Vancouver - British Columbia
The Beautiful City
Tourists from around the world attending the 2010 Winter Olympics are getting a chance to visit a dramatically beautiful city -- the "city of glass." Vancouver is, by common consent, one of the
most striking city locations in the world. It is Canada's
third largest city, surrounded by the waters of the
Strait of Georgia and the Fraser River, and flanked by the dramatic Coast
Mountains. Blessed with a mild climate, Vancouver is a
city of beaches, great views, outdoor restaurants, a
vigorous artistic scene, and a lifestyle which often
makes permanent residents out of visitors.
Just over 100 years old, Vancouver was the home of
several Native settlements before Spanish explorer Jose
Narvaez anchored off Point Grey in July 1791. Captain
George Vancouver charted Burrard Inlet and then made
rendezvous with Spanish captains Galiano and Valdes on
June 21, 1792. Vancouver was established as a village
when "Gassy Jack" Deighton received a saloon permit in
1869, and the community at Burrard Inlet was in business
where the restored Gastown area is now situated.
Vancouver is now a young, modern city, based on its
large port facility, and its role as the financial center
for Western Canada. Tourism is a very large industry in
Vancouver. What attracts visitors to the city is its
evident charm, the spectacular scenery, and the
attractions which this environment promotes: sightseeing,
boating, Canada's largest Chinatown, several excellent
museums, gardens, wonderful parks and excellent shopping.
The central visitor infocentre is at the corner of
Burrard and Hastings Streets, in downtown Vancouver,
close to the waterfront and several major hotels, and to
the main shopping district which is a few blocks north.
Information is available for the Vancouver area and other
parts of B.C. Other smaller infocentres are located on
the major highways leading into Vancouver.
B.C. Ferries terminals are located at
Tsawwassen (the town of Delta ) for service to Vancouver
Island (Victoria and Nanaimo) and the Gulf Islands, and
also in Horseshoe Bay (city of West Vancouver) for
service to Bowen Island, Vancouver Island (Nanaimo), and
Langdale (Sunshine Coast).
One of the best ways to get to know Vancouver is by
taking a guided bus tour to get your bearings. Gray Line
Tours is located in the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel, 900 W.
Georgia St., downtown. This long-established tour
operator has basic daily tours that last 2 hours, with
longer tours available.
Getting Around Vancouver
Vancouver is surrounded by water and bridges are a
basic fact of life in the area, although traffic jams are
rare, outside of rush hours. Two bridges link Vancouver
and the North shore of Burrard Inlet: the Lions Gate
suspension bridge from Vancouver's West End, and the
Second Narrows Bridge to the east. The Burrard,
Granville, and Cambie Street bridges cross False Creek in
downtown Vancouver, while a series of bridges cross the
arms of the Fraser River, leading to the suburbs of
Richmond, Delta and Surrey. City maps are available at
the downtown Vancouver Infocentre or may be purchased at
B.C. Transit operates an effective transit system
throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland area.
Two special forms of transit offer tourists special
rides. SkyTrain, the region's rapid transit
system, is an elevated, automated light rail service
running from Downtown Vancouver through the cities of
Burnaby and New Westminster to the far suburb of Surrey.
This half-hour ride provides some exciting views of the
city and mountains and is well worth taking just for the views. Another rapid-transit line "The Canada Line" runs from downtown to the city of Richmond and Vancouver International Airport. It was built before the 2010 Winter Olympics. Catamaran
harbour ferries, called Seabus, take passengers across
Burrard Inlet from the downtown Waterfront Station to
Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver.
Major Vancouver Communities
The Lower Mainland of B.C. is divided into several
cities by natural barriers including the Fraser River and
Burrard Inlet. On the Vancouver side, Burnaby lies
to the east and Richmond to the south. Vancouver
International Airport is located on Sea Island in
Richmond. Farther south are Delta and Surrey, on the U.S.
To the north, across Burrard Inlet, are the North
Shore communities of North and West Vancouver.
Here, scenic residential areas are situated on the Coast
Mountains. Interesting smaller communities on the North
Shore include Deep Cove, where Indian Arm joins
Burrard Inlet, and Horseshoe Bay.
Bowen Island is the closest of the islands in
George Strait and is a 20-minute ferry ride from
The City of Vancouver is divided into distinct
communities, each with its own ambience. Kitsilano, Kerrisdale and Point Grey form the West Side of Vancouver, with great beaches and,
at the tip of Point Grey, the University of B.C. Kitsilano is an almost nonstop parade of good
restaurants. The West End is Vancouver's downtown,
with an amazing mixture of high-and low-rise apartments,
tall office towers, hotels, restaurants and bistros, chic
shopping streets, beaches on English Bay and Stanley
Park. The East Side features several immigrant
communities including Chinatown and Commercial Drive with
its cappuccino bars and continental atmosphere.
Things to See & Do
Vancouver is a city of parks and gardens, aided by the
mild climate and a lack of frost during most winters.
