The Ultimate Vancouver Essential Experience


Vancouver means different things to different people. To some, it is a beautiful coastal city. To others, it is home. One way to better understand Vancouver’s identity is to visit the city. It has an inspiring creative side in the motherland of entertainment, culture, foood, festivals and attractions.

Vancouver in Brief

Vancouver was founded as “Gastown” by an Englishman with a penchant for beer and storytelling. Today Gastown is a historic section of the Canadian metropolis, and the lively pubs still reflect the area’s former status as a sort of community drinking center. The city’s forests, grand parks, and impressive suspension bridge beckon travelers to explore them, as do the city’s shops and museums. This city, Vancouver is a British Columbia’s biggest city. It is the gateway to the glaciers of Alaska. The wilderness of western Canada and the slopes of Whistler. This bustling west coastal seaport city in western Canada is located in the lower Mainland region of British Columbia. It is among Canada’s densest and most populous city in British Columbia. Vancouver is hailed not only for its natural beauty but for the laid back charm of its residents. It is one of the highest population density in Canada and is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada. It is one of the world’s most liveable cities, surrounded by mountains and well known for its majestic natural beauty. When a city is nestled amidst ocean and mountains, it is hard not to feel exhilarated in their mids. 

Why Go?

When I think of Vancouver, it is the majestic mountains, sparkling ocean, rainforests and beautiful foliage throughout all four seasons. Vancouver is a city unlike any other. To see this city in its splendour always enticed me to visit Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Canadians are known for their friendly nature, and Vancouver’s citizens take great pride in their welcoming, clean, safe streets, either day or night, all year round. This is a modern, travel-friendly city with a unique mix of cultures and more.

Vancouver Experience

Wherever I roam in Vancouver, the salty sea breeze carries the fresh scent of the forest in a promise of adventure. It’s welcoming neighbourhoods with filled with aromas of incredible cuisines – roasting coffee beans and all the urban delights that I expected from the city which is regularly voted the world’s most liveable. The secret to Vancouver’s success is that, it has been developed with liveability in mind. The city of Vancouver has protected its rivers, coastlines and forests, maintaining a perfect balance between nature and built environment. There is no finer example than the Stanley Park, the city’s pride and joy which dates back from 1886. This park, nestled in the heart of the city is a downtown sanctuary that offers city dwellers and visitors a multitude of outdoor activities. For a bustling city like Vancouver and very cosmopolitan, it does create a city where there is a state of endless activities and fun for everyone from children to pensioners. This is a city where I never wanted to settle down for a minute. I felt like I was caught in a “hyperactive syndrome”. Knowing how vibrant this city is, I had lots of activities planned ahead that I want to see and do. I wanted to visit many places as possible and not leave the city without seeing them, then I would have regrets bound to follow.

My Highlights

Vancouver Aquarium

Starting the morning early with a unique breakfast at the Vancouver Aquarium, where I had the opportunity to view at the variety of marine life from all over the planet. With over 60,000 amazing aquatic creatures at the Vancouver Aquarium and what I saw was incredibly unreal to me. I Stopped by to see the adorable sea otters, mesmerizing jellyfish, sea lion, otter and penguin experiences, as well as the free-roaming animals found in the popular Amazon gallery. I visited the Treasures of the BC Coast gallery to discover the unique and breath-taking animals that live in BC’s local waters, including ‘Ceph Rogen’, the Pacific Octopus. I immersed myself in the 4D Experience Theatre, which combines the high-definition excitement of a 3D film with thrilling sensory effects! The Vancouver Aquarium is an Ocean an unique place where you get to learn and be educated on the aquatic life. It is no doubt, why the Vancouver Aquarium is one of the world’s favourite aquariums.

Stanley Park

Later, it was time to enjoy a sightseeing tour of Vancouver including Stanley Park with its intricately carved totem poles, the waterfront area, and historic Gastown with its lively shops and restaurants. This park is North America’s third-largest park which draws eight million visitors per year, many of them were on skate while others walked past me on the Seawall. The most amazing is a scenic, 5.5-mile path running along the water on the park’s perimeter. It’s just one of many trails among the park’s 1,000 acres. It also house the aquarium, nature center and other recreational facilities.

Vancouver Downtown

Vancouver, a world class city with activities within the city to outer areas and there is plenty of it from hiking, canoeing, skiing, surfing, kayaking and commuting everywhere by bike on its cyclist-friendly streets. It was time to stop at the downtown peninsula in the heart of the city to walk the Vancouver’s Port Metro and Gastown area. Walking from shops to shops, cafes to dining, wining and roaming the downtown street and parklands. The downtown area is accessible by foot from one end to the other tasting the food, culture, entertainment and fun activities all in one area. All these spots have provided me a small glimpse of what makes Vancouver, Canada’s most beautiful city.

Museum of Anthropology

It was time to explore traditional and contemporary art from Northwest Coast First Nations and other cultures across the globe. This Museum of Anthropology located in the University of British Columbia campus, 30 minutes from downtown is a “must see” for the culture seeking traveler. In this museum of Anthropology at the university of British Columbia, totems and sculptures depict the rich mythologies of the Haida people and other indigenous tribes of Northwest coast. Also, artefacts from diverse cultures around the world. I get to see magnificent Indigenous carvings, weavings and contemporary artworks in a spectacular building overlooking mountains and sea. I couldn’t stop admiring the world’s largest collection of works by acclaimed Haida artist Bill Reid, including his famous cedar sculpture The Raven and the First Men. The Museum’s Multiversity Galleries where more than 10,000 objects from around the world are displayed is just incredible. Time to stroll the Museum Grounds, where monumental Haida houses, poles and Musqueam house posts capture the dramatic beauty of traditional Northwest Coast architecture and design.

