Through the airplane window, the view alone takes your breath away. Snow-covered mountains, a mighty ocean of deep blue, a cascade of low-lying misty clouds, and a cluster of shimmering skyscrapers join to create a unique landscape. Is it a movie set? A painted backdrop? A city existing only in dreams and imagination? No. It is Vancouver, the Canadian city tucked away beside the British Columbian Coastal Mountains and a corner of the Pacific Ocean. A visit to Vancouver is a perfect fit for all the members of a family. Nature-lovers, urbanites, beachgoers, and culture buffs will all find many things to do in Vancouver, a West Coast haven.
Interested in the outdoors? Vancouver boasts two of the largest urban parks in North America: Stanley Park and Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Both easily accessible by the city’s extensive bus lines, these parks offer dense forests of towering cedars, firs, and hemlocks, explored via well-marked trails and pathways. Stanley Park is perched on the edge of the main peninsula of the city surrounded by the popular nine-kilometer Sea Wall. The highlight of any visit to Vancouver, the Sea Wall offers walkers, joggers and bikers breathtaking views of the city, Stanley Park, and the nearby mountain range. When you’re done enjoying the Sea Wall, be sure to visit the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre located inside the park, a popular spot for families. Catch a shuttle bus to the Aquarium from the park entrance. Pacific Spirit Regional Park, on the west side of the city, offers 763 hectares of untamed forest and several rugged pebble-covered beaches, ideal for exploring on a warm spring afternoon.
Vancouver also offers two botanical gardens for the delight of flower enthusiasts: the Van Dusen Botanical Garden at 5251 Oak Street and the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden and Farm, located on the UBC campus.
Looking to get a little sun? Be sure to visit between the months of February and September to enjoy glorious sunshine on the many free public beaches. Kitsilano Beach, located at the corner of Arbutus and Cornwall streets, is by far the most popular, offering volleyball nets, a seaside restaurant, tennis courts, and the largest salt water swimming pool in North America.
Looking for some art, culture, and history on your trip? The University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology is considered North America’s leading institution showcasing the art and artifacts of Pacific Northwest First Nations Peoples. The museum includes a gallery of works by Haida artist Bill Reid as well as a recreated Haida village open to visitors. You can find this museum on the campus of the University of British Columbia, accessible on the 99 bus line.
The Vancouver Art Gallery, located at 750 Hornby Street, features the world’s largest collection of works by BC artist Emily Carr, as well as several rotating exhibits. Vancouver’s Chinatown, located at Pender and Main streets, is Canada’s largest. Visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and Park and the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum, or just walk the streets filled with exotic markets, medicine shops, and Chinese pottery stores. For a taste of Vancouver’s past, visit the historic area of Gastown, where the cobbled sidewalks, row buildings, and gas street lights reflect life in nineteenth century Vancouver. Other popular museums include the Vancouver Maritime Museum and the HR Macmillan Space Center, both located on a scenic piece of waterfront land at Cypress Street.
Eager for the classic urban dining experience? Food lovers all over the world are beginning to see Vancouver as a restaurant mecca, as it offers many options that bring together East and West, modern and classic. Vij’s, located at 1480 West 11th Street, is a modern, sleek update on the Indian restaurant, is fast becoming a Vancouver institution. Visit Lumière at 2551 Broadway in Kitsilano, a French restaurant featuring the food of top Canadian chef Daniel Boulud. A fan of sushi? Vancouverites claim that their city boasts the best sushi outside of Tokyo. Try Tojo’s (777 West Broadway), the Eatery (3431 West Broadway), or Sushiyama (371 East Broadway). Looking for something a little more exotic? Try the Malaysian cuisine of Banana Leaf (2121 West Broadway) or the Indonesian food of Pondok (893 West Broadway). Or head to Commercial Drive on the number 99 bus line or Skytrain to try some Ethiopian or Salvadorian food! For a great place to buy groceries or grab a quick lunch, try the Granville Island Public Market, accessible from downtown by the number 50 bus or a short Aqua Bus ride across False Creek.
At the end of a long day of exploring, you will want a nice place to rest your weary head. Try one of the popular bed and breakfast options in Kitsilano or seek out elegance at the world renowned Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (900 West Georgia Street).
As you can see, there are many things to do in Vancouver. This city is a great weekend vacation destination, easily accessible from major cities in Canada and the United States. Come and enjoy our unique corner of the world!