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- Explore the City: Navigate by neighborhood or by activity with color-coded maps, or follow one of our self-guided neighborhood walks
- See the Sights: Bike along the coast at Stanley Park, kayak local waterways, learn about indigenous history at the Vancouver Museum of Anthropology, and soak in gorgeous nature views from atop Grouse Mountain
- Get a Taste of the City: Sip a perfect pour-over coffee, browse the artistically arranged stalls at the Granville Island Public Market, or dig into some of the best Chinese food in North America
- Bars and Nightlife: Sample local craft beer, enjoy cocktails on lush patios or in cozy speakeasies, and plug into Vancouver's artsy side with an eclectic lineup of everything from indie rock to world music
- Local Advice: Vancouver expert Carolyn B. Heller shares her favorite places in her adopted city
- Strategic Itineraries: See the best of Vancouver with itineraries designed for families, gourmands, history buffs, nature-lovers, and artists, with day trips to Victoria, Vancouver Island, and Whistler
- Full-Color Photos and Detailed Maps, so you can explore on your own
- Handy Tools: Background information on the landscape, history, and culture, packaged in a book slim enough to fit in your coat pocket
Vancouver cuts a dramatic urban figure. Set on Pacific coastal inlets with forested mountains beyond, it’s frequently named one of the world’s most livable cities. When you stroll along the waterfront, or through rainforest parks where evergreens reach the sky, it’s easy to see why. Steel-and-glass towers grow like cedars on the downtown peninsula, but in green Vancouver, you’re never far from a beach, mountain, or public park.
When the sun shines (and even when it doesn’t), Vancouverites are outdoors, running or cycling on the seaside paths, kayaking or paddleboarding local waters, or sipping a pour-over coffee or local craft beer in a sidewalk café. And unlike many North American cities, where the city center empties out when the office workers go home, many Vancouver residents live and work downtown, keeping the streets active from early morning into the night.
Home to 2.5 million people, Vancouver looks to the Pacific Rim. More than 40 percent of the metro area’s population is of Asian descent, influencing everything from art and urban design to food. Vancouver boasts some of the best Chinese cuisine outside China.
The indigenous people who’ve lived on this continent for thousands of years have also made their mark on the city. Vancouver has several museums, galleries, and other attractions where you can explore First Nations culture. An extensive collection of indigenous art at the airport welcomes visitors to the region.
Vancouver is a convenient starting point for trips along the British Columbia coast, north to the mountain resort of Whistler or across the Strait of Georgia to BC’s capital city, Victoria. There’s much to explore in this part of the world, and it all starts here.
10 TOP EXPERIENCES
1 Hike and Bike Stanley Park: The rainforest meets the city in this parkland crisscrossed with trails.
2 Wander Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden: This Chinatown oasis was the first authentic Ming Dynasty garden built outside China.
3 Graze Away at Granville Island Public Market: Nibble on charcuterie, cheeses, pastries, fudge, and other treats at this food lover’s heaven.
4 Visit the Museum of Anthropology: This striking modern museum illuminates the culture of British Columbia’s indigenous peoples and traditional cultures from around the world.
5 Feast on Chinese Food: More than half the population is of Asian descent in Richmond, where you can dig into some of the best Chinese food in North America.
6 Sample Craft Brews: Numerous craft breweries in the city welcome visitors for sampling and sipping.
7 Summit Grouse Mountain: Ride the tram up this North Shore peak for mountaintop hiking trails, a wildlife refuge, and spectacular views.
8 Find Outdoor Adventures: You don’t have to venture far from the city center to experience the rainforest, the mountains, or the sea, whether on a hiking trail, ski run, or paddling route.
9 Appreciate Indigenous Culture: Stay in Canada’s first indigenous arts hotel, sample traditional foods at a First Nations bistro, and find works by contemporary indigenous artists.
10 Take a Day Trip to Victoria: Ferry across the Strait of Georgia for a day trip to visit world-class Butchart Gardens, take afternoon tea at the grand Fairmont Empress Hotel, or go whale-watching.
THE BEST OF VANCOUVER
In just a few days, you can experience the best of Vancouver, combining outdoor activities, cultural explorations, and time for strolling, snacking, and sipping. Vancouver’s public transit system makes it easy to get around without a car; this itinerary includes tips for the most convenient transit options.
DAY 1: DOWNTOWN AND GRANVILLE ISLAND
Get your first glance of the city and orient yourself with the 360-degree view from the observation platform at the Vancouver Lookout downtown. Save your ticket to return later for the nighttime views.
