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Vancouver.

Top Vancouver Attractions

The first time you visit Vancouver, or any new destination, the question asked isn’t usually what attractions should be scene but what attraction to see first, what to expect, how to get there, and how much time is needed. We’ve provided tips, advice, and other information about the top tourist attractions in Vancouver to help with your itinerary planning.

Stanley Park Stanley Park
Granville Island Granville Island
Queen Elizabeth Park Queen Elizabeth Park
VanDusen Botanical Garden VanDusen Botanical Garden
Grouse Mountain Grouse Mountain
Vancouver Art Gallery Vancouver Art Gallery
Lynn Canyon Park Lynn Canyon Park

Stanley Park

 Address Georgia and Denman Streets
 Phone 604-257-8400
 Website www.parks.vancouver.bc.ca

The largest city park in the country, Stanley is a thousand acres of preserved woodlands on a peninsula overlooking English Bay and Burrard Inlet, skirted by a 5.5-mile Sea Wall frequented by joggers, rollerbladers, and cyclists (the last of which must ride counter-clockwise). The land was originally set aside in the 1860s for a military reserve in the event of an American invasion. The pristine peninsula was designated a city park in 1888 and christened after Canada’s governor of the time.

Visitors and locals alike spend sunny afternoons on its three clean beaches, or on the hiking and biking trails through the cedar and fir forests. Bird-watchers and dog-walkers take the paths around Stanley’s two lakes, Lost Lagoon and Beaver Lake. Artists hawk their works on a green in view of a collection of First Nations totem poles, and a free shuttle bus arrives every fifteen minutes to connect the Vancouver Aquarium with other sights inside the park. (You could also pay $23 for a horse-and-carriage ride and guided tour; 604-681-5115 or www.stanleypark.com for more information.) A tourist information pavillion at the park’s southeast end (604-683-5911), opposite the Vancouver Rowing Club, provides good maps and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream bars. There are a few sit-down restaurants located within the park, but these are generally touristy and overpriced, so pack a picnic lunch.

 

Granville Island

 Address under the south end of Granville Bridge
 Phone 604-666-5784
 Website www.granvilleisland.com

It may be called an island, but Granville is actually a manmade peninsula. This revitalized industrial waterfront now boasts a variety of theatres, galleries, restaurants, and bars (even a brewery), along with a Maritime Market where you can rent a kayak or board a False Creek or Aquabus ferry. Granville Island is the hub for the city’s multitude of arts festivals—jazz, writers’, theatre, and comedy.

The Granville Island Public Market (1689 Johnson Street; 604-666-6477; open February-December 9am-6pm daily, January 9am-6pm Tuesday-Sunday) offers 10,000 square feet of fresh veggies, baked goods, fish and meats, cheese, coffee, ethnic foods, and plenty more. Grab some lunch and kick back at a table with a fine view of the bay.

 

Queen Elizabeth Park and Bloedel Conservatory

 Address Cambie Street and West 33rd Avenue
 Hours April-September 9am-8pm weekdays, 10am-9pm, November-January 10am-5pm daily, October, February, and March 10am-5:30pm daily
 Admission $4.25
 Phone Conservatory 604-257-8584
 Website www.parks.vancouver.bc.ca

These lush sunken gardens are a prime spot for picnickers and wedding parties. Climb up to the conservatory terrace, which affords a marvelous view of the city, water, and mountains, and then spend a good hour bird-watching inside the triotetic-domed conservatory, which is home to more than eighty species from all over the world. Don’t miss Rosie, the African gray parrot whose impressive repertoire of tongue-clucks and whistles indicates just how many tourists have tormented her over the years.

Queen Elizabeth Park also offers a rose garden, 20 tennis courts, a pitch-and-putt, and a restaurant.

