Vancouver is one of the few cities in the world where you can ski, surf, go back in time more than 5,000 years, watch a pod of Orcas play in the middle of the city, and walk through the world’s best urban park all in the same day.
Vancouver, British Columbia, has a huge lowland, a lush temperate rain forest, and a scary mountain range that are all typical of the West Coast.
Vancouver is one of Canada’s newer cities, but it already has the titles of most ethnically diverse and most crowded.
More than half a million people live in the downtown area, which is not very big. After the 2010 Winter Olympics went well, Vancouver was named one of the world’s best places to live, even though it has a reputation for being crowded.
Vancouver is a nature lover’s dream. There are three world-class mountains within 15 minutes of the city center, as well as a ton of parks, campgrounds, hiking trails, rivers, lakes, and the world’s longest seawall.
Vancouver has a lot to do for people of all ages and interests. There is only so much time in the day, though.
1. Visit the Museum of Anthropology
Vancouver’s natural beauty is sure to impress, but to really get to know the city, you have to go back to the beginning. People first moved to the area that is now Greater Vancouver and the Lower Mainland about 10,000 years ago.
The Museum of Anthropology is on the UBC campus above Burrard Inlet. It tells a story that visitors to this beautiful city don’t often hear through a mosaic of old and new Aboriginal art. This is a must if you want to learn about Vancouver’s past and how it fits into the world as a whole.
2. Take a Drive up the Sea-to-Sky Highway
The famous ski town of Whistler is a 1.5-hour drive from downtown Vancouver along the Sea-to-Sky corridor, which has been called “one of the most beautiful journeys in the world.”
Since you won’t want to miss this trip, you should bring your camera, lunch, and fill up the gas tank in the rental car. Along the way, you’ll see waterfalls, stunning views, a cultural center, and a bridge that hangs in the air.
3. Hike the Grouse Grind
If you want to be a real Vancouverite, which is what locals are called, there’s no better way than to climb the Grouse Grind. Even though this is called “Nature’s Staircase,” you won’t be able to stroll along it.
“The Grind,” as it is affectionately called, is an 850-meter ascent through the alpine that starts at the base of the mountain with the same name on Vancouver’s North Shore.
At the top, there is a chalet with drinks and snacks and a great view of the city. Also, once you’ve rested, you can take the Grouse Gondola down the mountain and enjoy the view without putting any more strain on your tired legs.
4. Cycle Around Stanley Park
People have chosen Stanley Park in Vancouver as the “World’s Best Park,” beating out competitors like New York’s Central Park, Paris’s Luxemburg Gardens, and Chicago’s Millennium Park. Then why is it so great?
Where else can you ride all the way around a grove of old trees, see the remains of Aboriginal settlements, get a tan on the beach, relax in a rose garden, and swim with dolphins and seals in the Pacific?
Renting a bike from one of the stands at the bottom of Denman Street is the easiest way to see the park.
5. Windowshop in Gastown
Gastown is in the old part of Vancouver. It was named after a historical figure called “Gassy Jack.” In 1867, “Gastown” was the third largest city in Canada and had a number of sawmills.
Today, the area is known for its trendy loft apartments, European restaurants, cocktail clubs, and high-end shops.
Along Water Street, there are a few interesting galleries and a lot of places to buy things that are truly Canadian.
6. Dim Sum in China Town
When you go sightseeing in Vancouver, the best part is that you can see a lot of different things without having to make several trips. One of Canada’s oldest and biggest Chinatowns is in Vancouver. Chinatown is between the Downtown Financial District and Gastown.
It has some of the best Dim Sum in Vancouver and a lot of interesting shops and markets. The best time to eat Dim Sum is on Sunday, when the whole family gets together to talk about what happened during the week.
7. Find Your Zen
The Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden in Chinatown is Canada’s most famous Chinese garden. The way it was built is what makes it look so good.
The site is a copy, made by hand only, of the elaborate gardens that are common on the Mainland. It has courtyards, winding brooks, and carefully trimmed plants that are in line with Confucian and Buddhist ideas.
8. Kayaking in Deep Cove
Ocean kayaking is one of the most popular things to do in Vancouver, and Deep Cove is one of the best and safest places to do it in all of Canada if you want to get close to nature.
A calm kayak trip along Indian Arm, a beautiful fjord where animals come close to the water’s edge to watch you.
9. Take an Aquabus to Granville Island
Granville Island should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Vancouver. It is the center of the city’s creative community. It’s not really an island, but more of a small peninsula.
Once the center of Vancouver’s manufacturing industry, the waterfront is now a popular place for the wealthy in the city and tourists who want to eat, shop, go out at night, and have fun.
10. Visit the Richmond Night Market
The best time to visit is in the summer, and the Richmond Market is one of the most interesting places in the city to look around.
Richmond, which has the most Chinese people in Vancouver, puts on quite a show, with lots of shops selling trinkets and strange foods and live performances of different arts.
11. Take a Foodie Tour
Because of this, Vancouver is the place where you are most likely to find any kind of food you can think of. It holds the record for the most people from different ethnic groups living in one place.
You could easily eat your way around the world here, trying everything from the freshest sushi to the most rustic farm-to-table food.
Why not let someone else do the work and book a food tour? In addition to craft beer and wine, the city has a wide range of food options that make for a delicious day trip.
12. Hike in Lynn Canyon
Both of Vancouver’s suspension bridges are beautiful, but the one that tourists prefer is also the one that costs more. Hikers in the area have been going to Lynn Canyon Park for more than 100 years.
