Vancouverites pride themselves on their city's beauty and versatility. Other Canadians call Vancouver "lotus land." They do so with good reason, and perhaps a little envy. No more than an hour either way of cosmopolitan downtown will take you into the heart of the Pacific Coast Mountains, put you in cozy seaside villages or places you at the mouth of the mighty Fraser Canyon. It is this same abundance of easily accessible scenery that has made the Vancouver region a favourite setting for TV and movie producers.
It's not just the West Coast location and gorgeous setting where mountains meet the sea. And it's not just the balmy climate that makes the 23 communities of the Greater Vancouver Regional District a year-round paradise for sports and outdoors-minded people. It's also the sheer range of enjoyment for body, mind and soul. You can ski, golf and go sailing here all on the same day and then catch an opera or Broadway musical by night.
Seated at the lap of the Pacific Ocean and at the feet of the Coast Mountains, Vancouver is a world-class city of theatres, five-star restaurants and ethnic diversity. The heady mix of cultures: North American, Asian, European and Indian mix to create more than 25 different cuisines offered in some 4,000 restaurants, bistros and cafes.
There are more than 150 galleries, museums, theatres and clubs to enjoy. Music of every type, from classical to Celtic, Caribbean to country, big band to blues and folk to funk can be found daily. Many festivals, including celebrations for children, jazz, writing, dance, film, comedy, bluegrass, fireworks and folk music are hosted throughout the region.
If outdoors is your style then the Greater Vancouver Regional District stewards 22 parks that range in size from diminutive Grant Narrows to massive Lynn Headwaters. At the same time, BC Parks, the provincial parks department, also maintains a considerable presence around Greater Vancouver. At the outskirts of the city there are a number of ski hills to choose from. Grouse Mountain is known for its scenic sky ride and panoramic view of Vancouver where on a clear day, you can see as far as Vancouver Island. Spend a sunny day in the forested Stanley Park or bike or roller blade around the city seawall.
Sightseeing attractions such as the Capilano Suspension Bridge thrill visitors from dizzying heights while the Vancouver Aquarium displays indigenous and fish species from all corners of the globe. Getting there to see the sights is half the fun. Enjoy gourmet coffees while strolling through the up-beat and trendy neighbourhoods of Yaletown or Kitsilano, or experience culture at the Vancouver Art Gallery - both inside and out on bustling Robson Street. As well there are lots of different walking tours - see neighbourhoods, visit museums and galleries or take in garden tours. Vancouver harbour can be explored by boat or kayak. All Greater Vancouver is assessable by car or public transit.
Festivals, architecture and a small city feel make Metro Vancouver a favourite place for tourists to visit and for residents to call home. Many people - residents and visitors alike - view Metro Vancouver as a staging area for adventures in the wilder territories of the province.
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Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia