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Exclusive | Three Gay Days: Vancouver Part Two

Exclusive | Three Gay Days: Vancouver Part Two

DAY ONE: ART AND ABOUT
Rent bikes in the West End at Bayshore Bicycles (745 Denman St; 604-688-2453) or Spokes Bicycle Rental (1798 Georgia at Denman St; 604-688-5141) and explore Stanley Park. Ocean and a 6.3-mile bike trail surround it on three sides and a pedestrian path traces its rocky and dramatic perimeter. Its dense forests are made up of first-growth Douglas fir, hemlock, and cedar. The Lost Lagoon is nearest the entrance and is home to many species of birds and wildlife. Stop into Vancouver Aquarium (Stanley Park; 604-659-3474) and view its performing orcas, dolphins, and sea lions, and marine exhibits.

Stroll back along Denman Street and pick up a coffee at prime gay coffee stop Delany's (1105 Denman St; 604-662-3344).

Make your way to the heart of downtown and to Vancouver Art Gallery (750 Hornby St; 604-662-4719), housed in the old city courthouse. Tuck into inventive, healthy salads or a selection of hot daily specials in the gallery's excellent gay-owned Gallery Caf?; (C$6-10), a favorite hangout for art-loving locals. Once fed, explore the gracious building's excellently chosen exhibitions. Remind yourself of this morning's forest scenes while viewing the outstanding Emily Carr collection.

Spend the rest of the afternoon shopping Robson Street, before heading back to your hotel to change for dinner at the Gay Village's seriously slim Lolita's South of the Border Cantina (1326 Davie St.; 604-696-9996; C$16-22), an enticing cantina, a block from the bars, with its few tables crammed close together. After margaritas and sumptuous ceviche, sashay to 1181 (1181 Davie St.; 604-687-3991) for a bit of big city style in usually lower key Vancouver.

Next stop is the big club in town, Celebrities (1022 Davie St.; 604-681-6180), popular with a young and pretty (predominantly male) set.

DAY TWO: RISE ABOVE IT
Join a slew of East Side women and an increasing number of gay men lounging over brunch amid Cuban memorabilia at Havana (1212 Commercial Dr; 604-253-9119; C$11-29). Service is friendly and eye candy (for the girls) is usually at an adjacent booth.

Head across the Burrard Inlet by car, cab, or Seabus and bus from Lonsdale Quay) and join the crowds at Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park (3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver; 604-985-7474). The swinging, seemingly delicate suspension bridge is NOT for anyone with the slightest fear of heights, but if you can conquer those fears and are willing to spend C$27, the views and sounds of rushing river and rustling trees are worth it. For a quieter and near identically precarious experience, head upstream to Lynn Canyon Park (3663 Park Road, off Peters Road; 604/981-3103). Another advantage of choosing the less publicized Lynn Canyon is it's free.

Depending on the time of year, opt to hike, ski, or snowshoe in Mount Seymour National Park, the biggest and most rugged of the parks. There are a variety of trails to choose from, all offering breathtaking vistas. Alternatively, continue north up the road from Capilano Suspension Bridge to Grouse Mountain. In summer it's a pleasant day trip, with admission including the gondola ride, raptor show, logging displays, grizzly bear enclosure, and free chair lifts. In winter, it's a popular spot for snowshoeing and ski lessons. The view is best from Grouse Mountain. On a clear day you see Vancouver, The Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, and water, water everywhere.

Come back to earth and cab to hip Salt (45 Blood Alley; 604-633-1912; tasting plates $15), a tasting room specializing in artisanal cheese, small-batch cured meats, and great wines. For dinner, book ahead for Delilah's [link to: www.delilahs.ca] (1789 Comox St; 604-687-3424; fixed price menus C$31 and C$43), popular for its gay atmosphere, drag shows, and strong martinis. Drag, bingo, and other gay sports also star at The Majestic (1138 Davie St; 604-669-2013). The 160-seat "resto-lounge" serves up a slew of martinis to a mixed crowd from the ?hood. Up the pace at the Odyssey Nightclub (1251 Howe St, near Davie St; 604-689-5256). It gets packed nightly with a young, trendy crowd.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

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