Beautiful, diverse and really good eatingWhether it’s a getaway or extended vacation, the city of Vancouver B.C. is easily one of the most interesting cities in North America. And, for Northwest residents, it’s also reasonably close by.
Vancouver was recognized as the top city in Canada in Travel and Leisure magazine's 2014 World's Best Awards. The city was also named the Top Destination in Canada in TripAdvisor's 2014 Travelers' Choice awards. Vancouver has been called Manhattan with mountains – it’s gorgeous, sophisticated and has a very diverse population. USA TODAY says that “despite a rain-prone climate, it displays a perpetually sunny disposition. Consider it the supermodel of North American cities."
Vancouver offers travelers both outdoor adventure and the sophisticated amenities of a world-class city. The mountains are only about 20 minutes north of downtown and that spectacular backdrop sets the city apart from many others. Not to mention world class hotels, restaurants and other exciting attractions – and, for Washington residents, it’s all easy to reach.
The city is especially well known for its restaurant scene. From the burgeoning street food scene and family-run cafes to waterfront seafood restaurants, the choices in Vancouver BC seem endless. Vancouver’s culinary scene has been lauded by international media such as the New York Times, which wrote that “the number of truly outstanding restaurants in Vancouver is astonishing, and the prices are ridiculously low when compared to other food capitals..."
That’s pretty high praise coming from the New York Times. The Seattle Times said Vancouver is where “the culinary bar is raised higher and the restaurants are more trendsetting than anywhere in the United States."
There are lots of things to do in Vancouver. For example, there are self-guided and guided walking tours that lead to lively and historic neighborhoods. Or you might select from a wide range of floatplane, air or helicopter tours and get a birds-eye view of the area’s mountains, the ocean and, of course the city.
Even if you drive to Vancouver, you might consider a guided coach tour of the city. Choose from a narrated bus, SUV or small van and visit well-known attractions such as Capilano Suspension Bridge and Stanley Park. You can also hop on and off the local trolleys and double-decker buses, which are a cheap and efficient way to get around Vancouver. They have a loop connecting neighborhoods and attractions.
One place to be sure and check out is Granville Island. In the early 1900s, Granville Island was home to factories, plants and sawmills. Things are a little different today—Granville Island is both a locals’ favorite and a huge draw for visitors.
This neighborhood sits just south of downtown. One of the best ways to get to Granville Island is one of the mini-tugboat ferries that criss-cross False Creek. Once you’re there, the biggest attraction on Granville Island is the Public Market, one of the city’s most important cultural districts with theatres, artisan workshops and craft studios.
Housed indoors, there are endless rows of stalls that feature fresh produce, gourmet foods, baked goods, and seafood. With the water right there and the city skyline backdrop, this is a great place to get a feel for Vancouver. If you’re headed for Vancouver, B.C. you’ll want to be prepared for crossing the Canadian border. For Washington residents, that means taking along your US passport or an enhanced Washington driver’s license.
As you go across the border you’ll be asked a few questions like where you live, the purpose of your visit and how long you’ll be staying. If you have kids, be sure and bring along proof of identity for them.
It’s recommended that you use Canadian currency while in Vancouver – you can exchange your US dollars at local banks, credit unions and foreign exchange brokers. It’s wise to get some Canadian currency in your home town before you leave.
The rate of exchange can vary, but the good news is your U.S. currency is worth more – right now it takes about 74 cents to buy one Canadian dollar.
RECOMMENDED LODGING: Vancouver lodging
Click here for more great Northwest travel ideas!
Click here for great deals on California travel