Ex­plor­ing Van­cou­ver


Van­cou­ver is a stun­ning des­ti­na­tion to visit year-round, but it re­ally comes alive in the sum­mer. Here’s our handy guide on how to make the most of your visit.

Get your bear­ings — The ge­og­ra­phy of the city is what makes it spe­cial: With down­town sur­rounded by wa­ter on three sides, and flanked by moun­tains to the north, it boasts a nat­u­ral beauty that never gets old and, with 28 kilo­me­tres of un­in­ter­rupted Sea­wall and Sea­side Green­way path­way de­signed for walk­ing and bik­ing, it couldn’t be eas­ier for vis­i­tors to get around and soak up the best the West Coast has to of­fer. One way to get a bet­ter sense of that ge­og­ra­phy is to visit the Van­cou­ver Look­out in the Har­bour Cen­tre, an un­par­al­leled van­tage point with its 360-de­gree panoramic view of the city and its sur­round­ings. On a clear day, you re­ally can see for miles and miles.

Visit Stan­ley Park — The jewel of the city is its 1,001-acre nat­u­ral rain­for­est. Stan­ley Park sits at the western edge of down­town and you could eas­ily spend a day or more ex­plor­ing this ma­jes­tic ur­ban park. With 28 km of un­paved for­est trails, and 10 km of Sea­wall, it is a favourite des­ti­na­tion for walk­ers and cy­clists alike. Go for a hike, rent a bike and cy­cle the Sea­wall, let the kids cool down in the wa­ter park, or visit the Van­cou­ver Aquar­ium — you re­ally can’t go wrong.

Jump aboard — Get­ting onto the wa­ter is a ter­rific way to ex­plore the city. The small wa­ter taxis that tra­verse False Creek con­nect down­town with sev­eral prime vis­i­tor-friendly des­ti­na­tions. You can pay by the cross­ing, but it makes more sense to buy a hop-on, hop-off ticket that’s good for the day. Stop off to ex­plore the up­scale shop­ping and eat­ing in Yale­town, take in the land­mark ge­o­desic dome of Sci­ence World, or visit the hugely pop­u­lar Granville Is­land Pub­lic Mar­ket with its pro­duce ven­dors, ar­ti­sans, great eats and peo­ple-watch­ing. If you stay on un­til Vanier Park, you can visit the Mu­seum of Van­cou­ver and the Space Mu­seum, then take a stroll along Kit­si­lano Beach, and through Van­cou­ver’s orig­i­nal hip­pie neigh­bour­hood around West 4th Av­enue.

Life’s a beach — There are plenty of en­try points for a pad­dle or a swim. Down­town, you have the choice of First, Sec­ond and Third beach in Stan­ley Park, or English Bay at the south­ern foot of Den­man Street. Over on the West Side, the beau­ti­ful peo­ple flock to Kits Beach, while fam­i­lies tend to make their way fur­ther west to Jeri­cho (the best swim­ming) or Span­ish Banks (low tides for tod­dlers). There are con­ces­sion stands at each, but Jeri­cho is also home to the Jeri­cho Sail­ing Club, where you can rent kayaks or pad­dle­boards, and eat well at their ca­sual café while sit­ting on a pa­tio with the best view in the city. If you pre­fer a pool, head to one of the large open-air li­dos at Sec­ond Beach and the western edge of Kits Beach.

Cul­ture days — Learn more about In­dige­nous his­tory — and the cul­ture of the First Na­tions peo­ples on whose un­ceded lands Van­cou­ver sits — at the Mu­seum of An­thro­pol­ogy, a true world-class in­sti­tu­tion. Housed in a stun­ning piece of Mod­ernism de­signed by Van­cou­ver’s most fa­mous ar­chi­tect, the late Arthur Erick­son, MOA will im­merse you in the rich past of this ter­ri­tory. The mu­seum sits on the edge of the cam­pus of the Uni­ver­sity of Bri­tish Columbia, which also hosts the Beatty Bio­di­ver­sity Mu­seum and its awe-in­spir­ing full skele­ton of a blue whale. If you’re feel­ing bold, a steep stair­case close to MOA will lead you to the in­fa­mous (cloth­ing-op­tional) Wreck Beach.

Fes­ti­val fun — From the Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Jazz Fes­ti­val, through the Van­cou­ver Folk Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, to the Cel­e­bra­tion of Light fire­works bo­nanza, the Street Food City food truck fes­ti­val, Craft Beer Week and nu­mer­ous other gath­er­ings, sum­mer in Van­cou­ver re­ally siz­zles. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a week­end through the sum­mer when there isn’t a spe­cial event wait­ing to wel­come you. Pack sun­screen, a blan­ket and a re­fill­able wa­ter bot­tle and you’ll be good to go.

Push your­self — Keep­ing fit is one of Van­cou­ver’s favourite pas­times — you can yoga all day if you care to — and to keep up your ex­er­cise rou­tines on va­ca­tion, there are nu­mer­ous gyms and work­out spa­ces open for drop-in clients. If you pre­fer the great out­doors and fancy a real test of car­dio strength and stamina, then head to the moun­tains on the North Shore, and tackle the Grouse Grind, a.k.a. “Mother Na­ture’s stair­mas­ter.” The al­most-ver­ti­cal, 3 km trail is not for the faint­hearted, but the hale and hearty at­tack this pun­ish­ing en­durance test with en­thu­si­asm. Your friends and fam­ily can take it easy by trav­el­ling on the Grouse Moun­tain Skyride and ex­plore the trails and ac­tiv­ity cen­tre at the peak. Fuel up — Whether you are on your way to the beach, need a snack to keep you go­ing or af­ter a hard day’s sight­see­ing, you de­serve to eat some­thing truly de­li­cious. Lo­cal and sus­tain­able ingredients grace the menus at many of the city’s restau­rants. For the best in truly West Coast cui­sine, try For­age and Bur­dock & Co., where the Chef de Cui­sine Wel­bert Choi and Chef An­drea Carl­son, re­spec­tively, cre­ate in­ven­tive dishes that sing of the re­gion. Fayuca (Mex­i­can) and Mae­nam (Thai) both spice things up beau­ti­fully, tak­ing tra­di­tional flavours and giv­ing them a mod­ern, fo­cused twist. Be­ing on the Pa­cific Rim, Asian flavours and in­flu­ences abound. For a quick bite, head to the de­light­fully retro Chi­na­town BBQ for a plate of roast duck and a bowl of their award-win­ning beef brisket curry. Or mix it up at Kissa Tanto, where Ja­panese cui­sine meets Ital­ian in dishes such as uni car­bonara. Ciop­pino’s (Ital­ian), Le Croc­o­dile (French) and Bauhaus (Ger­man) are also ex­cel­lent op­tions for a high-end meal. Ca­sual op­tions in­clude a cou­ple of Whistler’s favourite eater­ies, now also in Van­cou­ver: Peaked Pies on Den­man Street, and La Cantina on Nel­son Street, at Granville.

Fancy a night­cap? — The lo­cal cock­tail scene is vi­brant, with sev­eral bar­tenders who have racked up in­ter­na­tional ac­co­lades. For smart and stylish, try Uva (in the Moda Ho­tel) or Botanist (in the Fair­mont Pa­cific Rim), or for more ca­sual en­vi­rons with equally se­ri­ous li­ba­tions, head to Gas­town and check out Clough Club, The Di­a­mond or Pour­house.

Granville Is­land

Aqua Bus

Stan­ley Park

English Bay

Dig­i­tal Orca at VCC

Sun­set Beach Park


Har­bour Cen­tre

Ital­ian Day


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