Vancouver B.C. - a fantastic destination all year round. The city and the surrounding area has so much to offer, from nature and wildlife to culture, the arts and culinary delights. Something for everyone, and a great value right now for US visitors especially considering the current exchange rate.
With the Alaskan cruise season starting soon, many cruisers will begin or end their Alaskan adventure in Vancouver. I highly encourage visitors not to just pass through the city to/from the airport. Add a few extra days to your itinerary and enjoy some of the best Canada has to offer.
A great way to get started is to catch the Vancouver hop-on hop-off trolley. Enjoy a 90-minute loop through city center, Canada Place, Stanley Park, English Bay, Granville Island, Yaletown and Chinatown. Stay on for the full tour to get a good overview of the area with commentary, or hop off at any of the 34 stops and explore the neighborhoods of interest. The 2 day pass gives you the best value.
Enjoy Nature, Wildlife and Parks
Stanley Park is the largest of the area's parks at just under 1000 acres. The park is best enjoyed if you can dedicate a full day (or more) to the area. There is much to experience - from the Vancouver Aquarium and the First Nation Totem Pole display to the 14 mile path along the seawall with plenty of opportunity to walk, jog and cycle. If you don't have a full day to spend in Stanley Park, consider Vancouver's second most popular park, Queen Elizabeth Park or the Van Dusen Botanical Garden, both perfect for a short visit.
Head to North Vancouver to Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge. On a clear day, enjoy spectacular views of the city and the surrounds at the summit at Grouse Mountain. There are two ways to get to the summit - test your fitness by walking the 2 mile "Grouse Grind" trail ( locals call it "mother nature's stairmaster") or enjoy a scenic ride on the SkyRide gondola. Experience Vancouver's rainforest environment at Capilano Bridge, a 450 foot long suspension bridge that sits 230 feet above the Capilano River. Walking across the bridge is a real thrill, but the park is also home to Cliffwalk, a cantilever walkway that juts out over the canyon and a canopy walk through the tree tops.
Get Out On The Water
Take to the water for a unique view of Vancouver. Consider a scenic kayak tour or take a sea safari nature tour on an intimate, small group zodiac style boat with Sewell Sea Safari Eco Tour. Plenty of tours offer the opportunity for whale watching where you may see orcas, humpback and minke and gray whales along with other wildlife like seals and porpoises. Check out your many options here.
Vancouver offers many culinary delights, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Grab breakfast and coffee at one of the many cafes, then head over to Granville Island's Public Market, a foodie's paradise where you can also enjoy many arts and crafts vendors. Check out Vancouver Foodie Tours or EdibleCanada for a unique Granville Market or Food Truck tour and Off The Eaten Track or Swallow Tail for gourmet tours including Catch and Cook Crab, Wild Mushroom and Canape Crawl tours.
Photo courtesy of EdibleCanada
Vancouver's vibrant neighborhoods are home to many top restaurants. Yaletown is a former warehouse district and has become a late night hot spot. Gastown, located minutes from Canada Place, is Vancouver's oldest neighborhood and home to many of the city's hottest restaurants . Don't miss out on fresh traditional Dim Sum in Chinatown.
Craft brew lovers can delight in the 51+ craft breweries in the metro area. While on Granville Island stop by the Granville Island Brewing Company. Don't want to find them on your own? Check out Vancouver Brewery Tours - they are ready to take you on a beer adventure. Or stop by the Craft Beer Market in False Creek area. While not all beers are from the Vancouver area or even Canada, they do serve Canada's largest selection of draft beer.
Of course the area also offers plenty for wine lovers too. The wineries of Fraser Valley are located about an hour east of Vancouver. Self guided tours are easy, or take a half or full day tour with visits to four or five wineries. Stay in town by visiting Vancouver Urban Winery a boutique winery located a few blocks from Gastown.
Don't be in a hurry to leave Vancouver. Take a few days and stay a while. Its well worth your time.