Think you know Canada just because you Netflixed Strange Brew last weekend? Forget hockey pucks, maple leaves and all the other typecasting. The coastal seaport of Vancouver in British Columbia is full of surprises offering visitors breathtaking natural surroundings and limitless attractions and activities. So join us as we cross the border and head to the Great White North for an action-packed day exploring the unknown in Vancouver!
Climb to New Heights: Capilano Suspension Bridge
Jumpstart your day in North Vancouver by visiting one of the city’s top attractions: The Capilano Suspension Bridge. Perched 230 feet above the Capilano River and spanning 450 feet, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is quite literally the most uplifting nature walk one can take. Those brave enough to walk the walk are handsomely rewarded with jaw-dropping views of a west coast rainforest and a sense of the history of the area. Be sure to check out the totems dotted around the park grounds placed there in the 1930s by the First Nationals to share their stories.
Since the original structure’s construction in 1889, many more attractions have been added to the 27-acre park. The Treetops Adventure offers a tree house experience for tourists to make like the Swiss Family Robinson and explore the Douglas Firs from up to 100 feet above ground. Or, park visitors can partake in a guided nature tour to learn more about the park’s natural surroundings.
The most recent addition to the park, CliffWalk is not for the faint of heart. On this tree-enclosed adventure, travelers wind through narrow walkways from the granite cliff face of the Capilano River to previously unexplored areas of the park.
Visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge:
3735 Capilano Road
North Vancouver, BC V7R 4J1
Get Closer to Nature: Stanley Park
Built in 1888 and spanning over 1,000 acres, Stanley Park is a major Vancouver landmark attracting an estimated 8 million visitors each year. Once home to several indigenous tribes, the park has evolved to become one of the top tourist attractions, offering everything from biking and rollerblading paths to an impressively substantial aquarium. Some of the mandatory must-sees in the park:
Vancouver A quarium: Canada’s first and largest aquarium boasts a wide array of marine life including sea lions, dolphins, sea otters, Harbor Seals and Beluga whales. In fact, the song “Baby Beluga” was inspired by a whale at the Vancouver Aquarium!
Seawall: Along the park’s perimeter, the Stanley Park Seawall boasts a 22-kilometer path for pedestrians to run, bike and rollerblade while soaking in the scenery of the park.
Golf: Say “fore!” Stanley Park even offers golf fans an 18-hole pitch and putt golf course.
Horse-drawn carriage rides: For those who would prefer not to travel the park by foot, there are horse-drawn carriages to transport park-goers in style.
Hiking: With its lustrous green forest surroundings, Stanley Park is a haven for hikers to explore and sightsee. Nature lovers flock to this Vancouver destination for an afternoon of outdoor bliss. If it’s a clear day, look for views of Grause Mountain in the distance to the north.
Children’s Farmyard: For the little ones, the Children’s Farmyard houses goats, chicken, geese, rabbits and pigs.
Shop ‘Til You Drop: Robson Street
Get ready to shop ‘til you drop once you hit Robson Street. As Vancouver’s premiere shopping destination, Robson Street boasts three blocks of everything from large brand names to unique boutiques and everything in between.
Some Canadian-based stores worthy of scoping:
LUSH Handmade Cosmetics
1020 Robson Street Vancouver, BC V6E 4A9
Offering a complete range of luxurious, ethical and indulgent bath and beauty products made by hand with fresh, organic ingredients, LUSH Handmade Cosmetics offers its guests an intoxicatingly indulgent shopping experience.
1001 Robson Street Vancouver, BC V6E 1A9
One of Canada’s most iconic brands, Roots Canada boasts high quality leather bags, handbags, purses and briefcases that are handcrafted from premium Italian leather.
1110 Robson Street Vancouver, BC V6E 1B2
A women’s fashion boutique that offers beautifully designed clothes that are on trend, high quality, and good value, Aritzia is a must for the ladies looking to kick their wardrobe up a notch.
1107 Robson Street Vancouver, BC V6E 1B5
Offering plenty of internationally renowned labels, exclusive lines and their own coveted in-house designs, this shopping destination also offers three other locations throughout Canada.
For a store directory or to learn more about Robson Street, visit www.robsonstreet.ca.
Explore History: Gastown
Once you’ve hit your fill of retail or maxed out your credit card-whatever comes first- head to Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood: Gastown. Established the same year that Canada became a nation, Gastown was declared a National Historic Site in 2009, making it a popular stop for history-hungry visitors of Vancouver. Be sure to stop by and say hello to Gassy Jack. This statue was named after John ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton (the nickname came from his talkative, aka “gassy” nature) who built the area’s first saloon. Gastown’s most famous (though nowhere near oldest) landmark is the steam-powered clock on the corner of Cambie and Water Street. The clock, originally built to cover a steam vent in the 1970s, whistles every 15 minutes, signaling the time to passersby.
In an effort to provide visitors more insight to the history of Gastown, there are historic plaques hung throughout the neighborhood detailing facts and information on the 19th century buildings. Besides the historic architecture, Gastown also boasts a colorful art scene. Art galleries and native art boutiques are sprinkled throughout the streets of Gastown making it easy for visitors to see or take home some of the city’s finest art.
Eastern Charm: Chinatown
Just next door to downtown Vancouver lays the city’s famous Chinatown district, one of the largest historic Chinatowns in North America. Established by Chinese immigrants in the 1890s, it is home to some of the oldest and most fascinating architecture in the city. The Sam Kee Building, located at 8 W. Pender Street, is one of the most interesting buildings in the city. Only 4’11” at its narrowest point, it is considered by The Guinness Book of World Records to be the world’s narrowest building.
