There’s so much to do and see in Vancouver, so make sure that you take time to soak in a little of the city’s unique ambiance. Grab a coffee and hit the beach, or enjoy a glass of wine on a sunny patio. Admire the view, let the sun hit your face, and take it all in. It’s right here that you’ll understand why this city is regularly ranked as one of the most livable places in the world. Vancouver is an easy place to visit, but it’s much harder to leave.
Fun for Families
Vancouver has plenty to delight families looking for fun, whether in the heart of the city or exploring wild nature on the edge of town. Don’t miss Granville Island’s Kids Market packed with toys, games and crafts with plenty of family-friendly activities. Inquisitive kids will love Science World with two floors of hands-on exhibits in an iconic geodesic dome on the water by the Olympic Village. Immerse yourselves in First Nations culture at the UBC Museum of Anthropology or explore Chinese culture at Dr. Sun YatSen Garden in Chinatown. Blow off some steam peddling a tandem bicycle around Stanley Park or whizz above the forest canopy with a view of the city on a pulse-racing zipline adventure on Grouse Mountain.
From five-star hotel suites with private rooftop plunge pools to world class dining and glitzy Champagne and dessert bars, visitors seeking the finer things in life will find plenty of ways to indulge while in Vancouver. The locals might be known for keeping it casual but they have a stylish side too: sip $1,500 an ounce Louis XIII at Hawksworth Restaurant’s bar (the only place you can do this in Canada) after flexing your credit card along Robson and Alberni – the city’s ‘Luxury Row.’ Along here, you can browse the diamonds at De Beers, designer fashions at Gucci and Dior, or head for Holt Renfrew and Nordstrom luxury department stores. Experienced concierge staff can create magical experiences: a helicopter ride up to Grouse Mountain for a private sunrise yoga session in the pod of their wind turbine, a private tour of the Vancouver Art Gallery followed by a private dining experience cooked by one of city’s finest chefs, or driving a Lamborghini up the spectacular Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler.
Health & Wellness
Vancouver is a city that prizes the concept of wellness, taking a balanced approach to work and play. Stretch your limits by running your first marathon, or just stretch your hamstrings with one of 1,500 weekly yoga classes on offer! A city on the edge of spectacular nature, Vancouver offers the space for you to escape, breath and recharge. The city’s healthy approach extends to what’s on your plate – choose sustainably-sourced seafood, or indulge in lauded vegetarian cuisine. Bring a sense of balance to your trip with corrective massage with a Registered Massage Therapist, traditional Thai remedies or unique body treatments using local ingredients. Whether you’re looking for some “me time,” or for an active vacation with conscious choices, Vancouver has plenty of options that are good for the mind and the body.
Some 800,000 passengers pass through Vancouver’s Canada Place cruise ship terminal each year, usually on their way to or from Alaska. Whether you add on a few hours or couple of days in the city and you’ll discover the charms of the Vancouver lifestyle. Explore the North Shore, experiencing the beauty of the temperate rainforest on an interpretive walk with a knowledgeable guide. Jump aboard a city highlights tour for a round-up off Vancouver’s “must-see” sites including Stanley Park’s hand carved totem poles, Granville Island’s fabulous public market and artisan studios, and a view of the city from 169 metres (553 feet) up at the Vancouver Lookout.
Have a bit more time to discover British Columbia? Vancouver is the perfect launch pad to explore other parts of the province. Along the gloriously scenic Sea to Sky Highway you’ll find incredible outdoor adventures just 45 minutes away in Squamish or in the nearby town of Whistler, host mountain resort to the 2010 Olympics Winter Games. Take a ferry, helicopter or floatplane across to Vancouver Island to visit the charming provincial capital, Victoria, or hang ten in Canada’s surfing capital Tofino. Or head inland to discover B.C.’s lakeside wine growing region, the Okanagan Valley.
Soar from coast to coast on a breathtaking aerial journey; take in the excitement of Canada’s diverse landscapes through the latest in virtual flight ride technology, located conveniently at Canada Place. You will strap in and be lifted in front of a large spherical screen where you move in concert with a film showing Canada's most stunning sites from the air. It is a fully immersive experience including moving seats, wind, mist and even scents!
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Breathtakingly suspended 70 metres above and 137 metres across Capilano River, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is Vancouver’s oldest attraction. Located in the temperate rainforest on Vancouver’s North Shore, the park features the world famous Suspension Bridge, Treetops Adventure, a series of seven mini suspension bridges suspended high in the tree tops, and the newest addition, Cliffwalk, a cliff-side journey through rainforest vegetation high above the Capilano River. A free shuttle to/from the park is offered from downtown Vancouver year- round.
Grouse Mountain promises remarkable views and an unparalleled range of on mountaintop experiences. Grouse Mountain is a snowy wonderland in winter, providing access for outdoor skating, snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding. In summer, Grouse Mountain is a hiker’s paradise with trails that promise to challenge, including the famed Grouse Grind and mountain top alpine trails of varying intensities. At the top, take in a riotous lumberjack show, a “Birds in Motion” demonstration and – everyone’s favorite – a chance to visit Grinder & Coola, the mountain’s resident rescued grizzy bears. Year-round, you can experience their 5-line zip course, the remarkable “Eye of the Wind” tour (both are weather permitting) or fine dining at The Observatory.
