Wondering what to do in Vancouver? Looking for things to do in Vancouver? From thrilling outdoor adventures to selfies with the world’s oldest steam-powered clock, we’ve rounded up over a dozen of fabulous and cool things to do in Vancouver. Check them out!
Vancouver, blessed miles of gorgeous coastline and a picturesque landscape, is truly a charming Canadian hub hard-wired for outdoor lovers and adventurists. Famed for its laid-back vibe, extensive parks and urban beaches, Vancouver offers a world of delights, fun and pleasures to travelers who want to embrace Mother Nature and her finest works.
But, make no mistake about it – there’s more to this verdant destination than its irresistible natural beauty. In fact, it is a modern cosmopolitan city of many faces, and with a wide variety of attractions, cultures and festivals. Whether you’re a history buff, foodie or thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie, you’ll never run out of awesome things to do in Vancouver.
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1. Cross an iconic suspension bridge
Overcome your fear heights and experience the city the way the birds would do, by crossing one of Canada’s most celebrated tourist attractions – the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Constructed originally in 1889, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is the oldest tourist attraction in the city, and crossing it is absolutely a must-include entry to your list of things to do in Vancouver. With a length of 450 feet and a height of 230 feet above the Capilano River, this long wire cable bridge will give you a short heart-pumping walk as well as striking views of the river.
But, the fun doesn’t stop, once you’ve crossed the bridge. Trust me, there are heaps of daredevil adventures and other suspension bridges that await you on the other side. Continue the excitement and thrill by walking along the Cliff Hanger Walk, which is a path that snakes along the edge of the canyon.
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2. Get awe-inspiring views of the city at Vancouver Lookout
Are you a sucker for beautiful city panoramas? Then, make your way to downtown Vancouver, and take a quick 40-second glass elevator ride to Harbor Centre’s 55thfloor. Afterward, go to the building’s panoramic observation deck, and treat your eyes to an awe-inspiring view of the city and its notable landmarks, such as the North Shore, Olympic Peninsula and the sprawling Stanley Park. Plus, it also has a revolving restaurant with mouthwatering food and of course, lovely panoramic view. As far as I’m concerned, a visit to the Vancouver Lookout is absolutely one of the top things to do in Vancouver.
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3. Experience Grouse Mountain’s dazzling array of adventures
On the lookout for some exciting things to do in Vancouver? Grouse Mountain, towering over Northern Vancouver, is a beloved outdoor retreat spot for people who want to experience a spine-tingling adventure. With sweeping panoramas of the city, this mountain is also a great place for sightseeing.
Originally used for ice-skiing, this mountainous place now offers a plethora of year-round diversions and activities, including a one-of-a-kind mountain restaurant, the Grouse Mountain Sky ride, conservation center, snowshoeing, helicopter rides and ice skating. For adrenaline-seeking adventurists, make sure to hike the 2.9-kilometer trekking trail known as Grouse Grind, or also labeled by its residents as “Mother Nature’s Stair master”.
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4. Explore the Seawall
When the weather in Vancouver is nice, the folks would go out, and most of them end up at the Seawall – the longest waterfront path in the world. Known as one of the best places to visit in Vancouver, the Seawall is a pretty long uninterrupted path that runs the length of the city’s waterfront, from the Spanish Banks Park all the way to the Vancouver Convention Centre. As you stroll along path, you’ll pass by a handful of interesting sites, including the Kitsilano Beach Park, False Creek, Stanley Park, Coal Harbour, and a section that lets you enjoy overlooking views of Granville Island.
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5. Visit the Contemporary Art Gallery
One of the best and must-experience things to do in Vancouver, for art enthusiasts, is to admire the marvelous exhibits displayed at the Contemporary Art Gallery. For over 30 years, this nonprofit art exhibit that has featured exquisite modern art from international and local artists, such as Shannon Oksanen, Steven Shearer, and Christopher Williams. Although the galleries reside in a pretty unassuming building, the art inside is absolutely eye-catching and nothing short of amazing.
