Vancouver is Canada’s fastest-growing metropolis, and a city of magical contradictions – from rough-and-tumble Hastings Street, where timeworn brickwork still exudes a wild, beer-for-a-dime, seaport-town atmosphere, to trendy Robson Street, with its futuristic Japanese noodle houses and haute couture. Vancouver has long touted itself as Canada’s gateway to the Pacific Rim, and for decades, waves of immigrants have broken on its shore.
Vancouver, its residents are fond of saying, is one of the few cities in the world where you can go skiing and sailing on the same day. How remarkable, then, that it should also be one of the few where, sitting outside a Neapolitan cafe, you can eavesdrop on an impassioned argument in Hungarian and see graffiti in Khmer. Most major cities have a mixed heritage, yet few can claim to have attracted a more diverse cross section of humanity than Vancouver. The city seems living proof that a benign environment will produce an easygoing disposition.
Not long ago, it used to be easy to distinguish Vancouver from its neighbours. Bridges spanned Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River to connect with communities to the north and south, while buffer zones of undeveloped land defined where the Big Smoke left off and all else to the east began. By the 1970s, such distinctions had blurred to the point where one hardly noticed a transition from one city to the next, particularly between Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and Port Moody.
Captain George Vancouver first sailed into English Bay and Burrard Inlet, finding a sheltered deep-water harbour, and writing of innumerable pleasing landscapes. At the time of his visit, First nations people lived in the Burrard inlet area mainly on a seasonal basis, their permanent villages being elsewhere. The Musqueams had their village on the North Arm of the Fraser River, as they do still, and the Squamish wintered in the Squamish and Cheakamus valleys. Once white settlement began around Burrard Inlet, more First Nations moved here permanently. The main Squamish village sites were around Stanley Park, Capilano River and Belcarra Regional Park. White settlement began in 1862 with discovery of coal in Coal Harbour, and by the time the 1880s came around, major development was underway, such as the Canadian Pacific Railway transcontinental line. However, it was ‘Gassy’ Jack Deighton who established a saloon in 1867, in what is today known as Gastown, who was the real pioneer of Vancouver.
About the only thing Vancouverites seem to enjoy doing more than being outside is complaining about the weather. If you can’t take a joke, why live in the rain forest? As for the price residents pay to live here, it helps to think of Vancouver as a destination resort. Fortunately, one of the trade-offs for paying your dues in Lotus Land is the wonderful array of public gardens, parks, and beaches where residents and visitors alike frolic. You can always count on there being enough room for you to play somewhere around town.
To list all of Vancouver’s attractions here is impossible to do – we can only provide a sampling of what’s in store for the visitor to Vancouver. The unique charm and advantage of this city is the range of things for visitors to do and see…from dawn until dusk and through every successive season.
Urbanites can eat at world-class restaurants, attend the symphony, shop at exclusive boutiques along Robsonstrasse and never cast so much as glance at the surrounding sea and sky scape, and the incredible outdoor recreation available. Those with an appreciation for the outdoors can windsurf at dawn, get in a round of golf after lunch, and take in the city lights at night while skiing atop a North Shore mountain. Vancouver is clean, colourful and friendly, with the open cosmopolitan flair that West Coast cities are known for.
Travelling to other areas, via the B.C. Ferries facilities at Horseshoe Bay and Tsawwassen, or the International Airport south of Vancouver, is easily done. And visitors departing from Vancouver to explore the rest of B.C. have as many means of travel as they do destinations. Whether travelling by plane, train, ferry, helicopter, car or bus, Vancouver is a perfect place to begin your exploration of our beautiful British Columbia.
Location: Vancouver is located in the southwest corner of British Columbia, on the mainland of BC, 9 miles (15 km) north of Vancouver International Airport (YVR).
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Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games: Vancouver was the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, the third Olympic Games hosted by Canada, and the first by the province of British Columbia. Previously, Canada hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Vancouver 2010 events were held in venues around Vancouver, and on Cypress Mountain in North Vancouver. Downhill and sled events were held in Whistler and the Callaghan Valley.
The centrepiece and green heart of Vancouver is the 1,000-acre Stanley Park, the city’s most famous landmark, and one of the largest parks in any urban centre in North America. There are wooded trails, open playing fields, secluded lakes, gorgeous gardens, and the Vancouver Aquarium, the largest in Canada. A seawall walkway meanders along the park’s perimeter, with beautiful views of the city skyline, the harbour, beaches, and the spectacular North Shore Mountains. Step aboard an old-fashioned carriage and meander in comfort through the natural beauty of Stanley Park on a one-hour, fully-narrated horse-drawn tour.
Stanley Park Seawall: The character of a city is often defined by the vision of exceptional individuals. One of Vancouver’s first park commissioners, Matthew Logan, championed the idea of a pedestrian seawall that would eventually ring the entire harbour, from Stanley Park to False Creek. It took 55 years to complete, and today there is an almost seamless route that covers much of the distance (about 12 miles/20 km), certainly more than most of us can traverse in the course of a morning or afternoon’s outing. Each year the Stanley Park Seawall and the Seaside Bikeway are thronged with an ever-larger number of walkers, joggers, in-line skaters, and cyclists. Bikes and blades can be rented from a number of shops that border the park.
Visit the Vancouver Lookout Tower, an observation deck 33 floors high atop Harbour Centre – a 360-degree view sweeps across the Lower Mainland, from the mountains in the north to the valleys in the south. Located only two blocks from the cruiseship terminal, at the entrance to historic Gastown.
Gastown was founded in 1867 and named after ‘Gassy’ Jack Deighton, a colourful character who operated a saloon here in the late 1800s. Gastown is a charming mix of old and new, with cobbled streets, quaint heritage buildings, and the unique Gastown Steam Clock that sounds the Westminster chimes every fifteen minutes. Victorian architecture and a unique tangle of mews, courtyards and passages houses boutiques, collectibles, antiques, fashions and several prominent galleries representing a fine selection of Native art and sculpture.
Chinatown is rich in culture and history, with the streets bustling with colour and energy all day and night. The sights, sounds, exotic medicines, curious foodstuffs spilling onto the sidewalks, and bright red pagoda-roofed phone booths make Chinatown distinctive. A ‘must-see’ is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden, the only classic Chinese Garden outside of China, and fashioned in Ming Dynasty style.
The magnificent white sails of Canada Place are one of Vancouver’s most prominent landmarks, housing the IMAX Theatre, the Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre, the World Trade Centre, the Vancouver Board of Trade, the Cruise Ship Terminal, FlyOver Canada, a five-star hotel, and restaurants offices and shops. Canada Place hosts a number of marquee annual community events, including National Aboriginal Day, Canada Day, and Christmas at Canada Place. Begin your visit with a scenic stroll and self-guided Promenade into History tour of landmarks rimming the inner harbour.
Cruise Ship Terminal: The Port of Vancouver is the home port for cruise ships operating cruises from Vancouver to Alaska, one of the world’s most popular vacation cruises. Every year, more than one million passengers pass through the Port of Vancouver’s Canada Place, and Ballantyne cruise ship facilities.
FlyOver Canada at Canada Place is a breathtaking flight simulation ride like no other! Take off into a huge dome screen with the latest in projection and ride technology that creates a true flying experience, complete with wind, scents and mist! FlyOver Canada will introduce you to our great country on an unforgettable Ultimate Flying Ride, soaring from east to west over some of the most spectacular scenery Canada has to offer.
The Lions Gate Bridge, built by the Guiness Family, opened Vancouver’s North Shore to vehicle traffic in 1938. Its lights were turned on in 1986, celebrating 50 years from the start of its construction, and the 100th birthday of Vancouver. Watch for Cruise Ships entering Burrard Inlet as the you cross the bridge, named after the two mountain peaks that look like sleeping lions
Granville Island, once an industrial wasteland, is a thriving hub for Vancouverites and visitors alike. You’ll find artists’ studios, galleries, theatres, nightclubs, restaurants, and Granville Island Brewing. In summer, wandering buskers and street performers delight the crowds. Stop by the Granville Island Public Market for freshly picked produce, seafood straight off the boats, gourmet foods, and tasty delights from the bakeries. The best way to get to Granville Island is aboard the Aquabus, from the ferry dock on the seawall at the south end of Hornby Street, or the south foot of Drake Street in Downtown Vancouver.
