Ryan O'Rourke a RoamRight Blog Author

Three Exciting City Breaks in Western Canada

VancouverContent

Many people know that Western Canada is a place where alpine dreams come to life. But sometimes, quiet nights at the ski lodge lose their luster. You crave excitement, culture, world-class food, and a vibrancy that only a city can bring; it's time to return to reality beyond the slopes, and you're in just the right place to do it.

Western Canada possesses some of the finest landscapes in North America—glaciers, mountains, lakes, and seascapes—but the real unsung heroes are its cities. Urban life in Canada doesn't end west of Toronto, and here's living proof:
 

Vancouver

There are some cities that only a local could love. And then there's Vancouver.

Don't let falling in love with Western Canada's largest city worry you; it's inevitable. Just ask one of the over 8 million annual visitors: Vancouver strikes the heart at first glance, and never lets up.

Exploring Vancouver is more than a city break; it's an odyssey through the entire Canadian experience—the nature, the modernism, and the multiculturalism. And no other urban destination in Canada combines them all quite like "Vancity."

In no other place in North America can you catch a wave on the Pacific, grab a picnic among trees dating back half a millennium, and hike into the heavens for a bird's eye view of skyscrapers and sea—all within the course of a single day.

Not sure where to begin your Vancouver city break? Consider an action-packed day with driving (or hiking) through Stanley Park, a gondola ride up Grouse Mountain, treetop trekking at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, shopping on Robson Street, and a relaxing dinner in Yaletown.

Calgary

Welcome to Canada's Wild West: Calgary, a city where cowboy boots outnumber stilettos and petrodollars do the talking. But don't let the rough-and-tumble, no-holds-barred reputation fool you—Calgary is as cultured and vibrant as Canadian urban destinations come.

Whether you visit in winter or summer, Calgary never fails to fill your day with excitement. In July, the city springs to life as the Calgary Stampede, the world's most famous rodeo dubbed "the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth," rolls into town. If you're lucky enough to stumble into Calgary during the winter, dive into the chaos of "the Sea of Red" along with Calgary's most fervent hockey fanatics to cheer the Flames on to a win.

All year round, armchair Olympic hopefuls will love imagining themselves standing on the podium at Canada Olympic Park, the site of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games and home of the Canada Sports Hall of Fame and Canada Olympic Hall of Fame.

For the more cultured and historical side of Calgary, unleash your inner art critic at the Glenbow Museum, home to Western Canada's largest art collection, or wander through history in the Heritage Park Historical Village, Canada's largest open-air ethnographic museum.

Victoria

Even for a city bearing the mark of the royalty, Victoria never fails to live up to its namesake. A city of gardens surrounded by sea and mountains, this behind-the-scenes beauty may get less press than its mainland BC compatriot, Vancouver, but is, in many ways, the more arresting of the two.

Enjoying Victoria begins with little more than wandering through the very walkable downtown. Start your day by frolicking in the resplendent gardens of Beacon Hill Park before heading over to the Inner Harbour, a focal point for Victoria's street life and entertainment.

After admiring the talents of Victoria's finest showmen and soaking in turn-of-the-century architecture, clear your lungs of the sea breeze by hopping on a bus to Butchart Gardens. Maintained with enough gusto to make a Japanese rose-gardener blush, Butchart Gardens will reinvigorate all the senses just in time for an evening out on the town including a hearty sampling of west-coast fusion cuisine in or around Chinatown.

What are some of your favorite Western Canadian cities? Leave us a comment below to tell us about your experiences!

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About the Author

Ryan O'Rourke

Ryan O'Rourke, a RoamRight Blog Author

A perfect storm of wandering wordsmith and travel photographer, Ryan O'Rourke lives and breathes travel. For the last decade, Ryan has roamed around the world, living in 4 different countries and visiting over 30 countries along the way with no signs of slowing down. Ryan's insatiable wanderlust inspired him to found Treksplorer where he now writes about his adventures and offers unconventional travel planning, language learning, and travel photography tips for independent travellers.

When not out and about, Ryan calls Northern Ontario home, and enjoys basking in the great Canadian outdoors and lazily chilling by the campfire with an acoustic guitar. Follow Ryan on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest.

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