Catch bus 50 on Granville Street to Granville Island. Browse the stalls and stop for a morning snack in the Granville Island Public Market before checking out the galleries and shops in the Net Loft, on Railspur Alley, and throughout the island. Don’t miss the museum-quality indigenous art at the Eagle Spirit Gallery.
For lunch, return to the Public Market or sit down for a more leisurely meal, highlighting Canadian products, at Edible Canada Bistro.
To start your afternoon on an active note, rent a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard at Ecomarine Paddlesports Centre and spend an hour paddling around the island. Back on land, refresh yourself with a sake sampling at the Artisan Sake Maker or a craft cocktail made from the small-batch spirits at Liberty Distillery before catching the bus back downtown.
Your next stop is the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, which shows works by the noted First Nations artist. Nearby, you can wander the exhibits at the Vancouver Art Gallery, making sure to see paintings by BC’s renowned Emily Carr.
In the late afternoon, rent a bike and take a leisurely ride along the Seawall in Stanley Park, stopping to see the totem poles at Brockton Point, then pedal past landmark Siwash Rock. Pause to rest at English Bay Beach, which is also one of Vancouver’s best spots to watch the sun set over the ocean. Across the street from the beach, smile at A-maze-ing Laughter, a public art piece comprising 14 grinning bronze figures.
Have dinner downtown, perhaps the imaginative contemporary fare at Royal Dinette or a creative pizza at Nightingale, then return to the Vancouver Lookout to gaze over the city’s twinkling lights.
DAY 2: UBC, GASTOWN, AND CHINATOWN
Enjoy breakfast at Forage or Medina Café before exploring more of the city’s cultural highlights.
From Granville Street, catch bus 4 or 14 west to the University of British Columbia and the Museum of Anthropology. This first-rate museum has a particularly strong collection of First Nations art, including an awe-inspiring gallery of totem poles. After exploring the museum, take a walk through the serene Nitobe Japanese Garden nearby.
When you’re finished on campus, take bus 4 back toward Kitsilano for lunch on West 4th Avenue: Thai food at Maenam or French bistro fare at Au Comptoir. Check out the 4th Avenue shops before stopping for dessert at Beaucoup Bakery & Café.
Bus 4 or 7 will take you from Kits to Gastown. Walk along Water Street, watch the Gastown Steam Clock toot its steam whistle, and stop into several of the First Nations art galleries, like Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery.
Continue into Chinatown for a late-afternoon tour of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the only authentic Ming Dynasty garden outside China.
Stay in Chinatown for dinner. Try the unusual combination of Italian and Japanese elements at speakeasy-style Kissa Tanto or share modern Canadian plates at Juniper Kitchen & Bar. After your meal, have a drink at The Keefer Bar, or take a cab back downtown for a nightcap at Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar or elegant Prohibition Lounge.
DAY 3: THE NORTH SHORE
Today, you’re exploring the mountains and rainforests on Vancouver’s North Shore. Catch the free shuttle from Canada Place to Grouse Mountain. If you’re up for a challenge, walk up the Grouse Grind, a trail nicknamed “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.” But there’s no shame in taking the Skyride; it’s North America’s largest tram system. At the top, laugh at the lumberjack show, explore the wildlife refuge, and go for a short hike. The views are spectacular on a clear day.
Come down the mountain, and at the Grouse entrance, catch bus 236 to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. This 450-foot (137-m) span swings over a canyon high above the Capilano River. If you’re feeling brave, follow the Cliffwalk, a series of boardwalks cantilevered over the rushing river. Do you dare stand on the glass platform and look down (way down)?
Get back on bus 236 to Lonsdale Quay. Stop for a drink, with views of the city skyline, at Pier 7 Restaurant & Bar, or at any of other the spots in the Shipyards District, a short walk from the quay. Then take the SeaBus across Burrard Inlet to Waterfront Station downtown.
Have dinner in Gastown, where L’Abbatoir serves French-accented west coast fare on the site of Vancouver’s first jail or stylish Chambar combines flavors of North Africa and Belgium with local ingredients.
VANCOUVER’S BEST SIGHTS
BILL REID GALLERY OF NORTHWEST COAST ART
The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art is dedicated to the life and work of the notable eponymous indigenous artist (click here).
DR. SUN YAT-SEN CLASSICAL CHINESE GARDEN
Tour Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the first authentic Ming Dynasty garden outside China (click here).
Take the youngsters to Science World, inside a geodesic dome on the banks of False Creek (click here).