Vancouver Aquarium: Marvel at new marine adventures and wonders at the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. Discover the wonders of the West Coast, explore the secrets of the steamy tropical Amazon, and delight in the unexpected richness of the Canadian Arctic. Experience Beluga whale and dolphin shows, shark dives and sea otter feeds.
Playland Amusement Park at PNE Fairgrounds on East Hastings Street is a seasonal amusement park offering a collection of 28 rides and attractions, midway games, and a variety of food venues. Popular attractions include the historic wooden roller coaster, a spectacular woodie that has been operating since 1958, the Corkscrew upside down roller coaster, the Wild Mouse, and the 90-foot-tall giant Westcoast Wheel. Visitors can also take a spin on one of a number of flat rides.
The Museum of Anthropology, located on the cliffs of point Grey at the University of British Columbia, features one of the world’s finest displays of Northwest Coast First Nations art and artifacts. See totem poles, feast dishes, and canoes of the Kwakwaka’wakw, Nisga’a, Gitksan, Haida, Coast Salish, and other Northwest Coast peoples in the museum’s Great Hall. Explore the unique galleries, where more than 15,000 objects from around the world are easily visible, and stroll through the grounds of the museum, where two Haida houses and ten poles capture the dramatic beauty of traditional architecture and design.
Travel back in time at the Museum of Vancouver in Vanier Park at 1100 Chestnut Street. Permanent exhibitions tell the city’s stories from the early 1900s to the late 1970s and are complemented by contemporary, groundbreaking feature exhibits. View recreated rooms from Vancouver in the 1900s, an 1800s trading post, a nineteenth century ship’s passenger berth, First Nations artifacts, and much more.
The Maritime Museum is a special place by the sea, about the sea, with lots to see and do, both for landlubbers and old salts alike. Thrill to the disasters and discoveries of the Shipwreck exhibition, including real pieces of the Titanic. Set young sailors loose in Pirates Cove and the Children’s Maritime Discovery Centre. Located at Vanier Park, close to the Museum of Vancouver.
Also in Vanier Park, at the south end of the Burrard Bridge (1100 Chestnut Street), is the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, which will take you out of this world with leading-edge astronomy and space-themed shows. Discover a world of fun like nothing on earth. Explore the universe, travel the solar system, touch a real moon rock, morph into an alien and much more, at the Cosmic Courtyard hands-on gallery. Fly through space and time in the Virtual Voyages full-motion simulator, see multimedia shows and fabulous Laser Light shows, or join Overnight Adventures and Space Camps.
Francis Rattenbury’s elegant old courthouse is now the Vancouver Art Gallery, which holds more than twenty major exhibitions a year, and whose permanent collection includes works by Goya, Emily Carr, Gainsborough, and Picasso. The gallery gift shop is a neat place for gifts, and the upstairs cafe with its breezy outdoor terrace is a popular lunchtime spot. Located at 750 Hornby Street.
Science World provides family adventure and fun for the whole family. Lose your shadow on the wall, blow gigantic bubbles, and crawl inside a beaver lodge. Blow your mind in the amazing 3D Laser Theatre, experience a breathtaking film in the OMNIMAX Theatre, participate in dazzling demonstrations, and explore Science World’s latest feature exhibition. Located at 1455 Quebec Street.
Set in beside the False Creek Community Centre on Cartwright Street is the Granville Island Waterpark, one of the most imaginatively built, warm-weather playgrounds in the city. From the end of May to early September, water spews from hydrants and overhead archways, and from geysers mounted in the concrete surface that can be activated with the push of a button. A bright-yellow water slide thrills youngsters. Games and creative activities are offered free-of-charge to visitors throughout the summer.
Theatre: If you enjoy the performing arts, indulge yourself in the outstanding performances offered at any of Vancouver’s acclaimed entertainment venues, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, the Orpheum Theatre and the Vogue Theatre. The Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company explores contemporary and classical theatre, offering six plays each season, October to May, in the Vancouver Playhouse. Contemporary theatre in Vancouver is largely centred in the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, known to locals as The Cultch. Vancouver’s home of the megamusical is the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts; its two most striking features are the intimacy of the 1,824-seat auditorium and the visual power of the seven-storey, mirrored-wall grand staircase that unites all levels.
