I will try to give you an example itinerary of 3 full days in Vancouver. If you stay less than that, you kind pick and choose the things that really interest you. for more details and if you have more time to spent in Vancouver, please visit my tips for other interesting things to see and do in and around Vancouver.
Three full days in Vancouver:
Have a look at my One Day itinerary and you can probably make 2 days out of all that.
My suggestions (depending on the weather) for Day 1:
*Stanley Park: Enjoy the whole morning or afternoon in Stanley Park. You can rent a bike and bike all the way around the park. It's a great way to see the park and you can stop wherever you like.
*Granville Island: If you rent a bike for a whole day and you really love biking you may want to make your way out to Granville Island for lunch. Granville Island is just a great place to visit, there is public market with local fresh foods and such, a marina, hotel, art galleries, a theatre and a variety of restaurants and shops. If you are not renting a bike you can catch a little ferry from downtown Vancouver or False Creek to Granville Island. The Aquabus and Granville Island ferries offer frequent service throughout the day.
*Downtown Vancouver: If you have any more time on your first day it's always nice to head down to downtown Vancouver for a walk along Robson Street, the waterfront with the Canada Place, the new convention centre, Gastown and those kind of areas. If you plan to visit Chinatown, I would do that during the day because of the homeless people and drug addicts hanging around near Chinatown.
My suggestions for Day 2:
*Capilano Suspension Bridge: start here as this is your first stop along the Capilano Road. Visit the suspension brigde and enjoy the treetops adventure as well. If you don't want to spent money on this, then visit Lynn Valley Park which is free, not very far from there and also has a suspension bridge. This park is a more of a natural area with not so many touristy things.
*Grouse Mountain: after visiting Capilano Suspension Bridge you can head north and drive to the Grouse Mountain parking lot. Take the gondola up to the top of the mountain and enjoy all kinds of shows/entertainment that's included in your gondola ticket. In the summer time there is a lumberjack show, birds in motion show, a grizzly bear habitat area, talk with the ranger at the grizzly bear habitat, guided walks, eagle chairlifts to the very top of the mountain, 2 movie displays in the Theatre in the Sky and more.
*Cleveland Dam/Capilano Lake/Capilano River Park: Just before you get to the Grouse Mountain parking lot there is a park on the left. You can either stop at the Capilano River Park which is closer to Capilano River and visit the fish hatchery. You can also walk the trail along the river and that will take you up to the Cleveland Dam and Capilano Lake. Or you can park at the Cleveland Dam area and enjoy the views of the Dam and Capilano Lake.
My suggestions for Day 3:
*Museum of Anthropology: This museum is located at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Point Grey in Vancouver West. It has some of the biggest and most amazing displays in the world of the Northwest Coast First Nations art, as well as fascinating artifacts from Africa and the Orient. Definitely something to do on a cloudier or rainy day.
*Gardens and Beaches of Vancouver West: While you are visiting the museum of Anthropology at UBC, you may want to visit the beautiful Nitobe Gardens which are Japanese Gardens. If you feel like it and you have the time there are several nice beaches on the way back from UBC to Vancouver. I can recommend Spanish Banks, Jericho Beach and Kitsilano Beach.
*Downtown Vancouver: Spent an afternoon in downtown Vancouver to Chinatown, Gastown or walk to Robson Street for some good shopping, food and such. You could walk all the way down on Robson St. and turn left on Denman St. as this will take you to English Bay which is a great spot for sunsets.
If you have more time than 3 days there are many more things to see and do within a half an hour to an hour driving from Vancouver. Here are some fun things to do and some beautiful places to vist that may be less busy:
*Burnaby Mountain: a beautiful place for great views of downtown Vancouver, the mountains and an 18km (11mi) long fjord.
*Buntzen Lake en Belcarra Regional Park: two great parks in the Port Moody area with a bunch of hiking trails and nice views.
*Minnekhade Regional Park and part of the Traboulay PoCo Trail: this area is located along the Pitt River with great view on the mountains and fairly flat hiking trails.
*Pitt Lake and Grant Narrows Regional Park: these are located in Pitt Meadows and very close together. At Pitt Lake there is a beautiful dyke which takes about half an hour to walk one way. In the area are the dykes and they are great for walking/biking as well.
