Tourist Guide to Must Visit Places in Vancouver
By: Tiasha Chatterjee
Vancouver is one of the few places on Earth where you can ski, surf, travel back in time more than 5,000 years, see a pod of orcas play, or take a stroll through the best urban park in the world all in the same day. Vancouver, British Columbia, is indisputably West Coast, nestled between wide lowlands, a lush temperate rain forest, and an uncompromising mountain range.
Vancouver, one of Canada's more recent cities, boasts the distinction of being the most ethnically diverse and congested, with over 500,000 people crammed into its small downtown area. Vancouver is routinely ranked as one of the most livable cities around the world, despite sounding congested after holding a highly successful Winter Olympics in 2010.
With three world-class mountains within a 15-minute drive of the city centre, hundreds of parks and campgrounds, thousands of hiking paths, one of the world's longest seawalls, and innumerable rivers and lakes to explore, Vancouver is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. There are countless activities in Vancouver that cater to all age groups and interests, but there are only so many hours in the day. To help you get started, here is a terrific list of activities.
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Capilano Suspension Bridge
When it comes to the woodland at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, the phrase "walk through the forest" has a completely new meaning. On a suspension bridge that spans the Capilano River and has a length of 140 metres (460 feet) and a peak height of 70 metres (230 feet), visitors can stroll through the upper reaches of an old-growth rain forest.
The park also has Treetops Adventure, which features seven suspension bridges up to 30 metres (100 feet) above the forest floor, platforms from which visitors can see the forest from a squirrel's perspective, and Cliffwalk, a walkway that clings to the side of a granite cliff. Less daring tourists will enjoy strolling a ground trail, taking in Totem Park, and watching Northwest indigenous create their traditional crafts.
Vancouver's Old Town is Gastown. The city's original city centre was called "Gassy" Jack Deighton after a Yorkshire seaman, but it changed its name to Vancouver in 1886. It was swiftly rebuilt after being completely destroyed by fire the same year, but over time it deteriorated.
The 1960s saw a revitalization of Gastown. Gastown is now the hub of fashion, gastronomy, entertainment, and art in Vancouver. As a national historic district, Gastown's old structures are home to hip stores and boutiques, cutting-edge eateries, traditional and contemporary Native American art, and a thriving entertainment scene.
Granville Island (really a peninsula), one of the most successful urban redevelopment initiatives in North America, began as industrial property. When the industry changed over time, its warehouses and businesses were left alone and deteriorated. Granville Island has several functions now.
A public market open every day sells seafood and fresh goods. There are seaside eateries, art galleries, and a bustling entertainment scene with everything from comedy to modern theatre. Buskers are also plentiful to amuse tourists while they browse the market and the boutiques.
In the heart of Vancouver, Stanley Park spans approximately 1,000 acres. Enjoy a leisurely bike ride along English Bay's 8.8 kilometres (5.5 miles) of seawall in the city's first and largest park. While stopping to see animals, such as the hundreds of species of birds that call the park home, tourists who prefer a more leisurely pace are invited to hike along 27 kilometres (16.7 miles) of paths through a rainforest.
Horse-drawn carriage excursions around this tranquil and picturesque environment are available through the park's owner, the City of Vancouver. Nine totem poles constructed by First Nations tribal members give the park, which has served the city since 1888, a splash of colour.
Ontario is the home to Toronto, the largest city in the country, as well as Ottawa, the nation's capital. But what makes Ontario stand out is its extensive stretches of wilderness, pristine lakes, and Niagara Falls, one of Canada's most popular natural attractions. Learn more at Tourist Guide to Must Visit Places in Ontario.
Grouse Mountain, which is only 15 minutes outside of Vancouver, got its name in 1894 when the first persons to climb it went grouse hunting en route to the summit. Today, Grouse Mountain is one of Vancouver's most well-liked year-round adventure destinations, offering both fantastic summer hiking and winter skiing.
A tramway whisks guests to the mountain's summit throughout the year, where they may enjoy breathtaking vistas and wildlife films. The resort also has a wildlife reserve with bears, wolves, and educational activities. A lumberjack show, where viewers may watch lumberjacks compete to cut, saw, and roll logs, is equally entertaining.
