Vancouver, positioned between the Pacific Ocean and beautiful mountainous terrain, is one of Canada’s great cities and because the weather stays so temperate (it doesn’t get that cold and also doesn’t get much snow, the precipitation comes in the form of rain) that it is a favourable place to live, work and play.
When visiting Vancouver and its surrounding suburbs including North and West Vancouvers, Coquitlim, Burnaby, New Westminister, Victoria, you might want to spend some time downtown first. Plan to spend a few days in and around the city to fully enjoy all that the city offers.
Like most downtowns, Vancouver is not that much different. Here you will find upscale boutiques and restaurants, sumptuous motels as well as places of business. But the difference in the downtown is that it is surrounded by waterfronts to the south and north of the city core and to the west is Stanley Park (more about the park later) and to the east is Gastown and Chinatown. If you want to travel around the city, its best to walk or travel by skytrain, the skytrain is much like a subway that goes underground but goes above the city as well. Driving is ok, but be prepared for traffic, lots of it. So you might want to think of alternate transportation.
Gastown is Vancouver’s designated historic section. Gastown was named after Gassy Jack Leighton, an Englishman who arrived on Canadians shores shortly after Confederation. He set up a saloon that did a marvellous business in selling libations. The Government of the day quickly acted (as usual, they wanted a piece of the action..) They forced Leighton to install bedrooms to make the bar legal. Shortly there after a second bar followed and the area was christened “Gassy’s Town” Leighton was known for his long winded speeches or “gas” and thus the area was named. This area was a pre-curser to modern day Vancouver.
There are many things to do and in see in and around Vancouver and here are a few things you wont want to miss:
Stanley Park is one of Canada’s renowned parks and rightly so. It is second only to the CN Tower in Toronto for its number of visitors per year. The park is surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean it is definitely a ‘must see’ when you are in Vancouver. The park features woodlands, marshes, gardens, children’s play parks, a miniature railway and much more. The park’s other main attractions are its marine centre and Canada’s largest aquarium and its many Totem Poles. The best thing about Stanley Park is that is so close to the downtown core.
Canada Place with its IMAX theatre and other museums such as the Musuem of Anthropology on the ground of UBC (University of British Columbia) as well as the H. R. Macmillan Space Centre are sure pleasers for the younger set
Finding a place to eat offers no challenges but deciding where, does! With Vancouver’s influx of immigrants from Eastern Asia, the city offers a great deal of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai and Korean eateries to choose from. These are followed by Ethiopian and Mongolian followed by old favourites such as Italian and Greek. Of course being beside an ocean offers the best seafood and there is no lack of seafood restaurants to be found either. Besides these, there are also a liberal amount of cafes and fast food joints as well. And if you are interested in doing some dancing while you are eating, the night life is alive and well and living in Vancouver. There are plenty of bars, clubs and discos to dance the night away in.
Throughout the year, special events happen and one of these is the Du Maurier International Jazz Fest. Held in June, it brings together some of the world’s best and well known artists to perform. Other festivities during the year are a Moon festival that is held in October; Molson Indy that is held in September and several more in different months.
The downtown of Vancouver can be quite exciting but if more quaint picturesque times and surroundings are more to your liking, then Victoria is what you need to see. Victoria is situated on an island just outside of Vancouver and is accessible by bus and ferry, car and ferry or sea plane.
Victoria is British Columbia’s capital city and the second largest in size next to Vancouver. The island features several motels, hotels and bed and breakfasts, but be sure to make reservations as they fill up quickly during the summer months.
Things to do and see on the island include the Parliament buildings, The Royal British Columbia Museum and a few other museums, castles and parks. While you are there you might want to go on a whale watching journey. There are tours and charters available and this is definitely a not to miss opportunity!
Although not as well versed in food as its sister city, Victoria still has its choice of restaurants and eateries. But while on the island, you may want to go to a restaurant for High Tea. It is a copy of the British tradition, but still worth doing just once.
If you are interested in skiing and travel to British Columbia during the winter season, you will want to travel north of Vancouver to places such as Whistler and Blackcomb. It’s a several mile drive outside of Vancouver up the Sea to Sky Highway. It is a pricey place to play and stay, but it ranked amongst the best place to ski with in the country of Canada. Going there in the summer and are into mountain biking? The same areas apply to that as well and are also ranked amongst the best in Canada.
No matter what interests you have and enjoy, you will be sure to find them with in and around the city of Vancouver. It is definitely the toast of the west coast.