Best Things to Do
Vancouver: Where Livable Becomes Lovable Urban Cool
Is Vancouver the world's most livable city? According to international consultancies, Vancouver is regularly at or very near the top of their charts. But just what makes this Pacific Northwest port city so livable (and lovable)? Sitting at the edge of a rainforest and sandwiched between a vast ocean and soaring mountain panoramas, Vancouver achieves a peaceful balance, just like the tides that rise and fall along its coastline. Its physical features help define the personality and psyche of this Pacific Northwest coastal city.
Whether they're hardcore warrior-athletes or relaxed urban nomads, locals and visitors alike take to the outdoors all year long — because the climate here is the mildest in Canada. Ocean currents and major weather patterns bring warm, moist air in waves from the Pacific Ocean year-round (although summer months are drier). In winter, this means you may need an umbrella for a walk on the seawall or rain gear out on a biking trail, but no matter the month, these natural draws are here and inviting, and the choice is unbounded. In a single day, you might sail in English Bay, climb a mountain, explore stylish shops featuring local designers in historic Yaletown and Gastown, and lick your chops at farmers' markets — then reward yourself in the late afternoon with a glass (or two) of superlative Okanagan wines on a sunny seaside patio.
Vancouverites cherish their summers, when the rains abate and warm (but not scorching) sunshine draws them outside to the miles of beaches ringing the city. In winter, some curse that rain, but others know that a mere half-hour away, it's falling as snow, which means fantastic skiing and snowboarding on three nearby mountains: Grouse, Cypress and Hollyburn.
Vancouver is noted worldwide for diverse and colorful neighborhoods such as Gastown, Chinatown, Yaletown, and Granville Island. Its most famous sites include the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, the Granville Island Public Market, Chinatown and Lions Gate Bridge. It's also known as an excellent walking city. Locals all seem to bike, run, rollerblade, skateboard, snowboard (on the nearby mountains), swim, sail, kayak, dive, climb and hike in droves. If you're visiting, you can do as the natives do and experience another side of Vancouver by renting a mountain bike to tour various sites. For those who love boats, hop aboard an inexpensive water taxi or an Aquabus to zip from one area to another, or rent a kayak or paddleboard, zip around English Bay and view Vancouver from the water.
When your vacation tour is finished, don't be surprised if Vancouver's sophistication and fascinating venues linger in your mind. Packed with energy and youthful spirit, cool restaurants and cooler cocktails, resplendent with art and surrounded by stunning natural beauty, Vancouver offers an idyllic urban getaway that's incomparable.