A prominent icon on Vancouver's skyline, Canada Place has roof peaks wrapped in fabric that resemble sails. The building itself is colourful, with the hues standing for Canada's variety. To assist Canadian Pacific Railway and other traders shipping products by sea across the Pacific Ocean, Canada Place was constructed in 1927.
The multipurpose building currently transports people on Alaskan cruises. The Vancouver World Trade and Convention Center as well as a significant hotel are located there. The waterfront Canada Place, which has undergone several renovations throughout the years, housed the Canadian Pavilion at the World's Fair in 1986.
Museum of Anthropology at UBC
For those who are interested in learning more about indigenous peoples around the globe, particularly the Northcoast Indians of British Columbia, who are referred to as First Nations, the University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology is a must-visit. The museum, which was founded in 1949, is home to 38,000 ethnographic artefacts and more than 500,000 archaeological artefacts.
Here, you can see wonderful examples of the enormous totem poles that Northcoast tribes use to tell stories, as well as tools that all indigenous peoples utilise on a daily basis. The Museum of Anthropology is Canada's largest teaching museum as well as a tourist attraction, though it's hard to imagine anyone learning in this breathtaking location with views of the sea and mountains.
Like Madison Avenue in New York and Knightsbridge in London, Robson Street in Vancouver is the premier retail area in British Columbia. Since the late 1800s, Robson Street, which has the name of a former provincial premier, has drawn shoppers as honey does fly.
There are more than just posh boutiques and trendy shops on Robson Street. Additionally, it provides art galleries, informal and elegant eating, and a variety of ethnic cuisines. At night, a large number of street entertainers are present to amuse shoppers or people-watchers sipping coffee at a sidewalk café.
Dr Sun Yat-Sen Garden
The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is the first Ming Dynasty-styled park constructed outside of China, and it is located in Vancouver's Chinatown. To verify the garden's authenticity, 52 Suzhou-based craftsmen were hired. The park, which bears the name of the first president of the Republic of China, transports visitors to 15th-century China even though it was just constructed in the middle of the 1980s.
In this busy city, the garden's imported pebbles from Suzhou, vegetation, water features, and architecture come together to create a tranquil haven. Visitors can unwind and let their senses take control in the courtyards of the garden.
Despite being only ten minutes' drive west of the centre, Kitsilano Beach seems a world away from Downtown Vancouver's bustle. It faces out onto English Bay and offers beautiful sands, a picturesque setting, and the only saltwater pool in the city.
The beach offers playgrounds, picnic spots, volleyball courts, basketball courts, and tennis courts. It is especially well-liked in the summer. Kitsilano Beach is renowned for its breathtaking views of the sea, the city, and the distant mountains in addition to all of its outdoor activities.
The Vancouver Aquarium is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area and is home to a variety of aquatic creatures, displays, and habitats. The magnificent marine centre, which is housed inside the expansive grounds of Stanley Park, is a treat to explore because of all the amazing water life it contains, both huge and little.
The aquarium, which first opened its doors in 1956, now impressively accommodates over 70,000 animals, including penguins, sea otters, and seals, in addition to enormous shoals of shimmering fish. While most of the focus is on the fauna and flora of Canada and the arctic oceans that surround it, there are also exhibits of snakes, sloths, and caimans in some of the areas that focus on the tropics or Amazon rainforest.
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Queen Elizabeth Park
The sizable Queen Elizabeth Park, which draws both locals and visitors, is located just adjacent to the garden. It is centred on Little Mountain, the highest point in the city, and offers visitors amazing views of Vancouver as well as lots of gorgeous green spaces and enjoyable outdoor activities.
With endless playing fields and sporting facilities, you may play pitch-and-putt golf or tennis in addition to walking, jogging, and cycling throughout its picturesque boundaries. Along with Bloedel Conservatory and Nat Bailey Stadium, which is where the Vancouver Canadians play their baseball games, it also has a variety of picturesque gardens.
VanDusen Botanical Garden
Only 10 minutes' drive south of the downtown is the sizable and lush VanDusen Botanical Garden. It features numerous charming walks, ponds, and breathtaking beauty everywhere you turn.
