A city of spectacular, natural beauty, sheltered in the southwest corner of Canada, Vancouver is the third largest city in this vast country. It boasts a population of approximately 2 million people making it the largest city in British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province. It is a magical place, nestled at the foot of the pacific coast range of mountains, 40 km north of the United States border and surrounded on three sides by water. A serene setting that encourages “Vancouverites” to be friendly and outgoing, devoted to leisure activities, enjoy a multitude of outdoor recreation in all seasons, support and promote diversity in the visual and performing arts, maintain good health, participate in preserving the environment and express the ‘joie de vivre’ that only a cosmopolitan seaport like Vancouver can infuse into its people.
Whether you come for the two-day ‘Snowball Classic’ or an extended visit, we hope that the following pages will provide you with enough information to ensure that your trip to this exciting place will be rewarding and memorable.
Stanley Park: A 1,000 acre forested, natural beauty a little larger than Manhattan’s Central Park (840 acres). It offers majestic totem poles, a connection with our native heritage; the very popular Vancouver Aquarium featuring performances by the beluga whales in residence; Lost Lagoon, a protected environment for swans, ducks and all manner of water birds; an 8.8 km (5.5 miles) seawall walk around the park’s perimeter affording the hearty walker, bicycler or roller blader, a reward of changing views of the harbour, mountains and city.
Robson Street: A shopping and restaurant mosaic to satisfy any and all tastes. The ‘Champs-Elysees’ of Vancouver; sip cappuccino and savour pastry while browsing in a variety of elegant and interesting shops or people watch from its many cafés, bistros and restaurants, late into the night.
Canada Place: Constructed for the ‘1986 World Exposition’ (and currently undergoing a major expansion), this ‘five sailed’ structure built to resemble a cruise ship, houses the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, World Trade Centre, the CN Imax Theatre, the Pan Pacific Hotel, the Cruise Ship Dock and Terminal (summer cruises only to Alaska); a wonderful place to stroll for views of the North Shore Mountains (only 20 minutes away). It is located across the street from the Vancouver Visitor Information Centre and the ‘Waterfront Centre and Hotel’ with a comfortable food court and shopping mall.
Gastown: Where Vancouver began in 1886, this quaint, restored area is a tourist mecca of souvenir shops, galleries and restaurants sitting atop cobblestone paved streets, surrounded by many original brick buildings. At night, the entire picture is lit by simulated gaslight lamps lining the streets. Don’t miss the original ‘Gaslight Steam Clock’ which whistles and blasts out its tune every 15 minutes for expectant visitors. The clock was designed by local artist Raymond Saunders and is powered by underground steam which also heats local building. The ‘Lookout’ at ‘Harbour Centre’ towers above Gastown. Take the elevator to the top for a 180° view of Vancouver.
Chinatown: Reminiscent of Canton, the architecture, flavour, smells and sounds are authentic. Sample Cantonese, Szechuan or Mandarin cuisine. Experience the vast array of herbal remedies (familiar and otherwise), bric-a-brac, exotic fruits and vegetables, clothing, furniture and housewares, music and videos, in the colourful stores. Visit the ‘Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens’ and the Chinese Cultural Centre.
Both Gastown and Chinatown rest on the edge of where Vancouver had its beginnings. As in many major North American cities, those who have ‘fallen through the cracks’ of society (namely homeless, drug addicted and alcoholic unfortunates) tend to drift around and permeate these areas. Visually unpleasant at times, wariness and good common sense is recommended. The police strongly recommend that you do not give money or handouts to beggars.
Cathedral Place: At ‘Cathedral Place’ this charming stone structure, one of the oldest in Vancouver, welcomes you for religious services and concerts. Opposite the elegant and stately ‘Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’ and one block away from the Vancouver Art Gallery and Museum, make your way along Georgia Street to the indoor ‘Pacific Centre’ shopping mall and food court. With over 200 shops and services and set among a three-storey waterfall, you can access Vancouver’s main department stores, namely The Bay, Holt Renfrew and Sears.
