Ryan O'Rourke a RoamRight Blog Author

Vancouver For Beginners

Capilano Suspension Bridge is a simple suspension bridge crossing the Capilano River in the District of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. CT

Vancouver's the type of place that turns other cities green with envy. Not that it's the fault of Western Canada's largest city. Surrounded by dramatic mountains and blissful seascapes, Vancouver is bound to ruffle a few feathers as it yanks travelers away from other cities across the whole continent.

If Canada were a high school, Vancouver would be the head cheerleader, quarterback, and brooding rock star all rolled into one. It's got glitz. It's got glamour. Most of all, it's got edge. And even if you have only a few days to spare, you can snatch a quick taste of all of the sides of this dynamic Canadian city.

Looking for some ideas on where to start your first trip to Vancouver? Here are a few suggestions.

Stanley Park

Missing Stanley Park on a visit to Vancouver would be nearly as big a sin as avoiding Central Park while in New York. But truthfully, choosing not to wander in one of the largest urban parks in Canada is harder that you'd imagine. Located just minutes from Downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park tempts nearly every visitor as they stare across the harbor at the park's age-old, skyscraping Douglas Firs and Western Red cedars.

Walk alongside local joggers on the Vancouver Seawall for spectacular views of one of North America's finest skylines or sink into Stanley Park's dense interior to hike through forests so perfect you'll forget that you're firmly within Canada's third largest city.

Traveling with children? Families love traipsing through the Vancouver Aquarium, located in the heart of Stanley Park and home to an assortment of whales, dolphins, sea lions and seals among a multitude of other mammals and fish.

Granville Island

Once an area that could instantly give a city a seedy reputation, Granville Island is now a hotbed of activity that everyone seems keen to join in on.

From glassblowing and painting to sake fermenting and boat building, if it requires skill, you're bound to stumble upon an artisan perfecting it in one of Granville Island's workshops or studios.

A host of local farmers, vendors and entertainers also call Granville Island a second home, peddling their food and wares and amusing tourists and Vancouverites alike.

Even though Granville Island is accessible by public transport and foot, hopping on one of the pint-sized ferries from Vancouver's Olympic Village at the east end of False Creek is arguably the most exciting way to get to there. On the 20-minute boat ride, you'll take in some of the city's best views including sweeping panoramas of downtown Vancouver. Be sure to charge your camera batteries!

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Ready to tackle your fear of heights? There's perhaps no better place to do it in all of Canada than the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in North Vancouver.

Just over a half an hour from downtown by public transit, the Capilano Suspension Bridge spans 460 feet (140 meters) across the Capilano River at a gravity-defying height of 230 feet (70 meters).

Aside from its namesake bridge, the park's eco-friendly Treetops Adventure and Cliffwalk are a hit among the fearless. More cautious visitors can opt for a tamer experience by getting the low-down on the park's history at the Story Centre and Totem Park or embarking on a journey through the lower-altitude Living Forest.

Whether feeding your gastronomical cravings in Yaletown, trudging through Chinese night markets in Chinatown or Richmond, or flaunting your inner fashion model at the boutiques on Robson, the excitement and sense of discovery never seems to end—for first-timers and veteran visitors—in Vancouver.

Which one of these activities for first-time visitors to Vancouver do you think you'd you most enjoy? We'd love to hear from you—drop us a line in the comment section below!

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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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