Vancouver has long been known as one of the most scenic cities on the planet, bordered as it is to the west side by the Pacific Ocean, the Coast Mountains to the east and with the Fraser River and Burrard Inlet's clear waters and mighty surrounding trees completing the picture, it is no wonder Vancouver remains a popular holiday destination for both Canadians and overseas visitors.
Right in the heart of south-western Canada, Vancouver is a coastal city that is one of Canada's biggest seaports. Because the city overlooks both Vancouver Harbour and the English Bay, it is nearly impossible to find a spot in Vancouver that does not have a view of the water! You can even be near the water if you are in town for business. The Vancouver Convention Centre is a hub of activity that sits right on the shores of Vancouver Harbour. The Centre even includes a built-in hotel and a cruise ship terminal! If you need to head to a conference or trade show, there are plenty of Vancouver hotels within walking distance of the Centre, too.
But Vancouver is not just about the water. The city also has mountains to enjoy. Grouse Mountain is the most popular destination, because it is only a short car ride from downtown Vancouver. When it is warm, you can head to the mountain for some biking and hiking. When it is cold, you can go skiing or even take a sleigh ride. So, if outdoor excitement, relaxing beaches, cultural activities and delicious seafood is what you need, Vancouver is your ideal destination.
Top Things to do in Vancouver
For winter sport lovers, a visit to Whistler Blackcomb is a must-do for some wonderful skiing and snowboarding fun. Skiers at all levels of experience are catered for and there is a selection of nursery slopes for beginners. With 410-inches of snow predicted every single year, Whistler Blackcomb is guaranteed not to disappoint, the scenery itself is spectacular.
Take in some absolutely stunning and breath-taking aerial views of Vancouver and Vancouver Island with a helicopter trip over the city and the surrounding area.
Try whale watching, with three and five-hour trips available all year round. See these giant mammals en route north to their migratory lands in winter and swimming due south in summer.
Vancouver Aquarium. Always a big hit with the kids, the aquarium displays in excess of 7,000 marine species. This popular site is informative and educational as well as a fun day out.
For the ultimate in relaxation, enjoy the hot springs and spa resort. The resort has five natural hot springs and private bookings are available.
Whether you want to spend some cash or just window shop, a trip down Robson Street is a shopper's paradise with retail chains, luxury designer and specialised retail outlets sitting side by side.
The whole world knows that ice hockey is Vancouver's national sport, and there can be nothing more exciting for visitors to Canada to be a part of the exciting spectator sport that is ice hockey. Whether visitors are familiar with ice hockey or are complete novices, spectators of this sport will be thrilled at the fast-paced excitement and the enthusiasm of the spectators at every game. Ice hockey enthusiasts can enjoy watching local team Vancouver Canucks at the Rogers Arena as well as an exciting selection of amateur league games. Summer sports (June to September) include Vancouver Professional Baseball Club playing at the famed Nat Bailey Stadium, and for football fans, there is the Whitecaps Football Club at the Empire Field Club playing from April to September.
Horse racing fans are also catered for, and Hastings Racecourse is the place to visit. With free admission and free parking too, a day at the races here need not cost a fortune.
American-style football team the Vancouver BC Lions play from June to November, the finale of which is an exciting annual battle for the prestigious Grey Cup Championship. Canadians of all ages love sport, so visitors will find a diverse crowd of spectators at every sporting event who are all eager to cheer the local team to victory.
Kids and Families
Visit Stanley Park, located by the sea in downtown Vancouver. This great park is a piece of restful countryside inside the city. On show are chickens, goats, pigs and even a llama at the children's farmyard. Children between five and eight years of age are invited to enrol at the Stanley Park Traffic School (July and August only) to learn to drive pedal cars around a driving course. This activity is proving to be a great favourite with children, and especially since the course is supervised by the Vancouver Police Department. For active kids, hire rollerblades, a bike or even a tandem bicycle, and ride around the 5.5 mile perimeter of the park. For young golfers, there is a challenging 18-hole pitch and putt course. Kids will enjoy the 15-minute ride on the little train, which chugs through the park on a half-hourly basis. Swimming and other fun water activities are available at the Stanley Water Park. In addition, there are two nearby beaches with manned lifeguards between April and September.
Arts & Entertainment
PuSH International Performing Arts Festival is a not-for-profit charitable event and is an eagerly awaited event in Vancouver's Arts calendar, and is held over three weeks in January every year. The PuSH Arts Festival is always proud to present the newest and most ground breaking artists from Canada and across the world. From its inception in 2003, the PuSH International Performing Arts Festival has continued to deliver performances of the highest quality and innovation for the delight of the audience. The PuSH International Performing Arts Festival is suitable for adults and children of all ages. PuSH International Performing Arts Festival values innovative and diverse partnerships with artists and creators with a view to not only entertaining the audience but also to stimulate, enrich and encourage discussion and debate via interactive forum and Q & A sessions. In addition, PuSH International Performing Arts Festival takes pride in showcasing the work of Canada's leading artists.
Parks and the Great Outdoors
Vancouver supports community garden projects, and these are dotted around all over the urban areas of the city. The gardens grow flowers, plants and vegetables, depending upon the time of year. The civic pride in these little gardens is evident, and this is a great pastime to get both adults and children involved in neighbourhood improvement. These budding gardeners are happy to show off their gardens and share gardening hints and tips with interested visitors.
For family picnics, an ideal location is at one of the many picnic shelters in the city. These tropical-looking shelters and roomy and are a great protection from both the sun and any inclement weather. Picnic shelters can be found in all of Vancouver's Regional and Community Parks. In order to avoid disappointment, booking a shelter is advised.
Nature Play is a government initiative to encourage children to get out and about to explore the great outdoors. Many of the activities within this project are free of charge or cost little, encouraging the inclusion of all children. Nature Play activities include log-walking, treasure trails, hide and seek games, digging areas, story-telling and more.
Vancouver caters extremely well for all types of visitors to the city, with a diverse range of holiday accommodation to suit any number of travelling parties and budgets. The city offers a selection of smart city centre hotels for professional and corporate stays, as well as family-style hotels, guesthouses, and self-catering apartments - and for something a little unique, the visitor can stay in Gastown, the authentic Victorian style quarter, complete with cobbled streets and Victorian buildings. If you want to 'get away' without leaving the city, head to Granville Island. It really is an island right in the middle of the city! On it, you will find tons of restaurants, shops, and galleries. Granville Island also boasts a giant Public Market, where you can get all kinds of local goodies. There are not many hotels on the island, though, so you will likely have to settle for a day trip. The downtown area is where you can find some great deals on cheap Vancouver hotels - and it is right on the water, so you can even enjoy a waterfront view on a tight budget. Vancouver specialises in making visitors feel right at home, so whatever accommodation is chosen, visitors to Vancouver will enjoy a warm and genuine Canadian welcome.