British Columbia’s largest city is one giant coastal summer playground.
The coastal seaport city of Vancouver is not your average bustling metropolis. A melting pot of cultures, Vancouver embraces the art and influence of First Nations people and the traditions of its vast ethnic Chinese population. Bordered in the north and east by fertile farmlands and highlands, organic fruits and vegetables sprout in abundance, fueling a farm-to-table movement of epic proportions.
Nestled between mountainous parklands, coastal rainforests, and serene seascapes, the city comes alive with natural grandeur, from the rustle of towering cedar trees in Stanley Park to the synchronized swimming of five-ton orcas off the adjacent Strait of Georgia. With a mosaic of stunning backdrops, it’s no wonder that most residents and visitors spend the majority of time outdoors during summer months. Vancouver’s skyscrapers quickly disappear behind lush mountainsides, and the landscapes transform into endless playgrounds for outdoor enthusiasts.
At 1,000-acre Stanley Park, pedestrians and cyclists pick their own adventures along the park’s 14-mile trail, immersed in a world of serene lagoons, totem poles, and lush, craggy coastline. At Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, thrill seekers (and their white-knuckled companions) experience invincibility from the 450-foot suspension bridge, built circa 1889. The park’s new Cliffwalk takes living on the edge to its literal meaning, with a heart-stopping path that scales surrounding canyons. Visitors can also glide 3,700 feet above sea level on the Skyride Gondola at Grouse Mountain, enchanted by extraordinary panoramas of ocean, city, and sky. Atop Grouse Mountain awaits a wildlife refuge, whose residents include two very famous orphaned grizzly bears, Grinder and Coola.
Rosewood Hotel Georgia
When in Vancouver, be sure to comb the colorful streets of Chinatown. You’ll think you’ve entered the fabled gardens of Suzhou, China, upon arriving at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. The exquisite pagoda-lined replica of a bona fide, 15th-century Ming garden headlines Canada’s largest Chinatown.
Back in skyscraping downtown, Vancouver’s big-city sophistication indeed rivals that of other top North American destinations, thanks to plenty of haute hotels, fabulous restaurants, and endless opportunities for retail therapy. Hotel newcomers like the Loden Hotel, Fairmont Pacific Rim, and Rosewood Hotel Georgia are nabbing all kinds of awards, while shopping Mecca Robson Street is a must for any fashionista. Lastly, trending now in Vancouver’s epic foodie and cocktail scene is an onslaught of creative vegetarian restaurants and craft breweries. We’ll toast to that. tourismvancouver.com
Where to stay
Following a head-to-toe makeover, downtown Vancouver’s fabled Hotel Georgia has resurfaced as the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, a 155-room property teeming with new amenities, which include an indoor saltwater lap pool. The hotel’s plush, design-savvy guest rooms and suites are outfitted with earth-tone décor that imparts a vibe of modern elegance.
Where to eat
It’s a grand celebration of farm-to-table cuisine at foodie haven Edible Canada at the Market. This trendy bistro, situated across from the Public Market on Granville Island, presents the market’s finest produce in the form of succulent dishes, like pumpkin rotolo and its Market Inspired Seafood Soup.
What to do
Take advantage of Vancouver’s explosive outdoor summertime energy at one of its many festivals: the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival (June 21–July 1); the Honda Celebration of Light (July 27-Aug. 3); and the Vancouver Pride Parade & Festival (August 4) are a few mustn’t-miss events. coastaljazz.ca; hondacelebrationoflight.com; vancouverpride.ca
Air Canada offers daily nonstop flights to Vancouver (YVR) from 10 U.S. gateways.
Image Credits: Tourism Vancouver/Albert Normandin.