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Volleyball on Kits Beach | © Hayley Simpson
Volleyball on Kits Beach | © Hayley Simpson
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12 Reasons Why You Should Visit Vancouver

Picture of Hayley Simpson
Writer
Updated: 17 May 2017
Vancouver is a North American city that really has it all. It’s close to the United States, is surrounded by mountains, and still has the city life people crave. Here are 12 reasons why you should definitely visit this beautiful city soon.

Friendly locals

Vancouver is home to a diverse population. Nearly 40% of the people calling the city home are immigrants from countries such as China, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom. Because of this, the majority of locals are welcoming, friendly, and helpful. They are also very open, which is evident when walking through Davie Village, Vancouver’s gay neighborhood.

Rainbow crosswalks in Davie Village
Rainbow crosswalks in Davie Village | © Robert Ashworth / Flickr

Mountains

If you want to go from the city to the mountains within an hour, there’s no better place than Vancouver. There are three main mountains close to the city: Cypress Mountain, Mount Seymour, and Grouse Mountain. Cypress is a favorite for local snowboarders and skiers as it has the best facilities, and it was part of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Grouse, on the other hand, is a popular option in the summertime when visitors can tackle the Grouse Grind and enjoy the daily lumberjack show on top of the mountain.

On the ocean

Yes, you get the best of both worlds in Vancouver. From the mountains to the ocean, it has it all. The most popular summer beaches in the area include Kitsilano Beach, Spanish Banks, Jericho Beach, Sunset Beach, and Second Beach (there’s also a First and Third nearby). Kitsilano and Second Beach both have outdoor public swimming pools to enjoy in the warmer months as well.

Volleyball on Kits Beach
Volleyball on Kits Beach | © Hayley Simpson

Markets

There are street food markets, farmers markets and flea markets in Vancouver. The Richmond Night Market is the biggest night market in North America, with over 500 food options, 100 retail stalls, carnival games, and a dinosaur park. North Vancouver also has the Shipyard Night Market every Friday night, and the Eastside Flea Market happens every other weekend and has vintage clothing, antiques, collectibles, and local handmade products available. Finally, the Granville Island Public Market is open every day and has a lot of food and local wares for purchase.

Top attractions

Vancouver is brimming with fun things to do. Popular attractions include Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, the award-winning Museum of Anthropology, FlyOver Canada, Vancouver Lookout, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Science World, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. It’s hard to be bored when visiting Vancouver.

Sunset from Vancouver Lookout
Sunset from Vancouver Lookout | © gags9999 / Fickr

Weather

The weather is not perfect, thanks to its location in the rain-loving Pacific Northwest region. However, it’s a lot better than the rest of Canada. It’s unusual for Vancouver to get a lot of snow in winter (sometimes it can even go an entire year without any snowfall). Its summers are also quite mild, with temperatures in the mid-20s (77°F) and long, sun-filled days. Vancouver also gets to experience all four seasons, so why not visit in spring or fall and see the blooming trees or falling leaves?

Two must-visit parks

Although there are parks scattered across the city, there are two that you must see when in Vancouver. First, there is Stanley Park, one of the biggest urban parks in North America. Get lost within the park, cycle its seawall, and take photos from every picture-perfect angle. Second, there is Queen Elizabeth Park; it sits south of the downtown area, but its elevated position means it has the best views of the city and its surrounding mountains. It’s also home to the Bloedel Conservatory, which is a secret tropical paradise.

Queen Elizabeth Park
Queen Elizabeth Park | © Hayley Simpson

Summer festivals

In summer, Vancouver hosts some excellent (and free) festivals. The biggest is the Celebration of Light, which is the world’s largest offshore fireworks competition—three nights, three countries, three amazing fireworks displays. Next, there is Bard on the Beach, which is all about celebrating Shakespeare in the beautiful British Columbia outdoors. There’s also Italian Day on The Drive, the International Jazz Festival, the Khatsahlano Street Party, YVR Food Cart Festival, and so much more.

Neighbors

Yes, one of the best reasons to visit Vancouver is the day trips! Firstly, a drive up the Sea to Sky Highway to Squamish and Whistler is a must, no matter what time of year. There’s also the chance to hop on a ferry and visit Bowen Island or the Sunshine Coast. British Columbia’s capital, Victoria on Vancouver Island, is better suited for a weekend getaway. But there are many places to explore close to Vancouver.

Visit Whistler
Visit Whistler | © Hayley Simpson

Food

Thanks to Vancouver’s diverse population, the city is home to numerous delicious cafés, eateries, and restaurants. There are concentrated areas around the city too, such as Vietnamese eats in Little Saigon, Italian cuisine on Commercial Drive, and Indian fare in Punjabi Market. Vancouver is also known for its variety of food trucks, located throughout the downtown core and at the city’s main markets.

Cool neighborhoods

Vancouver is home to some of the hippest and coolest neighborhoods in Canada. Main Street and Commercial Drive are known for their independent boutiques and restaurants; Yaletown has some of the best patios for summertime dining due to its former life as a warehouse district, and Gastown is the city’s most historic neighborhood. Ensure you reserve time to explore these areas when visiting Vancouver.

Shopping

There’s a shopping area for everyone in Vancouver. People with designer desires will enjoy walking down Robson Street and exploring Vancouver’s downtown area. In Burnaby, there’s Metropolis at Metrotown, which is the largest mall in Western Canada with over 400 shops. Finally, for people wanting to buy something more locally, then definitely visit the hipster ‘hoods mentioned previously. Main Street, Commercial Drive, and Gastown are brimming with locally owned and operated boutiques.