Vancouver

Vancouver is the largest city in Western Canada, and the third largest in the whole country. It is located in the southwestern corner of the coastal province of British Columbia, and well-known for its majestic natural beauty being nestled between the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Vancouver is frequently ranked as one of the "best cities to live in," making it a hit among tourists and immigrants as well.

The city was the host of Expo 86 World Fair, and will be hosting the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the biggest Winter Games host city in history (and surprisingly, the only host city at sea level).

Being a large city, that means there is no dull or boring moment in Vancouver. It has something for everybody, which our travel guide would gladly provide to you.

It is a city of diversity

Greater Vancouver is one of the most ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the world and is home to the second largest Chinatown in the world after San Francisco. It is also the home of a lot of immigrants, all living harmoniously with one another.

It is a city abound of outdoor activities

Because of its geography, being nestled between the ocean and the mountains, it is not surprising that Vancouver gives you many opportunities to conquer nature. One can windsurf in the ocean, ski in the mountains, and play a round of gold all in the same day.

Visit the parks

The city has many open spaces and facilities where families of different generations get together for a day of bonding. You can check out the very popular Stanley Park or stroll along the gardens of Queen Elizabeth Park.

Get naked on a beach

Wreck Beach, a secluded area in the heavily-forested section of University of British Columbia, is a renowned nude or "clothing optional" beach. You could try it checking it out if you want to "hang out."

See the city in a 360-degree view

The Vancouver Lookout is a newly-renovated observation deck placed high above the city. Tourists can go here as their first stop, as they get to see a 360-degree view of Vancouver as well as its adjacent cities, the North Shore Mountains, and even Vancouver Island just off the Pacific Ocean.

Take a hike

There are several hiking trails in Vancouver, the most popular being The Grouse Grind, a 2.9-kilometer trek to the top of Grouse Mountain. Another trail is the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The 136-meter bridge crosses the Capilano River 70 meters above the river. Once could also enjoy its vast park, rainforest ecotours, numerous First Nations totempoles, and Treetops Adventure where you get to cross a series of bridges linking between trees as high as 30 meters above the forest floor. Another alternative would be the Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge, which almost similar to Capilano only that it’s free-of-charge.

Take it to the peak

Wanna see Vancouver from its very highest point? Take the skyride to Grouse Mountain. You get to witness breathtaking views of the city from the mountain top. You could also dine in at Peak Chalet, see Grizzly Bears and other wildlife at the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. The mountain offers great activities both during winter and even summer.

Visit the museums

Get to know Vancouver’s flourishing art scene, as well as its Native history and culture, through its museums. Two of the city’s main museums are The Museum of Anthropology, located at the University of British Columbia where the world’s largest collection of West Coast Native artifacts can be found, and the Vancouver Art Gallery, located in the City Center. Both require a donation to get in, the recommended amount being C$5 but any amount can do.

Get immersed in Chinese beauty

Appreciate the nature and architecture of the Far East in Vancouver through Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the first of its kinds outside China. Another great site is the International Buddhist Temple, an example of traditional palatial Chinese architecture in North America.

Attend free seminars and theatrical performances

The University of British Columbia offers free-to-attend activities such as lectures, theatrical performances, and student concerts.

Stroll along the wall

A long seawall stretches from downtown all the way to Kits Beach. You could either stroll along the wall or ride a bike or do some rollerblading.

Tour Vancouver by bus

Parking in Vancouver can be a nightmare, so touring the city with a rented car is very not recommended. Tourists can explore the city on a narrated tour bus. This tour is a "hop-on, hop-off" type, where you get to have the option where to get off the bus and continue exploring on your own, and it has numerous stops around town. The bus goes around the city while the drivers narrate the its history and peculiarities along the way.

Tour Vancouver by foot

You can also explore Vancouver on foot without looking silly looking for directions in a map. There are audio tours available in the city, where the narrator directs you where to go and what to know about the place. You can either rent Vancouver Talks from Tourism Vancouver Office at 200 Burrard (or buy it on a local bookstore) or download a Geogad MP3 walking tour and store it on your MP3 player.

Join any of their unique festivities

Vancouver has loads of celebrations and festivals all year round, from the Chinese New Year, the Celebration of Lights fireworks competition in late July, the Vancouver Film Festival in late September, the Parade of Lost Souls during Halloween, and even a yearly Zombie Walk.

Stay safe

Vancouver is a very safe city and one of the most livable cities, but that doesn’t mean it’s crime-free. Like any major city in the world, it also has its share of property crimes, especially theft from vehicles. Keep you valuables away from plain sight when storing them in your car, as drug addicts have been known to break into cars and steal coins or other valuable items. Robbery and muggings are extremely rare in the city.

Marijuana

It is usually mistaken that marijuana is legal in Vancouver, where in fact possessing any amount of cannabis is illegal in all of Canada. However, if you are caught with a small amount of marijuana in Vancouver it is extremely unlikely you will be charged.

In most cases, the cops would either ask you to move somewhere out of sight so you won’t disturb other locals as you finish your joint, or ignore the fact altogether. There is also marijuana cafes located in West Hastings, although you have to bring your own joint, but you could purchase some at the British Columbia Marijuana Party’s headquarters or at a local head shop.