Green cityscapes, glass skyscrapers, grand mountains, and a gracious embrace of diversity make Vancouver a natural for the sporty gay. But come late July, southwestern British Columbia should be about the queerest place on the continent: There's the city's Queer Arts Festival (July 26-August 13), Vancouver Pride (July 25-31), and the North America Outgames (July 25-31), when this Olympic region again proves its athletic prowess. Competitors from as far away as Uganda will compete in various sports -- a 10k run in Stanley Park, an EcoChallenge and Alpine marathon in Whistler, poker --and the event will hold an affiliated human rights conference to boot. Here, the city's best places to fuel up and kit out your inner sportsman.
GEAR: Pop a tent for Arc'teryx jackets at Valhalla PureForget sewing a maple leaf flag patch on your backpack. If it's from Mountain Equipment Co-op(130 W. Broadway), you?re practically Canadian (worth the one-time $5 membership fee). The city block-long MEC is a local shrine to camping, cycling, paddling, and trekking, and it anchors a strip of adventure gear shops in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood south of downtown. Nearby Valhalla Pure(222 W. Broadway) claims the city's largest selection of high-end outdoor wear by local manufacturer Arc'teryx. Raincoats are pricey (up to $650) but impermeable, and athletic-cut jackets like the Epsilon AR (we're partial to the deep dusk color, pictured) will show off your hard-earned V shape.
GEAR: Old Faithful Soothe aches with a tin of Porter's Liniment Salve, a 95-year-old formula sold at the natty general store OldFaithfulShop.com(320 W. Cordova St, Gastown).
GRUB: Fresh waffles in the window at MedinaAt Medina(556 Beatty St., Crosstown), fortify with a skillet breakfast like cassoulet (fried eggs on baked beans, two kinds of sausage, and double-smoked bacon), Belgian waffles with raspberry caramel sauce, or the served-all-day paella featuring curried orzo topped with watercress and avocado.
GRUB: Bao Bei Salute Vancouver's burgeoning Chinese community (approximately 17% of the region's population) in modern style at Bao Bei(163 Keefer St., Chinatown). Cozy-chic, it updates traditional dishes like mantou (steamed buns with braised beef short rib, hoisin sauce, pickled cucumber, and roasted peanuts) and makes daily tweaks to fried rice.
GRUB: Albacore and Limonade at L'AbattoirFor the big win, head to tony L'Abattoir(217 Carrall St., Gastown), where steak Diane crackles with flash-fried peppercorns and confit of albacore comes with egg bits puffed like marshmallows and trompe-l'œil croutons of smoked pork fat. GETAWAY: Train ride to heaven (a.k.a. Whistler)The Rocky Mountaineer sightseeing train (one-way $143, 3 1/2 hours) takes it slow, paralleling Howe Bay and the Sea to Sky Highway, one of Canada's most inspirational routes. Destination: Whistler, of Olympic and WinterPRIDE gay ski-week fame. Test your manly mettle at Monkido, a tree-borne obstacle course of zip-lines and Tarzan swings with options for both novices and ninjas alike.
GETAWAY: Nita Lake LodgeAfterward, decompress at Nita Lake Lodge, recently named one of Canada's top resorts. Enjoy a coq au vin sandwich on its waterside stone terrace, an ayurvedic treatment in its Ashram Spa, or dream deep in a lake-view guest room.
STAY: Loden HotelContempo, eco, and central, the 77-room Loden Hotel boasts earth-tone interiors, floor-to-ceiling windows, bathrooms with heated granite floors, Philippe Starck plumbing fixtures, and a well-equipped, garden-view gym.
SWEAT: Pedal powerBorrow a hotel bike for a mostly flat ride on the seawall around downtown Vancouver. It takes about 1 1/2 hours to circumnavigate the city and 1,000-acre, bay-view Stanley Park.
PLAY: Gastown's rouge galleryWatch the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, or Canadian Football League's BC Lions at Score on Davie(1262 Davie St.) in the heart of the city's gay village. If your taste runs more toward parlor games, try giant Jenga in the back room of Guilt & Co.(1 Alexander St., Gastown). Live performances in this Gastown grotto sometimes include music roulette, in which musicians are randomly selected for improv jam sessions.