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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.
Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden is the first classical Chinese garden built outside China. It employs the ancient techniques of the Ming Dynasty, condensing the serenity of the mountain, streams, valleys and hills into an urban sanctuary. Every niche and arch of the garden is meticulously laid out. Each plant, rock and piece of architecture is selected for its symbolic meaning and mood. The Chinese lettering at the entrance reads 'Garden of Ease'. A place filled with lush green grass and tranquility.
After closing its doors in the mid-1990s amid protests from patrons and famous musicians, the recently refurbished and re-opened ballroom is making a bouncy comeback. Its dance floor lies atop tires that make everyone move. The 990-capacity venue, located in downtown, has a history of amazing performances ranging from Dizzy Gillespie and Tina Turner to Nirvana and the Clash, along with modern artists like Stereolab and the Flaming Lips. Its location in the entertainment hub makes it a perfect place to see a show before going clubbing. Call ahead for current event details.
Known as the third largest in North America, Vancouver's Chinatown is a colorful area filled with exotic wonders. The profusion of markets and stores sells everything from star fruit, gai lan, ginseng, herbal medicine and tea sets to hand carved chopsticks, rice paper pads and Buddha figurines. It's a very inexpensive place to shop for gifts and groceries. Pender Street, between Carral and Main, has shops selling curios, clothing, herbs and house wares. You can grab a drink at The Keefer Bar, dine at Bao Bei and then spend a few hours at the wonderful Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden.
With its asymmetrical towers, downtown's Holy Rosary Cathedral is a perfect example of Gothic Revival architecture. The pointed window and doorway arches, vaulted ceiling, exterior sandstone carving and tracery stained glass windows all reflect the Gothic character. Also notable is the full ring of the bells. All eight hang in the 66-meter east tower. This was the first church in Canada to ring a peal of Grandshire Triples to honor Dominion Day (now called Canada Day) in 1911. It lasted two hours and 59 minutes! Admission is free, though donations are accepted.
The red front of Funky Winker Beans greets weary pedestrians on West Hastings Street in Gastown. A neighborhood favorite for reasonably priced drinks and priceless entertainment, this dive bar has been entertaining locals and visitors for decades. The music is also quite popular, since local as well as touring bands and artists perform here. See the website to know more.