Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, quirky attractions, or something in between, you’ll find it in Vancouver. Here’s a list of nine things to see and do in Canada’s gateway to the Pacific. But, of course, this is just for starters!
1. Gastown Steam Clock
The Gastown Steam Clock is one of only a few working steam clocks left in the world, and it can be found in Vancouver’s Victorian city of Gastown. The clock was built in 1977 by Raymond Saunders and Doug Smith. Every quarter hour, you can hear the clock whistle and watch it shoot out steam; every hour is marked with a louder sounding of the whistles. There are only six such working clocks left in the entire world, and this one might just be worth a little bit of your time.
2. The Museum Of Anthropology
The Museum of Anthropology can be found on the University of British Columbia’s campus. If you want to really get to know Vancouver, you have to start at the very beginning, and that’s what you’ll get with this museum. It tells the story of the peoples who settled in the area over 10,000 years ago and showcases both ancient and contemporary history that really helps to elucidate the city’s roots.
3. Stanley Park
Stanley Park is Vancouver’s oldest and largest urban park. You can walk along the Seawall and take in the scenic views of the mountains that rise out of the sea behind the city, survey the water, the sky and the trees that grow along the lush coastal inlets. There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from, as well as beaches and historical landmarks. And, on top of all that, Canada’s largest aquarium can be found here as well — The Vancouver Aquarium. You could plan a whole day in Vancouver just around this park.
4. The Digital Orca
This public art piece is a must-see for anyone who visits Vancouver. The Digital Orca looks like a giant Lego killer whale leaping right out of the ground — or right out of an Orca-themed video game. This unique landmark was created by the famed novelist and artist Douglas Coupland and was installed in 2009.
5. VanDusen Botanical Garden
There is so much to do at the VanDusen Botanical Garden. It is home to one of only six Elizabethan hedge mazes in North America. which is composed of 3,000 pyramidal cedars that were all planted in the fall of 1981. Besides the maze, the garden covers over 50 acres and showcases different plants from all around the world. The Bloedel Conservatory is also found here and is the highest point in all of Vancouver. It contains three separate climate zones under one roof — tropical, subtropical and desert — and is home to over 500 different plants, as well as 100 free-flying exotic birds.
6. Vancouver Police Museum
The Vancouver Police Museum is where you need to go if you’re trying to uncover Vancouver’s dark side (and, alas, there is a dark side). It houses around 20,000 different objects, including counterfeit currency, police uniforms, photographs, and confiscated firearms and other weaponry. The museum also offers a themed tour called “Sins of the City” that explores the history of prostitution, murder, and bootlegging in Vancouver. It all began as a celebration of the Police Department’s centennial anniversary in 1986, but has since blossomed into an intriguing, sobering exhibit on the other side of Vancouver.
7. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
This traditional 15th century Chinese garden can be found in the middle of Vancouver’s Chinatown. It is rich with colors, winding paths, seasonal trees, and is many koi fish. The garden was created as a collaboration between Canada and the People’s Republic of China, and it hosts a variety of events including regular yoga and tai chi lessons, as well as several festivals throughout the year.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen was the founder and first president of the Chinese Republic, and the garden is named in his honour.
8. Jimi Hendrix Shrine
A shack in Vancouver has been transformed into a shrine to, of all things Jimi Hendrix, making it a site of pilgrimage for any and all music lovers. What it lacks in size it makes up for in authentic Hendrix memorabilia. Photos, guitars, vinyl records and concert flyers can all be found inside. You can also see letters from Jimi to his grandmother, and get a genuine look into what his family life was like. The owner of this shrine, Vincent Fodera, is currently planning to add a 32-foot statue of Hendrix to the grounds.
9. Deep Cove
Deep Cove is located in the District of North Vancouver and is the ideal spot to spend your day if you love the outdoors. Ocean kayaking is a popular pastime in the city, and Deep Cove is the best and safest place to do it. While you paddle up Indian Arm, you’ll be able to take in the scenic forest surrounding you, and maybe even get a glimpse of a few creatures who call those forests home. Besides kayaking, you can also enjoy some baked goods at Honey Doughnuts or go for a hike on Quarry Rock.
This is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things to do in Vancouver, British Columbia. This Canadian city is the perfect spot for a family vacation or weekend getaway.