Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
The cool ocean breeze blows over your face as you sip on craft beer and dine on fresh oysters. The streets are buzzing with activity, faces from all around the world can be seen in this bewildering melting pot of a city. Above, sea planes barrel down landing with a splash in the harbour, this is Vancouver, Canada. Easily one of the most beautiful cities not just in Canada, but the world. Nearby to the city are dramatic coastlines, beautiful mountain vistas and ancient forest giving ample room for outdoor activities. Vancouver is the hub of western Canadian culture and will locals and foreigners alike!
Soaring in a Seaplane Above Vancouver
The best way to witness Vancouver’s vast cityscape or where the misty mountains meet the frigid seas, is from above. From Vancouver’s downtown Sea Plane Harbour, you can climb aboard one of Canada’s iconic planes with Seair Seaplanes and head off into some of the countries most incredible scenery.
There is something exhilarating about ripping across the ocean and shooting off into the skies in a small six-person plane. Our flight flew from North Vancouver following the coast towards Squamish. I sat right next to the pilot watching him operate the flight through the many knobs and switches.
About twenty minutes in we took a sharp right turn into the vast mountain wilderness. Soaring right above glaciers, stark cliffs and deep valleys teeming with wildlife. We then descended to a remote inlet with its very own thundering waterfall and landed on the water to get a closer look into this stunning corner of British Columbia.
Escaping the City in Lynn Canyon Park
Lynn Canyon Park has great hiking trails, beautiful twin waterfalls, swimming areas and of course the suspension bridge! The suspension bridge is a breathtaking 50-meter-high connection that extends across the canyon, allowing for some great photography. Once you’ve taken a plethora of selfies be sure to take the wooden steps down to the bridge at Twin Falls, which contains two waterfalls melding into the rampant river below.
Once you’ve seen the two main sites you can head on up to the top of the canyon for a relaxing dip in the 30-foot natural pool surrounded by lush greenery. Whether your looking for an adventurous hike, soothing swim or a family outing Lynn Canyon will not disappoint and the best part is, the park is free of charge.
The Essential Vancouver Walking tour
After traversing Vancouver several times now I’ve developed this Walking tour that will take you a whole day to complete with plenty of stops for photos, craft beer and amazing historical sights!
Start Charleson Park – Park or take public transport just south east of Granville Island near Charleson Park. Here you can find plenty of cheap parkades. Following the Seaside False Creek South Pathway to Granville Island you will get plenty of amazing views of Vancouver’s skyline and hidden harbours.
Granville Island – Visit the Granville Island Tap House to try some local craft beers or shop for some interesting souvenirs before hopping on the small ferries at the Granville Island Dock to the Aquatic Centre Dock.
Denman Street – Follow the coast north to the Inukshuk near Denman Street. From here follow Denman Street with stops at the Chinese Man Statues and sample some international delicacies in some of Vancouver’s best restaurants.
Stanley Park Detour – Nearing the end of Denman Street to you left is Stanley Park. If it is early in the day you can take a walk through this stunning forested area with stops at the Vancouver Aquarium and Totem Poles. Beware Stanley Park I quite big so spending an extra full day to explore here is recommended, but if your strap for time it is doable.
Float Plane Terminal to Gastown – From Denman Street head down to the seafront and follow the wooden boardwalk to the Seaplane Terminal. Here you can watch these small floatplanes land right on the water along the city scape. Continuing along the sea front you will sea Vancouver’s Olympic Torches before heading a street into Historic Gastown. The best way to see Gastown is to start at the steam clock and just explore from there. Gastown has plenty of opportunities for food and shopping also a plethora of hidden historic sights like the W building.
End, China Town – South of Gastown is Vancouver China Town. This busy street lined with Chinese restaurants and shops will transport you to Asia. I recommend a stop at Dr Sun Yat Sen Garden to end the tour before heading back to Gastown for supper.
Shopping in Gas Town
Gas town is a shopping haven filled with high fashion boutiques, budding local shops, and a bustling art scene. This area has great galleries with some of the countries best indigenous artwork, the Coastal Peoples Arts Gallery has some particularly amazing pieces. And finally, head down to Yaletown for Vancouver’s trendiest eats, our personal favourite was Rodney’s Oyster Bar; fresh oysters, delectable mains and friendly staff. Walking down the cobble stone streets of gas town is an all-day event that is sure to leave you smiling.
Sipping Craft Beer on Granville Island
Although this is not technically an island, Granville’s small-town charm pulls you in and makes it seems as though you have entered a whole new city. Be sure to stop by the public market for some fresh produce, home made handy-crafts, delicious food and eccentric boutiques. After a relaxing stroll around the brightly coloured city streets head over to the Granville Island Brewing Co. for some great premium beers. This brewery has very strict quality standards, and all of their beers are 100% all natural. Granville contradicts the rest of Vancouver’s bustling city streets and brings you back down to earth with a laid back, hippy vibe.
Coastal Indigenous History at the Museum of Anthropology
This is a definite must see for all travellers, history buffs and art lovers. The Museum of Anthropology, or MOA, includes permanent exhibitions featuring local and foreign indigenous art work, sculptures, totem poles, carvings, and artefacts.
The galleries have some amazing pieces ranging from Europe all the way to Papua New Guinea and most famously the Pacific Northwestern first nations exhibits. After viewing the interior of the museum, head outside and walk the grounds to view some amazing totem poles and traditional first nations homes.
Renowned as one of the worlds best aquariums, the Vancouver Aquarium will take you into the frigid depths of Canadas strange and beautiful oceans. You can see plenty of local marine animals and others such as beluga whales, penguins, colourful jellyfish and much more.
The expensive entry ticket is very worth it and you should allocate at least a half day to explore all the critters here. Do avoid peak times and weekends as it can get very hectic.
Vancouver’s Seedy Past at the Police Museum
Set in an authentic heritage building dating back to 1932 the Vancouver Police Museum is packed with a multitude of historical artefacts, photos, archives and unique exhibits including True Crime, Never Forgotten and pop up displays that change regularly. As you make your way through you will see mock-ups of an autopsy facility, jail cells, confiscated paraphernalia (including: weapons, faked currencies, and drugs). My favorite exhibit was by far True Crime which provided very detailed accounts of infamous murders throughout Vancouver’s history, so detailed in fact that you can still see strands of victim’s hairs attached to the murder weapon. If you ask the staff you can sign up for a walking tour called “sins of the city” and take a walk where some of Vancouver’s notorious criminals committed their most devious acts. The museum is small but well worth the visit, make sure to stop by and take a peek!
Seair Seaplanes conveniently located right at the float plane harbour in downtown Vancouver transports you from the bustling city and into the stunning coastal mountains in mere moments. Seair Seaplanes focus on tourism is well defined with their plethora of unique stylised tours. They gave me what was easily my most favourite experience in Vancouver.
I highly recommend Seair Seaplanes, they have plenty of other tours to remote glacial lakes and communities in some of Canada’s most beautiful destinations. Check out their tours HERE!