This spectacular 360 degree view from the top of one of Vancouver's tallest buildings is a great first stop in Vancouver. You will find facts, interesting stories and Vancouver trivia that cover all aspects of the view plus energetic, well informed guides provide tours every hour. Tickets are valid for the entire day so you can return and view Vancouver by night.
Stanley Park was named one of the top ten greatest public spaces and urban parks in the world. Beautiful Stanley Park is a 1000 acres of evergreen oasis in downtown Vancouver, primarily surrounded by water. The Park features: a popular and scenic 9 km seawall path, temperate rainforest, hiking/biking trails, the Vancouver Aquarium, totem poles, an outdoor swimming pool, beaches, restaurants, outdoor theatre, gardens, water park, mini golf course, lakes, landmarks, carriage rides and much more.
Home to more than 70,000 residents, hailing from the Arctic, Africa and beyond. Visitors can chill with the penguins at Penguin Point, hang out with sloths in the exotic Amazon gallery – a true-to-life re-creation of a South American rainforest – and check out the current show playing at the 4D Theatre. For a stay-with-you-forever experience, sign up for an “Animal Encounter” and make fast friends by feeding belugas, dolphins, sea otters and others with a staff trainer.
Cycle City Tours
Cycle City Tours offers guided bike tours through the most popular areas of downtown Vancouver. Their passionate tour guides can take you on a variety of daily tours, which include: “The Stanley Tour,” a three hour tour through Stanley Park and along the Seawall; “The Grand Tour of Vancouver,” a five hour tour through Stanley Park, Chinatown, Gastown, Granville Island and False Creek; and the “Art Wheelers Public Art Tour,” a two and half hour tour of Vancouver’s extensive collection of public art with commentary on the historical, social and cultural relevance of the art installations.
Vancouver Foodie Tours
Vancouver Foodie Tours is a culinary tour company offering tours called the Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour, the World’s Best Food Truck Tour, and Granville Island Market tour. The Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour is their signature tour that showcases the best of Vancouver Cuisine. The menu includes five courses and 12 tastings on the three hour tour. The World’s Best Food Truck Tour, a CTC Signature Experience, takes visitors on a tasting tour of Vancouver’s multi- cultural curbside cuisine. The tour is two hours of tantalizing fun, five courses and seven tastings. The Granville Island Market tour showcases fresh, local gastronomic delights in the noisy and chaotic yet irresistibly atmospheric Granville Island.
The newly renovated geodesic dome overlooking False Creek provides a day of educational entertainment. The whole family will enjoy taking part in the fun and informative science shows and hundreds of interactive exhibits (from playing a piano with your feet to building cities with wooden blocks.)
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
A sanctuary in the heart of the city, it is the first authentic classical Chinese garden ever built outside of China. Visitors can walk along the peaceful paths to admire the harmony of water, plants, and architecture.
If you're an arts lover, you'll feel right at home in Vancouver. The city's rich cultural background has helped produce a spectrum of artistic expression and a thriving creative community.
Vancouverites aren't much for staying in, and when you discover the breadth of concerts, events, games, restaurants and more, you won't be either. From dressing up for a night on the town at the Opera, Symphony or Ballet, to painting your face blue and white and cheering on the Vancouver Canucks, the city comes alive after dark.
Vancouver's endless array of shops and restaurants also make for a different, make-your-own kind of entertainment. The high life awaits. Why not indulge?
For performance-arts lovers, there are a number of theatre companies that put on a variety of plays and musical productions, including classic and contemporary productions. Vancouver's dance scene is one of Canada's best with regular performances by Ballet British Columbia and more than 25 other professional local dance troupes.
Vancouver has a number of impressive venues from which to enjoy an evening of music. Treat yourself to a symphony or an opera in one of Vancouver's state-of-the-art facilities. Catch a concert at any number of intimate clubs or try the opulent and historic Orpheum Theatre, home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra since 1930. Rogers Arena and BC Place, the two substantial stadiums in downtown Vancouver, host concerts for large scale, international musical stars and always offer a great show!
With more than 32 professional groups, a major international theatre festival (The Fringe), two outdoor theatrical events (Bard on the Beach and Theatre Under The Stars) and more than 21 venues, theatre is a major cultural activity in Vancouver.
Innovation describes the smaller, more intimate venues in the city. Creative use of space has meant the development of theatres in the back of a visual arts gallery (the Gastown Studio Theatre), a refurbished firehall (The Firehall Arts Centre), a renovated church (the Vancouver East Cultural Centre), converted warehouses (the Arts Club Theatre and the Waterfront Theatre), and a basement studio in a college (Studio 58).
Productions in larger scale theatres throughout Vancouver offer plays, musicals, dance and much more. The art deco Vogue Theatre, the elegant Stanley Theatre, the contemporary Centre for the Performing Arts, or the grand Queen Elizabeth Theatre complex - these are just a few of the many wonderful venues for stage productions of every taste and talent in Vancouver!
If you love to laugh you'll feel right at home in Vancouver. The city has a colourful spectrum of options to choose from - hilarious theatre shows, side-splitting dinner theatre, improv, and stand-up. Lots of laughs and entertainment for the whole family.
Are you a film buff? An aspiring actor? A gifted writer? Or want to be seen with the stars? If your answer is yes, then visit Vancouver in the fall and check out the annual Vancouver International Film Festival. The festival runs over 2 weeks with over 300 films from over 50 countries in venues across the city. The festival often draws more than 130,000 attendees including hundreds of specially-invited industry insiders from around the world..
