Here’s a complete guide to the awesome Seaside Bike Route in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The Seaside Route is a multi-use recreational route. Cycle along this flat, off-road trail and enjoy amazing views all along the Vancouver Seawall. The Seaside Bike Route goes from the Convention Center at Coal Harbour on Burrard Inlet, all the way to Jericho Beach. Watch our video of part of the Seaside Bike Route. Maggie (Mrs. Average Joe Cyclist) narrates the video, providing a lot of interesting details that will really bring this ride to life for you!
The video above is a joint effort – Maggie narrates it, and I filmed it with my GoPro camcorder (click here to read my review, which includes how I dropped it 10 stories and it was unscathed).
The Seaside Bike Route bypasses the magnificent Stanley Park, goes along English Bay past the Old Pavilion, follows that up with a spectacular loop around False Creek, then winds past Granville Island and ends up at Jericho Beach. The Seaside Bike Route offers awesome views and endless activities all the way. Here is a map of the Seaside Bike Route.
Route: Seaside Bike Route, Vancouver, BC
Surfaces: almost all paved
Difficulty level: very easy, almost all flat
Safety level: very safe, all off road
Distance: 17 km (10.5 miles) one way
Type of bike required: any, but a hybrid, mountain bike, or cruiser would be the most comfortable
Suitable for: the whole family on bikes; also trikes, walkers, inline skates and wheelchairs
Congestion: can be very busy during peak hours. Gloriously quiet on an early, sunny weekday morning (starts to get busy around 10.00)
Directions for the Seaside Bike Route
Cyclists can pick up the Sea Side Bike route at Canada Place, at the northern end of the Hornby Bike Route.
Follow the bike route signs that direct you to go around the front of the Vancouver Convention Centre. On your right are beautiful water views of Vancouver Harbour; on your left are ample opportunities to buy coffee or breakfast.
Yachts, Views, Coffee and Food on the Seaside Bike Route
Follow the signs and you will wind down to a smooth, paved pathway, right next to the scenic Burrard Inlet.
The next place you come to will be the Coal Harbour Community Centre.
Then there’s a big, bright map.
By this time you will be cycling past a seemingly endless yacht marina. In this area are several more opportunities for coffee, breakfast, or gelato. Next you bike past the famous Cardero’s Restaurant, where you can sometimes see the top and bottom echelons of Vancouver society side by side, alongside literally millions of dollars worth of beautiful boats.
Right across the road is Café Villagio, which offers good coffee and snacks, and has bike parking right outside (always my main criterion for whether to patronize a business).
Go on past the Westin Hotel, where the path veers sharply to the right, and there is a Starbucks.
Next there are some lunch restaurants, as well as the opportunity to charter a yacht, should you wish to. Bike on past some lovely waterside residences. You will pass by Harbour Cruises, where you might choose to go cruising in a less expensive fashion than chartering a yacht. Ahead and to the right you willsee the beautiful Vancouver Rowing Club. Don’t go to the Rowing Club! You will be turning left before you get to it.
Soon you’ll come across a fork in the bike route. If you turn right at this point, you will cycle past the Vancouver Rowing Club and end up doing the Stanley Park loop, the Stanley Park Seawall Bike Route, which I wrote about here.
Turn left at this signpost. The signpost is a bit confusing. Follow the sign towards “Chilco.”
Next you will find the solution to the mystery of the sign that says “Chilco.” The bike route splits in two, with the left side going up a hill and signposted “Chilco.” This is NOT the way to go. Instead, keep right and stay on the Seaside Bike Route.
Now you wind your way downhill past the lovely Lost Lagoon with its endless supply of ducks, Canada Geese and swans. Continue upon an excellent cycling path, paved and surrounded by leafy, shady foliage.
Soon you will come across a little wooden footbridge. Just before the wooden bridge, turn left, continuing to follow the cycle path. Next you will pass a rhododendron garden, well worth a look. Then the path ducks under a little concrete bridge, with a sign that says “Cyclists ONLY”! I love this bridge – it’s the only bridge I have ever seen that says “Cyclists only.”
Go under the bridge, then veer right, and then take the first left, heading towards the water. The clue here is another signpost, this one directing you towards the “English Bay Bathhouse.”
On your left will be a children’s playground and a fire engine. You are now close enough to the water to enjoy the unmistakable smell of the sea, and to start to hear the crying of the seagulls. From this point on, just keep following the signs, relax, and enjoy the scenery. You will arrive at the bottom of a little hill, clearly marked for cyclists on one side and pedestrians on the other.
