Vancouver area, Canada
Vancouver Attractions: What to do and Where to go
There are an incredible number of things to do in Vancouver and in the beautiful areas surrounding the city. This metropolitan area is divided by a fjord, as well as by other inlets into the sea, breaking up the city into various sectors. The majority of the urban attractions are in the historic area of Vancouver, from where the city extends out to the east, north and south, right to the border with the state of Washington, in the US. Since the city is surrounded by water, there are many bridges, marinas and wharfs which offer incredible views of water, surrounded by city skylines. You can enjoy the view from any angle you choose, making Vancouver a true photographic paradise.
On the other side, there are snowy mountains that surround Vancouver, where you can find natural resources that allow for a variety of sports like skiing, hiking or rock climbing. There are also a series of man-made attractions like the longest sky gondola route in North America. From here, you can make out the lush forests as well as the outline of the province of British Columbia, the Pacific Ocean and the coves that form the unusual silhouette of the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver.
We recommend visiting the mountains and the museums on separate days, given that there wouldn't be enough time to see both things in one day and that each activity requires very distinct attire. There are a number of different attractions in Vancouver which can be found here, grouped according to zone. That way, you'll know if you need to use rugged clothing and hiking boots or comfy clothes and shoes so that you can walk about the streets of this meticulously clean city.
There are a number of neighborhoods that you shouldn't miss the chance of seeing. Among the most notable is Gastown, recently named the most valuable historic site of Canada. It was the first urban establishment in this remote corner of the west coast and the start of a small colony called Granville. Over time, this colony became a city and in 1886, garnered the name of Vancouver.
The colonial English architecture, beautiful cobblestone streets, gardens, statues and a famous steam-powered clock, that is still working, adorn the streets of this quaint neighborhood. There are historic corners, cafes, boutiques and places that have formed a part of many films in recent years due to the fact that this tiny area has become something like the Hollywood of Canada.
One of the most colorful neighborhoods in the city of Vancouver is, without a doubt, Chinatown. You can find distinctive roofs with Chinese characters, the hubbub of the camaraderie of the inhabitants and the numerous stores that offer everything from handicrafts and electronic items to rare and unusual medicinal and cooking ingredients from the Far East.
Once here, don't pass up the chance to visit the beautiful Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. It is a faithful reproduction of the ancient gardens of China, with buildings, plants, trees and landscaping, applying techniques typically used on the other side of the Pacific.
Just like the fact that the Sydney Opera House is difficult to associate with any other city that is not Sydney, the building known as Canada Place, located in the heart of Vancouver, has given a unique identity to the city skyline since 1985. This fascinating multi-use commercial center is the site of Vancouver's World Trade Center as well as the Vancouver Convention Center, a luxurious hotel and the first permanent IMAX Theater in the world.
Canada Place is also the point of arrival and departure of the immense cruises that travel up and down the frigid coasts of British Columbia, all the way up to Alaska. Efficient Vancouver urban transportation systems like the metropolitan train system, SkyTrain or the communal ferry that crosses the Burrard Inlet, the SeaBus make transport between the city center and the northern and western parts of Vancouver much easier.
Three blocks away from Canada Place, within the limits of Gastown and the city center, is one of the most representative buildings of Vancouver: Harbour Center. The Vancouver Lookout is not known for an architectural style nor for the age of its construction but because it is a marvelous lookout. Enjoy the 360 degree panoramic view of the city.
In the building, there are boutiques for souvenirs, offices, lecture halls and a revolving restaurant. The main attraction, however, are the glass elevators that lift passengers 130 meters above street level, offering what is probably the best view of Vancouver. Take photos of this beautiful city and of the mountains that surround it.
In Vancouver, there are museums that display beautiful pieces of art created in this mountainous region of Canada since prehistoric times. The main ones are the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology and the Museum of Vancouver. Here you can find pieces made by people of the First Nations, groups of indigenous Americans from tribes like the Haida and the Squamish that settled in the area. They primarily benefitted from the natural resources of the ocean on one side, the fresh water from the mountains on the other and from the number of animals that made up part of the diet of these tribes.
Science World at Telus World of Science is an absolute must for everyone and in particular, for children and for science buffs. Carefully conducted experiments help the visitor have a better understanding of science by testing out different laws of physics with experiments in electricity, hydraulic pressure, magnetism, projection and decomposition of light, among many other tests. The interactive methods of this fun science museum are interesting for all visitors.
West End - English Bay
The area known as West End, located near the downtown area and Stanley Park, is a mainly residential area with the exception of Davie and Robson Streets, where you can find all sorts of establishments like hotels, casual cafes on picturesque terraces, restaurants, bohemian bars, boutiques and the like.
