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Nestled at the foot of the Coast Mountains that provide Vancouver with its soaring backdrop, the smaller City of North Vancouver has roots that go back further than the metropolis itself.
Originally named Moodyville (which now comprises the Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood and several blocks to the west), this township was birthed from the forestry boom of the mid 1800's and was only the second settlement in the region behind New Westminster on the Fraser River. Now with a population of over 50 thousand and climbing, this burgeoning community has its own urban feel, with commercial, rental and high-rise properties in abundance and a continually growing North Shore commercial presence.
Lonsdale Street, particularly Lower Lonsdale, is the hub of the new residential and commercial face of the North Shore. The Seabus (a 10-minute foot-passenger ferry ride across the Burrard Inlet) conveniently takes visitors from downtown Vancouver, depositing them at the foot of this lively strip of shops, restaurants, museums and galleries. By far one of the city's most popular destinations, Lonsdale Quay is a multi-level complex with close to 100 shops and services. The famous fresh market includes over 60 vendors from daily-catch seafood stalls to European delis, wine shops and hand-made confectionary peddlers. Over 20 international food bars provide something for everyone, no matter how international your appetite. Of course, live entertainment, a ball-room for the kids and a stunning view of the Vancouver city skyline are all just extras. Now if you're looking for something a little more daring.
Not only die-hard shoppers can enjoy one of the area's 'firsts'. West Vancouver might have Park Royal Shopping Centre, Canada's first mall, but North Vancouver has the city's first tourist attraction! Since the late 1800's Capilano Suspension Bridge has been providing visitors with the opportunity to traverse the Capilano River on a narrow, dizzyingly high footbridge. And now, for the first time in North America, a new attraction, Treetop Adventures, offers visitors a squirrel's-eye-view of the coastal rain forest courtesy of a series of elevated suspension bridges spanning one Douglas Fir to the next... some as high as 30 meters above the forest floor!
At the entrance to Indian Arm, the waterfront community of Deep Cove features a fine assortment of eateries and activities. Pubs, restaurants, boutiques, beautiful waterfronts, hiking trails... it's all here. Most famously, this is home to the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, the main attraction at Lynn Canyon Park. Half the width and several meters higher than its Capilano counterpart, this swaying, bouncing span 50 meters above the water is not for the faint of heart!
On the eastern end of the North Shore sits Indian Arm - a quiet, mist-shrouded community located where the Burrard Inlet and the Arm meet. With numerous outdoor activities to choose from, this is a perfect location for those who want the beauty and solitude of coastal British Columbia with the option of the city-life only a short drive away. During the early 1900's, holiday parties often enjoyed excursions to the small resorts "up the Arm". Although these days are gone, dinner cruises are still a highlight of a visit to this idyllic part of the North Shore.
Nestled between the slopes of Mount Fromme and Mount Seymour, this area is a dream come true. Parks abound, including Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, Seymour Demonstration Forest and Lynn Canyon Park. The town centre itself is at the main intersection of Lynn Valley Road and Mountain Highway, a village complete with a library, bank, shops, cafes and newly-completed town centre.
North Vancouver has top-notch golf courses in some of the most glorious places worth swinging a nine-iron. Try the 18-hole Langara Golf Club, the 9-hole Murdo Frazer Par 3 Golf Course, the 18-hole Northlands Golf Course or the semi-private 18 holes at Seymour Golf & Country Club.
Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour join West Vancouver's Cypress Bowl on the short list for great local skiing and snowboarding. Grouse offers 26 runs, with the Olympic Express quad chair taking 2000 alpine adrenalin-hunters up over 9 towers an hour. From family-friendly kiddy slopes to the double black diamond Purgatory and Devil's Advocate, Grouse truly is "The Peak of Vancouver". Seymour's reputation precedes it as the mountain with the most consistent snowfall of the North Shore's 'Big Three'. A complete winter wilderness mountain facility, Seymour is most known as a snowboarder's haven with over 60% of visitors being riders. This is home to the legendary Seymour Kids, a group that has produced some of the planet's best riders.
Whatever your pleasure, take a trip across the Lions Gate Bridge. There's more on the North Shore!