The Getaway
Best Things To Do In Vancouver

Vancouver, located on the Pacific coast, is known for its relaxed vibe, delicious restaurants, and incredible natural vistas. A popular filming location, it’s surrounded by mountains and has thriving art, theatre, and music scenes. Whether you're in town for an outdoor concert or ready for awe-inspiring whale watching, there's plenty of things to keep you occupied in the interim. Grab a bike and tour the city or sit back on a rooftop patio and sip a locally brewed ale -- Vancouver is welcoming, exciting, and the perfect spot for a laid-back vacation.

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01 VanDusen Botanical Gardens

visiting Vancouver

Nestled in the Shaugnessey neighborhood of Vancouver, the botanical gardens feature plants from all over the world, with an extensive collection of native British Columbia (Northwest Coast) plants. Over 1,200 volunteers guide guests through the lush beds, explaining the history and features of the plants and trees. Native wildlife, including songbirds, ducks, fish, and butterflies, live in the gardens, adding to the natural appeal. With a Bloom Calendar and a cycle of planning based on the seasons, you can see something new every time you visit.

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02 Whale watching cruise to Victoria

vancouver tourism

Take advantage of the migration of Southern Resident killer whales along the waters of the Pacific with a three-hour whale watching cruise by boat. On this tour organized by Harbour Seaplanes, you'll experience exciting views as you traverse the Strait of Georgia by seaplane. In addition to the sleek orcas, you might catch a glimpse of seals, sea lions, and seabirds, and you can revel in the spectacular vistas of southern Vancouver Island.

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03 Vancouver sightseeing city tour

sightseeing Vancouver

A four-hour sightseeing tour of Vancouver is just enough to introduce you to the city’s unique neighborhoods and notable attractions. Landsea Adventures conducts this overview of Vancouver and is ideal for first-time visitors. Stops include Robson Street, Stanley Park, and Granville Island, with admission to Vancouver Lookout, included for its unbeatable city views. Learn about the history and culture of Vancouver from your guide, who takes you through each stop with detailed explanations. Wrap up with lunch or dinner in one of the city's top-ranked restaurants.

George Rose / Getty Images

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04 Vancouver Aquarium

Vancouver aquarium

One of the largest and most diverse aquariums on the west coast, the Vancouver Aquarium is the perfect way to finish a day of whale watching. With more than 50,000 inhabitants including dolphins, sharks, and sea otters, you're sure to see your favorite sea creature. The fun doesn't stop with the watery exhibits -- there is a range of shows with trained animals and some interactive exhibits, staffed by knowledgeable professional zookeepers, to help you learn about different wildlife and marine conservation. Children enjoy petting the sea stars, manna rays, and other animals in the interactive touch pools, and everyone loves the 4D movie that makes you feel as if you're under the sea. The most unique animals are African penguins, tree frogs, and even piranhas.

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05 Parq Vancouver Hotel and Casino

Parq Vancouver

Replacing the dated Edgewater Casino is a new, luxurious destination. The Parq Vancouver is a sprawling entertainment complex, featuring downtown's only casino and two five-star hotels. Full of amenities and entertainment options, the Parq is best known for its 30,000 square foot park with native trees, located six floors above street level. Inside the grounds, guests may play the night away, dance in one of the pulsing VIP nightclubs, or get their sweat on in the modern fitness studio and wellness spa.

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06 North Shore Tour Over Capilano Bridge

Vancouver capilano suspension brudge

The Landsea Tour Company offers a breathtaking experience of Vancouver's natural beauty with their six-hour North Shore tour. Your trip includes hiking to the iconic Lions Gate bridge, where Vancouver Harbor, English Bay, and the Pacific Ocean present unique perspectives. You'll walk the Capilano Suspension Bridge, journeying through the temperate Pacific Northwest rainforest and enjoy the Treetops adventure walkway or the Cliff walk -- your choice. Once you've completed your hike, enjoy free admission to the Grouse Mountain Skyride.

