Grouse Mountain, Vancouver
While Grouse Mountain is a tourist trap, it's not entirely a lost cause. To be honest, I actually quite like Grouse Mountain and would recommend it to first-time visitors to Vancouver. For one thing, it's very accessible to those without a car. So for this reason alone, I'd definitely recommend it. However, if you do have a car, then you actually have more choice. With a car, you can actually drive up to the top of Cypress Mountain or Seymour Mountain... and you can do so for free! So in this situation, Grouse Mountain would be the more tourist-trappy option, and would certainly be the most expensive...
... but that's why I'm writing this. Grouse Mountain may or may not be a tourist trap depending on your situation.
Unique Suggestions: 1. Only go to Grouse Mountain on a clear day. When it's raining or when it's cloudy, you're not going to be able to see anything from the top of the mountain. As long as you can see the top of Grouse Mountain from below, then there will be a lovely view waiting for you at the top.
2. Get your tickets ahead of time at the downtown Vancouver tourist info centre at 200 Burrard Street. They sell tickets at a discount rate. While the tickets regularly cost $31.75 at the gates, at the tourist info centre they will sell them for you at $27.97, which is almost a $4-per-ticket savings. There are also student, senior and children's rates.
3. Go early in the day so that you can watch the lumberjack show, the birds in motion show, the ranger talks, the guided walking tour, and the documentary films at the theatre in the sky. Also, be sure to ride the "Screaming Eagle" chairlift ride. This is the chairlift that they use during the ski season, but in the summer they open it up for a 20 minute scenic ride. This is actually a longer (and more scenic) ride than the initial Skyride up to Grouse. The best part about it? It's included with admission!
4. Walk up Grouse Mountain via the "Grouse Grind". Don't make any mistake about it though - it's really a grind. It's a vertical staircase with little views and no real stopping areas. Locals will climb the Grouse Grind as a fitness test. It takes about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on your shape. Don't mistake this as a leisurely hike. It's a great workout, but a lousy hike. For example, I wouldn't dream of making my mother climb the Grouse Grind, but someone who runs 10km daily, it would be a nice change to their daily routine. The Grouse Grind is the only real way to get to the top of Grouse for free. It then only costs $5 to take the Skyride down.
Fun Alternatives: If you have a car, then you can bypass Grouse Mountain. Instead, drive up either Cypress Mountain (which is directly west of Grouse), or drive up Mount Seymour (which is directly east of Grouse). These mountains are free to drive up and have a lot of hiking trails at their peaks. There are no touristy attractions at Cypress or Seymour (not including the parking lot, the ski lift equipment and the cafeteria)... simply locals out to go hiking in the wilderness and to enjoy the views of the city below.
I was recently in Grouse Mountain with my spouse and 85 year old in-laws. The weather was clear and we thought the in-laws would enjoy a ride to the top of Grouse Mountain. That is until we saw the price - $29.95 a person ($27.95 for seniors) It would have cost us nearly $120! We told the ticket agent that all we wanted to do was ride the cable car up and back. We didn't want to see any of the other attractions there, only take the ride and take a picture from the top. The only ticket includes a bunch of amusements for kids. Why don't they offer a ride only option? Until they do, it seems like quite a tourist trap, especially after you have to pay for parking.
Unique Suggestions: At Least Do This:
Don't pay for parking until you decide for sure that you are going to go up.
GROUSE MOUNTAIN CABLE CAR (at least in the summer). It's expensive and there's nothing to see that you can't see just as well from elsewhere. You're much better off climbing it, or even climbing part way. The trails are well-marked and well groomed.
Well this won't be any news to you travellers: beware of your pocket money in all the souvenirs shops. If you are short on time then I would skip the ride on Grouse Mountain as weather conditions can be crappy up there and there isn't too much to see anyway (unless you like cable car rides of course :-))
I was recently in Grouse Mountain with my spouse and 85 year old in-laws. The weather was clear and we thought the in-laws would enjoy a ride to the top of Grouse Mountain. That is until we saw the price - $29.95 a person ($27.95 for seniors) It would have cost us nearly $120. We told the ticket agent that all we wanted to do was ride the cable car up and back. We didn't want to see any of the other attractions there, only take the ride and take a picture from the top. The only ticket includes a bunch of amusements for kids. Why don't they offer a ride only option? Until they do, it seems like quite a tourist trap, especially after you have to pay for parking.
Unique Suggestions: Don't pay for parking until you decide for sure that you are going to go up.
I second other users opinion on this attraction. I had read the reviews here before and decided to give it a try nevertheless. It is nice and we had lot of fun but if you are budget conscious and have to pay for 3 adults you may find its severely overpriced. Remember to get the tiny discount from the visitor centre in 200 Burrard St before you visit.
Unique Suggestions: play in the snow
This is perhaps one of Vancouver's most popular tourist attractions and that's reason enough not to come. The walk is the most frustrating and annoying experience imaginable especially if you time it wrong. Either you'll be bothered by tourists moving at a snails pace or tutting fitness freaks stressing about beating their PB. The grouse grind is a pointless exercise if you hike to get away from it all and take in the countryside and views on your assent and dessent. Grouse mountain does have great views from the top and if you're flush enough to be able to afford the steep (sorry for the pun) price for the trolley car up then go ahead. If you want to walk up then just be warned that its possible the most unsatisfying walk in the lower mainland. Once you make it up, and if you have energy, greater things are possible the further you get away from the regular tourist trail.
Unique Suggestions: Take a picture from the top!
Fun Alternatives: Consider Mount Seymour, there are loads of trails even though the main one is popular.