Situated in the temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver, the third-largest city in Canada, is a vibrant, international city offering beautiful scenery, world-class restaurants, great shopping, excellent museums and ample outdoor activities. Whether you’re a fan of art and culture or prefer to spend your time surrounded by the great outdoors, this British Columbia big city won’t disappoint.
It’s hard to run out of things to do in Vancouver. A short drive north of downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park is a must-visit, with miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking along with areas for swimming and paddleboarding, an aquarium, a water park and all sorts of restaurants. On rainy days, head to the Vancouver Art Gallery, which houses some 10,000 pieces of art, or take the kids to Science World to learn about the natural world or check out a science film at the on-site OMNIMAX theater.
Get it Strait
If you want to get out on the water, Vancouver is the place to do it, with coastline along the Georgia Strait, English Bay and Burrard Inlet, not to mention a wealth of rivers and lakes in the surrounding area. Opportunities for water sports abound here. Kayakers head to False Creek, English Bay or the Indian Arm fjord, while those looking for something a bit more thrilling can head to one of the many area rivers, such as the Squamish or the Elaho, for a whitewater rafting adventure. Whale watching is also a big deal here, and it’s one of the best parts of the world to see humpback whales and orcas, especially from late spring to early fall.
Hills and Valleys
Vancouver is decidedly outdoorsy, with all sorts of areas in and around the city to get out and stretch your legs, whether you’re new to hiking or an experienced outdoor enthusiast. Lynn Valley Park, about 10 miles north of the city center, features a variety of trails, including Baden Powell Trail, which leads out to a waterfall. The park is also home to the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, which hangs 16 feet above the canyon. Other popular hikes include the Grouse Grind, a steep, two-mile ascent up Grouse Mountain. For another thrilling walk, drive five miles north of town and traverse the 459-foot-long Capilano Suspension Bridge, which hangs 230 feet above the Capilano River.
Vancouver does a stellar job of merging cosmopolitan big-city vibes with the serenity of nature. Like most of the Pacific Northwest, it’s friendly and laid-back, with a casual atmosphere and a genuinely friendly population. People from all over the world call Vancouver home, as reflected by its eclectic culinary scene. While it certainly has a big-city feel, Vancouver is surrounded by natural beauty, with trees galore and pristine waterways creating a gorgeous backdrop for the city’s modern architecture and skyscrapers. Though visitors to the region might be tempted to head straight to the magnificent forests that surround Vancouver, it’s worth sticking around town for a bit to explore the beautiful Victorian architecture of Gastown or visit charming Granville Island.
Jazzing it Up
Vancouver offers a wide array of major events throughout the year. At the forefront of the city’s event calendar is the 10-day-long Vancouver Jazz Festival (considered among the best on Earth), which features upwards of 400 concerts a year. Other popular music events include the multi-genre Folk Music Festival and the Vancouver Opera Festival. Dine Out Vancouver Festival gives visitors and locals alike the chance to explore the city’s culinary offerings, while the Vancouver International Wine Festival brings hundreds of wines from around the world to the city. Summer visitors won’t want to miss the dazzling Celebration of Light, one of the most popular fireworks competitions in the world.
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Vancouver has been inhabited by indigenous people since ancient times, and the Spanish were the first Europeans to arrive here in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the centuries that followed, trappers and explorers from Europe continued to descend on the area, including Captain George Vancouver of the British Royal Navy, who gave the city its name. Get the details of this history at the Museum of Vancouver in Vanier Park and in the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, which boasts one of the largest collections of indigenous Pacific Northwest art and artifacts on Earth. For an escape into a green, lush environment, take a stroll through the beautiful Butchart Gardens. In this 55-acre space, visitors will discover 900 beautifully tended bedding plant varieties and 26 greenhouses.
For More Information
Metro Vancouver Convention and
Destination British Columbia