Be it parks, museums, shopping or mountains, every traveler will find something they want to see or do in versatile Vancouver, known as one of the most progressive and vibrant cities in the world. Bike or walk with self-guided tours or hop on a helicopter orbus for city views.
Downtown Vancouver offers everything from chic shopping and fine dining to bars, casinos and stripclubs. Top tourist attractions including Science World celebrating innovation, Canada Place - a national icon showcasing the Canadian spirit, the dynamic Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada's largest Vancouver Aquarium and games, gardens and hidden delights at Park and Tilford garden and shops.
Great architecture is preserved via heritage buildings, from the tudor revival Brock House and the majestic Christ Church Cathedral to the neoclassical Provincial Courthouse ( now Vancouver Art Gallery) and the art moderne Bay Theater.
Sports enthsiasts can head to the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum with a massive new 6,000 square foot gallery dedicated to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Gamers and geeks will thrill at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre offering music, theatre, and rockets, and parties celebrating space-conquerors like Yuri Gagarin. Travel through space with B.C's First Virtual Voyages Full-Motion Simulator, enjoy the multimedia Planetarium and GroundStation Canada shows, or get hands-on in the Cosmic Courtyard Exhibit Gallery.
For a bird's eye view, head tothe peak of Vancouver on Grouse Mountain, only 15 minutes from the city and at 4,100 feet, via the escalating cable car, Skytrain or walk up. It offers year-round options from logger shows and fast food to skiing, iceskating and sleigh rides.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is Vancouver's oldest attraction, originally built in 1889 and stretching 450 feet across and 230 feet above the Capilano River. It now offers, nature trails, stores, kids events as well as a challenging cliffwalk or an exhilarating zipling adventure.
Hop on the Skytrain (the city's fully automated metro system) to head to Granville Island for a daytrip - an urban oasis filled with fine waterfront restaurants, theatres, galleries, cafes and a unique fresh food market.
Get a panoramic view aboard the Hells Gate Airtam or drive through the Fraser Canyon with its’ seven mountain tunnels through the historic heart of British Columbia and relive the the Gold Rush. Go panning for gold or satisfy your sweet tooth at the famous Fudge Factory.
If you are driving, don't miss the scenic and historic Highway 99 or the Sea to Sky Highway. It winds through five biogeoclimatic zones in British Columbia, from coastal rain forest at Horseshoe Bay to the Resort Municipality of Whistler, crossing paths with the Pemberton Trail and the Gold Rush Heritage Trail.
Nature-lovers should head to North America's third-largest public green at Stanley Park, a major tourist attraction boasting 1,000 acres of gorgeous green backdrops and abounding in wildlife. Popular sights there include Lost Lagoon, Beaver Lake, the totem poles, perennial rose and rhododendron gardens, and the Seawall - a beautiful walking/jogging coastal path.
Also try the Lynn Canyon Park with its suspension bridge and waterfalls, for a family picnic, a leisurely hike, or a refreshing swim in any of the swimming holes. You could also check out information on the flora and fauna at the Ecology Center, an all-in-one zoo, museum and park.
You will find gardens and parks at every corner. Nestled against the 7000-foot Mt. Cheam sits the unique Minter Gardens, within 32 acres of floral artistry and 11 themed gardens. The Bloedel Floral Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park is the city's only 'garden under glass' featuring varied plant displays, free-flying tropical birds and colourful koi. The VanDusen Botanical Garden includes an award-winning Forest Centre and a designer Floral Hall and Garden Pavilion.
Children will thrill in the mini Pygmy goats, white New Zealand rabbits, Belgian draft horses and tiny bantam chickens smaller than crows at the famous 5-acre Maplewood Farm, home to over 200 domestic animals and birds, and offering pony rides, milk demos, sheep shearing and a wealth of farm food and fun.
If you're done with mountains, parks and gardens, head to a sandy shore to unwind - you can find a beach any way you walk. Amble along the shores of Jericho, take a dip at the Spanish Bank, cheer on volleyball matches at Kitsilano or appreciate the sunset at Second Beach. If you want to bare it all, there's also Wreck Beach. A beach bus service running down the coast is also available.
For a different feel, check out the distinctive neighborhood Gastown, with its historic buildings, cobbled streets, vibrant shopping and pulsing nightlife. It was Vancouver's first downtown core and is named after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, a Geordie seaman, steamboat captain and barkeep who arrived in 1867 to open the area's first saloon. Other unique neighborhoods include Yaletown and Chinatown.