The most interesting part of this laid-back part of the city is that on the coastline, there are beaches and excellent views of the spectacular English Bay, facing the marinas of False Creek. From here, you can also see the bridges of the city as well as the tourist attraction Granville Island. The beaches are surrounded by extensive green areas and are an excellent recommendation for a visit. Come admire the view while you exercise in this truly spectacular place. Swimming here is not recommended because the Northern Pacific is very cold and doesn't offer a particularly warm welcome.
Granville Island is a truly picturesque site. It is a combination of a number of things to do, see, eat, buy and have fun. In this little corner of Vancouver, located under the Granville Bridge, there are marinas for yachts, handicraft stores, house boats, a colorful market, multiple workshops belonging to local artists, film studios, boutiques, an art and design university, theaters, as well as cafes and restaurants of all price ranges. Enjoy the panoramic views of the sea and the spectacular cluster of buildings that make up the downtown area of Vancouver.
Visiting Granville Island in the summer is an excellent time to visit. This is an especially good choice for kids because here you can find the largest water park in North America and it's free.
On the outskirts of the city (but very close to the downtown area), there is a park that covers about 988 acres. This is Stanley Park, a great natural reserve, wild with fauna typical to the region, like squirrels, raccoons and beautiful Canadian geese.
From Stanley Park, the impressive Lions Gate Bridge spans the Burrard Inlet, connecting West and North Vancouver. The park is also home to Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour. It is on the way to Whistler, which is the ski resort of choice of the jet setters that like to fit a little winter skiing holiday into their busy schedules.
The fascinating Vancouver Aquarium is the largest in Canada and can be found in Stanley Park, surrounded by nature. The sea life here is also abundant, coming from as far as the tropics as well as the Arctic Circle. Belugas, orcas, sharks, sea lions and otters can be admired in the enormous tanks and feature amazing shows prepared for the public. Some of the passageways of the aquarium are lined with impressive fish tanks, where friendly animals swim up and strut their stuff for visitors.
This is one of the attractions that you and your family can't miss out on. Bring kids and grown ups closer to these sensational animals at the Vancouver Aquarium.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
The impressive Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of the most popular attractions in Vancouver and has been visited by millions of people since its opening in 1889. Securely anchored on both sides of a very deep canyon, cut by the flow of the Capilano River, the bridge rises 70 meters, creating a terrifying experience for those who decide to cross it.
Inside the park, there is also a private collection of the largest totem poles in North America. To add to the attraction of Capilano, there are also more suspension bridges, stairs that seem to reach the heavens and a lookout point with a fantastic never-ending view of the forest.
Mount Seymour, Cypress Mountain and Grouse Mountain are three of the closest peaks to the city of Vancouver. Enjoy outdoor mountain activities all year round and take advantage of the summertime, when you can walk, hike or mountain bike. The mechanic installations, like the chair lifts, offer beautiful panoramic rides through vast forests that cover this Canadian province. The winters here are great for those downhill skiers who are looking for challenging slopes.
Grouse Mountain is distinguishable from the other two mountains because it's got one of the most sensational skylift rides in North America. The ride offers spectacular aerial views of the city of Vancouver and its slopes have a series of ziplines that can have you screaming.
This fantastic alpine villa is located 125 kilometers north of Vancouver and offers first class lodging, ski slopes of varying difficulty, ski schools, ski rentals, ski apparel stores as well as a tourist area that has bars, stores and restaurants.
In recent decades (and because of its incredible landscapes and excellent service in the restaurants and hotels), Whistler has turned into the choice of all those ski aficionados as well as of those international socialites who want to enjoy an exclusive winter vacation. This ski resort has become as exclusive as Vail and Aspen in the United States and Chamonix and St. Moritz in Europe.
If you have the opportunity, take a ferry to Vancouver Island. Take your car onto the ferry and cross the frigid waters as you pass by multiple islands covered with lush growth. When you get to the island, make a stop in Victoria or in Nanaimo. With any luck, you'll be able to see a colony of orcas, known for making this particular area a favorite spot so keep your eyes peeled.
Victoria is the capital of the province of British Columbia. It is an elegant city where there is an impressive palace that serves as the Parliment Building. This building, its gardens and the colonial houses of Victoria will definitely make your trip worthwhile.
On the other hand, Nanaimo is a tiny city that is completely surrounded by nature. The regular inhabitants of this area are people, huge sea lions and white eagles. The landscape is constantly dotted with hydroplanes coming and going or the luxury yachts and tour boats that sail around to admire the marvelous beauty of Vancouver Island.
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