Vancouver is a vibrant city and is unique in many ways. Some of them rarely mentioned, and if you don’t know what to look for, hard to find out. “Vancouver Like a Local” is all about it, the city we adore and deeply respect.
Vancouver is a coastal city and the busiest port in Canada. It is the biggest, most developed city in the province of British Columbia. BC is nicknamed “Beautiful British Columbia” for a good reason ;).
Vancouver Like a Local. What we have learned after visiting the city
1. Greenery. Ocean. Mountains. Skiing!
Vancouver, with its lush evergreen forests, mountains, and the Pacific Ocean, cannot be mistaken for any other city in North America.
It is the first major city in my experience where you can see the mountains so close to downtown. There is not one, not two, but three(!) ski areas at the base of the city: Cypress, Grouse, and Seymour Mountains. These high-quality ski areas are within a 0.5h drive from Downtown Vancouver.
Afternoon walk at Seymour Mountain, just outside the city’s northern suburbs:
In the center of the picture below one of my favorite sights: brightly lit ski slopes hanging above Downtown Vancouver at night:
2. Ethnic diversity
The Greater Vancouver area has a population of nearly 2.5 million and is the most densely populated metro area in Canada.
Approximately 30% of the city’s inhabitants are of Chinese heritage and half of the resident’s native language is not English. In reality, visiting Vancouver feels like visiting the most ‘Asian’ city outside Asia.
3. Equality and freedom
Vancouver makes an impression of the easy-going and relaxed city, where people of any cultural background, faith, or gender identity feel welcome. And safe.
4. Vancouver Like a Local. Cash Flood.
When you walk the streets of Downtown Vancouver for the first time, you may wonder why some of the tall condo towers look empty.
That’s because more than 10% of apartments are indeed vacant. They were bought as investments (predominantly by reach Asians) and nobody lives there.
Foreign cash flooded Vancouver, making its housing market the second least affordable in North America.
Since 2000 Vancouver’s home prices grew over 200% faster than New York City. The average home price in Vancouver is 1,156,050 CAD; a detached house will run 1,470,000 CAD.
5. Vancouver Like a Local. “Hollywood of the North”
Vancouver is often referred to as “Hollywood of the North” and for a good reason: countless movies were shot there. Percy Jackson, Juno, 50 Shades of Grey, Godzilla, The Twilight Saga, Mission Impossible IV, and I, Robot, just to name a few 🙂.
Gastown, pictured below, was a filming location for more than 40 movies.
6. Urban planning. Vancouverism
Speaking about urban planning, there is an international word called Vancouverism: “deep respect for nature with enthusiasm for busy, engaging, active streets and dynamic urban life.
Vancouverism means tall slim towers for density, widely separated by low-rise buildings, for light, air, and views”.
Biking an uninterrupted path was a lot of fun! Sometimes summer weather in Vancouver doesn’t feel like summer,
once I was even wearing a down coat:
7. Vancouver Like a Local: Cherry on top. Palms!
Everybody knew Canada as a cold place. How surprised we were to see palm trees on the streets and at the private backyards!
Vancouver is the only one among Canada’s large cities with a mild climate. And yes, the only place in Canada where you can see palm trees growing outside:
Top sights in Vancouver on My Map
Traveling to Vancouver during Covid-19
Just recently Canada became very strict about Covid-related measures. For example, arriving by land/water, you have to take three tests and self-quarantine for 14 days. Arriving by air isn’t much easier. Check all local rules and regulations before you go.
For us, the opportunity to visit Vancouver often is possible because of living in the Seattle area. Travel to Canada takes less than 2.5 hours by car!
Vancouver is very comfortable for visiting with little children. There are tons of activities for kids within the city limits.
Our most favorite places to visit in Vancouver with kids. Vancouver with kids: Part 2. Day trips from Vancouver. Christmas in Iceland