6. Movie watching at The Cinematheque
Whether you’re into new releases, obscure films or timeless classics, the Cinematheque is the best place to be to watch essential cinema in Vancouver. In addition to the film showings, there is an education department in the Cinematheque that specializes in film studies, professional development, and media literacy. Furthermore, the cinema house serves as a host venue to the Vancouver Film Festival.
7. Hop aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train
A ride on the Rocky Mountaineer Train is a bucket-list worthy experience that should be on top of your list of things to do in Vancouver. As you take this superb and awesome trip, you’ll get the privilege to experience the world’s most comfortable, luxurious and spectacular train ride. There are five rail routes available, and you are guaranteed to have a blast and the experience of the lifetime, whichever path you choose.
The train only operates during the day, meaning you won’t miss a single deep gorgeous gorge, bold eagle or stunning waterfall. To me, it’s the best and most wondrous way to see one of the world’s most majestic sights – the Canadian Rockies. And as you enjoy gazing on the breathtaking landscapes, you’ll be pampered like a royalty as well as treated to excellent wine varieties and tasty gourmet dishes.
8. Take an aerial flightseeing tour
Enjoy a blissful aerial tour of the North Shore Mountains and the city of Vancouver, from your seaplane window. The plane will pass by a handful of landmarks like the Lions Gate Bridge and the Lookout before you experience an exhilarating water spray, as it lands gently in Coal Harbour.
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9. Cross the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
Looking for a cheaper alternative to Capilano Suspension Bridge? One of the best and coolest things to do in Vancouver is to visit Lynn Canyon, and cross its beautiful bridge. Not only does it have an admission-free suspension bridge, but it boasts mini hikes, waterfalls and a swimming hole for summertime as well.
10. Wander around Gastown
Want to get a taste of the city’s beautiful past? Gastown – the oldest part of Vancouver – is a historic district full of shops, galleries and restaurants set in wonderfully restored Victorian buildings. Iron lampposts, cobblestone streets and heritage structures give this neighborhood its distinctive feel.
Gastown came into existence when a Yorkshire steamboat captain named Jack Deighton arrived on the scene, to open the area’s first saloon in 1867. Deighton was overly fond of sharing lengthy stories, and soon acquired the fitting nickname “Gassy Jack”. And as a result, the neighborhood was eventually called as “Gastown” or Gassy’s Town”.
A statue of the founder now watches over the district in Maple Tree Square. Travelers swing by here to snap photos of Gassy Jack, and take selfies with the nearby Steam Clock – the oldest steam-powered clock in the world, which puffs chimes every 15 minutes.
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11. Go on a shopping spree on Robson Street
Are you shopaholic or fashionista who’s looking for things to do in Vancouver that would put you into a state of euphoria? Flagship stores of chic international brands line the premier shopping street in Vancouver – Robson Street. Take a walk around if your want to blow your wallet, window shop or stare at the most stylish Vancouverites, If you are looking for something that’s a little higher-end than the likes of Gap and Zara, head north on Burrand, and walk a few blocks to Alberni. Affluent Alley, as this ritzy strip is labeled, is where Tiffany & Co, Agent Provocateur and Hermes reside.
12. Indulge on tasty noodles in Chinatown
Outside Hong Kong and China, Vancouver probably has the best and most delectable Chinese food on the face of the earth. Cantonese cuisine, with its emphasis on fresh ingredients and clean flavors, is the dominant culinary style, and tasty Dim Sum lunch meals are favored for family-friendliness and variety in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
13. Visit the historic sites in Chinatown
Speaking of Chinatown, don’t forget to take a tour around this neighborhood, and see some its most eye-catching landmarks like the Millennium Gate, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden & Park, Sam Kee Building (the world’s narrowest building), and a whole lot more. And by the way, did we mention that this tour is often rated as one of the best free things to do in Vancouver?