*Golden Ears Provincial Park: Here you can walk at Alouette Lake and if you drive a bit further you will find the Gold Creek Day Use area. In this area you can walk along Gold Creek which ends up in Alouette Lake. If you go the other way you will find a trail that takes you to the Lower Falls.
If you happen to get some rainy days, which is not uncommon in Vancouver then there are other things to do that are more indoors:
*Vancouver Aquarium: This is locacted in beautiful Stanley Park and is one of the best aquariums in North America. You will find over 8000 different species.
*Science World: Science World is located along False Creek in downtown Vancouver. It features many permanent interactive exhibits and displays, as well as areas with varying topics throughout the years.
*Vancouver Art Gallery: It offers both historical and contemporary exhibitions of painting, sculpture, graphic arts, photography and video by regional, national and international artists.
*H.R. MacMillan Space Centre: This is an astronomy museum in Vancouver that is located at Vanier Park. Inside the building, there are live demonstrations on science in the GroundStation Canada Theatre, exhibits and games in the Cosmic Courtyard, and shows about astronomy in the Planetarium Star Theatre. Next to the building is the Gordon MacMillan Southam Observatory. This centre of astronomy is a popular attraction in Vancouver.
*Vancouver Martime Museum: Interprets the story of Canada's Pacific port and its links with the Pack Rim with artifacts, models, paintings, photographs.
*Bloedel Conservatory: is a year-round indoor tropical garden in Queen Elizabeth Park.
This "park within a park" is an enclosed triodetic dome filled with 500 different exotic plants and flowers, koi fish, and more than 100 free-flying birds.
*Lonsdale Quay: is a covered market which shops, restaurants and coffee shops. Take the Seabus at the Canada Place across the water to North Vancouver to get here. The views of downtown are beautiful!
*Granville Island: This is also a partly covered public market which fresh foods, restaurants and local breweries. There are also some art galleries and so much more.
*Metrotown Mall: this is a huge shopping centre with about 500 stores. You take the Skytrain from downtown Vancouver (East Bound) and get off at the Metrotown Station.
*Museum of Anthropology: his museum is located at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Point Grey in Vancouver West. It has some of the biggest and most amazing displays in the world of the Northwest Coast First Nations art, as well as fascinating artifacts from Africa and the Orient.
For most of you that visit from abroad I am thinking that you spent no more than a few days in Vancouver. Some of you may only have 1 day and others may have a couple or a few. I will provide you with some must sees for each of you.
One day in Vancouver:
I am thinking that most of you will be driving an RV or a car to get around. In this case I would visit the following areas:
*Stanley Park: explore this beautiful park for a few hours. You drive around the whole park with your car/RV and stop at the viewpoints along the way. If you are interested and have the time you can also rent a bike in Stanley Park and ride your bike all the way around the park (9km/5.5mi).
*Grouse Mountain: from Stanley Park drive over the Lions Gate Bridge and follow Highway 1 West until you see signs for "Capilano Road" or Grouse Mountain. Follow this road all the way to the end (you will pass by Capilano Suspension Bridge) where you can park near the Grouse Mountain gondola. Take the gondola up to Grouse Mountain and enjoy the beautiful views over Vancouver. Up here you can also enjoy a Lumberjack Show, 2 movies in The Theatre in the Sky, a guided walk, bird show, chairlifts to the very top, grizzly bear habitat with ranger talks and more...all of this is included with your ticket on the gondola. It is fairly expensive, but you get a lot in return for it. For those of you who don't want to pay for this may want to visit Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver instead as you have some great views over Vancouver and the Fraser Valley from here as well and it doesn't cost you anything. If you visit Cypress Mountain, drive all the way to the top and visit the area used for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
*Capilano Suspension Bridge: this is a very popular attraction with a beautiful suspension bridge hanging about 136m(446ft) long and 70m (230ft) above the river in a temperate rain forest setting. Besides the suspension bridge there is also the Treetop Adventure, this attraction consists of seven footbridges suspended between old-growth Douglas Fir trees on the west side of the canyon, forming a walkway up to 30m (98ft) above the forest floor. Another attraction that costs enough, but it's definitely worth it. For those who don't want to pay and yet want to get somewhat of an experience like this may want to visit Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge which is free and also features a suspension bridge and lovely trails along the river.
