At any time of year, Vancouver's outdoors beckons, with more choices than most people have time. Vancouver is a city designed for walking, filled with parks, trees, and flowers, as well as modern buildings, harbours, boats and beaches, mountain views, high line trails and high adventure. It's a city that's easy to explore via public transportation -- some of it free -- with myriad delights to savor and explore.
While historic Stanley Park, the 1,000-acre green space located just to the north of Vancouver's West End, is perhaps its Number One tourist attraction, its diverse neighbourhoods, each with unique appeal, can keep a visitor busy for days, if not weeks. These are just a sampling:
Locals still play beach volleyball in the shadow of skyscrapers in "Kits." It was a thriving hippy enclave in the early 60s, but today it's home to young professionals, as well as housing attractions that include the Vancouver Maritime Museum, Museum of Vancouver and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. True to its roots, Kitsilano excels in the area of "lifestyle" shopping for activewear and yoga; It's also known for its local festivals and healthy foods. Order vegetarian specialties at The Naam, open 24 hours a day.
Foodies and music fans flock to Granville Island, once the home of working sawmills and busy factories. Today, the main attraction is the Public Market, alive with colourful fruits and vegetables, fresh baked goods and just-caught seafood for sale. The best way to get there is to take a quick "Aquabus" ride across False Creek from Downtown. Spend a few hours or a few days, but don't miss the artistic vibe: there's local entertainment, live music, a distillery and craft breweries, numerous galleries and boutiques, and great casual eateries.
Chic Yaletown was once the western end of the Canadian Pacific Railway line; later it housed many of the venues for Expo 86, Vancouver's world's fair. Since then, it has been reborn as a trendy urban loft neighbourhood with more than its share of shopping, dining, drinking and artistic spots, as well as several waterfront parks that add to its quirky historical charm—making it a prime location for purchasing a second place if you're truly in love with the area. The community center proudly displays Engine 374, and great public art has been installed along waterfront walkways.
A visit to Vancouver would not be complete without a visit to Chinatown. If your visit coincides with the annual August Chinatown Festival, so much the better. Visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, named tops in the world by National Geographic, or stroll through the commercial district, and don't miss a chance to order dim sum at one of the district's many special restaurants!
Point Grey is home to this renowned university that occupies an almost 1,000-acre campus just six miles from Downtown. The UBC Botanical Garden has a collection of more than 8,000 plants, and the site of the "old arboretum" includes traditional Japanese Nitobe Garden with a functional tea house. In addition, the UBC Farm sells fresh produce at two on-site markets every week from May through October and is a model for sustainable agriculture research and education.
The Museum of Anthropology on campus boasts an extensive collection of Northwest First Nations art and artifacts as well as European pottery, heirloom jewelry and local art. The building itself is architecturally impressive, and even if museums aren't your cup of tea, this one is well worth a visit! Hours vary seasonally.
The city's core has plenty of its own delights, from high rise buildings and a modern convention center to the bustling Coal Harbour Marina and stunning Canada Place cruise ship terminal. Shopping, entertainment, fine restaurants and casual bistros are right at your doorstep if you stay at the Ramada Vancouver Downtown, right in the heart of this world-class city.
Part of Vancouver's charm is the variety and character of its many neighbourhoods. Take the time to discover these and others during your visit to this Pacific Coast metropolis.