Even if you only have a day to explore, you shouldn’t miss the trails, popular places to swim, beautiful waterfalls, and, of course, the 50-meter-high suspension bridge that will give you the willies.
13. Wander Van Dusen Botanical Gardens
People from all over the world come to Vancouver’s Van Dusen Botanical Gardens to enjoy its quiet 22 acres. This urban wonderland is great because you can go there at any time of the year.
In the summer, the garden is best enjoyed with a picnic, a walk along Laburnum Walk, and a break under a tree. With plants and animals from all over the world, the garden is like a small trip around the world.
14. Watch a Concert at the Commodore
There are many places to see live music in Vancouver, and there’s always a big name performer who brings a lot of people. The Commodore Ballroom is one of the oldest and most popular places to see a show in the city.
The Commodore is a venue that has been around since the 1920s, during the Art Deco era. Sammy Davis Jr., U2, Tina Turner, and Lady Gaga have all played there. Admission is cheap compared to other big events in the city, and the atmosphere is much more laid-back.
15. Catch a Canucks Game
There’s no doubt that ice hockey started in Canada. The Vancouver Canucks are in the National Hockey League (NHL), and going to a game is one of the most exciting things to do in Vancouver between October and April.
16. Go for a Run in Pacific Spirit Park
It won’t take you long to figure out that most of Vancouver’s residents’ free time is spent outdoors, and Pacific Spirit Regional Park is one of their favorite places to do that. At the park, everything is done. There are miles of well-kept running paths and 874 hectares of unspoiled woods.
Travelers can either take a fast 10-kilometer hike around the park’s edge or a slow stroll through the middle. If you bring Fido with you, don’t worry; the park is dog-friendly and has several places where dogs can play without a leash.
17. Sea-to-Sky Gondola
We’ve talked about the sea-to-sky corridor before, but we haven’t talked about the amazing things you can see along the way, like the Sea-to-Sky Gondola, which is one of Vancouver’s newest and most exciting attractions.
The Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge is 100 meters long and has amazing views of the Squamish area and all that Vancouver has to offer. You might not want to leave the beautiful blue fjord below, which is surrounded by forested mountains.
18. Catch a Sunset in English Bay
West End in Vancouver is one of the most unique neighborhoods in the country. It is Canada’s most populated metro area, and its closeness to Stanley Park and the seawall makes it a very active and always-changing part of the city.
During some summers, it might be hard to tell who lives there and who is just visiting. When it’s time for dinner in the evening, check out the restaurants and bars on Denman Street. Then, find a place to sit in English Bay and watch the sky put on a show for you.
19. Visit Christ Church Cathedral
The Christ Church Cathedral is one of the most beautiful places of worship in Vancouver. This Gothic Revival church was built with Douglas fir from the West Coast. It is beautiful no matter what you believe. This is a peaceful place to relax because of the beautiful stained glass windows and ornate arches.
20. Get Folksy on the Sunshine Coast
Vancouver is great, but if you’re lucky enough to have a day or two to spare, you can do a lot of great day trips from the city. If you take a boat across the bay, you’ll end up on Canada’s Sunshine Coast, which is a beautiful place to relax by the water.
The roads in this seaside town are as laid-back as the people who live there, who are a lot of fun and different.
Sechelt, Roberts Creek, and Gibsons are all great places to stay, but if you really want to get away from it all, you can rent a cabin further up the coast and spend your days visiting real farmer’s markets, relaxing on the shores of calm lakes, and reading on the beach.
21. The PNE
The Pacific National Exhibition is held in the city every summer for 17 days. This interesting city-meets-urban fair has been going strong for 100 years. It has a wide range of rides, auctions for farm animals, a popular music series, beer gardens, and food stands.
22. Find a Local Event in the Georgia Strait
People in Vancouver usually look at the Georgia Strait to find out “what’s up” in the city. Any event, anywhere, at any time, from small community center talent shows to major movies, ballets, and super-bands on tour, will be posted here.
Whether you like jazz at a local bar, a comedy show on Granville Island, or getting dressed up for a charity event at the Vancouver Convention Center, this free newspaper has something for everyone.
23. The Vancouver Aquarium
You can learn a lot about the marine life of the Pacific Ocean and the Brazilian Amazon by going to the Vancouver Aquarium. This facility is a popular place for tourists to visit when they come to Vancouver. It is one of the biggest aquariums in North America and is in the middle of Stanley Park.
If you want to see Beluga whales up close and learn how important salmon are to the West Coast environment, you should plan to spend at least a day at the Aquarium. There is a lot to see and the displays change often, so you will want to take your time.
24. Lunch on the Drive
Like cities and towns all over the world, those in Vancouver have a story to tell. Commercial Drive is one of the oldest streets in Vancouver, and it has a lot of different kinds of people living on it.
This 100-year-old street, now called “The Drive,” has both modern and Edwardian homes, as well as bakeries, coffee shops, pasta restaurants, and other hippy-chic businesses.
During the warmer months, when people are out enjoying the weather and looking for a good meal and interesting conversation, The Drive is a popular place to meet up.
25. Ski, Snowboard or Play in the Snow
Vancouver has mild weather all year long, but when it snows, the North Shore mountains turn into a winter paradise. Vancouver is a great place for a winter vacation because there are three great mountains within 15 minutes of the city center, and one of them has a free shuttle to get there.
Cypress in West Vancouver has the best tubing park in the city, while Seymour and Grouse Mountains in North Vancouver have runs for both experts and families.
Skiers can take a shuttle to Whistler/Blackcomb, which is one of the best places to ski in the world. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games should have been held in Vancouver.