*Downtown Vancouver: after all that you can head down to downtown Vancouver, walk along Robson Street which is a popular shopping street. Wander down to the Canada Place and into Gastown with its steam clock and many gift shops.
I would say that the above things will give you a packed day in Vancouver.
Which ever city/town you are in in British Columbia, don't forget to stop at the Visitor or Info Centre in the area. Here you will find trained staff and volunteers that are prepared to give you information on things to do in the area, where to stay, what kind of events there might be and so much more. You can pick free visitor guides, city/area maps and more.
In most towns/cities you will easily find the Visitor or Info Centres, there will be signs along the road with a big "I" on it or you can see a building with a big "I" on it. In Vancouver you will find the Visitor/Info Centre right by the Canada Place and is now called the "Welcome Centre". At the moment you can find the Tourist Info Centre inside the Vancouver Convention Centre East, 999 Canada Place, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6C 3L6: Tel: 604.683.2000 - Fax: 604.682.6839
For many people Vancouver is a starting point and part of a trip through British Columbia, and part of Alberta I figured I might as well give you an example itinerary.
The example itinerary below is based on a trip of 4 weeks (1 month) where you have 28 days of travel available. Of course you can shorten it wherever you want, but this route gives you plenty of time to see and do a lot things at a nice pace without having to drive for hours on end. It's impossible to see and do everything in 4 weeks, but there plenty of time to see all the highlights.
This is my example route with some highlights along the way:
Day 1: Arrival in Vancouver
Day 2: Vancouver - Hope (approx. 2 hrs driving)
Day 3: Hope - Osoyoos (the only "official" desert area in Canada and approx. 3 hrs driving)
Day 4: Osoyoos --> good place for visiting some wineries, they have about 23 in that area: Oliver-Osoyoos winery website and you can do some nice walks/hikes in this beautiful area
Day 5: Osoyoos - Vernon (approx. 2 1/2 hrs driving)...you can take all day to see the sights along the way
Day 6: Vernon - Golden (approx. 3 1/2 hrs driving). Leave early and spend a few hours at Mount Revelstoke National Park. A stop at Rogers Pass in Glacier NP is nice too. There are a few short walks, but the rest of Glacier NP is mainly accessible by long hikes
Day 7: Visit Golden: there is the Golden Eagle Express gondola here to the top of the mountain, a wolf centre and a Grizzly Bear refuge where you can see bears in a very large enclosed protected natural habitat (in case you don't see any wild ones...this is a close as you can get): Tourism Golden
Day 8: Golden - Radium Hot Springs (if you want to visit Kootenay NP as well, approx. 1 hr and 15 min. driving)...visit Kootenay National Park
Day 9: Radium Hot Springs - Banff (approx. 1 hr and 45 min driving)...take your time to visit some parts of Kootenay NP & Banff NP
Day 10: Banff (visit around Banff town + some lakes, gondola, etc...)
Day 11: Banff (visit around Banff town + lakes, Johnstone Canyon)
Day 12: Banff (visit to Lake Louise/Moraine Lake & Yoho NP...it's about an hour driving from Banff town to Field in Yoho NP)
Day 13: Banff - Jasper (approx. 3 1/2 hrs driving)...start early as there is lots to see and do along the Icefields Parkway (Herbert Lake - great for early morning photos, Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, Columbia Icefields, Sunwapta Falls, Athabasca Falls, etc...)
Day 14: Jasper: visit Maligne Lake. Don't forget to stop at Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake Canyon on the way. At Maligne Lake you can do the little cruise to Spirit Island, it's expensive but well worth it. An afternoon cruise would be best for photos as you have the sun behind you. If you still have time and feel like it you can visit some lakes near Jasper in the evening.
Day 15: Jasper (visit to some of the lakes, gondola if you wish and don't miss Mount Edith Cavell and surrounding area)
Day 16: Jasper - Clearwater (approx. 3 hrs and 45 min. driving)
Day 17: Clearwater (visit to Wells Gray Provincial Park where you can enjoy several lovely waterfalls)
Day 18: Clearwater - Whistler: this would be a longer drive (approx. 5 1/2 hours), but you can take your time and start early. Stop in Kamloops for a while and some other places along the way.
Day 19: Whistler: explore the village and take the gondola up to Whistler Mountain and go on the Peak 2 Peak gondola.