Vancouver Public Library: Built to resemble the coliseum in Rome, our Italian visitors marvel at the sepia-coloured architectural delight. An interesting arcade, reminiscent of many in Rome, offers numerous cafés and small shops.
Vancouver has as many restaurants (per capita) as New York City. Choose your ethnic food preference and somewhere in the city there is one or more restaurants that serve it. Too numerous to mention, herein we offer a few of the favourites and most frequented. Casual but definitely sophisticated with good service. Most restaurants display their menus with price shown outside the establishment. Don’t be embarrassed to look inside first and request to view the menu if it isn’t displayed. The gratuity is usually 15% and is not included on the bill. The G.S.T. 6% (Goods and Services Tax equivalent to the V.A.T. in other countries) is added after the subtotal. The simplest method to calculate an appropriate gratuity is to double the G.S.T. which gives a 12% gratuity. To indicate approximate price range of restaurants, $ denotes inexpensive; $$ moderate; $$$ expensive:
Refer to your ‘Visitor Booklet’ in your hotel room for many more tempting places to dine.
Granville Island: The highlight is the Granville Island Public Market, a feast for the senses. A staggering display of fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, seafood, baked goods and delicacies from Canada and distant shores. A photographer’s paradise; with all manner of interesting shops, handicrafts, vendors and marine supplies. Granville Island Market and its surroundings is home to boats and architecturally designed houseboats moored at its marina. Outdoor or indoor eating both inexpensive and expensive cater to all tastes. Charming walkways offer plenty of opportunity to enjoy and appreciate water, sea and sky. Granville Island is accessible by bus, on foot or via the bathtub shaped private mini-ferries (Aquabus).
Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park: On Vancouver’s North Shore, it is the oldest tourist attraction. The bridge sways 450 feet across and 230 feet above the Capilano River. Set in the historical Indian village re-created as an outdoor museum, ‘The Big House’ Native Carving Centre and the exceptionally fine ‘Trading Post’ gift shop make this a “must see” attraction.
Grouse Mountain: At 4,100 vertical feet at its peak, Grouse Mountain on the North Shore offers the most rewarding view of Vancouver. Journey to the top in the ‘Grouse Mountain Skyride’, the largest tramway of its kind in North America. Enjoy fine and casual dining and other entertaining surprises.
Vancouver by Night: Queen Elizabeth Theatre hosts Broadway musicals, ballet, opera and all manner of live performances, as do ‘The Orpheum’ and ‘Vogue Theatre’. The Commodore Ballroom hosts live bands for dancing. A variety of clubs and lounges feature entertainment and dancing throughout the city.
Vancouver has the most extensive public transit system in Canada. Bus and trolley fleets cover over 1,800 sq. km, within easy reach of major attractions. Currently under construction is a new rapid transit system that will connect downtown Vancouver to the airport. Many bus routes connect directly with SkyTrain and SeaBus. Bus stops are clearly indicated and often list the route numbers serving the stop. Enter buses by the front door and leave by the rear. Deposit exact fare in the fare box and request a transfer if you plan to continue your journey on a second bus, or on SkyTrain or SeaBus. 24-hour passes are also available for purchase at various locations. The single zone fare at the time of writing is $2.50.
SkyTrain: Advanced light rapid transit service within Vancouver and to outlying suburbs, a scenic 28 km (17.5 miles) ride in just 39 minutes.
Canada Line: The Canada Line connects Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Downtown Vancouver in under 30 minutes. Cost is $3.75 for adults and $2.50 for children each way. The Sheraton Wall Centre Vancouver is located near the Burrard Street station and will require a transfer at either Granville Station or Waterfront Station. Please visit canadaline.ca for more information.
SeaBus: Foot passengers only; twin hulled catamarans connect with buses and SkyTrain between North Vancouver and SkyTrain’s Waterfront Station downtown. Enjoy one of the City’s most beautiful inner harbour and mountain views on this 15 minute trip. Daily, every 15 to 30 minutes.