Casinos: Fun, excitement and thrills are served up daily at numerous Casinos in Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver area. From world-class casinos to friendly community gaming centers, there’s a gaming facility for everyone. Ask the Vancouver Visitor Centre at 200 Burrard Street for more information.
Vancouver Gardens: Experience the richness and diversity of Vancouver’s glorious gardens, where rare and wondrous landscapes inspire your every step. Amongst the best are Stanley Park, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in Chinatown, and the Bloedel Floral Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park. The VanDusen Botanical Garden in the heart of Vancouver contains plants from every corner of the globe. Nitobe Memorial Garden is a traditional Japanese Tea and Stroll garden, located at the University of British Columbia, considered to be the one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America and among the top Japanese gardens outside of Japan. There is harmony among natural forms – waterfalls, rivers, forests, islands & seas. Included in the garden is a rare authentic Tea Garden with a ceremonial Tea House.
Located high on the cliffs overlooking the Strait of Georgia is the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden (6804 SW Marine Drive). Seventy rambling acres are planted with over 10,000 different trees, shrubs and flowers, including Canada’s largest collection of Rhododendrons. Here you will discover the Asian Garden, a BC Native Garden, a large Alpine Garden, Perennial Borders, a Food Garden, a Winter Garden and a Physick Garden of medicinal plants. The Greenheart Canopy Walkway offers a rare perspective of the natural beauty of the West Coast forest canopy eco-system.
Horse Racing: Enjoy the thrill and excitement of thoroughbred horse racing at the Hastings Park Racecourse. Watch the Sport of Kings from the covered grandstand, with spectacular views of the North Shore Mountains and Burrard Inlet, at the PNE grounds just 4 miles from downtown Vancouver.
You can ride the Skytrain, Vancouver’s light rapid transit system, and travel from place to place with ease, enjoying a great view of the city while you go. SkyTrain is the oldest and one of the longest automated driverless light rapid transit systems in the world. The Expo and Millennium SkyTrain Lines connect downtown Vancouver with the cities of Burnaby, New Westminster and Surrey. The Canada Line connects downtown Vancouver to the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and the city of Richmond. You can take your bike with you on the SkyTrain, as you can on city busses, the SeaBus and the West Coast Express. Trip-planning information is available at translink.ca.
Hop aboard the Grouse Mountain Skyride for an exhilarating ride to the year-round mountaintop playground only fifteen minutes from downtown. Canada’s most modern 100-person aerial tram glides you up the steep mountainside, skirting trees, and providing you with a spectacular view of Vancouver once you reach the summit. On a clear day, you can see the entire Lower Fraser Valley.
Burnaby Village Museum and Carousel is a delightful sojourn to an earlier time. More than 30 shops, homes, a school, church and heritage gardens make up this 10-acre open air museum. Chat with the hardworking blacksmith, take a silent movie and recapture your youth on the restored 1912 Carousel.
Harbour Tour: Embark on a fully-narrated paddlewheeler harbour tour of the working port of Vancouver, passed the bustling cargo and cruise ship terminals, the city’s spectacular skyline, and the magnificent North Shore Mountains. Or wait till sunset, and set off on a Sunset Dinner Cruise for a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Take in the sights and sounds of the magnificent Vancouver Harbour while enjoying a deluxe buffet dinner.
Seaplane Tours out of Vancouver harbour are a wonderful way to see Vancouver and the surrounding area. Ride along on a mail run to the tiny villages and anchorages of the Gulf Islands, explore the rugged fjordland and picturesque villages of the Sunshine Coast north of Vancouver, marvel at hanging glaciers and knife-edge mountain ridges, or splash down on secret alpine lakes, where the air is fresh and the water is crystal clear. Many other aerial tours are available – ask the Visitor Centre for more information (200 Burrard Street).
Golf: Vancouver offers some of the best golf in all of Canada; mountainside courses that require you to shoot across ravines, seaside links that force you to tame the swirling winds, and meadowland tracks that demand precision and strategy. Amongst the best are Morgan Creek and Northview Golf Club in Surrey, Westwood Plateau in Coquitlam, Furry Creek Golf & Country Club in Lions Bay, Mayfair Lakes in Richmond, and Fraserview Golf Course, an 18-hole public facility overlooking the Fraser River from the southeast slope of Vancouver. Other golf courses in Vancouver include: McCleery Golf Course, nestled on the north banks of the Fraser River (18 holes, par 71); Point Grey Golf & Country Club, situated along the Fraser River (18 holes, par 72 course); Queen Elizabeth Pitch & Putt, offering beautiful city vistas and 18 short, contoured par 3s; Stanley Park Pitch & Putt, offering 18 holes ranging from 40 to 100 yards, sculpted fairways, mature trees, and lush greens in a spectacular setting alongside English Bay; University Golf Club, tucked into towering old-growth forest (18 holes, par 72); Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club, a well-treed, parkland-style course overlooking the Fraser River and Strait of Georgia; and Langara Golf Course, offering peace and tranquility in the heart of Vancouver. Vancouver Golf Vacations.
The abandoned rock quarries of Queen Elizabeth Park have been transformed into sunken rock gardens with waterfalls and ponds. Here visitors will find the Bloedel Floral Conservatory, the crowning glory of the park, where a lush tropical experience awaits. The triodetic dome of the conservatory houses a collection of about 500 species and varieties of plants from deep jungle to desert environments, while colourful Koi fish swim at your feet and more than 100 tropical birds fly freely overhead.
The largest green space in Vancouver is located in Pacific Spirit Regional Park, which adjoins the University of British Columbia (UBC) on the city’s west side at Point Grey. Visitors have been enjoying the 1,885-acre (763-ha) park and its trails and beaches for decades. The park is particularly popular with cyclists, as well as dog owners, horseback riders, joggers, walkers, and bathers. Currently, there are 21 miles (35 km) of mixed-use trails, and 12 miles (18 km) for foot traffic. Most trails are gentle and offer visitors the opportunity of a quick getaway from the pace of the city. One of the park’s most interesting natural features is Camosun Bog, a remnant of the most recent ice age.
Beaches: There are some lovely beaches along a 10-mile (16-km) stretch of Vancouver’s outer harbour, principally along English Bay. Some, like the clothing optional Wreck Beach, Spanish Banks Beach, Locarno Beach, and Jericho Beach on Vancouver’s west side, receive regular deposits of sand courtesy of the Fraser River’s silt-laden plume, which arches around Point Grey into English Bay. Sand has been trucked in to create the beaches in the West End of English Bay, including those in Stanley Park.
Mountain Biking: Vancouver itself has very little in the way of challenging fat-tire trails for mountain bikers, aside from those in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Everett Crowley Park is located in Vancouver’s Champlain Heights neighbourhood, which lies just a few handlebar lengths inside Vancouver near Boundary Road and SE Marine Drive. The park has gained a reputation as a place to ride a bike, be it skinny tire, fat tire, or BMX. The beginner and intermediate trails on Burnaby Mountain offer some stunts and structures. Mountain bikers with a taste for the extreme seek out the steep descents and crazy stunts of Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains.
Cycling: Many downtown streets have dedicated bike lanes. Stanley Park Seawall and Seaside Bicycle Route provide stunning ocean, forest, and city views, winding passed some of Vancouver’s top tourist attractions. Explore densely forested Pacific Spirit Regional Park while biking along mostly flat, multi-use trails.
Skiing: Downhill skiers and snowboarders have their pick of Cypress Mountain (25 groomed runs, 1,750 feet/537 m vertical, 3 chairlifts) in West Vancouver’s Cypress Provincial Park and Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour in North Vancouver. Intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders gravitate to Cypress and Grouse, while Seymour has the distinction of being the place where three-quarters of Lower Mainlanders learn to ski, and it’s got 5,000 pairs of rental skis (and snowboards) to prove it.
Paddling: The sheltered backwater of False Creek is the playground of kayakers and canoeists, and provides moorage for fishing boats at the federal dock and a protected anchorage for sailboats. Most evenings, primarily from April to October, this sheltered finger of Burrard Inlet teems with a mix of canoes, dragon boats, kayaks, sculls, sailboats, tugboats, and stinkpots. You can launch your own hand-carried boat from the wharf in front of the False Creek Community Centre, in Cartwright Street on Granville Island. The varied terrain of the Vancouver, Coast and Mountain region of BC accommodates every outdoor recreation known to man.
Jericho Beach: The winds and waves at Jericho Beach have been familiar to local Native people for a mighty long time. Thick middens of clamshells on the nearby hills testify to where the Musqueam people once maintained a seasonal residence. Now wild bunnies and coyotes cavort among the brambles, while on the beach windsurfers and kayakers get their kicks being blown around. Jericho Beach is one of the few beaches in Vancouver where, on a big wave day, you run the risk of getting tumbled ‘in the washing machine, as they say in Hawaii. The Jericho Sailing Centre Association maintains an old Royal Canadian Air Force office building as a staging area for anyone wishing to swallow some seawater.
Fishing: You’ll need a saltwater fishing licence before you toss a line into the waters around Greater Vancouver, which are available at most sport-fishing stores. Anglers and crabbers use the dock at Belcarra Regional Park and the pier at Jericho Beach as an excuse to spend some time in the outdoors. Water quality at both locations is often suspect, especially for its effect on bottom feeders, but this doesn’t keep fishermen from enjoying their catch. Smelt fishers cast their filigree nets from the waters of Jericho and Kitsilano Beaches. The seawall at Stanley Park is another popular angling location, particularly around the kilometre 6 marker at Siwash Rock. The water is sufficiently deep here to allow the possibility of landing a salmon, especially when a run of pinks returns to Burrard Inlet at the end of summer.
Nightlife: On a warm summer night, the music spilling out from Vancouver’s clubs and bars ranges from down-and-dirty R&B at the suitably raunchy Yale Hotel, and the rollicking Blarney Stone Olde Irish Pub, where you see entire families partying together, through local alternative bands at the Town Pump, and disco thump at Richard’s on Richards and The Urban Well. To find out who’s playing where, pick up a copy of the Georgia Straight or Thursday’s Vancouver Sun.
Festivals: Vancouver is alive with a wide array of arts and entertainment throughout the year. From live theatre and performing arts to unique exhibits and museums, there is something for every arts enthusiast.The Vancouver Folk Music Festival is held in mid July, when thousands of people of every age return to Jericho Beach Park to listen, to dance and even sing along to music from around the corner and around the world. Vancouver’s annual professional Shakespeare Festival presents three classical productions and several special events in open-ended tents on the waterfront in Vanier Park. Vancouver becomes “Jazz Heaven” during the city’s largest annual festival, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, featuring 1,700 internationally-renowned and emerging artists from Canada and around the world in more than 400 performances throughout Vancouver.
Spectator Sports: The Canucks, Vancouver’s hockey team (NHL), haven’t managed to win the Stanley Cup yet, but they’ve come close a few times. The Vancouver Whitecaps, the local soccer team (MLS), has a devoted following. Visiting baseball enthusiasts should try to catch the minor-league Vancouver triple-A Canadians game at the Nat Bailey Stadium, a venue New York Yankee stalwart Roger Maris once called “the prettiest ballpark I’ve ever played in.”
The North Shore of Vancouver offers a number of attractions worth visiting, including the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour. The North Shore Mountains offer some of the best mountain biking you can imagine.
Getting Here: Greater Vancouver occupies the southwestern corner of British Columbia. The Canada-US border marks the southern boundary line. Travellers clear customs from Washington State into BC at any of four locations (Canada Customs, 604-666-0545 or 1-800-461-9999 in Canada only; US Customs, 360-332-5771). The busiest locations are the two crossings in Blaine, Washington, where Interstate 5 links with Highway 99 at the Peace Arch crossing and leads north into Vancouver, a distance of 30 miles (50 km). Nearby, a short distance east of Peace Arch, is the crossing at Douglas. Follow well-signed Highway 15 north to Highway 99 via Eighth Avenue. A third crossing is located north of Bellingham at the junction of Washington’s Highway 539 and BC’s Highway 13, just south of Aldergrove in the Fraser Valley. Farther east, Washington’s Highway 9 links with BC’s Highway 11 at the Sumas/Huntingdon crossing just south of Abbotsford, also in the Fraser Valley.
BC Ferries sails from Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island to Tsawwassen in Delta, and from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. Crossing time is under 2 hours and Vancouver is a 30- to 45-minute drive from either terminal. Approach the Lower Mainland from the east on Highway 3 (Route of the Crow) from Princeton, or Highway 5 from Merritt. From the north, take either Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway) west from Kamloops, or Highway 99 south from Highway 97 near Cache Creek.
Airline passengers arrive at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR), 604-276-6101, on Sea Island in Richmond. Vancouver lies on the north side of the Fraser River’s North Arm, adjacent to the airport, and is easily reached via the Arthur Laing Bridge. Bus and train passengers arrive at the Pacific Central station located in downtown Vancouver at 1150 Main Street. Public transportation is available from both terminals. TransLink, 604-953-3333, encompasses Vancouver’s bus system, as well as SkyTrain, an elevated light-rail rapid-transit system, and SeaBus, catamarans that shuttle passengers between downtown and the North Shore. Bus transfers are available for SeaBus or SkyTrain.
VIA Rail is your window on British Columbia and Canada – coast to coast and up to Hudson Bay! VIA Rail Canada runs from Vancouver to Jasper in the BC Rockies, and back to the Pacific Coast at Prince Rupert, with an overnight stop in Prince George. VIA Rail Canada connects at several cross-border crossings with Amtrak, for continuing rail travel through North America. Today’s VIA Rail network and services offer outstanding travel options, whatever your budget or destination. Whether you’re on a coast-to-coast adventure or on an Inter-city hop, VIA Rail’s trains will take you there in comfort and style.
Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island Circle Tour: Journey from the bustling urban centre of Vancouver, north along the serene magical coastline of British Columbia, across the majestic waters of the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island. Then travel south along its east coast of coves and bays, tasting the unique island lifestyle before returning to BC’s south coast.
Discovery Coast Circle Tour Cross to Vancouver Island from Vancouver and head north, boarding BC Ferries in Port Hardy. Return to the mainland at Bella Coola and the grassy plateaus, rolling meadows, picturesque canyons and high mountain peaks of the Chilcotin. The old Cariboo Wagon Road will lead you back to Vancouver through the heart of the Cariboo region.
Inside Passage Circle Tour: Commence this exciting seven to fourteen day trip in the lively and bustling metropolis of Vancouver, with its wonderful array of public gardens, parks and beaches. Once you’ve had your fill of art, shopping and fine dining, and have explored what the city has to offer, travel south and board a BC Ferry at Tsawwassen for the relaxing 90-minute scenic ride to Vancouver Island. Head north, boarding BC Ferry in Port Hardy, destined for Prince Rupert. The hauntingly beautiful Queen Charlotte Islands beckon to you before venturing east on the Yellowhead Highway to Prince George, and south through the peaceful Cariboo to Vancouver along the historic Cariboo Wagon Road.
Native Heritage Circle Tour: Follow the same route as the Inside Passage Circle Tour, and take in some of the wonderful examples of Native art to be seen in British Columbia, both ancient and modern. View haunting totem poles, mystifying petroglyph stone carvings, heritage Indian villages, and Native arts and crafts skillfully carved by First Nations people.
Coast Mountains Circle Tour: Head north out of Vancouver on the intensely scenic Sea to Sky Highway to the magical winter resort town of Whistler, and continue on to Lillooet and Pemberton. Cross paths with two historic routes, the Pemberton Trail and the Gold Rush Heritage Trail, which linked the coast with the interior in the days before the automobile. Return via the Okanagan and Fraser Valleys.
Fraser Valley Circle Tour: Explore the rural farmlands and forests of the fertile Fraser Valley, which runs more than one hundred miles inland from the Pacific Ocean to the small town of Hope. Travel outbound on the scenic route north of the historic Fraser River, returning westwards along the Trans Canada Highway 1 to Vancouver, and Lotus Land.