Vancouver is a quite unique mix, such rare for metropolitans: a vibrant and dynamic city culture combined with an outdoor paradise. Mountains in the morning and beach time in the afternoon? You got it! “Top sights in Vancouver” is about places and things to do we discovered thanks to our beloved friends, who live in Vancouver.
Top Sights in Vancouver
1. Where and how to see the best of the city in 2 hours.
If you only have a few hours in Vancouver, then biking the Seawall is a great way to get a taste of the city, especially on a dry sunny day. You can add a stop at the rose garden, the beach, the heated oceanfront pool, a playground, or the splash park to your trip along the Seawall.
Expect an exceptional scenery of Downtown Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean, locals fishing, occasional cruise ships passing by, and a rich salty breeze.
In the gallery below, some of the attractions along the Vancouver Seawall:
The most precious thing about the Seawall – dedicated, clearly marked paths for walkers and for cyclists.
The trails are mostly flat, easy to navigate, accessible, and long,- the entire path runs uninterrupted for 28 km!
2. Bridge over the 50-meter deep gorge and cliff diving
Lynn Canyon Park is a 617-acre forest that includes a scenic suspension bridge, swaying above 164 feet above the canyon, hiking trails, swimming holes, and the ecology center.
The first time we visited Lynn Canyon was in winter. We decided to trade the pricy Capilano Suspension Bridge for Lynn Canyon bridge and have not regretted it.
During the summer months, you may observe fearless locals cliff jumping into the 90-foot pool.
In the gallery below: view from the Lynn Canyon Bridge at the gorge down below and swimming hole:
The water in the swimming hole is so clear and so deep that it seems like the tiny fishes float there like in the air!
3. Top Sights in Vancouver. Swimmer’s dream – Kitsilano Pool
As avid swimmers, we are always curious about local pools during our trips.
Kits Pool (as locals call it) became one of my favorites – I swam my first 1.5 km in one shot there. I think the pool lengths played a big role in this personal achievement – Kitsilano Pool happened to be the longest I’ve ever tried – 137 meters (150 yards). It is the longest North American pool, heated and oceanfront.
Another cool outdoor pool in Vancouver to try is the Second Beach Pool, overlooking the English Bay, city coastline, and mountains.
4. Downtown Vancouver
Surrounded by water, airy and bright, with slender glass-walled towers, Downtown Vancouver is hard to mistake with any other place:
On the streets of Downtown Vancouver:
5. Top Sights in Vancouver: Gastown Clock. Steam and whistle
Gastown, now a National Historic Site, was the original city center. Today, it is adjacent to Downtown Vancouver and is a great place to spend an afternoon: wander through old streets lined with Victorian houses and listen to the steam-powered clock.
Gastown Clock was built in 1977 as a way to harness the steam in the heating system and to prevent homeless people from freezing on the streets during winter.
Distinct by high-pitched whistles and steam, it is an amusement for both kids and adults:
6. Kozak: Authentic Eastern European Cuisine in Downtown Vancouver
It must be hard to promote Ukrainian cuisine at such a heavily influenced Asian food scene as in Vancouver.
Nevertheless, with hard work and dedication, “Kozak” made it. Recognizable and loved by locals, Kozak serves real Ukrainian cuisine: breakfast, lunch, dinner, baked goods.
Ukrainian comfort food, healthy, and simple: nalysnyky, varenyky, borscht, cabbage rolls, and sourdough bread:
Try the “Hungry Tato Lunch Combo” or “Dark Chocolate Babka” – it’s the one I couldn’t resist.
7. Bloedel Conservatory
Bloedel Conservatory is a lush tropical garden and aviary under a dome atop Queen Elizabeth Park.
Quite and serene, its humid air filled with bird songs and chirps: more than 120 birds call Bloedel Conservatory home. It’s a great escape on a rainy day, both for kids and adults.
Locals also know it as an intimate wedding venue.
8. Top Sights in Vancouver. Stanley Park Railway
Stanley Park is the biggest recreational spot year-round for Vancouver residents. Among all attractions in the park, the Miniature Railway (dates back to 1947) is known mostly by locals.
During our first winter trip to Vancouver, the “Bright Nights” at Stanley Park Railway was the biggest highlight for our kids (2 and 7 y.o. back then). Despite visiting it during the day and without a train ride :).
It is one of the best places I have ever seen to take little kids to see Christmas character displays and illuminations.
9. White Pine Beach, Belcarra Regional Park
Who knew it can be hot in Canada, especially at the beginning of summer? During our visit in the middle of June (2019) temperatures were around 30C (86F).
Our friends from Vancouver took us to Sasamat Lake – one of the warmest in the Vancouver area. It is a great swimming lake in the middle of the forest with a fine sandy beach.
In the picture below: “the typical Vancouver summer” – parents relaxing, kids playing, and everybody has a great time:
Top sights in Vancouver on map
Being a densely populated city, Vancouver is a great place to live and visit. It reminds us of Anchorage, Alaska: mountains, lush greenery, and lots of water.
In the picture below: Vancouver Harbour Seaplane Terminal vs Anchorage floatplane base:
Thanks for reading friends, and stay tuned for the next part!
Vancouver Like a Local: empty towers, skiing at the outskirts of the city, food, and Asian heritage.