Photograph by Jim Lo Scalzo

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Fresh seafood on Granville Island can be found at Bridges, a landmark restaurant on the waterfront.

Photograph by Jim Lo Scalzo

Vancouver Must-Dos

Canada Place

Built on a shipping dock for Expo 86; its dramatic five “sails” resemble a giant sailing ship; home to the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, the CN IMAX Theatre, cruise ship docks; a walking promenade overlooks Coal Harbour, the Coast Mountains, and departing seaplanes; each day at noon, the Heritage Horns blast out the first four notes to "O Canada." 999 Canada Place Way; tel. +1 604 775 7200.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

“Terrify yourself twice, once by crossing the swaying bridge over the chasm of the Capilano River and next by tottering along narrow walkways hung between giant Douglas firs.”—Constance Brissenden, author, DK Top 10 Vancouver & Victoria and Vancouver, A Pictorial Celebration. Since 1889, adventurers have been crossing this 450-foot-long (137-meter-long), 230-foot-high (70-meter-long) suspension bridge; a thrill for kids. 3735 Capilano Road; tel. +1 604 985 7474; fee.


North America’s third largest Chinatown; pig snouts and plucked chickens fill the butcher shop windows; the scent of steaming wontons and fried egg rolls drifts through the air; the streets fill with the drone of passing trucks and the guttural chirping of Mandarin and Cantonese.

Commercial Drive

“Vintage mix-it-up Vancouver; caffeine binging in the Italian coffeehouses.”—Karla Zimmerman, author, Lonely Planet Vancouver. Bounded by Venables Street and N. Grandview Highway, “The Drive” comprises the most ethnically diverse and eclectic mix of shops and restaurants in the city.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden

“A concert program adds panache to this serene inner-city Ming Dynasty-styled rock garden.”—Constance Brissenden. Escape to tranquillity in this retreat on the edge of Chinatown; built in the mid-1980s entirely by Suzhou artisans who used 15th-century construction techniques. 578 Carrall Street; tel. +1 604 662 3207.


Birthplace of Vancouver, with a historic vibe to the area. Souvenir shopping center; stores and galleries selling First Nations art; restored heritage buildings; cobblestone streets with many restaurants; outdoor patios with a European feel; the much photographed Gastown Steam Clock; hotbed of the local fashion and design industry, with some of the most exciting fashion in Vancouver. Tip: From mid-June through August, join a free historic walking tour of Gastown, daily at 2 p.m. at the Gassy Jack statue. Tel. +1 604 683 5650.

Granville Island

This former industrial wasteland is now an energetic and vibrant part of the city; several restaurants, bars, and live theaters; an art college, a brewery, and the children-centric Kids Market; the Public Market sells produce, flowers, crafts, and yummy take-out meals; savor the aromas of freshly baked bread, fragrant seasonings, and juicy seafood; have lunch outside, watch the Aquabus bop along False Creek, listen to street musicians—and cover your plate to keep the seagulls at bay. Tel. +1 604 666 5784.

Grouse Mountain

Mountain playground accessible by the aerial tramway Skyride in summer or fall; spectacular views of the city; winter skiing and snowboarding; fair weather hiking up the steep 1.8-mile (2.9-kilometer) Grouse Grind; mountaintop restaurants, interpretive eco-walks, interpretive wildlife ranger talks, paragliding, ice skating, helicopter tours, and the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife (home to two orphaned grizzly cubs). 6400 Nancy Greene Way; tel. +1 604 984 0661.

Kitsilano Beach

“Fantastic people-watching—from sun worshippers and kids building sand castles, to joggers and bronzed volleyball players.”—Karla Zimmerman. In the summer, “Kits Beach” hums with vibrant energy; giant logs provide natural perches for reading or watching the ships come into port; concession stand; heated outdoor saltwater pool; basketball and sand volleyball courts; grassy fields for playing Frisbee. tel. +1 604 257 8400.

Museum of Anthropology

“Even non-museum types will be intrigued by the collection of totem poles and elegant Haida wood carvings here.”—Andrew Hempstead, author, Moon Handbooks Vancouver & Victoria. The collection includes almost 600,000 ethnological and archaeological pieces from around the world, with a special focus on B.C.’s First Nations; spectacular space on the University of British Columbia campus. 6393 N.W. Marine Drive; tel. +1 604 822 3825; fee.

Telus World of Science

In a geodesic dome at the tip of False Creek; science museum with lots of hands-on exhibits, perfect for budding scientists or curious adults; OMNIMAX ® Theatre and a stage with live demonstrations. 1455 Quebec Street; tel. + 1 604 443 7443; fee.

Stanley Park

“An oasis of old-growth wilderness within city limits. Walk or ride the Seawall promenade for the full effect.”—Andrew Hempstead. Almost one thousand acres (405 hectares) of preserved rain forest in the heart of the city; beaches, a fresh water swimming pool, totem poles, restaurants, aquarium, and incredible views. Tel. +1 604 257 8400.

Vancouver Aquarium

Canada’s largest aquarium and a world leader in conservation efforts; more than 70,000 animals; trainer-led shows include beluga whales, dolphins, sea lions, and sea otters; hands-on tidal pool; concession stands; wheelchair and stroller accessible. 845 Avison Way; tel. +1 604 659 3474; fee.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Known throughout the world for innovative and original exhibits; a permanent collection of 9,000 plus pieces; excellent assembly of British Columbian artwork, including the world’s most significant collection of paintings by Emily Carr. Museum tours (free with paid Gallery admission) offered daily beginning at 11:45 a.m. 750 Hornby Street; tel. +1 604 662 4700; fee.