A large port city, Vancouver, BC is surrounded by mountains and water, providing for great opportunities to experience boating, sailing, fishing, hiking, whale watching, birding, cycling, mountain biking, snowboarding and skiing. In addition to the outdoor activities, you can experience wonderful contemporary architecture, public sculptures, art, theater and music.
Vancouver Art Gallery: This is major art museum in the heart of downtown. The collection of over 11,000 works of art, represents the most comprehensive resource for visual culture in British Columbia. In addition, the collection contains outstanding examples of 19th century mountain and coastal landscapes to recent photo-based artworks by popular Vancouver artists. The Gallery owns the largest and most significant group of paintings and works on paper by the modernist landscape painter Emily Carr.
The Gallery also features a number of temporary exhibitions plus lectures, artist talks and concerts. I enjoyed an exhibition of paintings by Canadian artist David Milne, a photography exhibition and an architecture exhibition called Cabin Fever, on the history of the cabin in North American history. They have a lovely Gallery Cafe with outdoor seating that is perfect in the warmer months. They feature coffee and pastries along with cocktails, wines, soups, salads and sandwiches. 750 Hornby St.
Stop in to see a current exhibition at the Poly Culture Art Center at 905 W. Pender St., #105. I enjoyed a painting exhibition as well as a ceramics show featuring Chinese tea bowls. It’s mission is to offer a cultural exchange between China and North America.
In downtown Vancouver, there are a number of great art galleries. Make sure to visit The Space – An Art Gallery, at 1063 Hamilton in Yaletown, featuring the works of local artists. Peter Kiss Gallery is a nice gallery on Granville Island, at 1327 Railspur Alley, featuring his sculptures, mixed media and paintings. Chali-Rosso Art Gallery, at 549 Howe St., carries quality works by artists including Picasso, Dali, Chagall, Miro, and Matisse.
Granville Island: Visiting Granville Island was by far one of the highlights of my recent trip to Vancouver. Taking the ferry from Vancouver’s Aquatic Center across to the island is an easy way to get there. The top things to do while there include touring the Granville Public Market, visiting artists studios and galleries and trying one the many restaurants. There is also a craft brewery and a distillery open for tastings.
Open seven days a week, the Public Market has a number of purveyors selling fruit, fresh produce, baked goods, coffee drinks, seafood, ice cream, spices, oils and vinegars and specialty food items. There is also a farmers market on Thursdays from early June through late September.
The English Bay Gallery at #103 1535 Johnston St. is well-worth the visit. You can also catch a play at the Waterfront Theatre or a performance at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. The Arts Club Alive on Three Stages, performs at the Granville Island Stage during the festival in mid-October to mid-November.
Stanley Park: Stanley Park is a 1,000 acre public park that borders downtown Vancouver. It is almost entirely surrounded by the waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay. The park has a long history and was one of the first areas to be explored in the city. You can walk or bike the famous seawall, hike one of the many trails, explore beautiful beaches and natural, cultural and historic landmarks. Carriage rides are provided by Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours. It also includes Canada’s largest aquarium, The Vancouver Aquarium, at 845 Avison Way.
Theater lovers will love Theatre Under The Stars in the summer at the Malkin Bowl in the park. The nine First Nation’s nine totem pole located in the park at Brockton Point are BC’s most visited tourist attraction.
Vancouver’s Chinatown was recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada in 2011. When visiting Chinatown, make sure to see the Millennium Gate at the west end of the neighborhood on East Pender St.
Also not to be missed is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. This is the first full-sized classical Chinese garden outside of China. It sits on the site where Chinatown originated. It opened in time for the 1986 World’s Fair. It is a peaceful setting in the midst of a bustling city. You will enjoy the architecture of the halls, pavilions, courtyards, covered walkways, terraces and lookout platforms all in a Ming dynasty classical design. In addition, there are gardens featuring rocks, water features and plants. 578 Carrall St. There is a larger park next door with free admission.