It’s well worth stopping at the bottom of this hill to enjoy the views. In front of you is English Bay, stretching as far as the eye can see in both directions. As you look towards the water you will see the amazing Second Beach Pool to your right, nestled on the beach. Early in the morning there will be quite a few joggers around, but almost no cyclists (making it an excellent time to do this wonderful bike route).
Here is an aerial view of Second Beach Pool, to show you where you are now:
Next, bike up a gentle hill, heading for the exit from Stanley Park. At the top the path will flatten out next to Beach Avenue. When you get there, bear in mind the dangers – pedestrians, roller-bladers and joggers who just wander across the bike route randomly, without looking either left or right. Keep your fingers on your brake levers …
As you crest the hill, the Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club is on your left, should you be inclined to stop and roll a few. At the same time, your nose will encounter another treat – the smell of the hotdogs on vending carts that offer the hungry cyclist an excuse to stop, sit on a bench, and enjoy the view. Unless it’s still early morning, or the dead of winter, when the hot dog vendors are not around. But never fear – you are just about at Denman Street, which intersects the route. There are many restaurants in this area.
You can bike up Denman Street, although it’s fairly chaotic – I find it easier just to walk my bike up the sidewalk. On Denman Street you can find the iconic Delaney’s Coffee, a local favorite and a good choice for those who prefer their coffee from independent coffee shops. Alternatively, Starbucks is just across the road (isn’t it always?).
The Starbucks is just behind the famous A-Maze-ing Laughter sculpture by Yue Minjun, well worth a stop, and a great photo opportunity. The laughing faces are based on the artist’s own face. Next, cycle on along the paved bike route.
Almost immediately after this is the old English Bay Pavilion (better viewed from the pedestrian walkway, so you might want to walk your bike down there). It’s a famous old building, and houses washrooms and change rooms and a lifeguard station, but it seems badly in need of some TLC. It is also the home of the English Bay Bathhouse, constructed in 1931 and reburbished in 1986. Apparently it is now a night-time gathering place, and is also home to the “Polar Bear Club”, an astounding group of people who take an annual New Year’s dip in English Bay’s icy waters.
Next keep an eye out for the famous Inukshuk Statue, which is right on the beach. Created by Alvin Kanak, this sculpture is traditionally used as a landmark and navigational symbol, and is intended to represent northern hospitality and friendship.
Also right in this area is the Vancouver AIDS Memorial, dedicated to those who have lost their struggle with HIV/AIDS, and the caregivers who took care of them, and “to those who live with the presence of their absence.” It’s to the left of the bike route, and very unobtrusive, easy to miss as it looks a bit like a brown fence. The memorial is solid wrought iron. The names of people who have died are engraved, and at the top of the memorial is a beautiful quote from Santayana, which starts: “With you a part of me hath passed away …”
Now a great, mostly flat bike route meanders along next to English Bay, offering endless views of beaches and ocean.
Next is the Burrard Bridge, truly awe-inspiring architecture, well worth a detour if you have the energy to bike to the top. And of course the views from the top are stunning, with False Creek on the east and English Bay on the west. Also making this detour worthwhile is the fact that the City of Vancouver has prevailed against a minority of protesting motorists and installed a wide, safe, separated bike route right across the Burrard Bridge.
Almost directly underneath the Burrard Bridge is a selection of waterside restaurants. You could tie your bike to the railings and get a beer, a burger, a plate of fish and chips or a salad. This is a superb place to get a drink at sunset and watch the water’s ever-changing iridescent shades of blue.
Continue along a very pleasant cycling route, winding along next to a seemingly endless marina. Then the route broadens into an area that accommodates people sitting on low walls, flanked by an art installation that commemorates the Sweeney saw mill workers.
Just at this point, if you look across to the street you will see the Reckless Bike Store – an excellent spot to rent bikes, or to get free air or (not free) repairs if you need them. A friendly store that solidly supports local biking. Also in this area are more opportunities for food and icecream.
Next you will go under Granville Island Bridge. Just past the Granville Bridge you will see the brown building that houses the Vancouver Aquatic Centre. If you’re a swimmer, this is a great place to stop. It houses a magnificent pool, incredible diving facilities with a fun deep diving pool, and a kid’s pool as well. There’s bike parking right outside the front door. (But it’s not a very safe place to lock a bike, so bring a BIG bike lock if you plan to stop there.)
