Exploring Vancouver’s
‘Exquisite’ Urban Landscape

Exploring Vancouver’s
‘Exquisite’ Urban Landscape

By David Burke / Images By Joern Rohde

Vancouver at night. Downtown Vancouver. Stanley Park.

T he cosmopolitan city of Vancouver is consistently ranked among the top urban travel destinations in the world, known for its stunning scenery and many unique outdoor and indoor attractions — Stanley Park, Chinatown, Grouse Mountain, the Granville Island Public Market and the historic Gastown district, to name a few. In a recent ranking of the world’s best cities, the U.K.-based Resonance Consultancy lauded Vancouver as “the most Asian city outside of Asia.”

While the same group mentioned housing affordability (it was recently ranked as the third least-affordable city) as Vancouver’s biggest challenge, it added, “the global infatuation is obvious: safe, smart (the University of British Columbia ranks #18 globally) and socially minded (Income Equality ranks #20), Vancouver’s special blend is sprinkled across some of the planet’s most exquisite urban topography.”

If you only have a couple of days, it’s a good idea to take a hop-on, hop-off bus tour that visits the key attractions — Stanley Park, including its beaches, the famed Stanley Park Seawall and Vancouver Aquarium, as well as Yaletown and Chinatown. The tours leave from near the Vancouver Convention Centre, which is close to other attractions including Gastown and its famous steam clock. westcoastsightseeing.com

Food lovers will undoubtedly find a delectable variety of choices from among the more than 350 restaurants participating in the 21st annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival, Jan. 20 to Feb. 5, 2023. dineoutvancouver.com

Vancouver is home to enough artistic, cultural and scientific attractions to keep young and old fascinated for days.
Art is ever-present, and the downtown core has two of the best-known galleries: the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) and the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. The VAG, includes works by well-known Canadian, Indigenous and acclaimed international artists, as well as visiting exhibitions. The exhibition “Guud san glans Robert Davidson: A Line That Bends But Does Not Break” showcases the work of the renowned Haida graphic artist until April 16, 2023. vanartgallery.bc.ca

Nearby, the Bill Reid Gallery is another place to be inspired by the contemporary works of Northwest Coast Indigenous artists. It includes a collection of creations by its namesake, best known for his two- and three-dimensional depictions of Haida mythology and legends. billreidgallery.ca.

Science World — under the geodesic dome at the eastern end of False Creek — is a great place for young and old to engage their inner scientist. It includes interactive, indoor and outdoor displays and demonstrations. Plus, galleries and a theatre focus on life sciences and the animal kingdom. scienceworld.ca

The Moshe Safdie, Richard Archambault and Barry Downs-designed central branch of the Vancouver Public Library is one of the most interesting pieces of local architecture, meant to mimic the Roman Colosseum. Its spacious atrium, near the library entrance, is a great place to hang out, as is the ninth-floor rooftop garden that affords views of downtown, including nearby B.C. Place Stadium. vpl.ca

Queen Elizabeth Park, in the heart of the city, is best known for its formal, sunken gardens complete with waterfall, and the Bloedel Conservatory, a triodetic dome that houses a display of tropical and sub-tropical plants. Originally called Little Mountain Park because it sits on a high point with great views of the Vancouver skyline, the park’s name was changed in 1940 to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth I (a.k.a. the “Queen Mom”). The sunken garden, which was built in the depression left by the decommissioning of two rock quarries, is a lovely urban oasis, even in winter. vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture

Lions Gate Bridge

The UBC Botanical Garden is a great place to stroll through coastal rainforest, including internationally recognized collections of rhododendrons, maples and magnolias. Children will enjoy the Greenheart TreeWalk, an adventure on swinging bridges through the forest canopy. The nearby Nitobe Memorial Garden is a traditional Japanese tea garden designed in memory of Dr. Inazo Nitobe, whose wish was to foster world peace. botanicalgarden.ubc.ca

Vanier Park, just across False Creek from downtown, is home to the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) and H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. MOV explores the city’s history and features temporary exhibits, including “A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration and British Columbia,” until March 2023. museumofvancouver.ca

Next door, the family-centred H.R. MacMillan Space Centre includes exhibits on the wonders of space, including a planetarium. spacecentre.ca

To connect with local artisans or look for the perfect souvenir or gift, the Granville Island Public Market is where you’ll find shops, studios and galleries where you can visit with the creators and browse for everything from silk to jewellery to custom-built canoes. granvilleisland.com

Questions about Vancouver-area sights and attractions can be directed to the Tourism Vancouver Visitor Centre at 200 Burrard St., by phoning 604-683-2000 or online at destinationvancouver.com. Alternatively, visit each location’s website.