Vancouver

Vancouver is a dazzling city no matter what time you of year you visit.  Located on the the west coast of Canada, we have a special place for Vancouver in our hearts as it is our hometown.  A city known where you can golf in the morning and ski/snowboard in the afternoon it is flanked by the Pacific Ocean on one side and the North Shore mountains on the other side.  With a hugely diverse and multicultural population, it is a food lovers paradise with the many fabulous, award winning restaurants.

Things you MUST see/do:

Stanley Park – Vancouver’s most prized possession is this beautiful park located right within walking distance of the downtown core.  At 1,000 acres (400 hectares), Stanley Park is a must see attraction for nature lovers.  With countless trails, cafes, restaurants and just a pure relaxed vibe it is a great spot to hangout for an afternoon.  Sites not to be missed in the park include: Stanley Park Miniature train, the beaches, totem park, lost lagoon, rose garden, hollow tree, Brockton Point, Prospect Point, and the Aquarium.

Vancouver Aquarium – Located in the heart of Stanley Park is the Vancouver Aquarium.  Dedicated to many conservation efforts, it is a non-profit society that seeks to educate the public on the diversity of aquatic life.  It is Canada’s largest aquarium and houses over 50,000 animals.  While there, check out the many colourful fishes, dolphins, penguins, beluga whales and sea otters.

Canada Place/Convention Centres – Located at one end of the Sea Wall pathway is Canada Place (the Vancouver Convention Centre).  With its soaring sails and cruise ship dock it was the first large convention centre built for Vancouver.  The newly built East Building for the Winter 2010 Olympics is an architectural gem in the city.  Built as a green building it possesses a 6 acre “living roof” that contains many local plants and uses the rainwater for irrigation, as well as many other green initiatives.  Walk around the buildings that jut out over Coal Harbour for some amazing views.  Right next door to the East Building is where you will find the Olympic Torch from the 201o Winter games.

Capilano Suspension Bridge – Rising 230 feet above the Capilano River is the 450 foot long Capilano Suspension Bridge.  Located just outside of the city in North Vancouver is one of the Vancouver’s most popular tourist attractions.  While there get up close and personal with the 1300 year old old growth Douglas firs on the Treetops Adventure and if you are daring take the Cliffwalk, a narrow series of cantilevered bridges, stairs and platforms hanging off a cliff face above the Capilano River below.  Some sections are even made of glass to get a real exciting experience.  For a more budget friendly experience, visit the Lynn Canyon Park and suspension bridge also located in North Vancouver.  A more natural and less touristy suspension bridge experience, it has free admission and many walking/hiking trails along the Lynn Canyon with some spots to swim and view the waterfalls.

Science World – Located underneath what Vancouverites affectionately call the giant golf ball is Science World.  This is an interactive science center great for kids and adults.  With lots of opportunities for hands-on activities to engage in science exploration, it is a great way to spend the day, particularly if the weather is not great.  There is also an IMAX theatre showing a variety of shows related to science and technology. 

Gastown – The beautiful, old and historic part of Vancouver.  Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood and located on the shores of Coal Harbour.  With coble stone streets and quaint shops and restaurants it is like stepping back in time.  Stroll the down the main street on Water Street and make sure to grab a picture next to old steam clock at Cambie and Water street.  If you wait, every quarter of an hour, the whistle sounds and is a gathering spot for tourists to admire this historic clock.

Granville Island – Located under the Granville street bridge and on the shores of False Creek is an artsy collection of buildings known as Granville Island.  With many local artists’ galleries, theatres, and some great restaurants, it is a popular place for locals and tourists.  

Beaches With its setting on the ocean, Vancouver is home to many sandy beaches.  During the summer months, you will often find them filled with locals enjoying a summer picnic/BBQ, playing beach volleyball or swimming in the water.  Noteworthy beaches include English Bay, Kitsilano Beach with its waterfront pool, and Jericho Beach.  Many of the beaches also have a grassy area so bring a soccer ball or frisbee and enjoy the day!  At the end of July/beginning of August, Vancouver is also host to the Celebration of Light Fireworks Competition.  Competing countries light up the sky over English Bay over 2 weeks and there are many great viewing spots around the bay.

Vancouver Art Gallery – Home to famous works by Emily Carr and many historical and contemporary exhibitions.  The gallery features many travelling exhibitions so it is a good idea to visit their website for current exhibitions.  There is an entrance fee, however, on Tuesdays after 5pm, entrance is by donation.

Grouse Mountain – One of the 3 local mountains on the North Shore of Vancouver.  Grouse Mountain is a short 20 minute drive from downtown Vancouver and easily accessed by public transportation.  It is the most accessible of the 3 mountains due to its large tram that carries visitors up to the top of the mountain.  In the winter you can park at the base lots, out of the snow, and they take the tram up to the ski hill.  At the top of the hill there is an outdoor ice skating rink, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, and skiing/snowboarding.  In the summer, if you are really active you can hike up the mountain (called the Grouse Grind) and take the tram back down.  Or take the tram up and down and be rewarded with spectacular views of the Vancouver, the water and even Vancouver Island on a clear day.  They offer many activities and sights during the summer, check here for current attractions.

Travels4Couples highly recommended EXPERIENCES:

Walk/Bike the Sea Wall – The 22 km (13.7 mile) sea wall is a beautiful paved pathway going from the convention centre, through coal harbour, all the way around Stanley Park, English Bay, False Creek, through Granville Island and connecting up to Kitsilano Beach.  Along the path are innumerable stunning vantage points of the city, the ocean and the North Shore so make sure to bring your camera as you will be snapping many many photos.  There is a path for walkers/joggers and another parallel path for cyclists/inline skaters.  If you would like to do a large part of the sea wall we recommend renting a bike or inline skates at one of the many shops located near Stanley Park.  Smaller sections such as around Stanley Park or English Bay can be easily done by walking.  Take a picnic lunch and make a day of it!

Travels4Couples #1 ROMANTIC thing to do in Vancouver:

Watch the sunset – Due to Vancouver’s location on the west coast of Canada, it is blessed with beautiful sunsets over Vancouver Island.  We recommend finding a spot on one of Vancouver’s many beaches – there are too many to pick just one but English Bay would be near the top for us.  You can also combine this with an evening stroll on the sea wall.

 

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