Vancouver is a cosmopolitan and approachable city. Canada’s major gateway to the Orient, it is strategically located where the mountains of the coast range meet the Pacific Ocean and form a picturesque and busy harbor. The town has been a center of trade and transportation since the First Nations (Canadian term for Native Americans) era. The 1858 discovery of gold in the Yukon and the completion of the Canadian Pacific Transcontinental railroad in 1887 launched
Vancouver on an urban trajectory that has transformed it into a world-class city with a metropolitan population of 2.5 million that is still growing. High-rise condominiums are sprouting up all around town because both Canadians and foreigners find the town such a pleasant place to live. Not surprisingly, throngs of visitors flock there as well.
Many Americans fly to Vancouver to catch a cruise ship to Alaska and see little besides Canada Place and their hotel. That is a missed opportunity because the city is full of night life, gorgeous sights and attractions that should not be missed. This cosmopolitan mix of east and west has become a delightful cultural crossroads with a mixture of food, cultures, sights and sounds that will delight even the most urbane traveler. If your travels take you through Vancouver, plan to stay for a while and explore it. Better yet, plan a visit and stay a while.
Before You Go
- Check out tourismvancouver.com
Vancouver is a transportation crossroads.
- Vancouver International Airport (YVR), is 9 miles from the city center. It is served by 66 air carriers and offers service to 121 destinations in Asia, Canada and the U.S. It is connected to the city by the Skytrain rail system.
By train, the transcontinental Canadian calls on Vancouver thrice weekly in summer and twice weekly n winter. Amtrak runs 4 times daily from Portland, Oregon There is also train service from Via Rail and The Rocky Mountaineer private train.
- By car, Vancouver is on Canada Route 99, the northern extension of U.S. Interstate 5, 143 miles from Seattle and the TransCanada Highway.
- Downtown Vancouver is a major cruise ship port with frequent sailings to Alaska from May through October and cruises to Hawaii, California and elsewhere year-round.
When You Are There For A Short Trip
- See Canada Place and the waterfront.
- Take A carriage tour of Stanley Park’s Stanley Park lush foliage and spectacular harbor and skyline views.
- Enjoy the architecture, food and drink in the Gastown District.
If You Only Have Two or Three Days:
Must-sees for a short stay are:
- The FlyOver Canada flight simulator ride at Canada Place.
- Dinners at Glowbal Restaurant and Gotham Steakhouse
- The Lost Souls Walking Tour by Forbidden Vancouver
If You Have Several Days, enjoy exploring the region by:
- A daytrip by ferry to Victoria
- Walking Granville Island (market and restaurants)
- A daytrip to Whistler and nearby BC mountains.by car, train or bus
- Enjoying scenery while improving your photography no matter what your level of skill or equipment on a guided Vancouver Photowalk (www.vancuverphotowalks.ca)
- Taking a whale watching tour
- Taking a floatplane tour
- Hiking/skiing the Grouse Mountain Resort in North Vancouver
This Destination At A Glance
Mobility Level: Low to moderate. Most sidewalks have curb cuts at intersections and all Vancouver bus, SeaBus, SkyTrain and West Coast Express trains are accessible.
Getting Around: Leave your car at the hotel. Downtown is walkable. A $9 transit pass in Vancouver covers buses, SkyTrain and SeaBus services.
When To Go: Anytime. Even though it is located north of Seattle, Vancouver is the warmest part of Canada, with an average winter high temperature in the 40’s and delightful spring and fall and summers in the 70’s. The popular Vancouver International Jazz Festival brings crowd in June and July.
Where To Stay: The St. Regis Hotel is a delightful New York style heritage boutique hotel within an attentive staff and fine rooms. It is a 15 minute walk to Canada Place. The Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel at Canada Place is popular for those seeking an upscale experience convenient to the cruise port.
Special Travel Interests: Cruises to Alaska, whale watching, watersports.
Editor’s Notes: Orenstein is a syndicated travel writer from Florida’s West Coast. He and his wife Virginia enjoy simply smart travel around North America and the world. They can be reached at jorenstein@SimplySmartTravel.com. Please check out their travel tips, photos, articles and blog at www.SimplySmartTravel.com and like them at www.facebook.com/SimplySmartTravel/