We all know how important it is to get home safely anytime you're drinking. Unfortunately the widely known Operation Red Nose doesn't operate in the City of Vancouver, but other private services offer a similar service.
While I usually opt for public transit or taxi, I recently test drove a sober ride-home service.
I called Sober Ride (778-892-7433) earlier this week. It took about 45 minutes from the time of the first call to when the two designated drivers arrived. One driver gets your car and you home safely, and the other driver follows in a second car.
I was surprised at how economical the service was -- it cost about $10 more than a one-way cab fare ($25 total for us), and was very convenient. If you're drinking and need a safe way to get home, I'd recommend giving it a try. But if you can, call early and book ahead.
It is important to take time away from the holiday to-do lists and enjoy the season. And in Vancouver, there are an array of fun, festive, and family-friendly activities that let you do just that.
My holiday season favorites include the dancing light show on Livingston Lake in VanDusen Botanical Garden, reindeer strolling through the snow on Grouse Mountain, and lanterns on the winter solstice.
This year, I plan to check out the lovely decorations at Burnaby Village Museum and the world's tallest Christmas tree at Capilano Suspension Bridge. But here are more ideas for things to do over the holidays.
The Vancouver Christmas Market opens for the holiday season on Nov. 22, 2013. Even though it is an outdoor market, it's a cozy spot filled with twinkling lights, toasty smells, and tasty eats.
Here's a blog post about my visit last year to the German-style market. But these photos also give a sense of the event.
- Where: Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza, 649 Hamilton St.
- When: Nov. 22-Dec. 24
- Hours: Daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Cost: $6 adults, $3 children 7-12, kids 6 and under free
We travelers love public markets. With their eclectic eats, busy atmospheres, and passionate locals, public markets rank among the top attractions in cities like Vancouver, Montreal, and Seattle.
Victoria is on the way to joining them, thanks to the opening of the new Victoria Public Market at The Hudson.
It's still early days for Victoria's public market, but there are currently about a dozen local-food vendors in the bright, modern space.
Some offer eat-now options like the pastries at The French Oven (which had sold out save for two brioche on my visit), pies at Victoria Pie Co., and rotisserie at Roast. Take-home eats from Sutra (an off-shoot of Vancouver's famed Vij's) and Cowichan Bay Seafood are ideal for locals, along with the farmers' market on Wednesdays. Unfortunately, my Saturday visit meant I missed the farmers' market. But I'll be back.
The Victoria Public Market is located a block from Chinatown. So, while the setting itself is perhaps not as stunning at Granville Island in Vancouver or the Lachine Canal in Montreal, there is a lot to explore within a couple blocks.
Address: 1701 Douglas St, Victoria
Hours: Tues-Sat 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Sun 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m
More in Victoria, BC:
I spend a lot of time hiking, but as the rainier weather of autumn sets in, it's nice to have that extra bit of motivation to get outside and enjoy the BC wilderness. Take a Hike Day is just that.
I'm not sure about the origins of the day, which is coming up on Nov. 17, 2013. I do know, though, what a fantastic region British Columbia is for hikers.
Near Vancovuer, head to the North Shore for endless forest walks, hilly climbs, and panoramic viewpoints. Lighthouse Park has many easy loops, Quarry Rock in Deep Cove presents a steep but fairly short climb, and Lynn Headwaters Regional Park has lengthy trails alongside the creek.
More Vancouver Hiking:
The Eastside Culture Crawl is a free, three-day arts festival. Hundreds of artists open up their studios for the event, letting you peek inside. The creative range is broad -- from furniture makers to jewelers, potters, and photographers.
To get a sense of the studios that will be open during the event, see the Eastside Culture Crawl map. And if you want to beat the rush, check out the Thursday night (Nov. 14) preview event.
When: Nov. 15-17, 2013
Where: East Vancouver, north of E. 1st Avenue between Main Street and Victoria Drive
More Arts and Culture in Vancouver:
Vancouver Mysteries runs a tour like no other in the city -- a scavenger hunt where you solve a crime by tackling brain teasers, finding hidden clues, and following a self-guided walking your route.
I wasn't expecting it to be much of a challenge. But with two junior detectives in tow, I spent nearly three hours working on the mystery. Here's my full review of Crime in Downtown.
If you're too old for trick-or-treating, but want a more interactive Halloween experience than a nightclub or haunted tour, take a look at these engaging options:
- Zombie Syndrome: This soon-to-be-sold-out show sees participants help save the world from a zombie plague. I have tickets for next week -- review to come.
- Parade of Lost Souls: Street performers, light displays, and a vibrant, engaged crowd make this East Side event interactive and entertaining year after year. The location is released the day-of the event, which happens on Oct. 26.
- Crime in Downtown: Vancouver Mysteries runs a scavenger hunt and crime-solving game in Gastown. Brain teasers, puzzles, and clues help you put together the case. I recently took the tour and found it a fun and unusual challenge.
- Quidditch Tournament: The UBC Quidditch Club (of Harry Potter fame) hosts a Hallowsween tournament. Cheer on the teams on Sat. Oct. 26, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Killarney Park.
Halloween in Vancouver:
I won't be going to Dunbar Haunted House this year. And it's because I'm a chicken.
The haunted house is a charity fundraiser. But that doesn't make the experience tame, by any measure. Realistic displays, fearsome sounds, and creepy actors make for chilling scares and screams.
I loved my visit to the house last year, but I'm not sure my nerves are up for it again. That said, the fact that this is the last year for the haunted house (as announced on the Dunbar Haunted House website), may change my mind.
The house opened this past week as one of the many Halloween events, tours, and attractions springing up around Vancouver leading up to the Oct. 31st holiday.
Dunbar Haunted House Details:
- Address: 8934 Shaughnessy St., near the Oak Street Bridge
- Dates: Oct. 15-31, 2013
- Hours: Mon-Thurs 7-10 p.m.; Friday 7 p.m.-midnight; Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m.-midnight (no actors 1-7 p.m. on weekends)
- Cost: $10 donation
Chinook are the largest species of salmon, and during October and November, these giant fish are swarming the Capilano Hatchery in their journey upstream.
Whether you're taking kids or visitors, the hatchery is a fantastic spot to visit in Capilano Regional Park. Large underwater windows let you see the fish swimming and jumping against the current. And wow, are these fish big! They seem to eyeball you through the aquarium-like glass.
I always find it tough to leave because the action never stops.
The fish ladder provides the salmon means to travel upstream beyond the 300-foot Cleveland Dam, which sits mid-way between Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain. The hatchery is open daily although hours change monthly -- during October, it's open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and during November, it's open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
When to Go - Salmon Species at the Hatchery
- Coho juveniles -- year-round
- Steelhead adults -- March to April
- Chinook juveniles -- March to May
- Coho adults -- June to November
- Chinook adults -- October to November
Capilano Salmon Hatchery Details
- Address: 4500 Capilano Park Rd., North Vancouver
- Phone: 604-666-1790
- More information on the hatchery website
More on the North Shore