Scenic Drive to Whistler

After many hectic days of “What to see and do” of Vancouver’s major attractions, on my final day, I found myself taking a scenic drive from Vancouver to Whistler along the ‘Sea to Sky Highway’. The Vancouver to Whistler drive is only 120km and takes around one hour and a half if driving straight through but the surrounding landscape is so beautiful, it took me a little longer as I wanted to do some stops to see places along the way.

Along this drive, there is so much things to do and places to see on this super scenic drive. One of the advantages of travelling on a self-drive adventure is that I can make a day of it and travel a bit “off the beaten path” rather than just roaring up the freeway. Taking this self-drive to the resort town of Whistler was far the best of my Canada experience. This incredibly scenic road that runs along the coast fromVancouver to Whistler and beyond, is one of the most beautiful scenic drive I ever took in the world. It boasts spectacular ocean and mountain views, and an abundance of outdoor adventure along makes it a momentous experience I ever had. Howe Sound glitters below, framed by glaciers, jagged peaks, looks, zig-zags and circuits makes it one of the most scenic road on the land.

The Lighthouse Park

Just within few minutes of scenic drive out of the city of Vancouver was the Lighthout Park.This neighbourhood park located in a residential area in West Vancouver is a popular tourist attraction for visitors and locals to Vancouver as it is a National Historic Site of Canada. It is a well-maintained park, and is open all year-round throughout all four seasons. The park is known for the Point Atkinson Lighthouse, located at the southernmost tip of the peninsula. The park is made up of 75 hectares of mostly virgin rainforest, and was founded in 1792. The visitors to the park can enjoy various beginners level hiking trails, as well as bringing your dog for a walk or have lunch along the rocks of the beach near the Lighthouse. The views are just stunning to look at but enjoyable too.

Horseshoe Bay

Horseshoe Bay is a small community with about over 1000 residents located in West Vancouver, just 25 kilometres northwest of downtown Vancouver. It is the location of the third-busiest BC Ferries terminal in Vancouver which goes to various islands. This picturesque community is a must-stop and see for every visitor to drop in on the way to Whistler or viceversa.

Porteau Cove Provincial Park

One of the favourite place to stop on this drive from Vancouver to Whistler is Porteau Cove Provincial Park. The best reason for me to stop here? The views! This provincial park in British Columbia located on the Howe Sound is 38 kilometres north of Vancouver on the Sea-to-Sky Highway is home to some of the most stunning views of Howe Sound and the mountains across the water. The park is 50 hectares in size and offers picnicking, camping, swimming, windsurfing and a boat launch. It is very popular area for scuba diving, with a series of artificial reefs including two sunken vessels. It has 44 drive-in campsites and 16 walk-in sites. It is a great place for families that wants a camping experience away from the city life. 

Shannon Falls

Along this scenic drive, near Vancouver is the Shannon Falls. It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever laid my eyes on. No wonder, it is British Columbia’s third tallest waterfall. With its 335 metres of height Shannon Falls makes it one of the most popular stops on the drive to Whistler from Vancouver. Shannon Falls is located just off the Sea to Sky Highway, is well marked. I found it easy to find, with a big parking area right next to it where I left my car and wandered off to see the fall. The base of the falls is a well-maintained wooden boardwalk from which I had time to admire the falls. For those keen walkers, there are network of short trails from which you can explore the area around it. With limited time on hand, I didn’t get an opportunity to explore more of the area. Though, visiting this water gave me a short break from my drive. However, taking time to walk to the falls, take photos and checking out the falls can be time consuming.

Brandywine Falls

On the way along this scenic road is the Brandywine Falls, which plummets straight down for 70 metres (230 feet). I found the falls particularly impressive since there is a clean 70m drop, unlike Shannon Falls where the water tumbles down a multitude of rocks before reaching the base. Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is located just south of Whistler and it offers hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as some great spots for a picnic. The highlight of the park is the viewing platform overlooking the falls. The platform has an epic view of the falls on one side and the surrounding mountains on the other. On a clear day, you can see Daisy Lake and the distinctive Black Tusk mountain peak from the distance.The main trail here is a short, easy, and picturesque walk to a platform from which to view the falls. The route is, for the most part, wide and paved. The only “choke point” is a small bridge over a stream near the entrance. Beyond the main viewing platform, there are a couple of further viewpoints from which to take photos and admire the surroundings. This park is an excellent choice for families. This was a well worth a break from the road.

Whistler Township

Arriving in this tiny township of Whistler just after 12 noon and it was cool but in time for a nice lunch. It is home to Whistler Blackcomb which is one of the largest ski resorts in North America. This is the place you learn the ski skills and attract elite skiers and beginners from all over the world. Yes, Whistler is most famous and well known as a ski destination. Without a doubt, it is one of the best in the world – thanks to the two spectacular mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb that loom a mile above the village makes a world class township. It is definitely the skiers paradise and you won’t be disappointed.

Besides skiing and snowboarding, the area offers snowshoeing, tobogganing and ski jumping at the Olympic Park, which was the venue for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. The hub of Whistler is a compact, chalet-style pedestrian village at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. Not only this little town is famous for its skiable terrain but it offers locals and visitors fine food, spas and plenty of opportunity for adventure, all in a breathtaking locale. This is offered all year around and no visitor will ever miss out on the experience. I certainly enjoyed my wander here.

Vancouver city, the most liveable city in the world and with breeze that carry the scents of nature and aromas of all the urban delights you’d expect from a city, it is easy to understand why visitors flock to the Canadian city. I know I have thoroughly enjoyed the central highlights of beautiful Vancouver.


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