Day 20: Whistler - Campbell River: this is another 5 hr and a bit drive, but you it will get split up by having to take the ferry to Nanaimo. You drive from Whistler to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver (about 1 1/2 hrs drive without stopping), take the ferry here to Nanaimo (another 1 1/2 hr) and from Nanaimo to Campbell River is another hour and a half.
Day 21: Campbell River - Orca tour
Day 22: Campbell River - Tofino (or Ucluelet): (approx. 4 hours driving) stop along the way at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove), Sproat Lake.
Day 23: Tofino or Ucluelet which is about 45 min/1 hr from Tofino and Pacific Rim NP is located between these 2 towns. Visit Pacific Rim NP and surrounding area.
Day 24: Tofino or Ucluelet: visit Pacific Rim NP and surrounding area.
Day 25: Tofino (or Ucluelet) - Victoria: another fairly long drive, but if you leave early enough you can stop at some of the places you missed going to Tofino and stop at a few places on the way to Victoria like Chemainus and Duncan.
Day 26: Victoria: a visit to Victoria and surrounding area
Day 27: Victoria - Vancouver (if you leave early enough you still have an afternoon + evening in Vancouver
Day 28: Vancouver: visit Vancouver and surrounding area
Day 29: Vancouver: visit Vancouver and surrounding area
Day 30: Leaving Vancouver
Please have a look at this map from google which gives you a better idea of the whole trip: Trip through BC & Alberta
Fondest memory: The reason why I ended up traveling back to Vancouver in 2012 was to watch my 19-year-old nephew compete at the Canadian Karate Championships, which took place at the Richmond Olympic Oval. Kevin and I have had the chance to travel together on quite a few occasions to attend competitions, but this was the furthest we've been together since our trip to Santiago de Chile in 2008. Once again, we had an amazing time together, and Kevin did really well at the tournament: he earned a spot on the national team, which means he could represent Canada at the next Pan-American games. Guess who volunteered to go with him?!
I went to Vancouver with a couple of friends a number of years ago. Met a cute girl who had moved here from Fiji and drank lots of alcohol. Must return sometime. Don't remember the last visit well.
Fondest memory: Going to a couple of bars with new friends I met here. I especially enjoyed the one with the jazz band. The girl from Fiji was very cute too.
Oh! I know, all you English people, American's & Canadian's are probably wondering about why I am writing about Squirrels.
Well, for an Australian like me, to see a Squirrel in the wild was something very different for me, I guess like seeing a Kangaroo in the wild for you!
Stanley park was loaded with them. Most of them were black (they can be either grey or black) We were informed that they were introduced into Stanley Park in 1914 and have since spread all over the Lower Mainland into plaque proportions, they certainly like British columbia!
When I was recently traveling to Vancouver, BC, I used a company called ConfCall, and it cost me $20 for the SIM card rental. They require a deposit on the SIM card, but I got it back when I returned the card. They even delivered the card to my hotel, and included a prepaid mailer to just drop in the mail when I was done with it.
Worked out really well for me.
Vancouver is the only real metropolis in western Canada and I wish I would have had time to properly explore it. In 1994, I spent a few days in a suburb at my then girlfriend's uncle's house. He was a dentist and living in one of the city's nicest neighborhoods but I woke up to find the stereo had been stolen from my car parked right out front. I was in a rush south at the time so was only there for a couple nights. Needless to say I didn't see much.
This return engagement found me with my wife, coming directly from a couple of great days in Victoria. We were on our way back to the US national parks after a planned detour through Canada's jewel, Banff. So once again, I was in a hurry. No one could have blamed us for not even going into town but after a dismal Chinese meal in Victoria, Vancouver's noted Chinatown was calling.
Driving into the city, I noticed an incredible skyline, one I would imagine to be in Hong Kong or Shanghai, modernistic but somehow breathing Asia. I wanted to pull over to take a photo of it but the moment was so fleeting and this was a big city that offers no such things as a convenient turnout. Pictures not taken often are the ones most memorable.
We did manage to find the city's boisterous Chinatown, something I missed on my first visit. It was hectic, noisy, crowded, smelly, everything a Chinatown should be and everything Victoria's had not been. The food was great too but it was the atmosphere more than anything that had made the excursion worthwhile. Well, that and the photo I never took. The one still in my memory. The best ones are often the ones you don't get to take.
