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5 Awesome Things to Do and See in Vancouver

It’s been over two weeks since we returned from our Alaskan cruise. It truly is a once~in~a~lifetime trip. Since we started our journey in Vancouver. Let me share with you 5 awesome things to do and see in Vancouver.

I was going to share our entire cruise from landing in Vancouver until we left Fairbanks. Then I realized that there was just too much to cover in one post. So here I’m going the share 5 awesome things to do and see in Vancouver ~ the first leg of our journey.

We love cities that are walkable, and Vancouver is a very walkable city. (It’s about 35 minutes from the airport.) We were also fortunate that the weather was picture~perfect: sunny skies and cool to warm temperatures. We were told that it rains a lot in Vancouver so we were really fortunate.

Vancouver: What to Do and See for a Great Trip

We always recommend arriving at your cruise destination city at least a day or two ahead. This will avoid airline issues, help you acclimate to a different timezone, and see the sights of a new city.

Because we had never been to Vancouver, we chose a cruise trip that embarked from there. Our cruise departed on Wednesday and we arrived in Vancouver on Sunday afternoon. We had a direct flight from Dallas which was really nice. It was an early flight and we gained two hours, which put us in about noon.

Our hotel was the Westin Bayshore (which has a very nice lobby bar and restaurant where we ate dinner the first night), right down on the water at Coal Harbor in West Vancouver. It was the perfect location to see and do awesome things in Vancouver.

Our cruise line, Princess, had blocked off rooms for travelers coming in early for the cruise.

NOTE: All cruise lines block hotel rooms near the pier and will help you make reservations.

This is the view from our room. Beautiful view of the pool, the inlet and the mountains of North Vancouver. We watched kids play in the pool.

Vancouver view from hotel room

Looking back toward Coal Harbor, we could see cruise ships and the pantoon planes take off and land.

Vancouver Harbor

These five awesome things to do in Vancouver are not in order; actually, our favorite is at the end, Number 5.

Number 1 Thing to Do in Vancouver: Walk along Coal Harber

One of the awesome things to do in Vancouver is to walk the city. We did a lot of walking through both commercial and residential areas. People live in highrises, townhouses, and homes all over the downtown area. It was somewhat hilly in areas. If you are not up to walking long distances, then I recommend that you take breaks or get Uber to take you from one area to the next.

Walk along the boardwalk in West Vancouver. Enjoy the beautiful boats docked along the boardwalk of Coal Harbor. This area is where locals walk their dogs and tourists stroll. Across the inlet, you can see mountains and more of Vancouver.

Vancouver Coal Harbor boardwalk

The view is very pretty. Stop for lunch, a snack or dinner. Our favorite lunch spots were Catcus Club Cafe and Carderos. Both are on the water, have great views, and great food.

Number 2: Take the Aqua Bus to Granville Island

Another awesome thing to do in Vancouver is to take a ride on the Aqua Bus, a cute little water taxi. It reminded me of bumper cars at the State Fair. It’s about a 4~8 minute ride, depending on where you board. (Do NOT walk over the bridge like we did. It was exhausting.)

The Aqua Bus is very inexpensive and you can get picked up from different locations in Vancouver. (Your hotel concierge can give you a map and get you tickets.

The Aqua Bus allows you to see some awesome views of the city.

Vancouver aqua bus

Number 3: Visit Granville Island

On Granville Island, the indoor Public Market is the main attraction. If you’ve ever been to a food market (Pike’s Market/Seattle, Nice, Barcelona) it’s similar to that. If we had one in Dallas, this is where I would grocery shop every day. You can definitely grab a bite to eat there.

This indoor food market is a feast for the eyes. Every kind of vegetable, fruit, meat and seafood is available. Cheeses, desserts, and candies are available to taste and buy. You can buy something and walk around snacking (macarons, anyone?)

There are also beautiful flowers. It reminded me of Pike’s Market or a European flower market.

Public Market on Granville Island Vancouver

Don’t have an agenda. Allow yourself a couple of hours to walk around and just enjoy the outdoor ambiance, shops and people~watching.

We ate an early lunch at the Vancouver Fish Company and it was delicious.

