11 Top Things to Do in Vancouver, British Columbia

categories: canada travel
Stanley Park Totem Poles

Stanley Park Totem Poles

Stanley Park

Stanley park is the largest “urban” park in North America (slightly bigger than Manhattan’s Central Park) so while it is a great place for a walk, it is probably an even better place for a bike ride. I say this from experience. Combine shoes that are not broken in and trekking all over the park and you can, like me, end up with blisters that hobble you for the rest of your trip.

Calling Stanley Park  an urban part seems a bit silly because while Central Park has buildings on all 4 sides, Stanley Park is almost completely surrounded by water. There are great views from the park of bridges, barges, boats and even sightseeing sea planes that take off and land every few minutes between the park and near by Canada Place.

One of the more popular features of the part is a collection of First Nation’s totem poles. Near that collection is Vancouver’s little mermaid statue. It is also the home of the Vancouver aquarium which is the best aquarium… in all of Vancouver.

China Town

When we first visited Vancouver for the 1986 World Expo, with 300,000 of our closest friends, we stayed in the Chinatown neighborhood. It has a few rough edges but Vancouver has a vibrant asian population. One site I have not yet seen is the Chinatown Night Market which is supposed to be reminiscent of the night markets in Hong Kong and other Chinese cities.

Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island

Granville Island is best known for its large and delicious public market, its many restaurants and its artist workshops. For me a visit to a glass blowing workshop is the most memorable experience, but the market is not just a gastronomic tour de force but also a photographic one.

False Creek Ferries

False Creek Ferries

False Creek Ferries

Part of the fun of Granville Island is getting there. The best way to get there is crossing False Creek on one of the False Creek Ferries. These tiny ferries look like a child’s bathtub toy, but the waters of False Creek are sheltered and the ride is enjoyable. Back in 1986 the area north of False Creek from Granville Island was the home for the World Expo but is now mostly residential neighborhoods.

Science Museum

Two buildings left over from the 1986 Expo are the Canada and British Columbia pavilions. With its distinctive sail-like roof Canada Place is now the convention center and cruise ship terminal. The geodesic dome of the old British Columbia pavilion is now a great hands-on Science Museum located near False Creek.

Food Trucks

The rise of a great food truck, food cart culture in Vancouver is relatively new. When I was last in Vancouver I ate great gourmet tacos from a food truck and a to die for chicken and gravy sandwich from a food cart. Food trucks can come and go in more ways than one so a great resource for tracking down your new favorite in Vancouver is the Street Food App (http://streetfoodapp.com/vancouver)

Clift Walk at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Clift Walk at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

You can hope a free shuttle bus from the Canada place (where the cruise ships stop) to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park which is a bouncy bridge that crosses a picturesque gorge north of the city. The have recently added both a cliff walk and a tree top walk which makes the visit more worth the price of admission. Those who a fear of heights should skip this stop.

Grouse Mountain

Nearby Grouse Mountain is the “most hiked mountain in world”. The climb is 850 meters and is a strenuous climb. For those not inclined to inclines you can ride the gondola, the Skyride, up the mountain instead.

Whistler

If mountains are your pleasure then I would recommend a side trip from Vancouver to Whistler. Whistler is a popular ski resort but it is fun (and cheaper) in the summer as well when you can take the lifts up to climb on the mountains or see the glacier on the far side of the mountain.

Gastown Steam Clock

Gastown Steam clock

Gastown

Gastown is one of Vancouver’s oldest neighborhoods and still retains some its charm. The best known feature in Gastown is a stream powered clock but it is the restaurants, shops and galleries that are the real attraction. The neighborhood is named after  ‘Gassy’ Jack Deighton a former British sailor and the owner of the neighborhood’s first saloon. I am not sure I want to know how he got that nickname. Canada.com has a great gallery walk to use to explore Gastown.

Robson Street

This busy shopping and dining street is also the first place that I ever saw two Starbucks across the intersection from each other. If the wether is nice a few of the restaurants in the area have roof top dining.

Getting There

Flights to Vancouver arrive at the Vancouver International Airport. The easiest way into Vancouver from the airport is via the airports  rapid transit rail link. Trains will get you from the airport to downtown in 26 minutes and run every 7 minutes during peak hours and every 15 minutes off peak.

11 Top Things to Do in Vancouver, British Columbia

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by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.

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