10 Things to do in Vancouver

Exploring Vancouver is an exciting way to start or end an Alaskan cruise. Spending a day or two in Van City, as it’s called by locals, is almost not enough. There are so many things to see and do here. Most likely, your hotel will be located downtown. So, keeping this in mind, here are 10 of my favourite things to do that are easily and quickly accessible from downtown.

1. Grouse Mountain
This the first place I think to bring a visitor to the city because of all the awesomeness packed in here. Grouse Mountain offers a magnificent panoramic view of the City of Vancouver.

Skyride Gondola

Take the Skyride Gondola to reach the top of Grouse Mountain and back down. Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver.

Summer activities range with various adventure levels. Looking for something subdued? There’s hiking, a lumberjack show, helicopter tours, a bird show, a wildlife refuge and scenic chairlift rides.

To get your heart racing, try ziplining or tandem paragliding.

Tandem Paragliding

My friend Thi having a blast in the air. Thanks for the photo, Thi!

Fitness buffs really need to conquer the Grouse Grind, a trail up Grouse Mountain. Let me tell ya, it’s no small feat! Most first-timers take about 1.5 hrs to complete. Check out by Worldli Travel sharing his experience.

2. Gastown
Just a 10 to 15 minute walk from Canada Place (the main cruise terminal) is the historic district.

Gastown during Vancouver's International Jazz Festival in 2010. Photo courtesy of Roland Isberto Photography.

It’s a very cool and distinct part of the city – the old buildings here have been revitalized and are now cafés, restaurants, high end boutiques, businesses, firms, upscale housing, and shops.

3. Vancouver Convention Centre (west building)
Located right beside Canada Place cruise terminal, the Vancouver Convention Centre is the first convention centre in the world to receive the highest LEED® rating (platinum certification).

Convention Centre in Vancouver

Looking towards the North Shore with part the Convention Centre in the foreground. Photo courtesy of Roland Isberto Photography.

Visually impressive is not only its prime location, surrounded by the ocean and mountains to the north and a bustling city center to the south, but also the largest green roof in Canada, where over 400,000 indigenous plants and four beehives are housed.

4. Stanley Park
Just blocks from downtown is a rainforest. You can walk, rollerblade or take a leisurely drive through the 1000 acre park where you’ll find beaches, Douglas fir and cedar forests and breathtaking views of the North Shore mountains. There are also narrated horse-drawn tours.

Stanley Park with the Vancouver skyline in the background.

Riding along Stanley Park's seawall with a view of Vancouver's skyline. Photo courtesy of Roland Isberto Photography.

One of the most popular ways to explore the park is by bike. There are plenty of stores offering rentals in the area. At the time of writing, here are just a few to choose from:

* Bayshore Rentals
* English Bay Bike Rentals
* Stanley Park Cycle
* Simon’s Bike Shop
* Spoke’s Bicycle Rental

5. English Bay Beach
In Vancouver’s vibrant West End neighbourhood and connected to Stanley Park is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, English Bay beach. Here you’ll find sunbathers, joggers, strollers and even performers.

Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver.

It’s also a great place for a picnic with the proximity of eats and treats that are found along Denman and Davie streets.

6. Granville Island
This is one of the first spots I visited my first time in Vancouver. As a former industrial site, it’s impressive how the area has been transformed into life with culture and activity.

Aerial view of Granville Island

Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver.

Visit the market, catch a show, grab a bite, and enjoy a drink or two at the brewery – the activities at Granville Island are endless.

7. Kitsilano Beach
Incredible view? Check. Lots to do? Check.

It’s no wonder Kits Beach, as known by Vancouverites, is the most popular beach in the city. Come here to play volleyball, tennis, basketball, or just sunbathe and relax. Kitsilano Beach boasts Canada’s longest pool at 137 meters (about 450 feet).

Kits Beach in Vancouver

A summer day at Kits Beach. Photo taken by Nick So.

By the way, where’s sexy at? Look no further than Kits Beach. In 2009, Forbes.com named it as the third sexiest beach in North America, behind Miami’s South Beach and Main Beach, East Hampton, New York.

8. Chinatown
Chinatown is another historic site in Vancouver, declared in the late 1970s. Chinese architecture dominates the area, filled with exotic food stores and restaurants.

Vancouver's Chinatown

Entrance to Vancouver's Chinatown. Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver.

If you’re in Vancouver overnight this summer, try not to miss the Night Market where you’ll find everything from exotic food to electronics.

9. Capilano Suspension Bridge
Crossing this 450 feet suspension bridge is exhilarating!

Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver

Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

Imagine every muscle in your body tickling. Yup, that’s what I feel when I cross the suspension bridge. This is a must-do activity. It’s so much fun and afterwards you can go treetop trekking in the ancient rainforest.

10. Queen Elizabeth Park
This is the second most visited park in Vancouver, after Stanley Park. At 550 feet above sea level, Queen Elizabeth Park boasts a beautiful view of the quarry below and the city’s skyline ahead.

Garden in Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver

Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver.

You can spend a whole day strolling through the quarry gardens, visiting the floral conservatory, or partaking in activities such as lawn bowling, pitch and putt, tennis and tai chi. The park even offers a restaurant where every seat gets to enjoy the views.

There you have it: some of my favourites in Van City. Before I end this, I’d like to extend an invitation. Since you’ll be in the area for your cruise, why not swing by our office in the lovely Kerrisdale neighbourhood?

Been to Vancouver or are you a Vancouverite? What would’ve made your list? Drop me a line and let me know what you think!

If you’re looking for informative guided tours, please contact your Cruise Specialist at 1-800-565-2784 or visit www.cruiseexpertstravel.net.

About Vanny

Vanny is Cruise Experts Travel’s Social Media Coordinator. She is a passionate world traveler and has been given an exciting opportunity to share experiences, tips and advice on everything cruising and travel in Alaska.
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