|Subject: Re: Vancouver Area Advice|
Hi Anne and Ziners,
As always, these things depend on your interests; I would certainly spend a night in North or West Vancouver. A more interesting bridge, to my taste, than the touristy Capilano, is the Lynn Canyon bridge, to be found about 3/4 of the way from Capilano Canyon to the Second Narrows bridge. It's not quite as "exciting" as it once was (it's now tethered, though they occasionally remove the tethers when filming movies there), but it's considerably more "natural" (and memorable, IMHO).
You can drive well up both Grouse and Seymour mountains on the north shore; the latter is particularly scenic. There is a great salmon hatchery on the Capilano river (not far from your dratted bridge, below the Cleveland Dam, also worth a quick look) that is well worth visiting, especially if the salmon are running (when you can also see them jumping their way up the river). Both Deep Cove (quiet, not so touristy) and Horseshoe Bay (less quiet, more touristy) are worth a look, and there's a tiny-but-lovely little park (Whytecliff Park) at the west end of Marine Drive that offers scenic views (and is another popular film location).
If you want a memorable place to eat, try the Salmon House on the Hill in West Vancouver (off the Upper Levels Highway), especially on a clear night (get there early for the best window seats, though none of them is all that bad). For a (fairly upscale) shopping experience, visit the three- part Park Royal Shopping Centre (Canada's first). The entire winding drive from Park Royal to Whytecliff (via Marine Drive, not the highway) is very pretty (even spectacular), and will give you a good sense of the West Vancouver lifestyle; it also goes through the little village of Dundarave, a pretty place to stop for lunch, if you weren't seduced by Park Royal.
Everything I've recommended here is on the north shore, so does not require going into Vancouver. And, not being primarily tourist attractions, they are all free (with the exception of the restaurant, and Park Royal, though you can just walk around the latter).
As a former resident, I don't have good hotel recommendations. There's a bunch of fairly convenient/inexpensive places along the lower part of Capilano Drive (North Vancouver, near the Lions Gate Bridge), so you can shop there for something you might like. Or you can go way upscale in West Vancouver.
Doug -- San Francisco