When visiting Vancouver, B.C., it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the majestic beauty of Stanley Park and the scenic mountain backdrops. I’ve visited Vancouver a number of times over the years and I feel like I’ve seen it all. So during my last visit I decided to try to explore some points of interest that weren’t your typical tourist destinations. I’ve asked around and I’ve done a little research and it seems that Vancouverites love their great outdoors. Here’s my list of 7 spots that were easily findable points of interest on the Ford Explorer’s MyFord Touch GPS system.

Tree Swallow by Brendan Lally

George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Over the course of all my visits to the Greater Vancouver Area, I’ve never been to Delta, B.C. I’ve never had a reason to check out the area. If you haven’t been, I’m giving you a reason to visit the area: The George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. A 45-minute drive south of Vancouver, the sanctuary features 850 acres of coastal ponds, tidal marches and birds – thousands of them. In fact, the Lesser Snow Geese stop by the sanctuary on their annual migration in early October. The sanctuary is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and only costs $5. It’s a must see if you are in Vancouver.

Untitled by Kenny Louie

Iona Beach Regional Park

Located just north of the Vancouver International Airport, The Iona Beach Regional Park seems like an unlikely destination. Originally, a part of Iona Island, the park is now a part of a peninsula connected to Sea Island via a causeway. The Park features two jettys, sandy paths and an abundance of wildlife. It’s the perfect place to walk your dog, watch the planes land in the distance or view the setting sun across the Strait of Georgia at the mouth of the Fraser River.

Boats in Steveston by Roland Tanglao

Steveston, B.C.

I happened to come upon Steveston, B.C., by accident during my first day in Vancouver. I was exploring Richmond, B.C., with a friend when we happened upon the Steveston Highway. Like many locations around Vancouver, Steveston is also known as the fictional New England town Cloverdale, from the television show, Once Upon A Time. In real life, Steveston is this wonderful fishing village, where you can buy the fresh catch straight from the boat.

Downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park by Gord Webster

Cypress Mountain

Only in a city like Vancouver can you find a place to ski within minutes of the city. Cypress Mountain is one of those places, and is also the home of Canada’s first Olympic Gold Medals on home snow. Aside from the beautiful ski hills, the drive up to Cypress also provides one of the best scenic lookouts to view the city without paying the hefty gondola prices of Grouse Mountain.

Portside Park by Rannie Turingan

Portside Park

Probably one of the most peaceful spots to view the Vancouver Harbour is Portside Park. Nestled between the Seabus and the Shipping Yards, it’s an urban oasis with a spectacular view of North Vancouver across the harbour. The park’s failing would be the fact that access to the area isn’t clear. But if you are in the know, all you need to do is travel north through Chinatown on Main St. until you loop around onto East Waterfront Rd.

Lynn Canyon Park by CGehlen

Lynn Canyon Park

Deep in the heart of North Vancouver, Lynn Canyon Park is often overlooked by tourists. The park features many hiking trails, popular swimming holes and a suspension bridge on the 617 acres of park land. Unlike its commercial counterpart, the Capilano suspension bridge, this one is free to cross and still provides breathtaking views.

Greater Vancouver Zoo by Walter Lim

Greater Vancouver Zoo

When people think of Vancouver, the aquarium in Stanley Park is usually the destination that comes to mind. But most people don’t realize that Vancouver also has a zoo. The Greater Vancouver Zoo is located 30 minutes east of the city in Aldergrove, B.C. The zoo boasts over 800 animals spanning 120 acres of parkland.