Vancouver 101

Whether you’re a newcomer to the city, a visitor just passing through, or a longtime resident looking for fun, Vancouver has something to offer you. Although we could never possibly cover everything to see, taste, and try in Vancouver, this list is a great place to start. We sought advice from Milica S., a University of British Columbia graduate and Vancouverite, and she gave us a great list of sights to see and places to visit.

  • Stanley Park – This is a gorgeous green oasis in the midst of Vancouver’s glass-and-steel jungle. Cycle, run, or walk along the park’s 9-kilometer section of the famous Seawall, which offers stunning views of the ocean and city. Within the park itself, you can ride the Miniature Train, play a round of golf, use the tennis courts, find a playground or picnic spot, play in the pools or on the beach, visit a park café, or check out the Vancouver Aquarium.
  • Vancouver ParkDr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens and Park – The public park is free to visit and is an extension of the Gardens; the Gardens charge a small admission fee (they operate as a non-profit charity). The Gardens offer guided tours of 15th century Chinese architecture and landscaping, as well as cultural programming and events.
  • Gastown – Known as “Vancouver’s historic heart,” Gastown is famous for its boutiques, bars and pubs, galleries, and restaurants. This is the perfect stop for anyone looking to experience a distinctive, independent, historical neighborhood.
  • Granville Island – Granville Island was once an industrial area, but is now home to restaurants, shops, boutiques, and the Public Market (Milica says this is a must-see!). The Market is famous for the quality and variety of its goods. In addition to being a foodie mecca, Granville Island plays host to lots of events each year, including the Vancouver International Jazz Festival and the “Winterruption” arts and culture festival.
  • Grouse Mountain – Test your mettle with the Grouse Grind (“Nature’s Stairmaster”), a steep 2.9-kilometer hike up the mountain. If you’re feeling less adventurous, take the Skyride gondola instead!
  • Lynn Canyon Try the hiking trail and make sure to see (and cross!) the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge.
  • Canada Place – Home to the Vancouver Convention Centre, Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel, Vancouver World Trade Center, Fly Over Canada (a 4D virtual flight experience), and Vancouver’s main cruise ship terminal. Offers great views of the ocean and north shore.
  • Richmond Night Market – Open on weekend evenings from May to October. Feast your eyes and your taste buds on international cuisine, live entertainment, and affordable merchandise from all over the world.
  • Water play – Vancouver boasts 18 kilometers of ocean-front beaches, nine indoor pools, and four outdoor pools (including Kitsilano Pool, the longest swimming pool in Canada and the only salt water pool in Vancouver). For the little ones in your group, there are water parks, wading pools, and splash pads scattered around the city.
  • Food
    • Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant – “Fine continental dining” with a view; completes one rotation every 60 minutes. Offers lunch, brunch, snacks and dessert, and dinner.
    • Twisted Fork Bistro – Twisted Fork is on Milica’s list of great brunch spots! Classic French dining made simple; driven by a small shop/shop local philosophy.
    • Café Medina – Also highly recommended by Milica; an eclectic, chic, comfortable spot to enjoy breakfast, lunch, and brunch.
    • The Local Public Eatery – Located in the Kitsilano neighborhood. Craft beer, great food, and a lively atmosphere.

This post was written by a contributor for America by Rail, the leader in rail tours and train vacations.


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