Vancouver, the largest city in the Canadian Province of British Columbia, is one of the most desirable places to live in, with a quality of life that’s among the best in the world. Well, it’s not really a surprise, since Vancouver has always been developed with liveability as the primary focus.
Walking the city’s welcoming neighborhoods, filled with all the urban pleasures worthy of a city which is regularly voted “the world’s most liveable city,” is truly a lifting experience.
Enjoy the wine-and-dine delights of the different ‘hoods you pass through – the air filled with incredible aromas of different cuisines, coffee beans, brewer’s hops and many other gastronomic delicacies. No wonder Vancouver is considered the cuisine capital of Canada; not Montreal or Toronto as many would tend to think.
In addition to being among the very best holiday destinations, Vancouver also serves as a great launch pad, or a gateway, rather, to the Alaskan glaciers, the nearby ski resort town of Whistler, and the wilderness of Western Canada.
Ever since the Europeans settled here, which was as recently as 150 years ago, the people and the city authorities have maintained a perfect balance between the natural environment and the built environment. The regions protected rivers, untouched coastline and lush forests bear testimony to that fact.
The ever-evolving cultural scene in Vancouver is at par with some of the best in the world.
For culture-lovers, there’s everything from enthralling festivals and theatre to the “Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival”, art galleries and an electric nightlife.
There’s no dearth of action for the adventurous types too. Whether it’s skiing on the slopes of Whistler, a hike through the rainforest, or some fun time at one of the many sandy beaches, you are never too far away from any of these activities.
Add to that forest trails, kayaking, sea-wall bike lanes, mountain biking and you have yourself a whopper of an adventure destination, not to forget the city’s pride and joy, the Stanley Park.
Covering an area in excess of a thousand acres, Stanley Park dates all the way back to 1886. So extensive is this urban park, the largest in the city, that you can return again and again and still discover something new.
Fine beaches, trails and walkways, a paved seawall path encircling the lush sprawling space, exciting attractions inland of the park, all combine to make the park a great family-friendly escape.
Vancouver Aquarium is one of the popular attractions located within the Stanley Park premises. It is also an important center dedicated to marine research and conservation and rehabilitation of marine life.
The aquarium is home to some 300 fish species, tens of thousands of invertebrates, around 50-60 species of amphibians and reptiles in addition to a number of mammals and birds.
VanDusen Botanical Garden
Located in the Shaughnessy neighborhood of Vancouver, at the North West corner of 37th Avenue and Oak Street, is the VanDusen Botanical Garden named in honor of local philanthropist Whitford Julian VanDusen.
Explore the garden on foot or in motorized golf carts and learn the history of the garden and its varied collection of plant life with the help of trained volunteer guides.
The 55-acre garden is home to an extensive range of plants from all over the world in addition to a substantial collection of native British Columbia plant life.
The garden’s Visitor Centre, a 2011 addition to the park’s facilities, features a botanical library, a gift shop, a restaurant and a coffee shop.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Located on Little Mountain – the highest point in Vancouver at an elevation of 500 feet above sea level – is the Queen Elizabeth Park. This stunning network of gardens high above the city affords dramatic views of Vancouver and the mountains to the north. It’s hard to imagine that this peaceful oasis was once a barren area of gravel pits scarred by quarries.
Recreational activities offered by the park include pitch-and-putt golf, tennis, and disc golf. The park also boasts a fine dining area at the Seasons in the Park Restaurant and the Bloedel Conservatory – an enclosed tropical environment.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park and Classical Chinese Garden
The construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway brought thousands of Chinese workers to the region whose descendants have contributed immensely to the enrichment of Vancouver ever since.
This mingling of cultures can be experienced at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park and Classical Chinese Garden, the first of its kind outside of China, located in Vancouver’s China Town.
Built in 1985-86, the mandate of this magnificent garden is to “maintain and enhance the bridge of understanding between Chinese and western cultures, promote Chinese culture generally and be an integral part of the local community.”
Vancouver Art Gallery
The Vancouver Art Gallery, the largest in Western Canada and the 5th largest in the country, houses a permanent collection of some 11,000 works of art which includes major works by Emily Carr, Jeff Wall, Harry Callahan, Marc Chagall, and the Group of Seven.
The gallery boasts 41,400 sq feet of exhibition space for its art collection, a gift shop, a café, and a library.
Located at the end of False Creek, the futuristic-looking spherical Science World, also known as the Telus World of Science, features interactive exhibits and science demonstrations, with dedicated areas covering themes such as air, water, motion, and invention.
Originally built for the Expo 86, Science World also includes a theatre and a huge IMAX screen.
All in all Science World is a great place to spend some quality time especially if you’re visiting Vancouver with younger adventurers.
A ferry or an aquabus across False Creek will take you to the peninsula shopping district of Granville Island. Visit the Granville Island Brewing to sample the craft ales or stock up on fruit and vegetables, seafood, and a variety of delicious treats at the popular Granville Island Public Market.
Once an industrial manufacturing neighborhood, Granville Island is today an important tourism and entertainment district much feted for its buildings and world-class shopping experience.
The ornate Millennium Gate marks the entrance to Chinatown with its mix of modern and Victorian architecture. Most locals and tourists visit the area mainly for its excellent eating options, be it traditional Chinese bakeries offering a range of Asian delights, cocktail bars, or dim sum restaurants.
Chinese groceries selling live seafood and exotic vegetables abound here, including traditional Chinese medicine shops with the jars of ginseng, dried fish, as well as a whole range of aphrodisiacs.
The 2-meter wide Sam Kee Building in Chinatown is supposed to be the narrowest office building in the world and is definitely worth a look.
Chinese New Year is celebrated here with great fervor marked by an excellent, colorful parade.
Museum of Anthropology
Located within the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus, the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) is a must-see tourist attraction, predominantly featuring works of art and culture by First Nation – the main indigenous peoples of the Pacific North West – in addition to arts and cultures from around the world.
This popular tourist attraction is also a research and educational center covering UBC courses in art, anthropology, archaeology, conservation, and museum studies.
The museum’s collection includes tens of thousands of ethnographic objects as well as archaeological finds in the hundreds of thousands.
After the completion of the multi-million-dollar renovation and expansion project called “A Partnership of Peoples,” in 2010, the new facilities include the following components:
- The MOA Centre for Cultural Research with state-of-the-art collections storage, research rooms, archaeology labs, a community research suite, open plan offices, and the Audrey & Harry Hawthorn Library & Archives.
- The Multiversity Galleries, housing more than 10,000 objects from around the world.
- The Audain Gallery for temporary exhibits
- The MOACAT digital catalog system, making collections information, including images, audio, and video, available throughout the galleries at the touch of a screen
- The RRN (Reciprocal Research Network)
The Kitsilano Beach, located at the north edge of its namesake neighborhood, is popular with both locals and visitors alike. Facing the English Bay, the beach boasts an open-air heated saltwater pool, the longest swimming pool in the whole of Canada, open from May to September every year.
The area offers a number of cafés and walking trails, not to mention the excellent views over the city center.
Although Vancouver gets its name from George Vancouver, the British navigator who landed on these shores in the late 18th century, the original settlement was first called Gastown.
Today, Gastown is a historic neighborhood of Vancouver popular for its restaurants, galleries, and shops housed in beautifully renovated Victorian buildings as well as the iconic Steam Clock which blows out steamy chimes to mark each quarter of an hour.
Source: Wikipedia, Planetware