded by water, mountains, provincial parks, and has many urban parks and gardens to enjoy year-round. Fortunately, they look particularly good in spring, when the trees grow back their lush green leaves, and the flowers bloom in a multitude of colors. Hire a bike, or walk around—and through—Stanley Park and its seawall. Head to Queen Elizabeth Park to see the city skyline backdropped by the snowy mountains (while the snow lasts). Then visit VanDusen Botanical Garden nearby for more beautifully manicured gardens.

QE in Bloom

Queen Elizabeth Park in bloom | © Hayley Simpson

The weather

Vancouver is notorious for its wet weather. So much so that one of the city’s nicknames is Raincouver. Nevertheless, fall and winter are the wettest seasons in the city. When spring arrives, so does a lot more sunshine, which is great for locals and visitors alike. The average temperature in April is 13°C (55°F), which is a good temperature for exploring the city on foot.

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

Japan may be the world’s number one cherry blossom destination, but Vancouver does give the country a run for its money. You can find many cherry blossom trees across the Greater Vancouver Area. The city also hosts the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, which celebrates the flower and the season annually in April. The festival’s website also has neighborhood maps so that you can discover the best blooming streets and areas. The festival also organizes community events, such as Bike the Blossoms.

Vancouver Bloom

Blue skies and cherry blossoms | © Hayley Simpson

Whale-watching season

Spring equals the beginning of the whale-watching season in Vancouver. From March until October, thousands of whales migrate off the city’s shores, making it one of the world’s best whale-watching destinations. Although orcas are the main attraction, people can also spot humpback, grey, and minke whales. There are many local tour operators to choose from, which allow you to go whale-watching via zodiacs, large boats, kayaks, or even seaplanes! Visit the official British Columbia tourism website for more details on the various whale-watching tours available.

Patio season begins

Once the rain clouds stop hovering over the city and the temperatures start to warm up, it’s officially patio season in Vancouver. On a sunny day, you can expect to find a lot of locals out on the patios of the city’s best restaurants. The local website Daily Hive has a comprehensive guide to the best patios in the Greater Vancouver Area. Popular places include Tap & Barrel (both the False Creek and North Vancouver locations), Cactus Club Cafe in English Bay or Coal Harbour, and Mahony & Sons at Stamps Landing.

False Creek Patio

Tap and Barrel’s popular patio | © Hayley Simpson

Spring skiing

Another reason spring is a great time to visit Vancouver? Spring skiing! There are three ski mountains located near Vancouver: Cypress Mountain (the biggest and most popular with locals), Mount Seymour, and Grouse Mountain. Depending on the preceding winter’s snowfall, the mountains usually stay open until late March or late April. Meanwhile, Whistler Blackcomb in Whistler has one of Canada’s longest ski seasons, regularly remaining open until the end of May. The ski town also hosts the World Ski and Snowboard Festival annually in April, and it is a great day trip option from Vancouver.

The perfect time to kayak

Vancouver is a very outdoorsy city, which is what attracts a lot of people. Hiking, skiing, mountain biking, and kayaking are all popular outdoor activities enjoyed around the area. This spring, why not hit the water and enjoy the Vancouver outdoors from a kayak? There are three popular kayaking areas around the city: English Bay, False Creek, and Deep Cove. There are kayak rentals at each location too. While False Creek is more on the urban side, Deep Cove is the most isolated and picturesque of the three locales.

False Creek Kayak

Kayaking in False Creek | © Hayley Simpson

Festivals galore

Although summer is the main festival season in Vancouver, there are still quite a few fun events happening during spring. Along with the flower-orientated festivals mentioned, there’s also the Vancouver International Children’s Festival, the Vancouver International Dance Festival, CelticFest Vancouver, the Vancouver Opera Festival, and many more. The city also hosts the world-renowned TED Conference annually in April.

Time to hit the trails

There are many incredible hikes to enjoy near Vancouver. Although some of the more difficult trails on the mountains remain closed until June, there are still plenty of hiking options available. Quarry Rock in Deep Cove is a favorite and easy hike, but it’s best to complete it early in the day to avoid crowds. Burnaby Mountain has 26 multi-use trails, as well as stunning views of Burrard Inlet. Another option is the hike to the very scenic Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver or hiking the trails within Minnekhada Regional Park in Coquitlam.

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Quarry Rock views | © GoToVan / Flickr

Market madness

Once the temperature begins to increase, so does the number of markets popping up around Vancouver. There are the Vancouver Farmers Markets, which have several locations throughout the city that open in May. Next is the Eastside Flea, which is a market with stalls selling collectibles, antiques, homemade products, and vintage clothing. The Shipyards Night Market in North Vancouver begins in May and hosts many of the city’s best food trucks. Finally, the Richmond Night Market, which is North America’s largest night market, opens in early May as well.

Tulip time

Although they’ve become known as popular backdrops for Instagrammers in recent years, tulip fields are nonetheless beautiful and bright places to spend a morning or afternoon in the springtime. There are two main tulip festivals near Vancouver: Abbotsford Tulip Festival and Tulips of the Valley in Chilliwack. It’s recommended checking the official websites prior to visiting the fields, as opening dates vary every year.