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Things to Do in Vancouver

What to do on a visit to Vancouver?

If Mother Nature married Mr. Big, their offspring would surely be Vancouver.

Tucked between mountains and ocean, adorned with myriad parks and gardens, and blessed with a mild coastal climate, Vancouver is a truly scenic four-season destination offering all the distractions of any world-class city, plus one significant bonus: easy access to Canada’s famous wilderness.

Locals love to tell stories about how they skied in the morning and sailed in the afternoon and the thing is, they’re not lying. Vancouver is an obviously (some might say, aggressively) fit city. People here live to get outside and they make walking, biking, hiking–even boating and skiing–part of their daily routines.

There is, perhaps, a link between Vancouver’s enthusiasm for exercise and its obsession with food. If you like to eat, you will never be bored in this city teeming with multi-ethnic eateries run by award-winning chefs.

Here are 10 ways to make the most of a visit to Vancouver:

1. Go up a mountain (or come down one).

From downtown, you can be at the top of Vancouver’s much-photographed Grouse, Seymour and Cypress mountains in less than an hour. Hike or zip-line in summer, ski or snowshoe in winter and still be home for dinner.

Get out on the water!

2. See the city from sea level.

Water, water everywhere: for a unique perspective on the cityscape, rent a kayak, take a dinner cruise up Indian Arm, ride the SeaBus across Burrard Inlet to the North Shore, or hop one of the water taxis that traverse False Creek to Granville Island.

3. Stroll the seawall.

The seawall that rings much of downtown Vancouver is a favourite promenade of tourists and locals alike. Make a day of it, stopping to shop and dine along the way.

4. Explore a new neighbourhood.

When you’ve exhausted downtown’s charms, discover Vancouver’s deeper character in its diverse neighbourhoods, particularly The Drive, Little India, Chinatown, South Main and Kitsilano.

5. Work up an appetite.

Greek? Thai? Japanese? Afghan? Malaysian? Chinese? Jamaican? You can reliably find the best of the world’s cuisines in Vancouver–no passport required. And if you’re just thirsty, stake out a stool at a martini lounge or brew pub.

6. Get (more) cultured.

Theatres and galleries; museums and symphonies; international-calibre events and festivals: there are plenty of ways to indulge your inner culture vulture in Vancouver. (Look for last-minute half-price tickets through Tickets Tonight.)

7. Pick a park–any park.

Stanley Park, in the heart of downtown, is the most famous one, but Vancouver is home to dozens of public parks and gardens (not to mention beaches) that are equally worthy of exploration–or at least a picnic lunch.

8. Stimulate the economy.

Vancouver has the requisite mega-malls, but the real shopping treasure is concentrated in neighbourhood retail districts, such as Granville Island, Main Street, Commercial Drive and Robson Street.

9. Find your balance (on a bike).

Vancouver leads North America in its commitment to green living and it has the dedicated bike lanes to prove it. Forget about driving: bike rentals are cheap and the routes are tourist-friendly.

10. Get outta town.

There are so many easy day- or overnight-trips available from Vancouver. To name just a few: take a floatplane to Tofino on the far left coast of Vancouver Island; ride the train to Whistler Mountain, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics; catch a ferry to Bowen Island, the “jewel of Howe Sound” just 20 km northwest of the city.

>>Related posts:

How to Enjoy Vancouver for Free (or Very Nearly)

Sightseeing Tours in Vancouver

Vancouver’s Best Public Transit Sightseeing Tours

Top 10 Vancouver Viewpoints

Things to Do: Granville Island

Things to Do: Grouse Mountain

Things to Do: Capilano Suspension Bridge

Things to Do: Stanley Park

Things to Do: Theatre Under the Stars

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