The stunning park, which first welcomed visitors in 1975, features various distinct areas, including a maze, meditation garden, rhododendron walk, Korean Pavilion, and sino-Himalayan region. Around Christmas, when its plants, trees, and bushes are covered in millions of sparkling fairy lights, is a particularly magical time to visit.
Spanish Banks Beach
The picturesque and peaceful sands of Spanish Banks Beach are located about fifteen minutes drive to the west of the city. It provides a fantastic selection of outdoor activities, as well as breathtaking views of both the adjacent coastline and Vancouver in the distance. It is located along the shores of English Bay.
Visitors can play soccer or volleyball in addition to relaxing on the beach and swimming in the ocean, and there are bike trails, picnic spaces, and park seats all over the place. Along with superb kitesurfing and skimboarding, the lovely beach also has lifeguards on duty during the summer.
A climb to the top of the tall Vancouver Lookout is unbeatable if you want to see the city from above. Its modern viewing deck, which rises 550 feet above street level, provides unparalleled 360-degree views of the city, the surrounding mountains, and the sea.
The overlook is situated in the heart of Downtown Vancouver, just steps from the shore, atop the towering Harbour Centre building. In addition, visitors can get information about the landmarks and tourist destinations below or stop by the restaurant, which rotates.
The Bloedel Conservatory's magnificent, verdant gardens and aviary are perched atop the city's highest point. Its enormous ancient dome, which is part of Queen Elizabeth Park, is a delight to explore because it is filled with lovely exotic plants, trees, and birds.
The enormous conservatory, which was built in 1969 and offers views of the city and its surrounds, today has three distinct climatic zones and habitats. More than 500 different types of flowers, plants, and trees can be found in its wet tropical rainforest and arid desert regions. Numerous colourful birds fly about freely in the sky.
Science World is a fascinating location to visit and is home to a variety of intriguing exhibitions that shed light on topics ranging from art and the human body to water, air, and animals. It is located at the end of False Creek and is housed in a cutting-edge facility with a striking geodesic dome.
The museum has been a main attraction for both locals and visitors since it first opened in 1989. Its interactive exhibits entice you to learn more about science and technology. You can see live demonstrations or instructional movies in its enormous Omnimax Theatre in addition to participating in entertaining hands-on experiments and activities.
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Top Activities to Participate in Vancouver
Visit the Anthropology Museum
Vancouver's natural beauty can easily take your breath away, but in order to truly get to know this city, you must start at the very beginning. Around 10,000 years ago, people lived in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, which is located on campus and overlooks the Burrard Inlet, offers up a mosaic of both ancient and modern Aboriginal artworks, weaving together a narrative that is rarely shared with tourists to this magnificent city. This is one of the most crucial things to do in Vancouver if you really want to understand the city's history and its place in the world.
Driving along the Sea-to-Sky Highway
The Sea-to-Sky corridor, one of the most scenic highways in the world, takes travellers 1.5 hours to travel from the centre of downtown Vancouver to the renowned ski resort of Whistler.
You'll want to pack a lunch, and your camera, and fill up the rental car with petrol because this trip is one you won't want to miss. Along the way, you'll see waterfalls, breathtaking panoramas, a beautiful cultural centre, and a suspension bridge.
Grouse Grind Hike
Earning your stripes on the Grouse Grind is the best way to become an honorary Vancouverite (yes, that's what they're called). This staircase, known as "Mother Nature's Staircase," is hardly a Sunday walk. At the base of its namesake (Grouse Mountain), on Vancouver's North Shore, the Grind, as it's affectionately called, leads trekkers 850 metres upward through the alpine.
When you get to the top, a panoramic chalet with cool refreshments and sweeping city views is waiting for you. Once you've recovered, rescue those unstable legs from more pain by taking the Grouse Gondola for a beautiful ride down the mountain.
Cycle Around Stanley Park
The results are in, and the people have spoken: Vancouver's Stanley Park has been crowned the World's Best Park by Trip Advisor, beating out parks like New York's Central Park, Paris' Luxembourg Gardens, and Chicago's Millennium Park. Why is it so fantastic, then?
Where else in the world can you pedal the entire length of an old-growth forest, visit the remains of ancient Aboriginal villages, steal some rays at the beach, relax in a rose garden, or get up close and personal with Pacific dolphins and sea lions? The best way to navigate the park is via bicycle, which can be rented at a few locations near Denman Street.