14. Spend a day at Stanley Park
No list of the best and most popular things to do in Vancouver is complete without the inclusion of Stanley Park. After all, it is a world-famous pleasure area that was named by Trip Advisor as one of the World’s Best Parks, rivaled only by the likes of the Millennium Park in Chicago, the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, and New York’s Central Park. Plus, it is home to some of Vancouver’s favorite and most-visited attractions, such as the Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park Totem Poles, Seawall and Stanley Park Garden. As a matter of fact, you can easily spend a day and a half in this urban oasis, and still not see everything it has to offer.
15. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium
Traveling with a bunch of kids? One of the must-try things to do in Vancouver, when you’re traveling with your family, is to visit the Vancouver Aquarium, the largest aquatic museum in Canada, and one of the largest in North America. Home to over 50,000 animals, this 100,000-square-feet aquatic museum has a plethora of charming sea creatures, like the ever-popular beluga whales, the colorful clown fish and the intimidating black-tip sharks. What’s more, the aquarium has myriad of interactive exhibits and choreographed animal performances.
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16. Spend a day at any of Vancouver’s beaches
From the bohemian nudist Wreck Beach to the fabulous Kitsilano Beach, this Canadian apple has quite a few beaches that will give you a world of fun and delights. Boasting soft sands, gorgeous mountain-and-city views and tons of outdoor sports, the city’s coastlines are definitely a godsend and a treat for adventure lovers and beach bums alike.
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17. Learn more about Northwest Coast and its past
Interested to learn a little bit more about the past of Northwest Coast and its people? Whether you’re a history buff or a casual sightseer, a visit to Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia is something that should be on your travel itinerary as well as list of things to do in Vancouver. Here, you will get to feast your eyes on thousands of intriguing objects and artifacts from the First Nations of British Columbia. Furthermore, the museum is a host to dozens of significant collections of archaeological objects and ethnographic materials from other parts of the world.
18. Visit Granville Island
Experience the laid-back island life by strolling through the dynamic market, browsing boutiques and enjoying a picnic with the pigeons on Granville Island, which is one of the top places to visit in Vancouver. Beyond Granville’s market, there are a lot of little boutiques, restaurants and galleries to make your sojourn even more worthwhile. Not to mention, the island is an awesome place to pick up some piquant goodies like fine charcuterie and wine-soaked cherries.
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19. Explore Queen Elizabeth Park
Drawing more than six million visitors a year, Queen Elizabeth Park is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most popular outdoor spaces in Vancouver. Spread out across 120 acres, this famous park features a meticulously-manicured manicured quarry garden, a rose garden, and an arboretum with 1,500 exotic and native trees. After admiring the park’s flora, make your way inside the Bloedel Conservatory to catch sight of the flora. Here, you’ll get to see over 200 free-flying exotic birds as well as 500 tropical plants. Step outside this conservatory, and you’ll catch a glimpse of the Dancing Water fountain, together with the numerous sculptures that dot the plaza.
20. Swing by the Museum of Vancouver
The Museum of Vancouver in Vanier Park is a large institution devoted to showcasing the beauty, charm and culture of the city. It covers the entire history of the city, from the early Coast Salish communities to the Kitsilano hippie days, Japantown and urban development. As an added plus, there are other worthwhile centers and museums nearby the area, including the Maritime Museum and HR Macmillan Space Centre.
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21. Visit Science World at TELUS World of Science
Ignite your mind as well as discover the wonders and beauty of science by visiting Science World at TELUS World of Science. As you wander around this museum, expect to see a ton of amazing things, including breath-snatching live science demos, state-of-the-art films, inspirational feature exhibits and outdoor displays.
22. Find your inner Zen at VanDusen Botanical Garden
Set right at the heart of Vancouver, this botanical garden will relax your senses and weary soul with its seasonal floral displays and one-of-a-kind features, like its outstanding garden maze.
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