While this is the biggest film event in the city, there's a tremendous selection of films being screened all year round: foreign films, underground films, independent films, as well as big-ticket shows. Movie types and theatre sizes are wide-ranging and very popular throughout Vancouver. Daily matinees and evening shows are accessible in most major theatres around the city, while many of the larger theatre complexes offer a selection of films every hour on the hour.
Which way to the beach? Well, in Vancouver you can find one everywhere you turn. Whether you're looking for a stretch of sand to spread out and relax with a good book, an outdoor court to spike volleyball, or a sandy catwalk to strut your stuff, Vancouver's got it. The following is a list of some of the best beaches in the city.
If Vancouver is "Hollywood North," then Vancouver's Kitsilano Beach - or "Kits Beach" to the locals - is Vancouver's Venice Beach. Buff and bronzed bodies are sure to make their rounds, but don't be wary, you're sure to fit in somewhere amidst the mix of joggers, stroller-pushing families, sun-worshippers and your everyday loungers. Grassy patches above the tide line are perfect for tossing the disc, the tennis courts are always popular, and the beach attracts volleyball players from all over the city. And don't forget Kits Pool where kids and adults can splash away the day in an outdoor, heated salt-water pool with a wrap-around view of the city, ocean and mountains. It's almost three times the size of an Olympic pool.
When all the elements are right, fishing and a picnic at the Jericho Beach pier makes for a perfect evening. Enjoy the long, sandy stretch with stunning views of the North Shore Mountains and the downtown core. It's also a great spot for sailing, windsurfing, sea kayaking and beach volleyball.
To commemorate the discovery of the Spanish explorers in 1792, the British named this particular shore Spanish Banks. The least crowded of Vancouver's beaches, this stretch of sand is a wonderful retreat for those who wish to escape from the pace of city life. Skimmers alert: this is the perfect place for skim boarding once you learn the optimal tidal conditions.
West End Beaches
The southern edge of the West End neighborhood has two of the most attractive waterfront urban environments - English Bay and Sunset Beach. Amazingly, this large stretch of sand is no more than a 30-minute walk from the downtown core - with no commercial exploitation intruding on the peaceful environment. In summer, English Bay becomes a jumping off point for rollerblading adventures, strolling for ice cream, and picnics. Kids will love the floating slide and parents will appreciate the full time lifeguard. It's also the place to lay down your blanket and look up to the sky during the HSBC Celebration of Light international fireworks competition, held end of July and early August.
Second & Third Beaches
Second Beach is a quick stroll north from English Bay into Stanley Park. Like Kitsilano Beach, Second Beach also has an immense, heated outdoor pool. Further along the seawall lies secluded Third Beach, which is due north of Stanley Park Drive. Locals tote grills and coolers to this spot, a popular place for summer evening barbecues and sunset watching.
This six-kilometre long, secluded beach is Canada's first and largest, legal, clothing-optional beach. It's located at the down a long flight of steep stairs. western tip of Vancouver, adjacent to the University of British Columbia campus,On a summer weekend, as many as 14,000 visitors flock to the beach which stretches from the Musqueam Reserve to Spanish Banks West. Vendors Row, located down the middle of the beach below Trail 6, offers snacks and refreshments. Note: Wreck Beach enthusiasts are a loyal and protective bunch who take their right to "bare" arms, legs and everything else pretty seriously.
Over the last 125 years, Vancouver has become home to a broad range of ethnic groups, who have brought with them a vibrant and distinct assemblage of cuisines, heritage, belief systems and artwork. Although these cultures have retained a sense of their original identity, their influence has shaped Vancouver into a thriving, international city with a unique vibe. Get to know some of the influential forces behind this culturally rich, global metropolis.
Explore Vancouver’s First Nations Culture
For thousands of years, Vancouver and surrounding regions have been the ancestral home of many First Nations communities - and their powerful influence remains prolific today.
Look closely and you’ll see aboriginal influences throughout Vancouver – from artwork at the airport to some of Vancouver’s must-see attractions. First Nations art, in forms such as distinctive thunderbirds, massive totem poles and intricate masks, can be seen around the city. Because art was often worn or used for practical purposes – in ceremonies and storytelling – First Nations art pieces provide a great deal of insight into aboriginal life. Visitors will find wonderful examples of First Nations art at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery and Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, among others. The UBC Museum of Anthropology displays a collection of approximately 6,000 objects from B.C.’s First Nations, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is home to a First Nations cultural centre, which illuminates the heritage and the historical connection between First Nations cultures and the natural world. And Stanley Park features a collection of beautiful First Nations totem poles.
During the summer months, Takaya Tours in North Vancouver takes visitors out for a paddle through Indian Arm in 13 metre cedar canoes; with Coast Salish guides singing traditional songs, tell stories and out ancient village sites.
Get a true taste of coastal First Nations culture with dinner at Salmon n’ Bannock Bistro – featuring a contemporary menu that includes wild fish, organic and free range meats, and bannock (a traditional bread) in dishes inspired by First Nations traditions.
Walking through Vancouver, the aesthetic influence of Japanese culture is everywhere, from serene public gardens to the thousands of blooming cherry trees planted throughout the city’s green spaces. The first wave of Japanese immigrants, called Issei (or first generation), arrived in Vancouver between 1877 and 1928, many of whom settled in small fishing villages along the Pacific coastline and on idyllic farms in the Fraser Valley. Since then, it’s become easy to experience an authentic part of this culture by dining at one of the many Japanese restaurants, enjoying a tea ritual at the Nitobe Memorial Garden or attending the annual Powell Street Festival, the largest Japanese-Canadian community event in Vancouver.
