Vancouver may not be the city where you want to live. The high cost of living, tight job market and astronomical housing prices may be a set back for its potential residents, but the city’s sensual allure inspires visitors like few others do. There are high mountain peaks, sandy beaches and the rainforest. There are glass skyscrapers, world class restaurants and great cultural venues. And then there is the mild oceanic climate with very little snow that allows outdoor activities year round. There are not many places in the world where the bustling city life blends so perfectly with the gorgeous natural scenery.
There are so many fun things to see and do in Vancouver! From walking, cycling, boating, whale watching, fishing, eating, shopping, drinking, you can do almost anything. Here are the top four Vancouver attractions you shouldn’t miss:
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
The Capilano State Park is located a little outside the city and features three attractions: the Capilano Suspension Bridge, the Cliffwalk and the Treetop Adventure. There is plenty to see and do at the park, so allow yourself a couple of hours to wander through. The park runs a free shuttle from downtown Vancouver hotels or from Canada Place. When you enter the Park, singers dressed in period costumes will transport you back to the days of the pioneers.
What started as an access bridge built by civil engineer George Grant Mackay 1889 to access the forest land that he purchased, turned into Vancouver’s most beloved attractions, the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The original bridge was suspended on rope, but todays 450 feet bridge is suspended by 2″ thick steel cables. They say that the bridge can support the weight of two fully loaded 747 airplanes. Wow, that’s a lot of weight!
The Cliffwalk is a very narrow walk that takes you around the cliffs and high above the forest. The walk may be a little scary if you are afraid of heights, but still is very thrilling to find yourself 300 feet above the river and the canyon below.
The Treetop Adventure is a series of walks, viewing platforms and suspension bridges that take you around the rainforest offering a squirrel’s eye view of the area around.
Vancouver has lots of green space areas and parks, but Stanley Park is by far the most beloved one among the locals. Its 1000 acres of forest trails, children’s play areas, beaches and lakes create a magnificent green oasis in the midst of this heavily built city. The park occupies the tip of the Downtown Vancouver and has amazing views of the water and the downtown area. Some of the most popular attractions in Stanley Park are the aquarium, the renowned totem pole display, the Brockton Point Lighthouse and the seawall, a 5-mile long walk that goes all around the park.
Granville Island is actually a peninsula located just across from Downtown Vancouver. The place was was once an industrial manufacturing area, but today is the city’s shopping mecca, with nice trendy shops, restaurants and a huge farmers’ market.
I absolutely love farmers’ markets and Granville exceeds in size and quality any other market that I have ever visited. The area is bustling with lots of vendors, fresh produce, meats, fish, baked goods, cheeses, breads, flowers, antiques, clothing and everything else you can imagine.
You could easily spend half a day here wandering around and sampling the tempting foods that are on display, or just enjoying the gorgeous views of the Downtown from across the water.
If you want to know which is where, or how to get from here to there in Vancouver, is best if you have a vantage point.
And what better place to find yourself high up and above the city than the Lookout Tower at the Harbor Center? The 360º view is absolutely spectacular and if it’s a clear day you can see for miles and miles away. What makes it even better than I expected is the amount of information posted everywhere about the history behind many of the buildings and neighborhoods of Vancouver. This iconic landmark is not the highest building in the world, but it’s high enough to give you a great panoramic view of the entire city. Really worth a visit if you are in the city for the first time. This is a great place to take bird-eye photos of the area. Because of the way the observation deck windows are tilted you’ll get very little glare from the glass which is a big plus.
Just a short distance from Vancouver’s downtown is the Grouse Mountain, a place that must be a skiers’ paradise in winter, but seemed beautiful in summer too.
To reach it you have to take the Skyride Gondola for a 2 km ride rising 2700 feet up and gliding above the Douglas firs and the breathtaking views of the city. Up on the mountain there is a wildlife refuge for the endangered animals that is home to two orphaned Grizzly bears and a timber wolf.
Up on the top there is also a lodge and a nice restaurant with a beautiful terrace. The city views are breathtaking, especially at dusk. The ticket is a bit pricey, but there is a lot to do up on the mountain, so you can easily spend at least half a day there.
Our 3-day visit to Vancouver was too short. There is so much more to see and do in this great city than we had time for. The city’s cosmopolitan atmosphere and breathtaking natural beauty makes it a very desirable vacation place.