Outstanding gardens include the Asian and Nitobe
(Japanese) gardens at the University of B.C., as well
as the U.B.C. Botanical Garden. The Dr. Sun Yat Sen
Classical Garden is the only traditional Chinese
garden built outside China. Located in Vancouver's
notable Chinatown, this garden was designed in the
Ming Dynasty style. Other garden areas include Queen
Elizabeth Park and VanDusen Botanical Gardens in central Vancouver.
Beaches are found on English Bay in the
downtown area (English Bay and Sunset beaches), in
Stanley Park, and from Kitsilano Beach to Spanish Banks Beach on the West Side. Wreck
Beach at Point Grey is Vancouver's renowned nude
beach. It's down a cliff from the University of British
Stanley Park, in the downtown West End, is a
world-frenowned urban park, mainly forest with nature
trails, but including a fine rose garden and the Vancouver Aquarium, the city's top visitor
attraction. Several good restaurants are located within
the park with lots of picnic areas and places for
relaxing. Pacific Spirit Park is a purely natural
forest park near the University of B.C.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is in North
Vancouver, spanning a deep chasm, with gardens and
waterfalls. For a complete picture of the area, take the Grouse Mountain Skyride from the top of Capilano
Road, with views overlooking Vancouver and the Fraser
River delta. In the winter, the Skyride takes you to the
one of the area's popular ski slopes.
Several museums are well worth visiting. The best is
the Museum of Anthropology at U.B.C., containing a
re-created Haida village and displaying historical
artifacts and the Native heritage of the province, with
totem poles, carvings, dugout canoes, jewelry, and
ceremonial gold objects.
Shopping is centered in the downtown West End area. Robson Street is filled with fashion boutiques and
interesting restaurants, continental and otherwise. Canada Place is nearby -- a convention center
located on the cruise-ship pier -- on the harbor,
offering great views of the mountains and bustling harbor
life. Granville Island, on False Creek, has a
public market, fishing boats, restaurants, art galleries
and shops -- a great people place. Gastown is the
restored early-Vancouver district, with restaurants,
clubs, pubs, and shopping.
Where to Eat
Over the past twenty years, Vancouver has become a
very good place to eat. Its multicultural community has
burst out with a range of international cuisine that
matches the finest large cities in the world. We can only
give you a sampling of the exceptionally wide selection
of good dining available in the area and have listed the
city's top eating places, along with a couple of
moderately-priced restaurants suitable for family dining,
or for sampling on a short stay in the city.
Bishop's Restaurant, 2183 West 4th Ave, is a
fine small restaurant in the Kitsilano area. John Bishop
and his staff are famed for personal service and fresh,
seasonal dishes. Reservations required, call (604)
738-2025. This restaurant cannot be recommended too
highly. Bishop has made this restaurant a personal
triumph, and a delight for diners. Prices are in the
Since 1981, Raga has been staking it's claim as
one of the premier, if not the premier East Indian
restaurant on the Vancouver scene. A few challengers have
gone and gone in that time but the Raga, like some
overpublisized battery bunny, just keeps goin' and goin'.
Their secret, a core clientale from far and wide that
keeps coming back for a host of tandoori dishes,
vegetable curries and the famous Raga butter chicken. The
style is classic East Indian and portions are generous
and moderately priced. Open for lunch and dinner.
Reservations recommended, 1177 West Broadway
A new restaurant in 1995, Lola's entry was
dramatic and hugely successful. In 1996, Lola's finds
itself mentioned in the same breath as the venerable
Bishop's on 4th Avenue in Kisilano (see above). This
"extremely now' and chic sort of place fortunately pays
attention to the rather new maxim ... it's the food
stupid! It's "simple, honest, and delicious" writes one
critic while another, perhaps having imbibed too many
champagne cocktails, states that "...... this restaurant
steers an unpretentious path to glory." Were we all that
lucky! Reservations recommended, 432 Richards Street
The Cannery Seafood House, seems to have been
in Vancouver forever, although it's just a little more
than 20 years since this deceptively rustic, shanty-style
place opened on the Burrard Inlet waterfront. The
restaurant offers fine seafood dishes, simply prepared
with superb seasoning. In recent years, the chefs have
added a mesquite grill and a slight Southwestern touch to
the menu mixture. Costs range from moderate to expensive.
It's located at 2205 Commissioner Street. For
reservations and directions, call (604) 254-9606.
There are two Keg Boathouses, the
Vancouver-city version is at 566 Cardero Street just east
of Stanley Park. The second incarnation is in Horseshoe
Bay, the terminus for the B.C. Ferries ships (6695 Nelson
Avenue). Both boathouses serve seafood in picturesque
waterfront settings, providing good eating and seaside
fun for families and couples.
The Teahouse, at Ferguson Point in Stanley
Park, is a special experience, offering dining in the
spectacular park. The restaurant has a scenic location,
fine views of English Bay, and reasonably good food.
You'll find that the view and location makes the prices
A few years ago Hidekazu Tojo opened his eponymous
restaurant in midtown Vancouver, at 202-777 West
Broadway, at Willow. Tojo's was filled from the
second day of operation, thanks to great reviews and word
of mouth about the superb sushi served in this elegant
Gastown is the restored pioneer settlement,
located just to the east of the downtown waterfront area.
Now, Gastown is a series of cobblestone streets,
boutiques, restaurants, and night clubs.