GRANVILLE ISLAND PUBLIC MARKET
Find an artistically arranged food-lover’s heaven at Granville Island Public Market (click here).
Seek out narrow Railspur Alley, a hidden gem where you can chat with artists at work in their studios (click here).
MUSEUM OF VANCOUVER
The Museum of Vancouver takes you on a hands-on journey through the city’s past (click here).
MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY
The Museum of Anthropology houses one of the world’s top collections of First Peoples’ art, including massive cedar canoes, elaborate carvings, and towering totem poles (click here).
NITOBE JAPANESE GARDEN
Stroll among the flowers, waterfalls, and koi ponds in the serene Nitobe Japanese Garden (click here).
VANDUSEN BOTANICAL GARDEN
Among the 250,000 plants at the peaceful VanDusen Botanical Garden, the city seems far away (click here).
PARALLEL 49 BREWING COMPANY
Parallel 49 Brewing Company is both a craft beer tasting hall and a spirited neighborhood gathering place (click here).
ODD SOCIETY SPIRITS
Odd Society Spirits makes small-batch vodka, gin, and a “moonshine” whiskey that you can sip in a fun and funky lounge (click here).
RICHMOND NIGHT MARKET
The large and lively Richmond Night Market is an amazing Asian food adventure and sells everything from kebabs to bubble tea (click here).
For zip-lining, paragliding, skiing, and snowboarding, head for Grouse Mountain (click here).
CAPILANO SUSPENSION BRIDGE
The Capilano Suspension Bridge sways high above the Capilano River in a rainforest park (click here).
VANCOUVER WITH KIDS
With so many outdoor attractions, cool ways to get around the city, and kid-friendly restaurants, Vancouver is a fantastic destination for families. Whether you’re exploring a rainforest park, riding a ferry, or following the Dumpling Trail, Vancouver serves up plenty of family-focused fun. Tip: Always ask about special family rates or discounts when you’re buying tickets to any sights or attractions.
DAY 1: STANLEY PARK
Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day in Stanley Park, Vancouver’s rainforest green space at the end of the downtown peninsula. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre first (it’s less crowded in the mornings), then enjoy your picnic near Lost Lagoon.
After lunch, rent bikes to explore more of the park; there are several rental shops just outside the park’s West Georgia Street entrance. Follow the Seawall to see the majestic totem poles at Brockton Point, stop to cool off in the splash park near Lumberman’s Arch, and let the kids play in the sand or go for a swim at Second Beach, where there’s a large pool, restrooms, and a snack bar.
For dinner, try one of the Asian restaurants downtown. Most kids enjoy watching the dumpling makers at work at Dinesty Dumpling House, or you can dig into Japanese-style hot dogs at Japadog.
DAY 2: GRANVILLE ISLAND AND FALSE CREEK
Buy a day pass for the Aquabus ferry, so you can hop on and off these cute little boats as you travel around Granville Island and False Creek. Take the Aquabus to Science World and spend the morning exploring the hands-on exhibits. When it’s time for lunch, cruise over to Granville Island, where there are plenty of family-friendly food options in the Granville Island Public Market.
Don’t miss the Kids Market, with its kid-approved shops and indoor playground. Check out Sea Village to let the kids imagine what it would be like to live on a houseboat. When you’re done exploring the island, rent kayaks for an excursion along False Creek.
Have an early dinner at Go Fish (it’s a short stroll along the waterfront from Granville Island), then catch the Aquabus back downtown.
DAY 3: CANADA PLACE AND THE NORTH SHORE
Start your day at Canada Place with a virtual flight across the country at FlyOver Canada. You even feel the spray as you soar (virtually) over Niagara Falls.
In front of Canada Place, catch the free shuttle to Grouse Mountain. Ride the Skyride tram to the top, where you can visit the grizzly bears at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, watch the falcons soar at the Birds in Motion demonstration, and get some chuckles at the Lumberjack Show. Go for a hike, and have lunch overlooking the city and water below.
Your next stop is the Capilano Suspension Bridge (from the Grouse Mountain entrance, take bus 236 down Capilano Road). Give the kids a thrill as they look from the bridge to the canyon way below. Explore the Treetops Adventure, where you follow a network of gently swaying wooden bridges to eight treehouse platforms in the forest. When you’re ready to go back downtown, catch the free shuttle.
For supper, let the kids play with the jukeboxes at retro diner The Templeton or slurp up a bowl of ramen at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka.
- On Sale
- Jun 23, 2020
- Page Count
- 368 pages
- Moon Travel