There's a range of things to do in Vancouver. Aside from natural beauty, Vancouver has a laid-back charm that makes it one of the most popular Canadian cities to visit. From museums to hiking trails, Vancouver has a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors.
1. Stanley Park
Covering 1000 acres, Vancouver's Stanley Park is a downtown sanctuary that offers city dwellers and visitors a multitude of indoor and outdoor activities. The park features an 8.8 km (5.5 mile) seawall that runs the perimeter and provides a perfect flat, paved path for rollerblading, biking, jogging and hiking. In addition, a petting farm, the Vancouver Aquarium and oodles of other recreational facilities are in Stanley Park.
Further Reading: Top 10 Things to Do in Stanley Park
Convenient to Robson Street shopping and right next door to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, the Vancouver Art Gallery features historic and contemporary international and Canadian art with an emphasis on BC's artistic heritage. Don't miss the works of Emily Carr, a cherished West Coast artist who depicted the landscape and villages of the First Nations cultures of BC.
Located at the edge of downtown Vancouver, this 37-acre island was once an industrial area but today is a charming destination for shoppers and culture seekers. Granville Island features a wonderful public market, many artsy shops and galleries, a theater, restaurants, a brewery and hotel.
Granville Island is open year-round and is free to visit.
Getting to or from Granville Island is a good opportunity to take the inexpensive Aquabus - a fleet of small electric ferries that transport people across False Creek and a great way to see and get around Vancouver.
Visit Canada'a largest aquarium, the Vancouver Aquarium, which houses more than 70,000 animals in 116,000 sq. ft. of facility space. Open daily, the aquarium charges an admission but profits go toward supporting its mission to conserve aquatic life. Translink Bus and Skytrain public transit operates year-round.
Photo of Clownfish Cove by Hamid Attie, courtesy Vancouver Aquarium
5. English Bay
English Bay is located in the West End of downtown Vancouver. This waterside neighborhood is at once lively and quaint and a great spot to walk around, shop or have a drink. The main crossroads are Davie and Denman streets. Don't miss watching the sun set at the Boathouse Restaurant while enjoying a Bloody Caesar or a glass of BC wine and dinner at popular Bin 941 on Davie Street.
Just a 20 minute drive out of downtown Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is a year-round destination for people looking for adventure or a just a great view. Ambitious people can tackle the Grouse Grind - a 2.9 km hike straight up the face of Grouse Mountain. Grouse Mountain is also a ski hill in winter, with 26 runs that offer a variety of terrain. Other attractions include the Grouse Mountain Skyride, ice skating, snowshoeing, helicopter rides, a conservation centre, a top-of-the-mountain restaurant and more.
Capilano Suspension Bridge is only 10 minutes away and on the same bus route. The two work well together as a day's worth of Vancouver adventure.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is more than just a bridge; there's actually a whole park with activities, history and culture. The park is a 20 minute drive outside of downtown Vancouver.
Built in 1889, the Capilano Suspension Bridge stretches 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River. The park offers guided nature tours, the Kids' Rainforest Explorer program and Living Forest exhibit.
Robson Street is a popular shopping street in downtown Vancouver that has a good array of trendy shops for young people, such as American Eagle Outfitters, Guess, and Bebe, plus more upscale offerings, such as Armani Exchange.
Robson Street is near the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and also boasts numerous restaurants, including a Milestones, Tsunami Sushi, Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House, numerous Indian food restaurants and more.
Yaletown is a historic warehouse district on the edge of downtown Vancouver on False Creek. The area was gentrified in the 1980's and now has a hip, edgy feel, with a mix of residential, business, office, restaurants, boutiques, cafes, services and more. Try visiting Yaletown around noon or in the evening when cafes are open. Don't miss the Yaletown Brewing Company for a pint.
Yaletown is one of the Aquabus stops - a fleet of small electric ferries that transport people across False Creek and a great way to see and get around Vancouver.
Vancouver has plenty of access to waterfront with 18 km or 11 mi of beach that will appeal to a range of visitors. Many of the beaches have boardwalks for cycling or blading, playgrounds, pools, kayak and windsurf rentals, volleyball courts, bbq's and all of the beaches have lifeguards on duty from late May to Labour Day. Three beaches are designated "quiet" and amplified music is prohibited.
11. Historic Gastown
Gastown is one of Vancouver's oldest districts and boasts many beautiful refurbished buildings, cobblestone lanes and the world's first steam-powered clock. People who enjoy slightly more eclectic shopping will enjoy the designers' shops, artists' studios, galleries plus restaurants and bars.
Visitors should be aware that Gastown borders a part of town that is known for the presence of drug users and everything that goes along with that. Best to have a good map and not meander without keeping your bearings.