10 Experiences for First Time Visitors
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 paradise, which features more than 70 eateries, Canada’s first microbrewery and artisan boutique sake winery, a summer farmers’ market, and, of course, 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 530,000 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 British Columbia’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, 9-kilometre (5.5 mile) pathway is perfect for joggers, cyclists and sightseers looking for 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. Explore our oceans 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 underwater. 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.
5. 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 1,600-metre (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 of surrounding mountains, downtown Vancouver, and the region’s islands. During the summer, you’ll pass over dense Douglas fir forests, while wintertime promises views of snow dusted forests and white-capped mountains.
6. 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.
7. Dine with a view
In Vancouver, you’ll find no shortage of restaurants with a view, whether you’re looking for a casual bite with a craft brew, or a multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings. Head to one of Vancouver’s tallest buildings for revolving 360˚ views, or to the top of a mountain for a glimpse of downtown’s twinkling landscape. Head to the waterfront to enjoy a glass of wine while the sun sets over the inlet, or grab a burger while you watch floatplanes take off against a mountain backdrop.
8. Take in some sunshine and people watching at Kitsilano Beach
Vancouver has a number of popular beaches, but perhaps the best 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, and bike riding, as well as swimming in the heated saltwater pool.
9. Stop and smell the flowers
Rain or shine, Vancouver’s climate brings about some of the most spectacular gardens you’re likely to find. You’ll find everything from proper English rose gardens to lush displays of foliage native to the Pacific Northwest, and even indoor floral conservatories—perfect for rainy days. Close to downtown, visit Stanley Park or Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Head out to UBC Botanical Garden and Greenheart TreeWalk and Nitobe Memorial Garden, a little further afield. Or combine a trip to Queen Elizabeth Park, Bloedel Floral Conservatory and VanDusen Botanical Garden, all of which are in close proximity.
10. Take to the water
Whether you take one of the mini-ferries that cross False Creek, a dinner cruise around the harbour, or a kayaking tour up Indian Arm, exploring Vancouver from the water gives you a new perspective on this waterfront city.