Vancouver's downtown area is a mix of modern and historic neighborhoods proud of their rich First Nation history that served as the foundation of its culture. While the downtown core is small enough to be easily explored on foot, it packs a good number of sights, attractions, and activities that will take more than a day.
But, here's a shortlist of some of the top activities in Vancouver's downtown and surrounding areas to help you get the most of the city in a day. Get ready, because this will be a busy day!
Start your day at the perfect hub and starting point to explore the city, Canada Place. This is home to Vancouver's two convention centers, the cruise ship and seaplane terminals, the FlyOver Canada attraction and the Olympic Cauldron. From there you can also enjoy impressive views of the Lions Gate Bridge, the North Shore Mountains and the busy Port of Vancouver.
Tourism Vancouver has a visitor center here, so you can pick up any necessary information to plan your day.
After walking around the area and enjoying the views, catch the free shuttle to one of Vancouver's most famous attractions, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. While there are so many things to see and do there, the main attraction of the park is the suspension bridge. This pedestrian bridge, suspended 230 above the beautiful Capilano River, has allowed visitors to cross to the beautiful gardens, the British Columbia First Nation totem poles, and the West Coast rainforest since 1889.
If you're up for a thrill, walk over the gravity defying skywalk decked with a glass floor. The views are simply stunning!
Have one of Vancouver's unique food concoctions by trying their Japadogs. As the name suggests, this is a hotdog with a Japanese twist. There are a variety of options to select that include beef, turkey, veggie and some of the toppings include teriyaki sauce, seaweed, mayo, just to name a few. Japadog is located in several locations around the city, but probably the most accessible is the cart located in front of the Vancouver Convention Center.
After lunch, take a scenic bike ride through Stanley Park, the 400-hectare lung of Vancouver. You can ride through the 8.8-kilometer seawall path, which not only passes through the park, but also goes along the beautifully landscaped waterfront. You can see the authentic totem poles erected in the 1920s at Brockton Point, and on a clear day, you can see the views of the mountain peaks on the North Shore (including Grouse Mountain) from Prospect Point. If you decide to bike the entire seawall, it will take you a couple hours, giving some time to admire the scenery.
If you decide to cut your bike ride short, you can head to English Bay Beach, located at the south entrance of the park, or you can head to the Vancouver Aquarium, which is also located in Stanley Park. Here you will see dolphins, jellyfish, sharks, sea lions and more, including British Columbia native animals and some arctic creatures like the beluga whale. But, the aquarium is not just about aquatic animals. They also have a display about the Amazon Rainforest full of exotic birds, monkeys and reptiles.
Vancouver is known as a great destination for foodies, so make sure you taste their culinary choices in Vancouvers oldest neighborhood, Gastown. Water St. Cafe is one of the best and most popular restaurants in the area among locals and foodies. And there's also LAbattoir, where you can taste French-influenced West Coast dishes in the set of a modern restoration of a 120-year-old brick-and-beam space. But don't limit yourself to that. Stroll through the historic neighborhood to enjoy the cobbled streets, the old buildings, the gas lit lamps and the world's first steam clock. Be sure to stop and watch the steam clock whistle out the quarter hour.
You can finish the night in one of the many trendy bars and restaurants, including the Steamwork Brewing Co., which is consistently rated as one of the best pubs in Gastown thanks to its atmosphere, good food and of course, its micro-brewed ale.
Alternatively, Granville Street also offer a rich and varied nightlife that goes from sport bars, to dance clubs, and karaoke bars, among others.
Now, are you ready to enjoy the best of Vancouver in a day?
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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