Vancouver is a major player on the world’s stage with art galleries, green space, awesome architecture and great eats. If you’re a first time visitor, or just looking to visit some of the city’s highlights, here are just some of CSL’s favourite things to see and do in and around beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia in partnership with our friends at Expedia.
1/ Stroll Stanley Park and Get a Bird’s Eye View from the Lion’s Gate Bridge
Vancouver is an active city – fitness and healthy living are coveted. To feel like active locals, we visited Stanley Park, which, like Central Park in New York, is considered the heart and lungs of the city.
On the day we visited, fishermen pulled their catch from beside the seawall, while roller-blading couples and cyclists whizzed by.
For a spectacular view of the serpentine 28 km waterfront pathway, we took a short hike up to the pedestrian walkway along the Lion’s Gate Bridge. An uphill forested path leads to the teal bridge but it is worth the effort. On either side of the bridge the Pacific Ocean and skyline of Vancouver come into view.
2/ Spend the afternoon at Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain is a great place to appreciate the natural beauty of Vancouver. Escape the city and enter a woodland where awe-inspiring cedar, Douglas fir and spruce trees dominate the landscape.
There is so much to do here, in a few hours we saw a lumberjack show, took a short walk, rode the tramway (with its unbelievable views) and had a delicious lunch. This is also bear and bird of prey country so lookout for wildlife!
3/ Explore the Tranquillity of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
This re-creation of a 15th century Chinese garden and residence is breathtaking. From details like the fossil limestone rocks from Lake Tai in China, and mosaic stone pathways, to the koi ponds and lattice (leak) windows, this is a peaceful oasis in the city.
Every building, waterway or decoration has a meaning and is meant to promote ease and relaxation. We had a lovely informal picnic in the ting (pagoda) watching the clouds reflect in the pond below. Best of all, much of the garden includes free entrance.
4/ Shop at Granville Island Public Market
Our morning at the market included meeting local purveyors (like Stephen Lockhart of West Coast Gourmet Snacks, above), tasting house-made gelato, cooing over gorgeous flower displays and spying wasabi among other exotic ingredients on a grocery shelf.
The market was buzzing when we arrived, and when we finally finished shopping and decided on what to eat (everything from every corner of the globe is available), we sat down at the waterfront courtyard to enjoy lunch with a view.
5/ Visit the Vancouver Aquarium
We walked into the aquarium through gorgeous Stanley Park, and headed straight to Canada’s arctic to view the peaceful belugas gliding through the water. There are so many treasures at the aquarium that multiple visits are a must, but don’t miss the uber-tranquil jellyfish and treasures of the BC Coast.
The aquarium prides itself on conservation and sustainability. In fact, the aquarium is well-known for its Ocean Wise seafood conservation program which promotes sustainability in the food industry, particularly with restaurants and markets. We look for the cool symbol on restaurant menus that lets us know if the seafood has been sustainably caught.
6/ Conquer your fear of heights at Capilano Bridge
Nestled among pine trees, we walked across the 140 metre long and 70 metre high Capilano Bridge – swaying with the weight of dozens of tourists. This is the big attraction that everyone must experience.
We loved that there were several mini-attractions included in the admission: Treetops Adventure (a labyrinth of pathways and bridges in the treetops), history from BC’s First Nations at Kia’palano (including gorgeous totem poles), and the heart pumping cliff walk (which was essentially walking on glass perched over the cliffside, and besides the fear factor, the 360 degree views of nature were spectacular).
CSL’s team was able to get around Vancouver with ease, thanks to the easy car booking via Expedia Canada.