In Vancouver, BC, there are several attractions to see. In fact, one might argue that there are too many options…
Vancouver, British Columbia, is often regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with a glistening coastline and a background of lush mountains. Indeed, seeing it for the first time may be a mind-blowing experience.
But it’s only when you combine the city’s picture-perfect environment with its extraordinarily varied populace, fantastic food, fantastic shopping, and a plethora of close-to-downtown outdoor activities that you realize why it’s on so many people’s bucket lists.
Many people rave about Vancouver’s multitude of ethnic restaurants (which serve some of the greatest ethnic cuisine in North America) and shopping, museums, and galleries, which will keep you occupied and satisfied for days. However, the city’s excellent public transportation system and warm, welcoming inhabitants are equally vital to visitors.
Vancouver also provides a fantastic outdoor experience, as many of us observed during the 2010 Winter Olympics coverage. Thousands of years of forests are part of the city’s park system, and the adjacent Grouse Mountain ski slopes are just 20 minutes away.
Downtown, gleaming skyscrapers shoot skyward in unison with colorful totems reaching for the treetops in Stanley Park’s primal woodlands. Few locations on the planet can equal Vancouver’s ability to seamlessly blend city and wilderness.
Asked, “Where else can you discover a global exoticism that matches Hong Kong?” the answer is “Nordic style order,” “limitless” restaurants and “top-notch” hotels. Recently, the New York Times inquired.
The answer may easily be “nowhere” to the devoted Vancouverites.
Here are the top 10 most popular sites to visit in Vancouver to help you get a taste of the city’s incredible people and natural variety.
Stanley Park is a popular destination in Vancouver.
Stanley Park, Vancouver’s crown gem, is regarded as one of the world’s best urban parks. With over 1,000 acres of land, Stanley Park is one of the biggest metropolitan parks in North America.
You may either rent a bicycle or rollerblades or walk or run along the seawall that encircles the whole park. Since it was first established in 1887, the immense natural forest of Stanley Park has remained mostly unaltered.
Get lost in the Northwest rain forest’s path system and come upon Beaver Lake.
The Vancouver Aquarium, First Nations Totem Poles, Prospect Point, Brockton Point Lighthouse, the Nine O’clock Gun, Klahowya Village, the gigantic Second Beach swimming pool, a nine-hole golf course, several restaurants, and lovely beaches are just a few of the city’s many parks.
Granville Island is one of the best places to visit in Vancouver.
After decades of industrial use, this “island” was renovated in the 1970s and today serves as one of the city’s most famous tourist destinations.
In Granville, you’ll find a plethora of cultural offerings ranging from restaurants to theatres to artisan stores to a big public market.
Vancouver’s Granville Island has a public market, the Net Loft for unique shopping (check out The Hat Shop, Paper-Ya and Beadworks), Granville Island Brewing and Dockside Brewing for beer tastings, a variety of restaurants (try Edible Canada at the Market, Sandbar, Bridges and Dockside), the Arts Club Theatre, Railspur Alley (where you’ll find a boutique Japanese sake maker, craft distillery, cafes and artists shops), and an outdoor amusement park.
Grouse Mountain is about 20 minutes outside of Vancouver.
Grouse Mountain is a family favourite about 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver. Ride the Grouse Mountain Skyride for a breathtaking 3,700-foot perspective of Vancouver and the surrounding area.
It’s a 2.9-mile trek up Grouse Mountain’s face, called “mother nature’s stairmaster,” and it’s a great way to get some exercise done. The 2800-foot straight-up ascent is assisted by over 3000 stairs on the path. It takes around 1.5 hours, depending on your level of fitness, to finish.
A grizzly bear refuge and hiking paths are also on the list of things to see and do. Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and snowshoeing are all popular winter activities. The Observatory, a fine dining establishment, and the Altitudes Bistro are also available for meals.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, which opened in 1889, is one of Vancouver’s oldest attractions, located only 15 minutes from downtown.
For those looking for an adrenaline rush, the park’s Capilano Suspension Bridge (reaching 450 feet over Capilano River) and Cliffwalk (a heart-stopping cliffside excursion) provide the opportunity to explore the temperate rainforest (a series of suspension bridges throughout the forest).
Also in the park is a pond, a gift store, and a café with a gift shop. There’s a Rainforest Explorer task for the grandchildren or kids, which requires them to search for and gather data about the west coast rainforest. A badge is yours if you successfully answer all of the questions.
As the biggest aquarium in Canada, the Vancouver Aquarium is also one of the best-known aquariums in North America. One of the world’s largest zoos contains more than 70,000 animals from all around the world.
Animal Encounter and Trainer Tours allow visitors to get up and personal with beluga whales, dolphins, and sea otters. Before seeing the Aquarium’s new 4D Theatre presentation, explore the Amazon exhibit, a replica of a South American jungle.
Stylish Gastown, Vancouver’s Most Popular Destination
Gastown, Vancouver’s most fashionable area, is also one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. In addition to being the city’s oldest quarter, Gastown has a rich history.
A Yorkshire-born saloon proprietor called “Gassy Jack” named it after him. A cask of whiskey arrived on the south bank of Burrard Inlet in 1867, and Deighton offered mill employees the chance to help him construct his saloon in exchange for free booze. Gassy’s bar was constructed in less than 24 hours, and the settlement of “Gastown,” the predecessor to modern-day Vancouver, sprung up around it.
With Victorian-style buildings, cobblestone streets, and the famed Steam Clock that plays the Westminster chime every quarter hour, Gastown preserves its “old-town” character today. The neighborhood is full with high-end shops, gourmet restaurants, and a bustling pub culture where you can get what many consider the greatest drinks and local craft beer in the city.
English Bay Beach
English Bay Beach
The most popular beach in Vancouver is English Bay Beach, one of several along the city’s gorgeous coastline. As the sun sets behind Vancouver Island, the beach in downtown Vancouver’s West End becomes a favourite spot for people watching.
The seaside Cactus Club Café, for example, has a terrace with views of English Bay.
In addition, the beach has direct access to the popular West End eating district at Davie and Denman Streets. Pedestrians, bikers, and runners may travel the seawall to either Stanley Park or around False Creek through English Bay Beach. At the beach near the lifeguard post, kayak rentals are available.
Classical Chinese Garden
Classical Chinese Garden of Dr. Sun Yat-sen.
A full-scale Chinese garden outside of China is a first for Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classic Chinese Garden. This historic architectural and horticultural marvel was erected by 52 experienced Chinese workers over the course of 13 months in 1985.
When it comes to classical Chinese gardens, the focus isn’t so much on the plants as it is on the architecture, culturally relevant flora, naturally carved rocks, and gracefully curving jade-green streams. You may take a 45-minute guided tour of the gardens, or you can explore them on your own.
Museum of Anthropology
Museum of Anthropology
Collections, public programming, and the museum’s architecture have made the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology world-renowned.
The facility, which was built on Musqueam First Nations territory, just completed a significant extension and refurbishment project that quadrupled its space. Two outdoor Haida Houses, full-scale totem poles, and carved house-posts are all on the grounds.
Vancouver's Art Gallery
Vancouver’s Art Gallery is one of the city’s most popular attractions.
For more than 75 years, the Vancouver Art Gallery has been the city’s premier cultural destination, offering everything from the greatest collection of Emily Carr’s work in Canada to world-class exhibits held in a gorgeous neo-classical former courthouse.
The Gallery is one of Canada’s major art museums and one of the most popular attractions in Vancouver, located in the heart of the city. Inspiring works from throughout the world are on display in a series of exhibits that take place on all four levels.