By Laura Del Rosso
Whether you’re arriving by land or by sea, it doesn’t take long to see why Vancouver, B.C., is considered one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
First, it’s the setting: framed by the Pacific Ocean and snow-covered peaks of the Coast Mountains with miles of waterfront and a downtown of striking towers and lush parks. That natural beauty is combined with cultural diversity, from the Coast Salish people who have called Vancouver home for more than 11,000 years to ethnic enclaves that make it the most Asian city outside of Asia. To get the lay of the land, start with the glass elevator that whisks you up the Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre for a breathtaking 360-degree view. Back on the ground, soak up Vancouver’s outdoorsy vibe at Stanley Park, where cedar forests and sandy beaches line a seawall path great for biking and walking.
Stroll the Granville Island Public Market, set among theaters, shops, eateries and art studios. Check out Vancouver Aquarium, Canada’s stellar ocean research and conservation institute. Leave time to explore the city’s delightfully diverse neighborhoods, including historic Gastown with its Victorian architecture, boutiques and galleries.
The city’s cultural richness translates into delicious eats. You’ll you find great dim sum in Chinatown. There’s also a bounty of seafood from the Pacific that keeps restaurants hopping, including oysters served up at ubiquitous happy hours. Local cuisine is innovative: try Japadog, hot dogs inspired by Japan.
Getting around is fun and easy. There’s a walkable downtown and boats ferrying passengers between the city and Granville Island, along with harbor cruises journeying into fjords or whale watching. Thrill-seekers won’t want to miss taking the Skyride gondola up 2,800 feet to Grouse Mountain for a panorama of mountains, forest and city skyline.
Another Vancouver attraction also will get your adrenaline going: the Capilano Suspension Bridge, erected in 1889. (Read more about it on page 22!) The bridge — no worries, the 19th century hemp version has been replaced — today stretches 450 feet across and 230 feet above the Capilano River. The surrounding rainforest park features goose-bump-inducing Cliffwalk, which juts from a granite cliff with partial glass walkways. It adds up to making an already-memorable trip in Vancouver, simply unforgettable.