During the late 1800s, the first Chinese immigrants began arriving in Vancouver to work on railroads and in the mines. As more workers and families began migrating to Vancouver, the neighborhood kept growing, eventually developing into the third most populous Chinatown in North America. Step into this bustling cultural district, where you can indulge in authentic cuisine, shop for specialty items in traditional markets and teashops, and experience contemporary nightlife with a new generation of Chinese-Canadians.
More than a century ago, Vancouver’s booming lumber industry lured thousands of immigrants from Punjab, a region located on the Indian-Pakistani border. As this cultural group became more established in Vancouver, Punjabi Market – or Little India, as it’s sometimes called — emerged as an exotic district occupying six blocks along Main Street. Start at East 49th Avenue, and walk down Main Street to peruse sparkly gold bangles, vibrant silks and aromatic spices. Don’t miss out on the authentic Indian cuisine, whether you’re looking to try signature samosas, curried vegetarian dishes or something more adventurous.
After World War II, thousands of Italians moved to Vancouver, settling into the Grandview neighborhood, which is located on Commercial Drive during the 1950s, this area became known as Little Italy due to its high concentration of Italian residents, restaurants and businesses, but over time, a number of other ethnicities infiltrated the area, creating a culturally diverse neighborhood. Despite the name Commercial Drive, this area continues to have remnants of Italian culture. Learn more about Italian-Canadian heritage at the Italian Culture Centre, watch a bocce ball game in nearby Confederation Park or enjoy a rich cup of espresso from one of the many Italian coffee shops along the Drive.
Vancouver Polar Bear Swim
Ring in the New Year with a dip in English Bay. The Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club is one of the oldest polar bear clubs in the world. Held since 1920, it now attracts thousands to English Bay every year, and costumes are strongly encouraged. It happens at 2:30pm near the English Bay Bathhouse.
PuSh International Performing Arts Festival
The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is one of Vancouver’s signature events. Produced over three weeks each January, the PuSh Festival presents groundbreaking work in the live performing arts with theater, dance, music, and various forms of multimedia and hybrid performance.
Dine Out Vancouver Festival
Dine Out Vancouver is Canada’s largest restaurant festival and is a city-wide celebration of dining out. The festival features hundreds of restaurants and distinct events, food tours, and cooking classes. Virtually every type of restaurant in the city gets involved, giving tens of thousands of local and visiting foodies the chance to taste Vancouver’s hot restaurant digs, new hit eateries and neighborhood favorites all for a reasonable fixed price.
Chinese New Year Festival
Attended by over 50,000 spectators, the Vancouver Chinese New Year Parade features the largest assembly of traditional lion dance teams in Canada, as well as multicultural dance troupes, the Vancouver Police Department Motorcycle Drill Team, marching bands and more. The Parade winds its way through the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown, starting at the Millennium Gate on Pender Street; it then proceeds east along Pender Street, turns south onto Gore Street, west onto Keefer Street, and ends at Keefer and Columbia.
Vancouver International Wine Festival
This week long festival features dozens of seminars, tastings and food pairings with wines from all over the world. This event is so popular that many of the sessions sell out in advance. The grand International Festival Tasting features Canada selections and international imports. It’s a chance to compare the local juice to the internationally acclaimed vino.
CelticFest in Vancouver is centered on St. Patrick's Day Parade. The parade starts at Davie Street and Granville Street and follows Granville Street to Dunsmuir Street. With over 50 live Celtic performances over 6 days, the CelticFest showcases the best of Celtic music, dance, spoken word as well as film, food and fare and the much-anticipated St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival
Canada's Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Society is a non-profit charitable society established in 2005 in the province of British Columbia. The City of Vancouver declared March and April the months to honor the more than 37,000 ornamental cherry trees generously gifted from Japan in the 1930's.
As the quintessential symbol of spring, the universal theme of the cherry tree inspires new poetry, art, music, film, design, crafts, photography, and cuisine while inspiring the artist in us all. Through a wide array of diverse programs from Cherry Jam Downtown, Haiku Invitational, Bike the Blossoms, Japan Fair, BC Blossom Watch Photo Contest, Cherry Scouts Program, Tree Talks and Walks and the Cherry Blossom Viewing Map the festival captures the exuberance of the blossoming with cultural programming for the whole community to enjoy.
Vancouver Sun Run
The Vancouver Sun Run has been Canada's largest 10K road race since its inception in 1985, and is now the second largest timed 10K in the world.
BMO Vancouver Marathon
The BMO Vancouver Marathon is held annually and is one of Canada’s largest marathons with participation from athletes from around the world. The full marathon is 42.2km through downtown Vancouver.
Vancouver International Children’s Festival
Jam-packed with music, theater, dance, storytelling, puppetry, circus arts and much more, the festival embodies the buoyant spirit and endless curiosity of children all over the world.
Shakespeare Festival – Bard on the Beach
Bard on the Beach is one of Canada's largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare Festivals. Presented in a magnificent setting on the waterfront in Vancouver's Vanier Park, the Festival offers Shakespeare plays, related dramas, and several special events in two performance tents from June through September.
Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival
Recognized as North America’s biggest and best, the annual Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival in Vancouver is a true celebration of our diverse and beautiful city, attracting over 100,000 people and close to 180 dragon boat teams from across the Lower Mainland and around the globe.
