10 Experiences for First Time Visitors

Beluga Whales and Tourists at the Vancouver Aquarium  

1. Take a self-guided tasting tour of Granville Island.

You don’t need a professional tour guide to experience the breadth of culinary riches on Granville Island. Wander around this foodie’s paradise, which features more than 70 eateries, Canada’s first microbrewery and artisan boutique sake winery, a summer farmers’ market, and, of course, the mother-lode: Granville Island Public Market.

2. Discover a world of arts, culture and history at the Museum of Anthropology.

From ancient cultural artifacts to contemporary aboriginal carvings, the extensive UBC Museum of Anthropology features nearly 600,000 ethnographic and archeological objects from across the globe. Make sure to visit the Great Hall, a breathtaking area with floor-to-ceiling glass walls where you can learn about Vancouver’s First Nations culture through special events, towering totem poles and artwork.

3. Walk, bike or rollerblade the Stanley Park seawall.

The Stanley Park seawall is a popular destination for visitors and locals alike, and it’s easy to see why. This paved, 8.8-kilometre pathway is perfect for joggers, cyclists and sightseers who wish to enjoy scenic waterfront views on a vehicle-free route. Stop by one of the many nearby vendors to rent a bicycle or set of rollerblades.

4. Shop for exotic accessories at Punjabi Market.

Visiting Vancouver’s Punjabi Market is a sensory experience, from the sights and smells to the unique flavours and vivid colours. Stroll along the streets of this Indo-Canadian enclave, where you’ll find quaint gift shops, unique fabric stores and street carts displaying glittering bangles, bold pashminas and silky saris.

5. Stop and smell the flowers at the Bloedel Floral Conservatory.

Rain or shine, this flower-filled oasis features a tropical climate, lush foliage and exotic free-flying birds, all set beneath an oversized glass dome. During warmer months, venture outdoors to the surrounding Queen Elizabeth Park, where you’ll find colourful gardens, modern sculpture and outdoor dining.

6. See colourful deep-sea creatures at the Vancouver Aquarium.

There are plenty of ways to get out on the water in Vancouver, but if you really want to get an up-close view of marine life, your best bet is to go under water. At the Vancouver Aquarium, you can see more than 70,000 animals from around the world, including glowing jellyfish, playful porpoises, swift sharks and colourful clownfish.

7. Soar above lush forests on the Grouse Mountain Skyride.

Get away — and above — it all on the Skyride, a thrilling aerial tramway that follows a one-mile route up to the peak of Grouse Mountain. As North America’s largest aerial tramway system, this only-in-Vancouver attraction boasts unparalleled views. During the summer, you’ll pass over dense Douglas fir forests, while wintertime promises views of snow dusted forests and white-capped mountains.

8. Indulge in a feast of flavours with traditional dim sum in Chinatown.

With the third-largest Chinatown in North America, Vancouver’s Asian community is expansive and diverse. Experience the culture firsthand with dim sum: a multi-course feast of small dishes, such as bite-sized dumplings, steamed buns, unique soups and sweet treats. After your meal, burn off some of those calories with a walk through this cultural district.

9. Dine with a view of the whole city at Cloud 9 Restaurant.

In Vancouver, you’ll find no shortage of restaurants with a view, but when it comes to sky-high vantage points, there’s one that tops them all. Make a reservation at Cloud 9 Restaurant & Lounge, located on the 42nd floor of The Empire Landmark Hotel. The entire restaurant rotates 360 degrees, and with its 20-foot high windows, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and surrounding mountains, all while enjoying a fine dining experience.

10. Take in some sunshine and people watching at Kitsilano Beach.

Vancouver has a number of popular beaches, but perhaps the most well known is Kitsilano Beach. During the warmer months, this waterfront spot is perfect for people watching, as crowds of active locals come out for beach volleyball, tennis, jogging, bike riding and swimming in the heated saltwater pool.

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