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Plenty of fun to be had by playing tourist in your own town

After working hard all year round and looking forward to precious vacation time, it’s no wonder Lower Mainlanders are ready to blow off some steam while on holidays.

While an exciting summer getaway promises no shortage of fun, such trips also come with their fair share of stress – large expenses, busy airports, holiday traffic…

The good news is, there is more than enough fun to be had right in our own backyard – so why not plan a fun-filled stay-cation this summer and enjoy the abundance of exciting activities around the Lower Mainland, while coming home to your own cozy bed each night?

Here are Indulge’s picks for some of must-see attractions around Metro Vancouver this summer:

Explore the North Shore

North and West Vancouver are well-known as tourist hotspots in the winter months, hosting thousands of skiers and snowboarders to their three local mountains each year.

But just because the snow has melted away doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do on the North Shore in the summertime.

One of the region’s top attractions is Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Nestled in the beautiful West Coast rainforest, this park features much more than just its namesake attraction – a 137-metre bridge situated 70-metres above the Capilano River, originally built in 1889.

Newer attractions include the Cliffwalk (a labyrinth of narrow bridges, stairs and platforms high above the river) and the Treetops Adventure (a series of elevated suspension bridges linking a number of enormous Douglas fir trees).

If you’re not a fan of heights and prefer to stay at sea level, a visit to Deep Cove is likely a better excursion option.

This quaint little community in the easternmost part of North Vancouver offers boutique shopping, a variety of restaurants and cafes and plenty of fun outdoor activities, including kayaking, canoeing and hiking.

And if you’re feeling up to a world-renowned physical challenge, the Grouse Grind is officially open for the summer season. This 2.9-km trail – sometimes referred to as ‘Mother Nature’s Stairmaster’ – is made up of 2,830 stairs that elevate you 853 metres to the Peak of Vancouver.

Once you make it to the top, there is plenty to do on Grouse Mountain in the summertime – dining, sightseeing, lumberjack shows and the Theatre in the Sky are just a few activities atop this breathtaking North Shore destination.

Animal attractions

In certain areas of the Lower Mainland, your chances of encountering some unusual wildlife – bears, cougars, raccoons – are pretty good. But if you prefer to enjoy your animal encounters in a slightly more controlled environment, there are plenty of options for all types of animal lovers.

A beautiful and scenic drive to Ladner’s Westham Island will lead you to the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. During the summer months, this refuge is home to dozens of bird species, including mallards, Canada geese, sandhill cranes, robins, swallows, wrens, eagles and many more. These feisty fowl are anything but shy, and will eagerly eat seed – available for purchase on site – right out of delighted visitors’ hands.

In the eastern region of the Fraser Valley is the Greater Vancouver Zoo, spanning 120 acres in Aldergrove and home to more than 100 animals, ranging from reindeer to rhinos. The safari express miniature train tours the perimeter of the zoo and includes an educational narration. Quadra-cycles – which seat two adults and two small children – are available for rent as well.

Of course, a Lower Mainland creature feature wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. Penguins, otters, dolphins, sea lions and belugas are just a few of the remarkable creatures you can get up close and personal with at this beloved landmark.

There are a number of shows and demonstrations that take place throughout the day, so be sure to check the schedule online and plan your visit accordingly.

Adrenaline adventure

Looking for something that will get your pulse pumping, your brow sweating and the hairs on the back of your neck standing at attention?

It wouldn’t be a summer full of fun without a trip to Playland. While the popular amusement park’s most famous attraction is, without a doubt, the wooden rollercoaster – built board-by-board in 1958 –Playland is also home to a number of new, and equally terrifying, rides.

The newest attraction is the Atmosfear, where riders sit in a double swing that spins 360-degrees at speeds up to 70 km/h. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? That is, until the entire ride is elevated 218-feet in the air. Other knee-bucklers include the Hellevator, Crazy Beach Party and the Revelation.

A popular Lower Mainland attraction that combines adventure, exercise and the great outdoors is WildPlay Element Park in Maple Ridge.

Located near Golden Ears Park on the Allouette River, WildPlay consists of three aerial obstacle courses that visitors navigate while suspended in a harness anywhere from two to 18 metres above the ground.By climbing, zip-lining and swinging, guests traverse dozens of ladders, cargo nets, rope swings, tightropes, swinging logs and wobbly bridges. There is even a special kids course for younger adventurers; the minimum age to take part at WildPlay is seven.

After all that physical activity in the hot summer sun, you’ll want to cool down – so a trip to Splashdown Park in Tsawwassen is definitely in order.

This seven-acre waterpark, complete with several water slides, pools, hot tub and a children’s splash pool, plus barbecue and picnic areas is a must-visit in the summertime.

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