Totems in Stanley Park, Vancouver
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 the cosmopolitan downtown will take you into the heart of the Pacific Coast Mountains, put you in cozy seaside villages or place you at the door 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 Metro Vancouver 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 a play or listen to a symphony by night.
Seated at the edge of the Pacific Ocean and 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 First Nations mix to create an eclectic mix of cuisines offered in a plethora of 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 and events, including celebrations for children, jazz, writing, dance, film, comedy, bluegrass, fireworks and folk music are hosted throughout the region.
Take in some of the city’s attractions such as Science World, the Vancouver Lookout and the Vancouver Aquarium. Take a hop-on-hop-off trolley to take you to the must-see places. Enjoy gourmet coffees while strolling through the up-beat and trendy neighbourhoods of Yaletown or Kitsilano. Visit Chinatown and Gastown, take a water taxi over to Granville Island to explore its market, arts and culture, eateries and water activities. Experience culture at the Vancouver Art Gallery – both inside and out.
Traveling north of the city over the Lions Gate Bridge brings you to North Vancouver where you have lots of choices for outdoor recreation. You can enjoy the small town atmosphere of Deep Cove and go kayaking in the calm waters of Indian Arm. Parks, beaches, and trails abound plus waterfalls, suspension bridges and golfing. Visit the hustle and bustle of Lonsdale Quay – get here by taking the Sea Bus from Vancouver. Take in Lonsdale Quay Market and the lively Shipyards Night Market in the summer. Visit a craft brewery and be tempted by local foods at upscale restaurants and urban cafes and bistros. Take the Skyride to the top of Grouse Mountain with its stunning views across the City of Vancouver and over to Vancouver Island. Driving west from here brings you to West Vancouver and on to Horseshoe Bay, one of the BC Ferry terminals for trips over to Vancouver Island, Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast.
South of Vancouver are the cities of Richmond and Delta. Richmond boasts a cosmopolitan mix of peoples and arts & culture, particularly with a strong Asian influence. This can be experienced by visiting Richmond’s Night Market – a street food and retail extravaganza that provides a wide cross-section of cultures and cuisine, plus entertainment. Take a trip out to Fisherman’s Wharf in Steveston and watch the fishing boats unload their catch of the day and buy some fresh fish and seafood. Take a whale watching tour, relax on a beach, go fishing, hike or bike a trail. Take a tour of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, once BC’s largest Salmon cannery and a National Historic Site and the Britannia Shipyards.
Delta is south of Richmond and bordered by Georgia Straight and Boundary Bay. The region offers an abundance of water activities and beaches including the popular community of Tsawwassen. Delta is a favourite destination for birders who come here to visit the thousands of birds that follow the Pacific Migratory Flyway between October and April stopping over at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary and Boundary Bay Regional Park.
Heading east from Vancouver is Burnaby and the smaller city of New Westminster. The Fraser River has significant focus in New Westminster. A delightful boardwalk follows the river’s edge. A public market and the Fraser River Discovery Centre that offers an interactive look at the history and current day use of the Fraser River anchor the busy boardwalk. Eateries, shopping, history, parks and more provide the visitor with many choices.
Burnaby’s northern edge lies on Burrard Inlet. A visit to the top of Burnaby Mountain provides mountain views to the north and downtown Vancouver to the west. Also, check out the totem poles. History, parks and entertainment abound in this region. Burnaby Village Museum takes you back to the 1920s where you can explore a farmhouse and village with period-costumed interpreters and the kids can take a ride on the fully restored historic carousel. Take a ride on a model railway steam train at Burnaby Central Railway. Bike, hike, kayak, golf the many trails, lakes and parks.
East of Burnaby is Port Moody, Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam known as the Tri-Cities. Port Moody is home to Rocky Point Park and located at the end of Burrard Inlet. A trail and boardwalk surround the water’s edge with a walking pier, boat launch, kayak rentals and swimming pool. Craft breweries are popular and close by. Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam are home to many trails and parks with biking and hiking a favourite pastime. Bird watchers frequent Colony Farm wetlands, and fish hatcheries fascinate the youngsters.
Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge are on the eastern edge of Metro Vancouver. Agriculture and farmlands are in abundance with many you-pick fruit-picking opportunities and roadside stands. A Farm Fresh Guide is available locally. Much of the land is criss-crossed by dykes which are popular for biking and walking. Golf courses with stunning mountain views offer challenging holes, fishing, boating and other outdoor activities provide ample opportunities to enjoy this region.
Surrey is in the southeast area of Metro Vancouver. Surrey, known as the City of Parks, provides an abundance of outdoor recreation. Trails, gardens, lakes and beaches offer birdwatching, sporting activities, water sports and fishing. Take in a round of golf on one of the several courses. South of Surrey is White Rock, a small community on Boundary Bay and known for its beach, walking pier and the big white rock.