Eat Vancouver- Food and Cooking Festival
Celebrity chefs, popular local restaurants, wineries, food and beverage manufacturers, cookbook authors, retailers, artisans, and many others from the culinary world will come together for a three day public extravaganza at BC Place Stadium. EAT! Vancouver encompasses unique food experiences, opportunities to learn behind-the-scenes culinary magic from professional chefs, dynamic entertainment through celebrity chef cooking demonstrations and culinary competitions, diverse food, beverage and cooking related exhibits; and of course fantastic shopping opportunities.
Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Vancouver's signature festival and British Columbia's biggest music showcase will animate the city for ten days. From noon to the wee small hours, a rich tapestry of jazz, blues, funk, Latin, fusion, electronica and world music will fill the air at venues big and small, indoor and outdoor across the city. The festival will feature over 1800 musicians from Canada and around the world performing at over 40 venues citywide. There will be approximately 150 free concerts and will stir the soul of more than 500,000 people.
Honda Celebration of Light
Sometimes English Bay needs a little extra color – like the kind provided by fireworks. We’re not talking about everyday fireworks, though. The Celebration of Light doesn’t do typical. It does extravagant. This four day, international, pyro-musical competition displays the best fireworks in the world for more than 1 million people who eagerly line the shores of the bay to watch the brilliant explosions set to music.
Fair at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE)
Mid-August to early September
The Fair at the PNE continues to get better with age. B.C.’s premier summertime event offers a range of new and classic family entertainment, including more than 55 thrilling rides, live performances, mouthwatering food from around the globe, a motorsports spectacular, the beloved Superdogs and more.
Vancouver International Fringe Festival
Most performances at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival are anything but mainstream. More than 90 artists from around the world present 600 shows over 11 days on a variety of indoor and outdoor stages (most venues are on Granville Island; though some are located in downtown Vancouver). One caveat: few, if any, of these works will make it to the big stages in town, so it’s best to get out and see them while you can. Following the main festival, catch "Pick of the Fringe," a round-up of the festival’s most popular acts.
Vancouver International Film Festival
The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) is one of the five largest film festivals in North America, screening over 300 films from over 50 countries on 10 screens in theatres across Vancouver . The international line-up includes picks from the world’s other top film festivals alongside newly-undiscovered and rare gems. Attracting a large and enthusiastic audience of film lovers, the festival remains accessible, friendly and culturally diverse. View the full program online in early September.
Vancouver Fashion week
Vancouver Fashion Week is an ideal event that facilitates trade and exposure for our international guests as well as highlights Vancouver’s local talent. As diversity and creativity is at the centrefold of Vancouver Fashion Week, this season will feature both emerging and established designers in many categories, some being street wear, aboriginal and eco-friendly designs. Known as one of the west coast’s most prestigious industry event, it thrives on inviting the most creative talent.
The Peak of Christmas @ Grouse Mountain, North Vancouver
Bring your family to Santa’s Workshop and meet reindeer, or take a sleigh ride through the mystical alpine forest. You can also experience the tranquil beauty of skating in an 8,000 square foot mountaintop ice skating pond, surrounded by snow topped trees. Don’t miss out on your chance to eat breakfast with Santa at the peak of one of Vancouver's most accessible mountains.
Canyon Lights, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Canyon Lights features over 250,000 twinkling lights throughout the park. Don’t forget to visit the spectacular decorated maple tree! Enjoy carolers dressed in historical winter costumes, and learn how to blow glass icicle ornaments from glass blower Malcolm Macfadyen.
Bright Lights in Stanley Park
Get in the spirit of the Holidays - take a train ride through our forest transformed with two million twinkling lights, see the animated displays and listen to holiday sounds as you enjoy hot chocolate, fresh popcorn and roasted chestnuts. Admission to the Plaza is by donation to the BC Professional Fire Fighters' Burn Fund. Tickets are required to ride the Bright Nights Train.
VanDusen Botanical Garden Festival of Lights
At the Festival of Lights, VanDusen transforms itself from a serene botanical oasis into a winter wonderland. Millions of colorful lights are strewn around flower beds, trees, shrubs and decorations, creating an awesome spectacle.
In Vancouver, nature is ever-present: mountains, just a 20-minute drive from downtown, loom over the city; and the fresh scent of the forest is in every breath. Locals are passionate about the “great outdoors,” and are only too happy to share that love with visitors. Ease into nature, just steps from your hotel, with a leisurely cycle around Stanley Park’s seawall or a walk through its urban rainforest. Get to know the region’s wilder inhabitants with a whale watching excursion, or visit Grouse Mountain’s Refuge for Endangered Wildlife to see the resident grizzly bears, Grinder and Coola. Kayaking along the shoreline and beaches is a tranquil experience not to be missed, while hiking the North Shore Mountains is an invigorating way to re-connect with nature. Those looking to quicken their pulse can zip-line above the trees, kite-surf off beaches, or try their hand at mountain biking. All of this and you’re still in the city!
Outdoorspeople will love the opportunities to fish, hike and camp, athletes will dig the abundance of golf courses, watersports, and bike and running trails, and families will learn to compromise over whale-watching in the morning, and suspension bridges in the afternoon. Your only limit is your imagination.
Here are some ideas:
Both guided (including specialty photo-walks) and self-guided walking tour options are perfect for those who enjoy learning about a city without the help of a tour bus.
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Whether it’s a city tour atop a cycle, or taking on the challenging mountain bike trails on the city’s North Shore, Vancouver has plenty of adventures for those on two wheels.
In a city where even a “downtown hike” is a possibility, Vancouver offers lots of fresh air hiking options for those of all ability levels. Explore the West Coast rainforest of the North Shore mountains with a knowledgeable guide and interpretive tour of the ancient natural wonders with Rockwood Adventures.
You can get in 18 holes at any time of the year in Vancouver, where courses range from historic to picturesquely rugged. The spectacular scenery may even put you off your game!
Available year-round, the experience starts at the peak of Grouse Mountain, with lines to Dam Mountain and a top speed of 80km/hr traversing the canyon below! The experience combines heart pounding thrills with an exploration of B.C.’s breathtaking old-growth forests.
Best viewed between April and October, the waters off the coast of Vancouver and Vancouver Island offer some of the best whale watching anywhere. Vancouver’s orca and grey whales provide exciting adventures for visitors of all ages, with vessels that run the gamut from smaller, Zodiac-style boats through to larger cruisers.
Wildlife watching excursions are focused on the fauna of the region: on land, in the sky and of course, on the water. On wildlife safaris in Howe Sound, Vancouver Harbour and Indian Arm you may see seals, porpoises, eagles and sea birds, and learn about the natural habitat of the area.
While it sounds like an activity for the hardcore outdoors enthusiast, paddlers of all ages and abilities will love ocean kayaking in Vancouver. For beginners, a great starting point is the guided group paddle from Granville Island, along the calm, protected waters of False Creek. Another great option for beginners and old hands alike, a guided kayaking day trip up Indian Arm with a salmon beach barbecue.
All fitness and adventure levels will enjoy the thrill of guided whitewater rafting on the Chilliwack, Elaho-Squamish, Green, Thompson and Nahatlatch rivers.
Yacht and Fishing Charters
There's no better place for boating and fishing enthusiasts than Vancouver with its stunning coastline and endless waterways. Salmon fishing is a local tradition and a highly popular activity.
Most people think of the tropics when they think of scuba diving, but Vancouver has some of the best scuba diving in the world. Plunge into the nutrient-rich waters between Vancouver Island and the mainland to view spectacular marine species like the wolf eel and octopi, as well as a brilliant red coral found in few other places around the world. Other popular diving sites close to Vancouver include Porteau Cove near Squamish and Whytecliff Park near Horseshoe Bay.
Some Family Friendly Activities
Check out the huge free waterpark at Granville Island then dry off in the nearby Kids Market. In late May, this is also the home of the International Children’s Festival.
Hit Science World at TELUS World of Science for a plethora of hands-on activities, including blowing giant soap bubbles, playing a piano with your feet and freezing your shadow on a wall.
Sway across the Capilano River at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, complete with a towering rope bridge, rainforest nature trails and Cliffwalk, a walkway clinging to the canyon’s steep rock face.
Head to idyllic Kitsilano Beach for a day of sunny fun. Younger kids can beachcomb and hit the playground, while teens can sample the swimming pool or tennis courts.
Stroll from Kits Beach to nearby Vanier Park, complete with the Museum of Vancouver, Vancouver Maritime Museum and H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.
Visit Vancouver’s newest attraction - FlyOver Canada! Located at the tip of Canada Place, experience the feeling of soaring from coast to coast on a breathtaking aerial journey, taking in the excitement and grandeur of Canada through the latest in virtual flight ride technology.
Visit Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver where kids can take a close-up look at 200 farm animals and birds, pet the bunnies and pat the horses. Spring is a favorite time - that's when the baby animals are born.
Ogle the aquatic menagerie at the highly popular Vancouver Aquarium, where behind-the-scenes trainer tours are also available.
Discover what life was really like for the region’s cannery workers at the kid-tastic Gulf of Georgia Cannery in Steveston or visit Fort Langley National Historic Site, where kids (and adults) can pan for gold.
Let your kids run, jump and tumble at the BC Sports Hall of Fame, where the activities are just as popular as the displays of sporting memorabilia.
Well known for fresh seafood, West Coast fusion cuisine and a thriving dining scene, Vancouver’s chefs use the best of what’s in-season, combining fresh ingredients with traditional techniques and multicultural influence to delicious effect. Home to the 100 Mile Diet, Vancouver is known for sustainable options on the plate – look for the Ocean Wise symbol indicating sustainable seafood choices on the menu. Pair it all with internationally-acclaimed wines from BC’s Okanagan Valley, and locally micro-brewed beers to get a unique taste of the city. And don’t let the evening end when your table is cleared: Vancouver has a vibrant cocktail scene worthy of exploration along with nightlife options to suit all tastes. Whether your preferences lean towards a jazz performance, dance clubs, catching a game at a sports bar, or a quiet nightcap, you won’t be disappointed.
A wide range of culinary walking tours take you to some of the city’s tastiest neighborhoods, giving you an insider’s glimpse into Vancouver’s hottest spots, cultural history, favorite purveyors and current trends. For the ultimate combination of cuisine and sightseeing, try a floatplane “fly and dine” tour: soaring over the modern metropolis, majestic mountains, fjords and ocean before landing on the water to savor west coast flavor with an oceanfront seafood dinner.
