Vancouver is Canada’s jewel on the Pacific Coast. As a big, cosmopolitan port city, it has something for pretty much anyone. It also possesses a quintessentially “west coast” vibe, amidst gorgeous forests, bays, and mountains.
My family and I came to Vancouver quite some time ago, in 2002. While I couldn’t see everything the vibrant city has to offer, I still managed to experience enough to leave a lasting impression. Read on to get a taste of some of Vancouver’s most popular attractions!
Capilano Suspension Bridge
For anyone with an eye for gorgeous scenery and an appreciation for precarious heights, this is the place to go. This long wooden footbridge, which is Vancouver’s oldest tourist attraction, spans the Capilano River canyon at a height of 230 feet. The complex also sports a harrowing Cliffwalk consisting of several bridges and catwalks that jut over the river. There are also fascinating exhibits of First Nations culture, forest life, and history here, as well as a restaurant and an excellent gift shop.
A favorite among walkers, skaters, and cyclists, the Seawall path is nearly six miles long, and passes near some of Vancouver’s most notable attractions. Starting downtown, it takes energetic walkers along the harbor front and past countless shops, cafes, and marinas. It also passes through beautiful Stanley Park, where there are even more trails that crisscross the serene urban park’s beautiful forested landscape.
Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre
Home to local species such as sea otters, beluga whales, and seals, the Vancouver Aquarium is a fantastic experience for lovers of marine life. The facility has several exhibits, including the Tropic Zone, where guests can see countless varieties of exotic, equatorial sea life. There is also an Amazon Gallery, featuring plants, birds, insects, and river-life from the great South American jungle.
Be sure to double check your map before coming here, though. During our visit, what we thought was a short stroll to the aquarium turned out to be quite a long walk!
Recognized by its cobbled streets and Victorian streetlamps, Gastown is where Vancouver began a century-and-a-half ago. It was once a rough and tumble frontier town, bustling port, and frequent stop-over during the Alaskan Gold Rush. Today, it’s full of kitschy souvenir shops, high-end boutiques, and hip professionals. While in the vicinity, be sure to take a picture of Vancouver’s famous Steam Clock!
To get to the top of Grouse Mountain, you have a few options: take an invigorating hike up one of the many trails, or use the Skyride, the longest aerial tram in North America. The mountain is the site of countless activities, including skiing and sleigh-rides in winter and lumberjack competitions and falconry demonstrations in summer. There are snack bars and a cafe at the peak, too – excellent spots to catch your breath.
Granville Island Public Market
Right on the waterfront, Granville Island Public Market is where local food purveyors sell their tasty fare. Expect to see a huge variety of warm pastries, aromatic sausages and cheeses, fresh produce, handmade candies, fresh-caught seafood, and so much more. The deck outside is the perfect place to enjoy a bite after perusing the market’s many stalls.