Canada is a sparkling white dream for anyone who loves winter sports. But beyond its chilly temperatures and thick blankets of snow is the beautiful province of British Columbia. At its heart lies Vancouver, a city many have dubbed one of the most livable cities in the world. Here are some reasons why Vancouver should be anyone’s dream vacation destination.
For those who embrace the outdoors
Yes, Vancouver is home to Grouse Mountain—as well as a lot of other mountains— but that’s not where your journey should stop. Vancouver also boasts thick forests and popular parks, the most famous being Stanley Park, complete with an aquarium, horse-drawn tours, and gardens.
While the days are still long, don’t forget to smear on some sunscreen and visit one of the beaches along the coast. Take your pick from Jericho Beach, Kitsilano Beach, Wreck Beach, through to English Bay, and end your journey in Granville Island, where you can relax and enjoy a bite to eat.
For those who can’t stand fast food
Strategically located near the coast, Vancouver brims with fresh, local, ethically caught seafood. Think oysters shucked before your own eyes, deep coral sockeye salmon, lobsters so flavourful and buttery and perfect on its own… Are you salivating yet?
To complement the abundance of seafood, there is also a wealth of fresh produce. In addition to the famous Granville Island Farmers Market, farmers’ markets spring up from the beginning of each summer to the first couple of weeks into autumn. Skip the self-checkout counter at Safeway and meet the farmers responsible for your sweet berries, fragrant herbs, and juicy apricots.
To finish off your meal, don’t forget to uncork a bottle of wine direct from Okanagan valley, home to BC’s finest wines and grapevines.
For those who lament packing away skis in summer
Canada has hosted two winter Olympics, most recently in 2010. But beyond curling, hockey, skiing, and snowboarding, you can also hike and trek up the mountains, bike along the sea wall in Stanley Park, and play volleyball on the beach, go to a social dance… The possibilities are endless.
A summer dance series is also hosted annually in Robson Square in downtown Vancouver, where world-class dancers teach classes each week for free. There are nights for rumba, waltz, swing—almost anything! Try something new and learn how to shimmy and dance like the stars.
For those who love movie marathons
Affectionately called “The Hollywood of the North”, you might have seen glimpses of British Columbia in the background of numerous feature films. Godzilla? Filmed in Nanaimo and New Westminster. X-Men: The Last Stand? Filmed in The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Victoria. Juno? Filmed throughout Burnaby and Vancouver. And that’s just the beginning.
Maybe, if you’re lucky, you might even bump into your favourite actor ordering a cup of coffee!
For those who dig deep into a city’s culture and history
The Vancouver Art Gallery downtown curates exhibitions featuring renowned artists all year round, the most recent being an exhibition on Picasso and Emily Carr. There are also independent modern art galleries scattered around the city, hosting art created and curated by locals.
Other than art museums, be sure to also visit the Museum of Anthropology renowned for its exhibitions on works of art and culture mostly by the First Nations population of the Pacific Northwest. Take in the art, all the while learning about their rich history in archaeology and anthropology.
On top of the terrific art and history scene, Vancouver also stages numerous theatre performances and concerts. There are plenty of local theatre companies putting on well-loved plays and musicals as well as touring productions from Broadway. The theatre, opera, and music students at UBC also put on performances each school year, all designed and performed by students and alumni. If you’re in town during the summer, be sure to check out Shakespeare plays in Bard on the Beach and outdoor musicals in Theatre Under the Stars in Stanley Park.
For those who roam free and far
If your legs can’t stay still, there are plenty of places just a stone’s throw away from Vancouver. Here are a few ideas:
- take the seabus to North Vancouver and walk the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge
- take the bus to Squamish, who hosts the Sasquatch Music Festival every summer
- take the ferry to visit the towns of Tofino, Nanaimo, and Victoria
- take the train to the neighbouring provinces to see the magnificent sights of Lake Louise and the Canadian Rockies
Photo Credit: Mapio.net, Susan Seubert, JC Dance Co and David Marasigan, Tony Zhou of “Every Frame a Painting”, Inside Vancouver, the Herald Sun, Tony Zhou of “Every Frame a Painting”, Inside Vancouver.