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20 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Vancouver

August 21, 2015

Vancouver, British Columbia is one of Canada’s hidden gems, and a relatively unpopular destination for international explorers and travelers. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have plenty to merit a visit. For one, it’s one of the most beautiful metropolitan cities in North America, and has some world class amenities and features as well. From the snowy mountain tops to the sexiest beach in the world, Vancouver has a lot going on that you probably haven’t heard about.

1. Vancouver is an Awesome Place to Live

If you’re in the mood to pack up and move, and there’s plenty of reasons why you should, Vancouver should rank high up your list of possibilities. Vancouver was recently ranked 3rd in the world for best cities to live, judging by quality of life, and the first one that wasn’t listed in Switzerland. The city is also tied for 10th cleanest in the world, and offers the highest quality of life in North America.

Furthermore, the average salary is well over $60,000, and the city has plenty of outdoor activities and city life entertainment. To top it all of, this Canadian apple has a rather flourishing economy. If you can afford it, Vancouver is an easy choice for those who want to enjoy a high quality of life without sacrificing the outdoor activities available outside the city.

2. Vancouver’s Port is Legendary

Vancouver boasts the second largest port in North America, second only to New York City. The harbor is also one of the largest cruise port destinations, most of which are on route to Alaska, but it’s more than a tourist trap. The port ranks second in weight of cargo at any time, and is a huge center for exporting and importing goods. It’s Canada’s largest harbor, and the economic center for Canada’s business through port usage.

3. Vancouver is a filmmaker’s hub

While Los Angeles may be known around the world as home to stars, celebrities, and massive film productions in and around Hollywood, Vancouver is a close second when it comes to producing and filming television and movies. The city is second to LA in TV production, and ranks third overall for film production in North America. The city has been chosen to be the backdrop for plenty of films,  including Juno, the Scary Movie and the Twilight series, and even the first Rambo movie. So next time you want to rub elbows with celebrities, try heading up North instead of down to LA.

4. Vancouver is a Walking City

If you like to discover a new city by walking, then Vancouver is the place for you. The city caters to pedestrian traffic, with a lovely downtown, over 200 parks, and a wonderful waterfront. Best of all, there are no freeways leading to downtown Vancouver, which means no fly through commuter traffic to deal with. The downtown area is one of the nicest metropolitan cities to walk through; the city is very clean, and the glass buildings create an open feeling rather than a closed off claustrophobic atmosphere. There are plenty of Vancouver’s best sightseeing opportunities within easy walking distance as well.

5. The Weather is Nice

While it the city is overcast and rainy over half the year, the city actually has the most mild climate in Canada. The summers are dry, sunny, and mild, while the winters are more rainy than they are freezing cold. In fact, Vancouver only experiences about 12 days of snow per year! That’s in part thanks to the Rocky Mountains, which protect the city from the freezing Arctic air that affects the rest of Canada. It’s less windy than other Canadian metropolitan areas, and has legitimate spring and fall seasons as well. Yes, you might want to bring a raincoat, but you can also expect to experience a full range of Canadian seasons and beautiful weather.

6. Vancouver is Gay Friendly

Vancouver has long boasted the most LGBTQ+ friendly community in North America. The West End in Vancouver has one of the largest gay populations in the country, and the city’s annual Gay Pride parade is one of the largest to be found across the globe. Over 500,000 people attend the parade alone, while the rest of the city offers plenty of events, activities, and clubs as well. Several of the area’s beaches have gay friendly zones, and the city is one of the most popular destinations for the gay tourism industry.

7. The Venues Are Unreal

Vancouver is home to some of the largest and most impressive venues in the world. For instance, BC Place Stadium has the world’s largest retractable roof in the world. The multipurpose venue is located right on the waterfront, has over 1000 screens, over 800 wifi hubs, and the roof retracts to reveal over 7500 meters of British Columbian sky. Vancouver is also home to the Kitsilano Pool, which at the length of 451 feet is the longest pool in Canada. That’s the equivalent of 3 Olympic size pools lying end to end. The pool is located by the ocean and provides warm salt water swimming opportunities year round, so no matter what the weather, you can still enjoy a dip.

The city is also home to 3 different sports teams, the Vancouver Canucks, the BC Lions, the Vancouver Canadians, and the Vancouver Whitecaps. No matter if it’s football, hockey, baseball or soccer, there is ample opportunity to cheer your head off and enjoy a live game in some of the city’s best sport venues.

8. Vancouver Has the World’s Best Urban Park

Think New York City’s Central Park is the best and largest urban park in the world? Think again. Vancouver’s Stanley Park is over 1000 acres large, over 10% larger than NYC’s Central Park. The park was voted best park in the world last year, and is the third largest urban park in North America. Stanley Park is almost entirely surrounded by ocean, and offers miles of hiking trails through forests, along beaches, and panoramic shoreline views.

The park attracts over 8 million visitors each year, and offers its visitors chances to dip in the ocean for a swim, stand next to totem poles, and bike through forests without a car in sight. Several of the trails are restricted from car access, which makes a perfect urban oasis without leaving the city limits.

9. Vancouver’s Aquarium is World Renowned

Besides just having the world’s best park, or the country’s largest port, Vancouver also has a kick ass aquarium. The Vancouver Aquarium ranks in the top 5 in the world, and is largely philanthropic in outlook rather than for profit. It’s a non-profit organization that is dedicated to rehabilitating rescue animals, protecting the oceans, and researching for further conservation efforts. Who wouldn’t want to support an aquarium like that? It’s located within Stanley Park, and is definitely a landmark in Vancouver’s long history of environmental outlook and preservation.