Go Windowshopping In Gastown
The city of Vancouver officially began in the centre of Gastown, a popular area named for a historical figure known as "Gassy Jack." In 1867, "Gastown," Canada's third-largest city, was home to a number of timber mills. Today, Gastown is a trendy neighbourhood with loft apartments, European restaurants, cocktail lounges, and glitzy shops. Along Water Street, there are numerous opportunities to purchase Canadiana as well as a few noteworthy galleries.
Visit Granville Island by Aquabus
Without visiting the artistic Granville Island, a trip to Vancouver would be incomplete. It's oddly more of a tiny peninsula than an island. What was once a centre for industrial manufacturing is today where well-to-do Vancouverites and visitors congregate to shop for organic vegetables, drink specialty teas, try fine chocolates, listen to buskers, and observe sleek yachts docking.
Deep Cove Kayaking
Ocean kayaking is one of the most popular things to do in Vancouver, and Deep Cove is one of the greatest and safest places to do it in Canada if getting up close and personal with nature is your idea of the ideal day out. A peaceful paddle-up Indian Arm will take you past a lovely fjord where curious forest critters will come up to the edge of the water to greet you.
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Where Do I Stay in Vancouver?
You will be close to the Waterfront Station and Burrard Station, which both have numerous train and bus connections if you are organising any journeys within or outside of Vancouver. If you're interested in architecture, you might embark on a walking tour of Downtown and see sites like the Brutalist Harbour Centre, the Art Deco Marine Building, and the Christ Church Cathedral from the 19th century.
Major cultural institutions like the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Vancouver Opera are also located downtown. The best place to shop Downtown is Robson Street, especially if you're looking for expensive items.
Hyatt Regency (Luxury Hotel)
The communal areas in this premium hotel are large and open, with beautiful designs and high ceilings. The interiors are also highly modern and trendy. Large, comfortable mattresses, desks, and breathtaking views of Vancouver's skyline are all features of the accommodations. A heated outdoor pool and a hot tub are available for relaxation. On the ground floor, there is a cafe, a bar, a grill, and even a Starbucks.
The Sutton Place Hotel
This is a sizable, five-star hotel with luxurious furnishings. When you stay here, you may spend your evenings lounging by the fireplace in the elegantly furnished, wood-panelled lounge and dining at the hotel's fine restaurant. Traditional rooms with desks and seating areas are available. A spa, indoor pool, and Jacuzzi are also available for guests' use. On the ground floor, there is also a wine store.
The St. Regis Hotel (For Midrange Budget)
Despite being a locally owned, historic hotel, the inside is all about bright, modern colours and comfortable amenities. Onsite, there are two dining options available as well as a welcoming bar. There is a desk and a seating area in each room. Free international calls can be made at any time. The use of a neighbouring sports club is free for visitors. The hotel goes above and beyond by offering additional amenities like babysitting. The St. Regis Hotel is located near Library Square and two Skytrain stations.
The Orpheum Theatre and the Vancouver Playhouse are close, making the neighbourhood ideal for theatre and shopping enthusiasts. A boutique hotel is situated on the corner of Richards and Robson Streets. A heated outdoor saltwater pool and hot tub are located back at the hotel, making them the ideal places to unwind. Large beds and marble bathrooms may be found in every room. For the utmost in cosiness, some even have the luxury of a fireplace.
The Victorian Hotel (The Best Budget Hotel)
The Victorian Hotel is a prime example of shabby chic design, with exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, and contemporary furnishings that make excellent use of the building's historic late 19th-century setting. Both historical and modern urban design elements are present. Every morning, a balanced continental breakfast is provided. This 3-star hotel is conveniently located near a Skytrain station, and Vancouver's bustling Gastown offers a wide variety of restaurants.
A luxurious, boutique-style 5-star hotel with colourful, eccentric décor and funky furnishings. The rooms have unique artwork, vivid colour schemes, fireplaces, and light-filled bathrooms. A trendy restaurant, cocktail bar, and fitness centre are all nearby. With all the activity and dining options that Yaletown has to offer, this is a fantastic spot to stay. Getting about the city is simple because there is a Skytrain station close by.
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