At the top table of Canadian dining cities, Vancouver serves a rich and diverse menu for traveling foodies. From arguably the best Chinese and Japanese dining outside Asia to a taste-tripping dedication to local ingredients that encompasses everything from delectable seafood to carefully cultivated fruits and vegetables, visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to experiencing local flavors.
Combine your visit with the Dine Out Vancouver Festival from late January to early February. A wildly popular annual event where restaurants across the city offer three-course, prix fixe tasting menus, it’s the largest restaurant festival in Canada and has expanded in recent years to include parties, tasting events, tours, classes and taste-tripping culinary showcases.
For the low-down on the scene the rest of the year, pick up copies of Eat Magazine and City Food for reviews, hot happenings and the latest scoops. Peruse a copy of Vancouver magazine’s annual Restaurant Awards issue for the latest headline-making eateries.
Vancouver is teeming with distinctive dining areas where you can’t throw a California roll without hitting a good eatery. These include Gastown, a haven for the city’s young up-and-coming chefs and bartenders; Yaletown, where the city’s beautiful people come to feed at the hippest eateries; Robson Street, with more than 50 restaurants ranging from Korean noodle houses to super-chic movie star hangouts; Chinatown, with its dim sum haunts and fusion hotspots; Denman and Davie Streets, housing the city’s best selection of good-value, mid-priced restaurants; Granville Island, with its fine dining and casual eateries sharing great city-and-mountain views; Kitsilano, complete with vegetarian haunts, quirky coffee houses and fine dining, especially along 4th Avenue; South Main, filled with small, eclectic joints, many catering to local veggies; and Commercial Drive, with its independent coffee bars and diverse ethnic eateries.
Vancouver’s museums and galleries truly set it apart from other cities and allow visitors to examine the area’s unique culture, arts and heritage. Below is just a taste of the cultural options available for your clients to explore during their stay in the city.
Vancouver Art Gallery
Located right downtown on Robson Street, the Vancouver Art Gallery is a city landmark, known for its progressive approach and exciting exhibitions. The gallery has more than 7,900 works of visual art in its permanent collection, but a big draw is the world-class exhibitions that the institution attracts each year, including presentations such as a collection of drawings from Paris’ Musee D’Orsay or 500 years of Italian paintings from Glasgow museums. It’s also home to the largest collection of work by acclaimed British Columbia artist Emily Carr; at any given time, there is usually an exhibition that includes her work. The gallery also has a great program for groups wishing to tour the spaces, as well as activities for kids.
UBC Museum of Anthropology
With a stunning location overlooking the ocean on the campus of the University of British Columbia, and a striking modern building designed by renowned Vancouver architect Arthur Erickson, the UBC Museum of Anthropology would still be a worthy attraction even if it was empty. But it’s not. Instead, it houses the world’s best collection of Northwest Coastal art, and an astounding 535,000 archeological objects from cultures around the world. MOA encourages interaction – opening drawers to see their collection is sure to add a sense of discovery.
Museum of Vancouver
For a dynamic introduction to Vancouver’s history (and the present), the Museum of Vancouver can’t be beat. Along with permanent exhibits covering the city’s growth, starting with Vancouver’s incorporation as a city in 1886, the museum also mounts interesting (some would say “quirky”) exhibitions that offer an inside look at issues that have shaped or are still shaping the city. The Museum of Vancouver is located in Kitsilano’s Vanier Park, just across the Burrard Bridge from downtown, and is easily incorporated into a day with Granville Island and the other Vanier Park attractions.
Vancouver Maritime Museum
Also located in Vanier Park is the Vancouver Maritime Museum, a family-oriented, fun spot for visitors to learn about Canada’s strong sea-faring heritage and be inspired. Visitors of all ages enjoy the exhibits, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police schooner, the St. Roch, which greets them when they enter. The Children's Maritime Discovery Centre is a fun, hands-on area dedicated to children and the young at heart, while the exhibitions delve into everything from pirates and shipwrecks, through to deep-ocean exploration and the world of steamships.
Burnaby Village Museum
Visitors who are fascinated by the past will be enchanted by the Burnaby Village Museum. The 4 hectare (10 acre) site transports visitors back to the 1920s, giving guests the chance to stroll down a village street from the era - a combination of heritage and replica buildings. The village represents a typical tram-stop community in British Columbia, and period costumed townsfolk welcome visitors and give demonstrations in the homes, businesses and shops. A visit is not complete without a whirl on the historic 1912 CW Parker Carousel, accompanied by music from a 1925 Wurlitzer band organ.
Bill Reid Gallery
The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art is a well-curated collection of First Nations art, both by Bill Reid and contemporary Northwest Coast artists. As Canada’s best known indigenous artist, Reid is also renowned for working in many different mediums including sculpture and jewellery. The gallery is a perfect introduction for your clients who are new to First Nations art, and its downtown location makes it a good choice for those only in the city for a short visit.
UBC’s Beaty Biodiversity Museum
Located on the university grounds, you will find a rich collection of bird, insect, fossil and plant specimens to explore. The museum’s crowing jewel is Canada’s largest skeleton of a blue whale – Earth’s largest animal – stretching 26.8 metres (88 feet) long.
BC Sports Hall of Fame & Museum
Sports fan of all ages will appreciate the BC Sports Hall of Fame Museum at BC Place Stadium, where visitors can get to know British Columbia’s top athletes and relive Vancouver’s glory during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Vancouver Police Museum
Learn about the seedier side of the city with exhibits about infamous murders and unsolved cases; an extensive collection of police artifacts, weapons and seized evidence; and even the city’s old morgue complete with autopsy oddities.
