Long hailed as one of the world’s most livable cities, Vancouver draws visitors with its unique combination of coastal beauty, temperate weather and rugged mountains. Whether shopping Downtown on Robson Street, exploring the market at Granville Island, cycling the seawall around iconic Stanley Park, or sampling its exceptional Asian cuisine, there’s no shortage of things to do in Vancouver.
For Canada’s third-largest city Vancouver is surprisingly compact, but it still requires some initial orientation. The West Side, West End and West Vancouver, for instance, are all different places with their own personalities. The West Side, from Ontario Street to the tip of tony West Point Grey, includes old-money neighbourhoods like Shaughnessy, but also laid-back Kitsilano’s restaurants and bars, beaches and spectacular views. The West End, between Downtown and Stanley Park, is also home to the city’s Davie Street gay village. Residential West Vancouver and North Vancouver together constitute the North Shore, which is crisscrossed with hiking trails through lush coastal mountain forests. And East Vancouver includes distinctive, diverse neighbourhoods like mid-Main and Commercial Drive, offering everything from trendy vintage and bespoke fashion to local boozers and hipster brewpubs.
Sights and attractions in Vancouver
A great way to experience Vancouver is to start at the Seawall. Running 22 km along the perimeter of Downtown Vancouver, it’s the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront walkway; popular with walkers, rollerbladers and cyclists all year long, it also circles the sweeping Stanley Park. Explore the park and coast at your leisure or, for other things to do in Vancouver, follow the Seawall further to reach sandy beaches, trendy Yaletown, False Creek, and eventually Granville Island. At the far end of False Creek, an enormous geodesic dome built for Expo ’86 houses Science World and its wraparound OMNIMAX Theatre, a good spot to unleash your inner geek.
Across False Creek from Downtown, Granville Island is a hotspot for artisanal shops, artists’ studios and galleries, and is also the home of the Public Market. Boutiques, restaurants and the Arts Club Theatre make it an entertainment district in its own right, where you can spend a day shopping, eating and partying while taking in the views of Downtown.
East of Downtown, Vancouver’s Chinatown is the third largest in North America and includes an array of restaurants, tea shops and traditional markets. After the area’s riot of colours and smells, the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, with its covered walkways and pavilions rimmed by hand-made roof tiles, offers a restful refuge. If you visit Chinatown in January or February at the lunar Chinese New Year, join more than 55,000 others for festivities including fireworks and epic performances of traditional ‘lion dances’.
Arts Club Theatre 1585 Johnston Street. 604 687 1644 (box office).
Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden 578 Carrall Street. 604 662 3207. Admission: May-Sep $14 adults, $11 seniors, $10 students; Oct-Apr $12 adults, $10 seniors, $9 students.
Science World 1455 Quebec Street. 604 443 7440. Admission $22.50 or $28.50 with OMNIMAX film (discounts for children, students and seniors – check website).
Stanley Park 604 681 6728.