Photo credit: Tourism Vancouver
Despite the fact that Coal Harbour is right downtown, it’s a surprisingly calm little neighbourhood, right on the water’s edge. It’s even more surprising given its industrial history as a former shipyard sitting right next to the railway terminus. The area starts at Canada Place and stretches east to Stanley Park, and is bordered by Burrard Inlet to the north, West Georgia Street to the south. Coal Harbour is a charming mix of business and residential, being home to both the Vancouver Convention Centre as well as condo towers. Around this area you’ll find locals and visitors mingling on the sea wall, neighbourhood cafes and restaurants, a popular marina, and the odd harbour seal bobbing around and greeting passersby.
Photo: Spencer Finlay / Flickr
Seeing and Doing
Even if you’re not visiting on business, a walk around the Vancouver Convention Centre is recommended. Along with lots of public art, the surrounding section of the seawall includes many interpretive plaques giving visitors a sense of the harbour’s history. Within the distinctive white sails of Canada Place, you can take a virtual flight over the country via the 4-D Fly Over Canada attraction. Make sure you visit Jack Poole Plaza, home of the Olympic flame from the 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games!
Walk towards Stanley Park and you’ll find it hard to resist taking a seat on a park bench and watching the harbour life, complete with floatplanes landing, cyclists whizzing by, and boats bobbing past, all with a spectacular mountain backdrop. You can take to the water yourself on a harbour cruise, or board a seaplane for a “flightseeing” tour over the city.
Eating and Drinking
The best way to eat and drink your way through this neighbourhood is by going where the locals go. And that means casual and slightly more upscale spots, where the focus is on great food and even better conversation. There are some excellent cafes along the seawall itself, with larger restaurants generally found towards the convention centre; all offer a perfect perch for enjoying the view. If you want to head into fine-dining territory, try one of the high-end hotels clustered along the waterfront and a couple of streets further back. Alternatively, grab something “to go” from a neighbourhood supermarket and find a park bench.
If you’re thirsty, head to one of the pub-style spots along the water and around the edge of the convention centre. With plenty of local craft brews and B.C. wines available (sometimes on tap as well), there’s plenty to drink to.
Photo: TOTORORO.RORO / Flickr
Shopping and Souvenirs
Coal Harbour’s big attraction is the view and the laidback atmosphere. If you’re looking for something more than just a photo to take home, browse the small stores along the Seawall, most of which are locally-owned. Or after having a drink at a local waterfront pub, head to the liquor store to buy a bottle of your favourite B.C. tipple to pack in your suitcase.
For more information about Coal Harbour, visit the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association online.