Corraled by the English Bay on one side and the Vancouver Harbour on the other, this stunning stretch of land was declared the city's first public park in 1886. Unlike most city parks, Stanley Park was not laid-out by a landscape architect, but instead, grew organically over the years. The rainforest forms the core of Stanley Park, with trees towering to a height of 76 meters (249 feet) and close to 100 years old, while the seawall hems the park's waterfront. Scattered throughout are monuments, landmarks and public art, as well as gardens with vivid floral displays and totem poles; a tapestry of varied habitats teeming with native wildlife that is held together by a network of trails. The park is also home to attractions like a miniature railway, the Malkin Bowl and the Vancouver Aquarium.
Stanley Park's Seawall is one of the most famous places for outdoor activities in Vancouver. The 5.5-mile (8.8km) concrete route circles the perimeter of the park, offering a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and mountains. The salty breeze fused with hemlock and cedar, immense open space, and surroundings rejuvenate even the staunchest of workaholics. Parents pushing strollers, joggers, walkers, cyclists, and rollerbladers traffic the pedestrian thoroughfare. Benches are placed along the way. The sandy beaches that lay just off the wall are ideal for picnics and naps.
Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Park is a myriad of awe-inspiring sights rolled into one. This verdant retreat is the crown jewel of Vancouver's urban landscape, perched at the city's highest point, in full view of the North Shore Mountains and the city itself. The park is a diverse tapestry of luxuriant spaces, each a cornucopia of delights. At the Quarry Garden, the former wasteland has been transformed into a lush garden complete with a babbling brook and cascading waterfall, while the Rose Garden abounds in variously hued floral displays. Nearby, the Arboretum shelters a collection of native and exotic trees, interspersed with sculptures and public art by the likes of Henry Moore. The Dancing Fountain is another popular feature, as is the Painters' Corner where local artists can be seen working on picturesque landscapes, their original artwork on display. For the more actively inclined, the park also features sports facilities like tennis courts, mini-golf and lawn bowling.
Since 1973 the Cultch has been providing Vancouver with quality contemporary productions in the arts. The theater was actually originally a Methodist church, long since converted into the venue that it is known and loved. The Cultch also provides art programs for youth and hosts an annual youth arts festival. See website for more details.
Occupying a sizable space in Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium offers unseen glimpses into the beauty of the marine kingdom with enchanting displays and a strong emphasis on conservation. Officially known as the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, this aquarium is divided into distinct spaces that feature aquatic wildlife from the Arctic to the Amazon. Nearly 58,000 creatures inhabit in this sprawling marine centre, from playful yet majestic Steller sea lions and genteel dolphins who dive through the air, to killer whales and African penguins. There is a touch pool for visitors to discover the magic agility that cownose and southern stingrays are blessed with. The aquarium also acts as the crusader of sorts for sea creatures, evident from its Ocean Wise program. Not only does it employ professional naturalists to interpret animal behavior, but also contains a living exhibit that illustrates the issues faced by marine life in the Georgia Strait.
This award-winning glass and concrete structure hold one of the world's most extensive collections of Northwest Coast First Nations art. This University of British Columbia Museum is a must-see while you are in the city. History, culture and art are on display in an atmosphere of tranquillity and light. See totem poles, canoes and sculptures in silver, gold and wood. There's also a gift shop if you wish to buy some souvenir for your family or friends.
Opened in 1936, the Vancouver City Hall forms a popular historical landmark. The unique architecture of the building makes it one of the most identifiable buildings in the area and hidden details within the structure and decor is what attracts most buffs to its doors. With the Vancouver Coat of Arms embedded on the outer doors and each door knob carrying the building's monogram, it is understandable why the building took a whopping one million to construct. So the next time you are in the city, be sure to check out the city's pride and joy, the Vancouver City Hall.
For an evening of laughter and merriment, visit Yuk Yuk's Comedy Club, nestled in Downtown Vancouver. This, chain of comedy clubs created in 1977 by Mark Breslin, a stand-up comedian, is one of Canada's prime places for a laughter riot. A line up of events by popular names like Sean Cullen, Nikki Payne and various artistes from New York, leaves the audience in splits of laughter. Yuk Yuk's is one of the best places to drop by when you are gloomy. After a show take home a memorabilia from Yuk Yuk's; you can choose from sweatshirts, tank tops, bags, hats and more. Visit the store and check out their collection.
You've probably taken a ride on Vancouver's SkyTrain, Seabus and buses while touring around the city, but have you been on an interurban rail car dating back from the early 1900s? These electric rail cars used to ply the routes between Marpole and Steveston in the early 1900s. Completely restored, the cars now travel a demonstration line from Granville Island to Science World.
The Beaumont Studios is a boon to upcoming creative talents. It offers studio space for rent to a host of artistes from the fields of visual art, photography, fine arts, fashion among other things. So you will always find some exhibition or the other lining up the walls of the space. The venue is often used to put up theatrical shows, musical performances and other cultural events. Check website for more details.