Not all of the beautiful architecture in Chinatown involves buildings. Just around the corner from the Sam Kee building is the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden. As the very first Ming Dynasty Scholars Garden to be constructed outside of China, it features meticulously landscaped grounds that are beautiful and calming. The gardens were designed to enhance the surrounding views of the city. It is a great place to sit and relax before continuing your journey throughout the city.
Just east of Main Street, you will find one of the most unique and unexpected landmarks in Chinatown. At 207 Union Street, what was once the location of a Vie’s Chicken and Steak House, is now a shrine to Jimi Hendrix. His grandmother, Nora, was a cook at the restaurant and legend has it that people could hear Jimi practicing his guitar in the evenings if they walked by. Nowadays, a simple, but authentic shrine is set up in honor of the late, great musician.You cannot leave Chinatown without trying their dim sum – it is the some of the best you will find outside of China! Check out Kam Wai Dim Sum for an authentic taste of this Far East treat famous throughout the city, but be prepared to wait. It is not unusual for there to be a line out the door!
Kam Wai Dim Sum
249 East Pender Street
Vancouver, BC V6A 1T5
The Hip List: Yaletown
No one neighborhood in Vancouver better reflects the city’s urban revival than Yaletown. This one time industrial district is now home to the city’s trendiest scenes, from food to fashion and even real estate. Warehouses have been converted into trendy residential lofts and restaurants and bars make old loading docks some of the hottest spots in town. Here, you can mingle with the stylish residents and visitors at the Zagat-rated Opus Bar in the Opus Vancouver Hotel. Enjoy a cocktail and listen to tunes spun nightly by local DJs before heading off to discover the many bars and restaurants that make Yaletown so popular.
350 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 5V6
If the bar is not your scene, don’t worry! There are many low-key ways to enjoy all that Yaletown has to offer. Sit and enjoy the view and some fresh-shucked oysters at Rodney’s Oyster House or mingle with the neighborhood residents and enjoy a bit of people-watching at Urban Fare, a gourmet market that is a favorite with the locals for picking up a freshly made meal or shopping for hard to find foods and condiments.
Urban Fare Gourmet Market
177 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Y1
An island in the middle of the most populous city in Western Canada, Granville Island is home to a number of different restaurants, shops, galleries and more, tempting travelers with its vibrant mix of places and people.
The hottest spot on the island? The Public Market! Open seven days a week from 9 am to 7 pm, the Public Market offers hungry visitors a taste of local cuisine. Boasting an array of fresh seafood, produce, baked goods and more, this Granville gem is the perfect pit stop for stocking up on seasonal eats and gourmet goodies. Foodies will love chatting with the merchants for expert advice while perusing their offerings.
Visit the Capilano Public Market:
1661 Duranleau Street
Vancouver, BC V6H 3S3
It does not take long to realize why Kitsilano, or “Kits” as it is more commonly known, has some of the most expensive real estate in the city. Just minutes from downtown and surrounded by breathtaking views of the city and surrounding mountains, anyone would find it easy to call this place home. Kitsilano Beach is a popular spot for residents to enjoy the sand and surf or even the pool. Kitsilano Pool is ideally situated along the shore and not only is it the only heated saltwater pool in the city, it also has the distinction of being Canada’s longest pool. At 150 yards, it is almost three times longer than an Olympic size pool and definitely worth checking out!
2305 Cornwall Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6J 5L1
If wet hair isn’t your thing, you can take a stroll east and check out Vanier Park. The largest and most famous of the 15 parks in Kits, it not only offers splendid views any time of year but is also home to the H.R. Macmillan Space Centre, The Vancouver Museum as well as the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
1100 Chestnut Street
Vancouver, BC V6J 3J9
- Vancouver is the most populous city to ever host the Winter Games.
- The 2010 games were the first to hold the opening ceremony indoors.
- A number of the venues were located at sea level, a rarity for the Winter Games.
- Over C$150 million dollars went into renovating BC Place Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies were held.
- The 2010 Winter Games marked the first time that the energy consumption of the Olympic venues was tracked in real time and made available to the public. Energy data was collected from the metering and building automation systems of nine of the Olympic venues and was displayed online through the Venue Energy Tracker project.
Go Green: VanDusen Botanical Garden
More than just a plot of land flaunting a few flowers, the VanDusen Botanical Garden enchants its visitors with countless species of plants. A fairytale-like oasis, the garden is a great place to get a breath of fresh air (or get lost in the hedge maze). The grounds also boast a Garden Shop, Seed Collectors Store, and even a library of 5,000 plant-related publications for those with a green thumb. Tours are offered April through October if you want to ensure you don’t miss a thing during your visit to the garden.
Visit VanDusen Botanical Garden
5251 Oak Street
Vancouver, BC V6M 4H1
It’s easy to make 24 hours disappear in the blink of an eye when in Vancouver. So if you have the time to stay a bit longer, visit www.tourismvancouver.com for more travel tips, hints and ideas!
First Nations are one of three distinct aboriginal groups in Canada. Intrinsic drawings of masks, animals and nature can be found all over the city in the distinct style of the First Nations people. From the beautiful totems in Stanley Park at Brockton Point, to the pieces of art displayed all around the city, the influences of the First Nations on the local culture are unmistakable and unforgettable. As one of the four original nations in the Canadian constitution, they have worked hard to become a mainstay in the politics and culture of the city. In fact, the 2010 Olympic Games, hosted by the City of Vancouver, marked the first time the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognized indigenous people as an official partner in hosting the Olympic Games; Four Host First Nation was an official partner for both the 2010 winter games and the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.