Visiting Spokane for Spring Break via Seattle or Vancouver B.C.
I've been to and traveled in this area for over 30 years. Don't get me wrong: Vancouver B.C. is one of my favorite cities. But, is your heart set on Vancouver or Victoria? They are not really young people magnets. Seattle is the closest to Spokane. Your teens might like the Experience Music Project museum in Seattle. And then there are the usual places not to miss like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market and ferry rides for fun!
Depending on where you are from you may enjoy Seattle, Portland and the beach more: and it would vastly simplify and save costs. Flying in and out of Canada will mean two border crossings for which you have to allot extra time. Involving ferrys (weather dependent crossings most times of the year) complicates even more.
Even bad weather may delay your travel from Seattle to Spokane. You could almost fly into Portland easier. Depending on when your spring break is, there may be snow on the mountain pass between Seattle and Spokaneand/or Portland and Spokane, which will limit your travel at night at least.
The Oregon and SW Washington Coast is only 2 1/2 hours away and Spokane is a great trip from Portland up the Columbia River Gorge. There is a fantastic historic hot spring spa that is reasonable located one hour east of Portland on the Washington side of the Columbia near the Bridge of the Gods in on the Wind River in Carson. You'll deserve it!
Favorite thing: When we were there, Bears were everywhere in the streets, not live ones, but "Spirit Bears" which would be auctioned off for charity. From what we were told, each year is something different. We had a great time hunting down these bears, and viewing the different paintings on them. What a great idea, and a tourist attraction for free also!
There are 6 different coins,a 2Dollar coin,bi metall and with a bear on one side,a 1Dollar coin with a goose,a 25cent coin with a moose(since Vancouver host the 2010 Olympics there are also different sport motives on the backside),a 10 cent coin with a sailboat(the 10 cent coin is smaller than the 5cent coin!!!),a 5cent coin with a beaver and the 1 cent copper coin with the maple leaf.All coins show Quenn Elizabeth II on the other side.2Dollars are commonly known as a toonie,1Dollar as a loonie,25cents as a quarter,10cents as a dime,5cents as a nickel and 1cent as a penny.Notes are from 5Dollars to 100 Dollar notes.(10Dollars,20Dollars,50Dollars are also avaiable)It happen also often that you get a change of a 25cent coin from the states which is absolutely no problem.Machines and shops accept them.
Fondest memory: how green and clean the city is
hiking between river road and the north arm of the Fraser river,follow the Cambie road till the end,there are plenty of parking possibilities.Beautiful scenery,no cars disturbing
Fondest memory: the scenery and the nature
When I was 6 years old, Vancouver hosted Expo '86. A great deal of monumental structures were built that year which includes Canada Place, Science World, and the Skytrain system. However, one lesser-recognized additions was the inukshuk statue which currently stands at the southern end of English Bay. The inukshuk was a gift from the Inuit of Canada's arctic to Vancouver.
People always come up with different interpretations for what inukshuks are, but when I was little I was taught that they were traditionally built as place markers on the vast and barren tundra and were also used as a way to herd caribou - who knows. Regardless, inukshuks are human-like statues built out of carefully stacked rocks and are wide recognized as symbols of the Inuit culture.
In 2001 when Vancouver won the bid to host the 2010 winter Olympics, a contest was held to design the offiicial logo. The winner's design was a colourful interpretation of an inukshuk inspired by the one at English Bay.
The inukshuk design initially caused a huge controversy because people thought that the winning entry looked too amateurish. Others complained that it had absolutely nothing to do with Vancouver's indentity, but instead, continued to persist the stereotype that Canada will always be thought of as snowy and cold. I think there was a 90% disapproval rating for the inukshuk design, but it was created anyway and was first shown at the 2006 Torino Olympics during the closing ceremonies.
Regardless of public approval, it seems like the inukshuk will be Vancouver's Olympic logo. And whenever you pass by the inukshuk down on English Bay, now you know all about it.
Favorite thing: If you're flying westbound to Vancouver and have never flown over the Rockies before, make sure to get a window seat on the plane! On a clear day, the scenery can be quite breathtaking and it's likely to be something you'll never forget.
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