10. Vancouver Has the Best Open Market

When you’re in Vancouver, skip the grocery store and head straight to the Granville Island Public Market, easily Vancouver’s most famous public market. The market is open every day of the week, and offers a plethora of fresh food for reasonable prices. It’s one of the best places in Vancouver to people watch and browse around through, and offers everything you can possibly imagine eating in Vancouver, including some of the freshest fish you’ve ever eaten.

11. Vancouver Is A Sushi Capitol

If you’re a fan of sushi, Vancouver is your city. Vancouver was actually birthplace to the famous California roll, and offers plenty more as well. The city has a thriving Asian population, actually the largest in Canada. It’s mostly thanks to this, that the city has become known for its excellent sushi, and the close proximity to the ocean guarantees some of the best and cheapest sushi you’ll find. Japan Town and Chinatown both offer a host of fantastic sushi restaurants and hole in the wall sushi joints that will satisfy every sushi craving you’ve ever had.

12. You Can Strip Down In Public

Vancouver is home to Canada’s only nude beach, and the largest clothing optional beach in North America. Wreck Beach has several different areas for different kinds of sun seeking nudists, from family friendly areas to gay or beach partiers. Wake Beach is also one of the largest and most popular beaches in Canada, so if you go expect a crowd. The beach also has a lot more to offer than just sunbathing, with great picnic spots and a beautiful forest background.

13. Vancouver Boasts Great Panoramic Views

While many people know of Chicago’s Skydeck, few know of Vancouver’s Lookout. The panoramic observation deck is located on the 55th floor of the Harbor Building, and gives the viewer unobstructed views of the entire city, from the harbors to the mountains. The 360 degree views are some of the best urban panoramic views in the world, and a relatively unknown urban treasure.  The observation deck can be reached via a 40 second elevator ride to the top, and is one of the best ways to appreciate Vancouver’s beauty and setting.

14. Vancouver Has Helped Save the World

Next time you’re out enjoying the beautiful outdoors, thank Vancouver. Back in the early 1970s, a few Vancouver locals decided to try to help preserve the beautiful nature that surrounds Vancouver, both in the sea and on land. That group ended up becoming Greenpeace, the largest and most famous international environmental organizations in the world. Greenpeace efforts focus on a variety of issues dealing with environmental protection, such as climate change or deforestation or genetic engineering. The organization relies entirely on grants and supporters, and has been helping save the world for the past half century. Thanks again, Vancouver.

15. Vancouver is Expensive

Starting to dream of living or visiting Vancouver? Better save up a few extra pennies before you head out; Vancouver boasts the highest real estate prices in the entire country, and some of the highest in North America. It is also one of the most expensive places to own a home in the world, on par with cities like London or New York City. In fact, the average price of a home is well over 1 million dollars. But even if it’s a bit out of your price range, it’s still a relatively affordable city to visit, with plenty of hotels and hostels in every price range.

16. The Neighborhoods Are Diverse

While San Francisco’s Chinatown and New York’s Little Italy are well known for their diverse ethnic background populations, Vancouver boasts some of the best collection of urban ethnic oasis in the world. There’s Chinatown, Greek Town, Little Italy, and Japan Town. In fact, Vancouver’s Chinatown is both older and larger than any other Asian neighborhood population in North America. These neighborhoods help round out Vancouver and create a hub of personality that makes this city one of the best cities to explore.

17. Vancouver is Smoke Free

Unlike most of Canada, where smoking in public places is legal, smoking in public is strictly illegal in Vancouver. There is no smoking allowed in restaurants, pubs, and theaters. While the rest of Canada is slowly catching up on the smoking health regulations, Vancouver has long been setting the pace for a cleaner and healthier environment for everyone.

18. Vancouver Has One of the World’s Sexiest Beaches

And no, we’re not talking about the clothing optional Wake Beach here. Forbes Traveler magazine recently added Kitsilano Beach to it’s list as one of the top 10 sexiest beaches in the world, ranking the beach right up there with the best surf spots in Southern California and the white sands of Miami beach. The high ranking is due to the mountain backdrop, lush forests, clean water and apparently some of the best people watching in the globe. Suit up and head on out.

19. Vancouver Isn’t a Drinking Town

Vancouver is a city so beautiful you want to be sober to soak it up, which works out great. While it isn’t a dry town, acquiring alcohol in Vancouver can be a bit of a trick. It is actually illegal to buy alcohol from a grocery store, and thanks to crazy high liquor tax rates, even finding restaurants that offer alcohol can be a bit of a stretch. The government highly regulates who is allowed to sell alcoholic beverages, so while you can find a few specialty liquor stores, don’t expect to be able to run to the nearest gas station or grocery store for your beer run.

20. You Should Visit Sooner Rather Than Later

If Vancouver is on your bucket list, you might want to move it to top priority; the city lies on the major fault line that runs through Portland and is one of the more dangerous metropolitan locations. If an earthquake is to happen, it can easily reach an 8.0 or even higher on the Richter scale. The city is constantly on the lookout for the next big earthquake, so if you want to see Vancouver, you might want to go soon!

Ready to explore more of Vancouver’s little known secrets? Trekeffect can help you plan the perfect trip to one of Canada’s best metropolitan cities.

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Bryn Wied
Bryn Wied is an outdoor enthusiast and serious travelaholic. She explores every inch of the globe in her Sanuk flip flops with her favorite travel buddy/hubby Matt. Matt and Bryn live in California where they blog, surf, snowboard and raise kids in between road trips and camping adventures.