"Put visiting Vancover high on your life list"
Tough B.C. stands for British Columbia, perhaps it should stand for Be Cause. Visit Vancouver because it’s beautiful, because it’s surrounded by haunting rainforests, because it’s culturally diverse, because it’s one of the only cities in Canada where palm trees grow, because when you look one way you see mountains and the other way ocean, because it has great dining experiences, because it’s laid back and exciting at the same time and, mostly, because you’ll have a great time.
For those from Southwestern Ontario, a visit to Vancity will most likely start at the airport. Two things: check out a $20 bill and then look up. You’ll see a familiar sight in Bill Reid’s sculpture, The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, in the International Terminal. Secondly, getting into the city is easier here than almost anywhere in North America. Follow the signs to the SkyTrain and jump on. If you’re staying downtown or in Gastown, you’ll jump off at Waterfront Station, home of Canada’s first Starbucks. This will be the first of hundreds of coffee shops that you can experience during your stay.
With a shop populating practically every block, coffee is king in Vancouver. One favourite is historic Gastown’s Revolver. Order a coffee flight to sample four different coffees or the same type of bean brewed four ways to enjoy subtle differences in preparation.
Visit Harbour Centre, as a trip up the tower to the Vancouver Lookout will help you get the lay of the land and provide an amazing view. A one-day pass allows visitors to return the same day, so take advantage and shoot up the tower again at night to marvel at the glimmer of millions of lights.
Another way to get a good feel for the city is taking the Vancouver Trolley Hop-On, Hop-Off City Attractions Tour. It features 34 stops, including several in Stanley Park. At the other end of the tour is English Bay, where visitors can sit and enjoy lunch on the Milestones patio, while taking in the view of palm trees and the ocean.
Locals laugh at their own politically incorrect love of the odd, tasty treats from Japadog, one of the many food trucks that line the streets. Japadog has 20 types of regular hot dogs covered in exotic ingredients on offer, the most popular of which is the Terimayo. This dog is covered in teriyaki sauce, mayo and seaweed. The SeaBus is part of the
The SeaBus is part of the general transit system and costs no more than any of the efficient sky trains or electric buses. Catch one at Waterfront Station, then bus it up to Grouse Mountain. This is an economical, time-conscious way to experience B.C.’s mountainous beauty.
"Visit Harbour Centre, as a trip up the tower to the Vancouver Lookout will help get the lay of the land and provide an amazing view."
at the restaurant in Grouse Mountain Resort while enjoying the spectacular view will be a treasured memory of your stay.
Take a water taxi to Granville Island, pick up some items at the Public Market and enjoy a picnic on the pier. Exotic choices such as sea urchin will fill you up and make you thirsty to try Granville Island Brewing’s many offerings or a sip of whiskey at Liberty Distillery. Libations from both are made right on the island.
Asian influences are undeniable, so seeing how sake is made at Artisan SakeMaker only seems natural. Like many vintners, this one offers vertical flights to taste all of its vintages.
The famous Capilano Suspension Bridge and the trails that are part of this tourist attraction allow visitors to experience a thrilling walk and the beauty of the rainforest up close.
Another opportunity to travel by water comes via the network of ferries taking visitors to the various islands just off the coast. Many want to visit Vancouver Island to see Victoria, but if you want to enjoy some island time in less time, take a 20-minute ferry ride to Bowen Island. The quiet of this tiny community is a stark contrast to the bustling atmosphere of Vancouver. A day trip to the island that includes a bus ride, a hike around Killarney Lake and some time checking out the shops at Artisan Square, followed by lunch at Bowen Island Pub, provides some quiet in a sea of noise during your stay.
Cannabis culture is alive and well in the country’s westernmost province and cafes that provide space for people to indulge are a frequent sight. In hip Gastown, the New Amsterdam Cafe provides a sports-bar-like atmosphere on two floors.
"Our neighbours look out for us,"
At the waterfront, Canada Place’s five distinctive sail roof houses are a must-see. Enjoying FlyOver Canada isn’t for the faint of heart, but to experience this country from a birds’ perspective in a flight simulation ride is an amazing experience. No trip to Vancouver is complete without a visit to the aquarium. View the belugas, dolphins and otters from above and below the water line.
You’re in for an authentic Chinatown experience in Vancouver. Walk through the Millennium Gate and into a world of dried eels and ginseng roots as open-air stalls provide a market feel. A calming stroll through Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden provides tranquility in the middle of this rushing metropolis.
Vancouver is a diner’s delight with every type of cuisine ready to please. From Wildebeest restaurant, which will satisfy any carnivore’s cravings; to Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House, with its nearly floor-to-ceiling oyster bar; to Noodlebox, which offers fresh Asian fusion at reasonable prices, gastronomes will love eating their way through the city.
B.C. is quickly becoming known as cocoa city, and Mink Chocolates Cafe should be on your list if you are a chocoholic. Served warm, not hot, drinking chocolate is a liquid candy bar.
A week or even two will not be enough time to truly see Canada’s jewel of the west. So you’ll want to return to B.C. because . . .