I lived in Vancouver for many years and during that time it began to lose its charm for me.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and it certainly did for me when I recently visited and was enamored once again.
When the weather is good and the sun is shining there is no city that I have visited that is more beautiful.
Vancouver is a compact and highly walkable city bordered by breath-taking mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
The city is clean and the air is fresh so the majority of people spend a lot of time staying active by activities such as running, swimming, cycling, hiking and skiing. Everything for the outdoor enthusiast is available. One of my favorite activities is walking the entire length of the seawall while taking in the majestic mountain and ocean views. There are many large beaches to rest at along the way. If it’s a hot day, you can take a dip in the ocean or use one of the ocean-side pools. You can choose from Second Beach Pool on the shores of English Bay or you could cross the bridge and visit Canada’s longest, heated, saltwater pool, Kitsilano Pool.
There are an abundance of parks in Vancouver. The most popular of course is Stanley Park. You could spend several days walking through the paths of the park and still not see everything with over 1,000 acres to cover. Don’t miss a stroll around Lost Lagoon or taking in the gorgeous gardens especially the Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden. Stop by the Vancouver Aquarium, the largest in Canada, to see over 70,000 amazing sea creatures.
If you are visiting Vancouver around Halloween or Christmas be sure to check out the Stanley Park train. This is entertainment for the entire family and people of all ages. During Halloween, the ghost train winds through the park allowing you to take in various spooky sights and sounds. The theme changes each year so you never know what to expect. During the Christmas season, millions of lights illuminate the trees as you listen to Christmas carols while nestled in the train with a thermos of hot chocolate enjoying the company of family and friends.
During this recent trip, I visited a few parks that are a little out-of-the-way but were well worth the commute. A friend and I took in the charms of Queen Elizabeth Park ; the second most visited park in Vancouver. The arboretum has many examples of trees that are native to Canada, while the splendid Bloedel Floral Conservatory houses plants, birds (over 100), fish and flowers. Pack a picnic and plan to spend an afternoon at this lovely park and conservatory.
Don’t miss Lighthouse Park over in West Vancouver, an easy 40 minute drive or transit ride. Named Point Atkinson by Captain George Vancouver in 1792, it became the site of one of Canada’s first manned lighthouses. This park has a variety of paths through old growth forests and boasts of some of the largest Douglas Firs in Greater Vancouver. There are tremendous views of the ocean and the city. The granite rocks at the park have been there for millions of years. The walking trails vary in difficulty but there is something for everyone and it is well worth the excursion to this part of town.
Vancouver has so much to offer to its visitors. The city is truly a Canadian gem and a not to be missed destination. The scenic beauty is unparalleled.
In Vancouver there is so much to see and do. I recommend a minimum of 5 to 7 days to see major sites such as the seawall, Stanley Park, Granville Island, Gastown, Grouse Mountain, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge to name a few.
Be sure to take your camera and your walking shoes, you’ll be needing them.
Nicole Fairbairn is an Arts & Culture writer for The Scene in TO.
Email her at: nicole@thesceneinTO.com