Kitsilano Beach (Kits Beach)
What to Expect: Backed by the snow-capped North Shore Mountains, this stretch of gray sand is a haven for active types looking to do more than just lie on a towel and contemplate the universe. For starters, it has 10 tennis courts (free), two basketball courts (free), and two city parks, not to mention the largest saltwater swimming pool in Canada. A trail to the east leads to Vanier Park, with its spinning-top-shaped H. R. MacMillan Space Centre, home to a great observatory and planetarium. To the west of Kitsilano lie five other beaches: Jericho, Spanish Banks, Point Grey, Tower, and Wrecks, the city’s only clothing-optional sunbathing spot.
What to Do: Kick the sand off your feet, head to Vanier Park, and look for red-and-white tents—the telltale sign you know you’ve found Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. This year, the summer-long event will feature Twelfth Night, King Lear, and The Tempest. Or wrap up in a blanket to watch the sunset and gaze at the lights of the downtown skyline. If you’re lucky enough to visit in late July, don’t miss the annual Celebration of Light, an astounding international fireworks competition with wild displays over English Bay.