George Rose / Getty Images

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07 The Liberty Distillery

distilleries Vancouver

For those 19 and over, a tour of the Liberty Distillery established in 2010 is a must-see. The skilled mixologists use hand-selected organic British Columbia grains, carefully fermented then triple-distilled in hand-crafted copper pots for purity. The distillery produces vodka, gin, and whiskey in small batches, flavoring each with infusions and distinction. The distillery is open seven days a week and features a small lounge with signature cocktails created from the fine spirits. Take a distillery tour, try a sample, and purchase a souvenir bottle of Liberty Distillery's best!

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08 The Orpheum Theatre

orpheum theatre

For the live theater buffs, a quiet evening at the Orpheum Theatre should be on your agenda. The historic stage is the home of internationally renowned Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. When the symphony is not playing, the Orpheum features regular performances by other musical acts or traveling plays from around the world.

Phillip Chin / Getty Images

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09 Bill Reid Gallery

Bill Reid Vancouver

Experience the distinct character of British Columbia's native people at The Bill Reid Gallery. It's the only public exhibit hall in Canada dedicated to contemporary Indigenous Northwest Coast Art. Experience unique pieces and awe-inspiring creations. There's plenty to make the gallery unique each time you visit -- it hosts a calendar of special exhibitions and programs that build bridges between all peoples, including Indigenous and settler populations. Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, it's part of several walking tours.

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10 Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island Public Market Vancouver

A sprawling indoor market with vendors from all over the world, visitors to Granville Island's public market will find plenty to tempt their palates and wallets. Discover fresh seafood, vegetables, and fruits from local growers, artisan bakers, entertaining performers, and local artists.  Purchase a unique gift for a friend or discover an artsy piece you can't live without.

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11 Indigenous-led talking totems tour

Begin your Vancouver journey with a deeper understanding of its rich cultural heritage. Join an Indigenous-led Talking Totems tour, where you'll be guided through the city's storied past, narrated by an engaging Indigenous guide. As you wander among towering totem poles and historical landmarks, you'll gain invaluable insights into the traditions and stories of the Coast Salish peoples. This tour isn't just a walk; it's a journey through time, connecting you with the ancestral roots of Vancouver.

12 Lonsdale Quay

North Vancouver, Canada - MAR 08 2021 : Lonsdale Quay Public Market Place. Shawn.ccf / Shutterstock.com

For a shopping experience that's uniquely Vancouver, head over to Lonsdale Quay. This bustling market is a treasure trove of local artisan crafts, quaint shops, and stunning views of the city skyline. As you meander through the vibrant stalls, you'll find everything from handmade jewelry to artisanal foods. Don't forget to take the Seabus ferry for an added splash of adventure – it's a delightful ride that complements your shopping spree with scenic waterfront views.

 

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13 Olympic Village (by boat)

Olympic Village, a legacy of the 2010 Winter Olympics, is now a lively hub of activity. Reach it by boat for an added layer of excitement. Once there, immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring the array of microbreweries and eateries. The village's vibrant atmosphere is perfect for those looking to experience the modern, dynamic side of Vancouver. Whether it's brewery hopping or enjoying a casual meal by the water, Olympic Village offers a taste of contemporary city life.

14 Science World

Vancouver, Canada - January 10 2016: Evening view of Science World at Telus World of Science, a popular attractions for tourists and families in Vancouver, B.C. Canada Stephen Bridger / Shutterstock.com

Science World is a must-visit for families looking for a fun and educational experience. This iconic geodesic dome is not just a visual marvel; inside, it houses interactive exhibits and galleries that spark curiosity in visitors of all ages. Watch a show at the Omnimax Theatre, where the action surrounds you, or get hands-on with the various science demonstrations. It's a place where learning and play go hand in hand, ensuring a memorable day for the entire family.

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15 Richmond Night Market

Richmond, BC, Canada-01/09/2019: Richmond Night market scene sen yang / Shutterstock.com

Experience a culinary adventure at the Richmond Night Market, where flavors from around the globe come together. As North America's largest outdoor market, it offers a dizzying array of food stalls serving everything from Asian delicacies to Mexican treats. The vibrant atmosphere, filled with live music and the buzz of excited foodies, makes for a perfect evening out. Indulge in exotic dishes, savor new tastes, and enjoy the lively spirit of this unique Vancouver experience.

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