Photo credit: Suzanne Rushton
Whether travelling independently or as part of a group, Vancouver has plenty to offer youth travellers craving both a taste of adventure and city comforts. The itinerary combines the best of educational excursions and entertaining nightlife in a two-day itinerary.
While Vancouver might be a young city, it has a short-but-lively history filled with colourful stories. During summer mornings, The Tour Guys give tours around the downtown area, covering different neighbourhoods each day of the week. You could find yourself exploring the waterfront area; Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, Gastown; the city’s traditional Chinatown; or the Granville Street precinct, learning about the history, architecture and street art as you go. Tours are free, but their guides are exceptional so you’ll want to offer a good tip.
At the end of your tour, head to Granville Island, a former industrial wasteland that’s been turned into an arts and culture hub. Grab lunch from one of the many vendors in the Granville Island Public Market and eat it on the benches that line the waterfront. After lunch, spend some free time exploring the artisan studios, craft workshops and galleries on the island and pick up some souvenirs. Alternatively, get your heart-rate going with a paddle on False Creek. Ecomarine Paddlesports Centre has a location right on Granville Island offering tours, lessons and straight rentals of both kayaks and paddleboards. Regardless of whether you’re an absolute beginner or an advanced paddler, their professional staff can get everyone out on the water!
After you’ve had dinner tonight, explore Vancouver’s nightlife by checking out Granville Street, Yaletown, Gastown or the West End. Grab a pint of one of Vancouver’s locally brewed craft beers at somewhere like The Lamplighter or Doolin’s Irish Pub. Check out the city’s cocktail scene with a creation from The Butcher & Bullock; or dance the night away at The Roxy, The Republic or Celebrities Night Club. If you’re interested in live music, make sure you check the event calendar for venues such as The Commodore Ballroom, Queen Elizabeth Theatre or The Orpheum.
Legal drinking age in British Columbia is 19, so for younger students, check out a show at Vancouver TheatreSports League’s Improv Centre, visit the Vancouver Lookout for a nighttime view of the city, or in winter, take in a Vancouver Giants or Vancouver Canucks ice hockey game.
Vancouver’s Stanley Park is loved by locals, both because of the sheer size of the park and the scope of activities to do there. Along with a 10 km sea wall wrapping around the outside of the park, the 400 hectare green space also boasts beaches, a swimming pool, a pitch and putt course, hiking trails and lots of public art. This morning, join Cycle City Tours for “The Stanley” tour, and you’ll find yourself cycling through the park’s dedicated bike trails and the sea wall, while your guide shares information about the biodiversity of the temperate rainforest, importance to First Nations groups, as well as secrets from the park’s125 year history.
After you’ve explored Stanley Park, head over to Canada Place, right on the waterfront and about a 20-minute walk from where your tour ends. At the Tourism Vancouver Visitor Info Centre, you’ll find Tickets Tonight, a unique box office where you can purchase both regular tickets for events, as well as a selection of day-of same-day, half-price tickets. Take a look at the selection on offer for tonight, and purchase tickets for a performance, show or game.
After purchasing your tickets, take a walk down the Canadian Trail. Running along the west side of Canada Place’s iconic white sails, the trail lets you explore this country’s 10 provinces and three territories, along with Canada’s communities and the five foundations the nation was founded upon. At the end of the trail, you’ll find one of Vancouver’s newest top attractions, FlyOver Canada. This is a spectacular 4-D flight simulation experience that sees you soaring across the country complete with mist, wind and scents!
The area west of Canada Place is known as Coal Harbour, and it’s a great place to grab an early casual dinner before heading to your show tonight. Around the West Building of the Vancouver Convention Centre, you’ll find Tap and Barrel, an excellent spot for trying B.C. wine or craft beer; Cactus Club, known for their elegantly casual environment and healthy take on comfort foods; and Mahony & Sons Public House for a fun pub atmosphere.
❐ INSIDER TIP: Make sure you have your Student ID on you at all times. You never know when a student discount could be available!