If you’re looking for a little retail therapy, Vancouver is sure to please even the most ardent shopper, with everything from artisan markets to international designers. Browse the offerings on your own, or take a guided shopping adventure. Downtown’s Robson Street and Pacific Centre mall offer well-known brands and high-end boutiques, while Gastown is home to some of the city’s hippest new ateliers and galleries. Colorful markets such as Granville Island will find you shopping for culinary finds alongside the locals. Shopping is a great excuse to further explore one of Vancouver’s friendly and unique neighborhoods: Yaletown with its interior décor stores and patio-lined streets, Kitsilano for wholesome yoga-inspired outlets, and Main Street where independent and vintage shops reside.
Centered on Robson Street – Vancouver’s main retailing promenade and host to almost all of North America’s leading clothing brands – the city’s downtown core is often teeming with busy shoppers clutching their latest purchases and heading to their next credit card-friendly port of call. Shoes, high fashion and jewellery are the mainstays here, and there are also plenty of restaurants and coffee shops for those who need to refuel. Around Robson and Alberni Street you will find internationally known boutiques such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermes, Chanel & Tiffanny’s.
Aside from popular stores like Roots, Gap, Banana Republic, Aritzia, Lululemon and Chapters, the area’s largest department store is the Bay at the intersection of Granville and Georgia Streets. It recently opened its own in-store Topshop capsule, bringing the popular London brand to local shoppers. Just one block down Granville, you’ll find Holt Renfrew, an all-Canadian department store focused on lux designer brands. If it’s raining, seek refuge at the city’s main shopping mall, Pacific Centre. Fashion specialty retailer Nordstrom has its flagship store at Pacific Centre with clothes, shoes and accessories for men, women and kids, beauty products, home décor as well as a full-service restaurant, espresso bar and Pop-In Shop.
Occupying a plethora of renovated brick warehouses bounded by Nelson, Homer, Drake and Pacific Streets, chichi Yaletown is stuffed with the city’s most glamorous designer clothing stores. When the new Mini Cooper was launched in North America, it was no surprise when the company opened a swanky showroom here to speak directly to the people who have the visual élan to embrace it. But Yaletown is not just about designer gear for beautiful young things; this is also the location of the Coastal People’s Fine Art Gallery, showcasing some of the magnificent carvings, masks and jewelry of regional First Nations artisans.
Concentrated on the Main Street area between 19th and 25th avenues, this enticing strip of unique indie stores offers a great selection of clothing, homewares and jewelry created by local and nationally-renowned designers. A hotbed of quirky outlets – including Eugene Choo, Smoking Lily and Front & Co. – this is where the hippest Vancouverites come to dress themselves. But it’s not just about togs: look out for cool record and stationary stores, as well as hunger-busting restaurants and coffee bars.
Walk towards the mountains from the downtown core, and you’ll soon come to Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood. Gastown’s cobbled streets and heritage buildings have been dramatically reinvented in recent years and are now home to some of the city’s most exciting independent stores – look out for unique art galleries, swanky designers, top clothing boutiques and First Nations artisan outlets. The area’s main Water Street thoroughfare is also Vancouver’s souvenir central, housing large gift shops in the shadow of the famed steam clock. This is the place to pick up your maple leaf T-shirts, jade jewelry and “moose dropping” chocolates.
A must-see for shoppers craving unique and unusual gifts, artsy Granville Island is a former industrial area transformed into a warren of artisan studios and shopping nooks. It’s easy to spend a day ambling among the stores selling everything from pottery, jewelry and glassware to books, clothing and wine. While children will not want to miss the Kids Market of toys and activities, everyone should save time for the bustling Public Market. Teeming with deli counters, bakeries, fishmongers and pyramids of gleaming fruit and vegetables, it’s popular with browsers – and there’s a great on-site food court for a lunchtime refueling stop.
A former 1960s hippy hangout transformed into a neighborhood of pricey heritage homes, “Kits” has a comfy, laid-back feel and a selection of stores aimed at well-off urban professionals. Centred on 4th Avenue, these stores include bookshops themed around travel or children, fashionable outdoor stores, yoga wear boutiques and specialty shops selling everything from artisan chocolates to swanky cooking utensils. The area makes for a pleasant afternoon stroll and there are plenty of cafés and restaurants – plus nearby beaches – if you need a break.
Occupying the Granville Street area between 4th and 16th Avenues, South Granville is a popular, highly stroll-able shopping area. Once home only to family restaurants and small grocery stores, it’s now lined with designer fashions, cool interior accessories and tempting, must-have knick knacks. A kaleidoscope of small, independent galleries has also colonized its flanks – check out the Bau-xi Gallery and Uno Langmann Fine Art – while one of the city’s best high-end delis and grocery stores, Meinhardt Fine Foods, offers lots of local and international treats for visiting gourmands. A browser’s paradise, South Granville also has some superb restaurants and a live theater.
To/From Airport, Richmond
McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport - Vancouver ‘s first luxury designer outlet offers the most sought-after European and North American luxury, designer and lifestyle brands in a stylish and vibrant shopping environment, also home to a range of cafes and restaurants. It is conveniently located four minutes from Vancouver International Airport and 22 minutes from downtown Vancouver via the Canada Line. Free travel is offered between Vancouver International Airport and the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet.