article photo by the Cultural Landscape Foundation
Let’s start with the impressive architectural gem, the Vancouver Public Library. It’s no ordinary building; its design was inspired by the Roman Colosseum, offering a refreshing blend of classical history and modern functionality.
Speaking of architecture, the sprawling metropolis isn’t Vancouver’s only skyline. Just North of the city, nature constructs a spectacle of its own. Known as the “Sea-to-Sky” country, the landscape takes a dramatic rise, evolving from oceanic vistas to towering peaks within a short drive.
Vancouver has diversity beyond its terrain, and it is exemplified by its population. The city has the highest population density in Western Canada, making it the most cosmopolitan, and creating a vibrant mosaic of cultures.
This multiculturalism shines through in the Punjabi Market on Main Street, affectionately called “Little India”. A fusion of colors, scents, and sounds, this five-block shopping district is a testament to the strong Indo-Canadian community in Vancouver.
Vancouver also houses the oldest Chinese garden in Canada, the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden. This garden’s exquisite beauty is a quiet tribute to the deep-rooted Chinese heritage in the city.
Keeping with the theme of heritage, it’s essential to acknowledge the city’s First Nations origins. Vancouver is named after George Vancouver, but the indigenous Squamish people originally called the area “X̱wáýx̱way,” translating roughly as “place of masks”.
The Museum of Anthropology at UBC is a remarkable institution dedicated to understanding the world’s indigenous cultures, particularly the First Nations peoples. This impressive repository for culture and history is perched on the cliffs of Point Grey, overlooking the ocean.
Not all museums in Vancouver are traditional. For instance, the whimsical Police Museum allows visitors to explore a former morgue and delve into the city’s quirky law enforcement past.
When it comes to food, Vancouver is nothing short of a culinary mecca. As a testament to its gastronomic diversity, Vancouver is the birthplace of the California Roll. Despite its name, this sushi staple was actually invented by Chef Hidekazu Tojo, a local culinary genius.
Another food-related tidbit: The diverse populace of Vancouver ensures that the city boasts more than just mainstream North American cuisine. In fact, Vancouver has been recognized as the city with the best Asian food outside of Asia.
Speaking of food, Granville Island Public Market is the foodie heart of Vancouver. From local, artisanal cheeses to freshly caught seafood, it’s a bustling hub of culinary creativity and local produce.
Outside of the market, Granville Island is a cultural hub, once an industrial manufacturing area, now an artsy enclave full of theatres, galleries, and craft studios.
The artistic soul of the city extends beyond Granville Island. The Vancouver Mural Festival, an annual public art celebration, sees artists from all walks of life transforming the city’s walls into vibrant, thought-provoking murals.
In Vancouver, green spaces abound. Stanley Park, an oasis bigger than New York’s Central Park, offers a veritable forest in the city, featuring towering trees, beautiful beaches, and a seawall perfect for leisurely strolls or energetic bike rides.
Vancouver’s passion for the environment extends beyond its parks. The city has set its sights on becoming the greenest city in the world by 2025, which is evident in its emphasis on cycling, electric cars with many charging stations, and the efficiency of the city infrastructure itself.
The city’s commitment to sustainability is mirrored in its innovative architectural endeavors. The green-roofed Vancouver Convention Centre, for example, is home to the largest non-industrial living roof in North America.
As for transportation, Vancouver is the birthplace of the car-sharing program. This forward-thinking initiative has morphed into a whole new transportation culture, with bike lanes and electric charging stations abounding in the city.
The SkyTrain in Vancouver is also quite noteworthy, serving as the longest automated driverless light rapid transit system in the world. It not only ensures seamless travel but also offers incredible views of the cityscape.
In Vancouver, even shopping is steeped in novelty. The city is home to one of North America’s first large-scale shopping malls, the Park Royal Shopping Centre, a monument to the city’s history of retail innovation.
For thrill-seekers, Vancouver holds the key to an adrenaline rush. The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, dangling 70 meters above the riverbed, is a heart-stopping adventure that offers breathtaking views of the verdant rainforest below.
In the Kitsilano neighborhood, you’ll find the longest pool in Canada, Kitsilano Pool, offering an impressive 137.5-meter-long swimming area filled with saltwater and unparalleled views of the ocean and mountains.
Kitsilano also hosts the Museum of Vancouver, the largest civic museum in Canada. Its intriguing exhibits provide a comprehensive look at the city’s past and its vibrant present.
Vancouver’s film industry is prolific, often doubling for other cities in movies and TV shows. Affectionately known as “Hollywood North“, it’s not uncommon to stumble upon a film set while meandering through the city.
The city’s cinematic prowess is on full display during the Vancouver International Film Festival, one of the largest film festivals in North America. It showcases a diverse range of films, celebrating the power of storytelling and the artistry of cinema.
Lastly, and perhaps most intriguingly, Vancouver is a city without freeways. Despite being a bustling urban hub, there are no highways slicing through the city’s core, a result of a citizen-led protest in the 1960s.