The Sea Wall, Vancouver
The seawall plays a major role in the authentic Vancouver experience. And it's fair to say that you haven't experienced Vancouver until you've strolled (or jogged, or cycled, or skateboarded, or rollerbladed) the seawall.
The seawall is what surrounds most of Downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park. It starts at Canada Place, heading west through Coal Harbour, around Stanley Park, along Third beach, Second Beach and English Bay, rounding its way down along False Creek to Yaletown, bending up around BC Place Stadium and over to Science World, and following along to Stamp's Landing, Fairview and hooking up with Granville Island then under the Burrard Street Bridge to Vanier Park and Kitsilano Beach. All together it's 22 km in length.
However, the seawall might be significant of thing further...
In 2006 I was invited to attend a Geography Alumni meeting at UBC on Valentine's Day (out of all days!) and our guest speaker was Lance Berelowitz, a Vancouver urban planner. He said something that has stuck with me since. He mentioned that unlike most major cities, such as London or New York, Vancouver lacks a central public gathering space. Where other cities might have places like Central Park or Trafalgar Square, Vancouver has... the seawall. But people do not come to the seawall to gaze n at Vancouver. People gather along the seawall to gaze out and away from the city.
Some of my favourite memories in Vancouver take place on the seawall, specifically the portion from Second Beach to English Bay. While the walk is maybe 15 minutes long at the most, there's always something going on.
The seawall is perfect for people watching. Watch elderly ladies walk their miniature poodles, or the tall man jog in only his speedo. Watch cool teenage boys skateboard along, as tourists from Asia snap pictures at their families. Watch young kids balance along the ledge of the seawall, risking falling to the beach 10 feet below. Watch the hippies smoke pot and balance rocks. Watch natives carve Haida wood sculptures, or the locals sell their paintings on the nearby lawns. In warmer months, people are suntanning, swimming, or just hanging out at the beach at English Bay.
This is probably the most lively section of the seawall, as there's always something going on.
Favorite thing: Take a bike ride along the sea wall - it costs about $15 Canadian for a day rental and you get the most picturesque views of Vancouver...