Then you will go under the Cambie Bridge, and approach the northern end of False Creek. Next you will approach BC Place and Rogers Arena. Both are pretty spectacular buildings, and are well worth a look. BC Place has a brand new retractable roof. Then you will bypass the Edgewater Casino. The bike route then hugs the north side of False Creek, taking you close by a rocky beach. This area has been dubbed “The Met,” according to signage that has been put up. The route is wide and unmarked here, and usually a bit chaotic, so proceed with caution.
As you loop around to the eastern side of False Creek you will find a children’s park that makes for a pleasant stop if you have kids with you. Straight after that you will encounter the unmistakable silver golfball of the Telus World of Science (which everyone still calls by its old name, Science World).
You might want to park your bikes at the whimsical bike art outside Science World, and go in to check out the endlessly entertaining science exhibits, or perhaps see a movie in the spectacular Omnimax. I logged about a million hours at Science World when my kids were little, and never got bored once. It’s as much fun for adults as it is for kids.
Cycle on a little further to come across a great smell – coffee! You are now at the new Athletes Village, a legacy of Vancouver’s spectacularly fun 2010 Summer Olympics. You will notice giant bird statues on your left, a clue that you are close to Terra Breads. Here you can lock up your bike safely and within view, and then go in to enjoy snacks, coffee, wine or beer. Continuing on, you will pass the Cambie Street Bridge, and then get to Monk McQueen’s Restaurant, which is a great seafood restaurant with stunning views.
After that you cycle through a very pleasant residential area right on the water, with beautiful views of downtown Vancouver just across the water.
Then you come to Granville Island, a festive market/restaurant/entertainment/marina area nestled just under the Granville Bridge. The first entrance to Granville Island is signposted as False Creek Community Center – turn right off the bike path. There are other entrances further on, as well.
Granville Island is another great place to lock up your bike, have a walk, and find great things to eat, drink and do. There’s something for the whole family here. If you just want a coffee, there’s a JJ Bean Coffee Shop inside Granville Island Market. Right next to the JJ Beans is a chocolate and candy stand, and a bakery, and fresh fruit stands … everything a hungry cyclist could want!
Granville Island is also a great place to take a detour on the Aquabus. There’s an Aquabus dock right behind the Granville Market. The ferries with rainbow roofs take cyclists, with no charge for your bike. It’s a cheap and interesting way to hop all around the Creek and see a lot of sights. You could take your bike with you on one of the rainbow-roofed boats, or leave it locked up at Granville Island while you go on your maritime expedition.
Moving on from Granville Island, yet another place you might want to stop is the open-air fresh fish market, also situated right on the seawall and the Seaside bike route.
Next you will come to Vanier Park. If you turn left and cycle up the road in the middle of this area, you will very quickly reach Vancouver’s famous HR McMillan Space Center in Vanier Park. When my kids were little I loved this even more than Science World. The center includes an Observatory, a Star Theater, and a Space Museum, full of replicas of space ships and assorted fun exhibits. The best part: it even has a real, retired space shuttle that used to be used to train astronauts, but which now provides a virtual space ride experience for the public. Bizarrely, this is not even mentioned on their web site, but I know it’s there, because I’ve been in it! This is another place that is well worth a stop, and bike parking is provided.
If you go through Vanier Park in mid-summer, you will see the huge red and white tents that house the annual Bard on the Beach festival. Not to be missed, if you like your Shakespeare set to music! Maggie and I once suffered through a singing King Lear, and another year barely survived Troilus and Cressida set during the American Civil War – at least, thank God, no one sang in that one. Seriously though, the festival showcases a lot of great theater as well – and, like thousands of others, I do enjoy the magical experience of watching a play surrounded by the natural beauty of Vanier Park and False Creek.
Then the Seaside Bike Route takes you right past a spectacular wooden totem pole. Soon after this the bike route goes onto the road, but don’t panic – it’s a quiet road and after just a block, the route goes off-road again.
After that you will cycle along some mixed terrain.
Soon you will arrive at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. At this point the sea wall ends, and if you want to keep biking along the Seaside Bike Route to Jericho Beach, you will be forced onto the road at several points. Actually it continues to be a fun bike ride.
The Seaside Bike Route is another great bike ride that should be on everyone’s bucket list. And it’s safe and fun for the whole family!
There are so many fun things to do, it’s impossible to do them all in one day. You could spend a week exploring everything on this route … but whatever you do, the Seaside Bike Route s a great bike ride.
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