 

VanDusen Botanical Garden

 Address 5251 Oak Street at West 37th Avenue
 Hours 10am-4pm November-February, 10am-5pm March, 10am-6pm April, 10am-8pm May, 10am-9pm June-August, 10am-7pm September
 Admission $7.75/$5.50 summer/winter
 Phone 604-878-9274
 Website www.vandusengarden.org

A long stroll through these 55 acres—including meditation, Mediterranean, and Japanese gardens as well as a magnificent 60-foot Elizabethan hedge maze—is well worth the price of admission. Located on what was once the city’s golf club, VanDusen shelters more than 11,000 plant species from the world over, many of which are endangered. The formal rose gardens are also some of the loveliest you’ll find anywhere. The entrance building houses a reference library (open to the public), quite a nice gift shop, and a posh restaurant. June brings the largest flower show in North America, and in December the gardens are illuminated by night, the Festival of Lights.

 

Grouse Mountain

 Address 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
 Hours 9am-10pm daily
 Admission $29.95
 Phone 604-980-9311
 Website www.grousemountain.com

Grouse Mountain is a veritable mecca for outdoor-sporting types: hiking, mountain-biking, paragliding, skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, you name it. You can even go for helicopter or sleigh rides. A ride to the peak on the continent’s largest aerial tramway will cost you a pretty penny, but the price includes a half-hour movie in the “Theatre in the Sky” and a visit to the wildlife refuge. Between May and October there’s also a “world-famous lumberjack show” in which two ax-wielding men in flannel shirts perform 45 minutes of stunts. And of course, there’s a lodge at the peak that includes a bar and an upscale restaurant.

(A word to all you adventurers: do not attempt to hike up or down the mountain on your own, even if you are an experienced climber.)

 

Vancouver Art Gallery

 Address 750 Hornby Street
 Hours Saturday-Wednesday 10am-5:30pm, Thursday and Friday 10am-9pm
 Admission $15/10 adults/students
 Phone 604-662-4700
 Website www.vanartgallery.bc.ca

If the weather turns foul, head on over to the largest art museum in the province. Emily Carr, British Columbia’s most illustrious painter, is naturally well represented here, and visiting exhibits have included the work of both Canadian and foreign artists (Picasso, Rodin, and Andy Warhol, among others). The courthouse-turned-gallery also features a café, gift shop, and sculpture garden, all of which are worth lingering in.

 

Lynn Canyon Park

 Address 3663 Park Road, North Vancouver
 Hours June-August daily 10am-5pm, September-May 10am-5pm weekdays, noon-4pm weekends
 Phone 604-981-3103
 Website www.dnv.org/ecology

It may be off the beaten tourist track in suburban Vancouver, but this temperate rainforest is a popular spot with the locals when the weather’s fine. In the afternoons groups of teenagers amble down the forest paths in their bathing suits and flip-flops, headed for a pristine crystal-green watering hole beneath a hidden waterfall that feeds Lynn Creek. (A sign by the canyon entrance cautions against whirlpools in the emerald-green 30-foot pool, to which the occasional daredevil pays no heed. You won’t have the place to yourself unless you come first thing in the morning, but the spot’s so picturesque you won’t mind the company.) The other main attraction at Lynn Canyon is the suspension bridge that sways 166 feet above the creek, which is perhaps more accurately described as a roaring river. The hiking paths vary from easy to moderately strenuous, and some of the circuits could take up to three hours to complete. The park also offers a small but informative ecology center and a café offering junk food, baked desserts, and a real lunch menu. Brochures at the ecology center entrance have a map of the canyon and its trails, but keep in mind it’s not drawn to scale.

To get to Lynn Canyon by public transport, take the SeaBus from Waterfront Station to Lonsdale Quay, where you can take bus 228 or 229 to Park Road. Tell the bus driver you’re headed to Lynn Canyon. (Allow a good hour and a quarter between Waterfront Station and the park, and leave relatively early in the morning—the park gets increasingly crowded as the afternoon passes.) If you’re driving, take the Lions Gate Bridge through Stanley Park to Capilano Road, then head east on Highway 1 before taking the exit for Lynn Canyon. Make a right onto Peters Road; Park Road is at the end of Peters, where the Canyon entrance is clearly signposted.

 


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