19.09.2015 - The Courier Mail
Vancouver is a stunningly beautiful city, one of the coolest on the planet and I'm not just talking about the climate. But hey, this is the warmer side of Canada, although it can get a bit soggy at times. Vancouver is notoriously rainy, which is not really a problem because there's plenty to do indoors and outdoors. Art galleries and markets, funky neighbourhoods and burgeoning food truck culture - it's a happening place and, if you go in summer and hit a lengthy patch of fine weather, it's heaven. For my money, rain or shine, Vancouver is a jewel and a microcosm of the wonders of British Columbia. Here are some of our favourite things.
VISIT DEEP COVE It has become a ritual for us - drop the bags off and head straight for Deep Cove. This quaint, beautiful village is a 20-minute drive from downtown, located at the entrance of Indian Arm on the shore of North Vancouver. Go kayaking, paddle boarding or just walk around the boutique harbour and take in the stunning scenery. This will be your "aha" moment signifying that you have well and truly arrived in British Columbia. Deep Cove is like a cross between Noosa in Queensland and Bangalow in Northern New South Wales. There are some funky eateries and I recommend Honey Doughnuts & Goodies, our go-to breakfast spot. Try the awesome Coveman's Breakfast and good luck if you can get through it.
GROUSE MOUNTAIN Grouse Mountain, known as the Peak of Vancouver, is a must on any tourist itinerary. In winter you can ski here just beyond the suburbs and in summer you can trek, birdwatch or take in a really hokey lumberjack show. Hey, it is Canada. Grouse Mountain is also home to a refuge for grizzly bears and you will meet a few here but, fear not, they have their own enclosure. Canadians are crazy about zip line adventures and there are a few zip line tours here. Getting up the mountain is always fun and requires taking a sturdy gondola which is not too scary. The view from here is beyond spectacular.
PARK ROYAL SHOPPING MALL, WEST VANCOUVER You don't go to Canada to go to a shopping mall, one advertisement says. Wrong. En route to Grouse Mountain, or on the way back to town, stop off and sample one of our favourite shopping malls anywhere. This mall has a funky village precinct with amazing produce and great bars, cafes and restaurants. Retail wise they have all those stores we don't - Gap, Banana Republic and J. Crew among them. The Bay department store is well worth a look too. And what's wrong with a little retail therapy anyway?
CYCLE THE SEAWALL AT STANLEY PARK It stretches 22 kilometres from Coal Harbour to Kitsilano Beach, wrapping around Stanley Park along the way. The seawall that borders Vancouver's coastline is the most popular recreational spot in this city. There are plenty of bike rental outlets near the entrance to Stanley Park (squirrel heaven) a vast forested expanse right next to the downtown area. This time around we cycled around the sea wall. It's good exercise and you meet people from all over the planet doing the same thing. OK so the legs were like jelly at the end of it all but it was worth it.
UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY Founded in 1947 and located in a breathtaking setting not far from the city centre, this is one of the world's great museums. It has an extraordinary collection of Northwest Coast First Nations art and artefacts but it also has riches and antiquities from around the globe, a lot of it in easily accessed drawers that will fill you with wonderment when you pull them open to ogle the contents. Showcased beneath the 15m glass walls of the Great Wall are towering totem poles and there are two fullsize indigenous Canadian houses in the grounds. And any good museum must have a good cafe and gift shop. Tick.
VANCOUVER AQUARIUM If you don't like busy tourist attractions this may not be your thing, but you can put up with the madding crowd because this is one of the most engaging attractions in Vancouver. It's worth it all just to get close-up and personal with the sea-otters. The white beluga whales are pretty special too and you can watch them frolic from above and through the glass of the aquarium's lower level. And there are plenty of behind the scenes opportunities.
GRANVILLE ISLAND No use pretending you are not a tourist, just embrace it and put Granville Island on your list as well. This is an island precinct with a maritime feel, great craft shops and The Granville Island Public Market offers an enchanting mix of edibles and collectables.
MORE INFO: tourismvancouver.com
Arts Editor - The Courier-Mail, Deputy Editor - CANVAS, News Queensland
Copyright © Phil Brown