Often regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Vancouver attracts roughly eight million visitors each year.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Located on 100 acres atop Little Mountain, Queen Elizabeth Park is a city park that actually marks the highest point in Vancouver. The park was established in 1939 and rises 410 feet above sea level to provide arresting views of the surrounding city and distant mountains. Picturesque throughout the year, the park is especially stunning in the spring when its gardens are in bloom.
As a popular outdoor Vancouver attraction, Queen Elizabeth Park features multiple highlights that visitors can enjoy:
The grounds of Queen Elizabeth Park offer a dazzling array of gardens and trees. In fact, the park boasts more than 1,500 native and exotic trees that tower over the manicured lawns and floral displays. The rose garden is an especially popular destination for visitors to the park.
If you need a break from the sun, head inside Bloedel Conservatory, which is located within the park’s grounds. The conservatory features about 500 tropical plants as well as more than 120 exotic birds. The conservatory features three habitats: tropical rainforest, subtropical rainforest, and desert.
Located just to the west of the conservatory, the main Quarry Garden of Queen Elizabeth Park features a verdant landscape with a stream and stone bridge as well as meticulously cared for landscaping. Be sure to check out its lovely cascade when visiting.
After you’ve enjoyed the views of the city and the park’s gardens, enjoy a game of golf. There’s a little pitch and putt golf course at the park that features an 18 hole course, which is perfect for beginners or visitors who just want to get in a few putts during their Vancouver getaway.
The Dancing Waters is a fountain in Queen Elizabeth Park that includes roughly 70 jets. Created in 2007, the fountain is the central point of the park’s plaza, which is located next to the Bloedel Conservatory. It’s a fun place to relax for a while or snap some group photos.
Grouse Mountain is a popular Vancouver attraction throughout the year. During the winter season, visitors head to the mountain to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and outdoor ice skating. Because the ski runs are not especially challenging, the mountain is popular with families who are looking for kid-friendly things to do outside. An aerial tram ferries visitors up the mountain every day.
During the warm seasons, park visitors can look forward to hiking the trails or taking mountain zipline tours (and reaching speeds up to 80 miles per hour. There are also trails for mountain biking and guided eco-tours. When visiting Grouse Mountain, be sure to set aside time to visit its wildlife refuge and attend its renowned Birds of Prey show.
The park is a mere 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, which makes it a convenient getaway. Visitors enjoy the views of the city both day and night from the mountain.
Vancouver’s Chinatown features an exciting mix of old and new architecture. Some of the buildings here date to the Victorian era. Of course, many visitors come to shop in the neighborhood’s throngs or stores or to enjoy authentic Cantonese or Hunan cuisine in one of the area’s restaurants.
On the other hand, it’s fun simply to explore Chinatown and admire the architecture. One of the most famous buildings in Vancouver’s Chinatown is the Sam Kee Building, which has the distinction of being the narrowest office building on the planet. You’ll also want to get a photo of Millenium Gate, the historic entrance to the neighborhood. Because this is the largest of Canada’s Chinatowns (and one of the largest in the world), you’ll want to wear good walking shoes when you visit.
Additionally, be sure to check out the serenely beautiful Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden during your visit. It is modeled after traditional Ming gardens and boasts stunning plantings, a pagoda, and a water lily pond.
Strait of Georgia and Gulf Islands: Whale Watching
Tourists from all over the world flock to Vancouver to witness its whales, especially its celebrated pods of orcas. The best time to watch the whales is between March and October. There are many charter companies that offer whale watching tours in the Strait of Georgia and the Gulf Islands, where the whales can typically be encountered.
If you’re visiting Vancouver during the late months of summer, you book a charter experience and head to Johnstone Strait, a popular haunt of resident Vancouver orcas. Don’t forget to bring along a pair of binoculars. You’re likely to witness a wide array of wildlife when you’re out on the water, including dolphins, otters, sea lions, brown pelicans, Pacific loons, bald eagles, and puffins.
Stanley Park and Sunset Beach
Stanley Park is easily one of the city’s most beloved outdoor settings. With nearby Sunset Beach, this area offers visitors a place to relax or marvel at local attractions like the totems of Brockton Point. Many people head to the park’s paved seawall path to hike or bike ride along the ocean. The views are majestic, and there are also places to just sit and admire the sunrise or sunset.
During the summer, the park operates an ocean-front heated outdoor pool that’s popular with visitors of all ages. The Vancouver Aquarium is also located at the park and is home to more than 65,000 animals.
You can also take one of the paths from Stanley Park to nearby Sunset Beach to swim. There’s an off-leash area for dogs at the beach as well as public restrooms. The beach is a popular place to enjoy city fireworks.
When searching for the best hotels in Vancouver, consider reserving your room at Sunset Inn, which is located near Sunset Beach and Stanley Park. The hotel features a convenient location near multiple city attractions (including downtown), ultra-comfortable rooms, and a wealth of services and amenities for guests.