Number 4: Visit Stanley Park

Stanley Park is a gem at the end of Vancouver, the first, largest, and most beloved urban park. It is a magnificent green oasis in the midst of the urban landscape of Vancouver.

Stanley Park is a natural West Coast rainforest where you can enjoy scenic views of water, mountains, sky, and majestic trees.

After lunch at the Cactus Club Cafe at English Bay (same restaurant, but different location and different vibe) right on the beach (Our granddaughters took off their shoes and played in the sand.), we walked along Stanley Park’s famous Seawall.

Vancouver seawall beach

Vancouver has the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path.

Vancouver seawall

As we turned toward the greenery of the park, we discovered the miles of trails, beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers. We found trees whose flowers looked like large azalea blossoms. Never seen anything like these gorgeous bring pink blooms.

Vancouver Stanley Park flowers

Even the girls noticed how much bigger the flowers were than the azaleas they have in Atlanta.

Vancouver Stanley Park flowers

We accidentally came across the protected nesting of the Great Blue Herons. You can see them at their nesting area near the Vancouver Parks Board Office and the Tennis Courts near the Beach Avenue entrance to Stanley Park. They are normally up in high trees in this area.

The nesting area has a fence around it. The trees in the stand are protected with a metal band around them to prevent predators such as raccoons from climbing the trees.

It was late May so they are in their nests, which are quite large, high up in the trees incubating their eggs.

Great Blue Herons nesting Stanley Park Vancouver

The park offers a wide range of unforgettable experiences for all ages and interests, including Canada’s largest aquarium, which, unfortunately, we did not have time to visit.

Number 5: The Best Thing to Do in Vancouver

The absolutely best thing, the cannot~miss~thing~to~do in Vancouver is the Capilona Suspension Bridge. It is an amazing experience amid the natural beauty of the evergreens that tower above the rich green forest floor.

On the morning after our older daughter and family arrived in Vancouver, she said she read it was the number1 thing to do. When I heard “suspension bridge”, my heart gave a little jolt: I am slightly very nervous about heights. It didn’t sound like fun to me.

But the grandgirls wanted to go and I was not about to let them see Cici succumb to fear. So all six of us went and I’m so glad I was shamed into going.

The scenery is enough to get you to cross the bridge. It’s made of steel and cables over the Capilano River. Although it shakes a little from the other people walking across, rest assured it is not going to fall. (I kept envisioning Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom.) Focus on the gorgeous tall trees.

This adventure is definitely for the entire family. Here you can see the bridge, which is 450 feet long and hangs 230 feet above the Capilano River. I can’t remember if this picture is before or after we walked across the first time.

Vancouver Capilona Park suspension bridge

Since I’m smiling, you can rest assured that I conquered the bridge. This picture was taken after we crossed over the suspension bridge into the forest.

Vancouver Capilona Park

After you cross the bridge, you’ll feel like you are in an ancient land (Jurassic Park without the dinosaurs).

Enjoy the treetop walkway as you read about how the bridge and the park came to be in the 1800s. The forest is home to wildlife, but except for the raven and hawk attached to their handlers, we didn’t see any lions, tigers or bears.

Walking so high in the treetops is an eerie feeling. The primary trees are Douglas fir, red cedar and western hemlock. The bigger trees are around a thousand years old and tower over two hundred feet.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the lower walkway below.  

Vancouver Capilona Park

The weather was perfect in the forest ~ about 60 and sunny. Except for the voices of other tourists (and giggling little girls), the sounds of birds, slight breezes that whispered through the trees, and babbling brooks were the only sounds you heard. It was truly magical.

The early settlers who inhabited this area and built the first cabins and the bridge are true pioneers. The naturalists and scientists who came to study this rainforest (which extends up to southeast Alaska) are heroes for their foresight in saving this natural treasure.

The story behind the park is truly part of the history of this area and North America. Protecting and ensuring the health of this park, its wildlife and the impact it has on the environment is an ongoing challenge.

I’m so thankful we were able to experience Capilona National Park. If we ever get back to Vancouver, we would go back.

P.S. You do have to go back across the bridge to get back to civilization.

Next week, I’ll share the Alaska portion of our fabulous trip. Until then, I hope that you’ve enjoyed these 5 awesome things to do and see in Vancouver.

Here is a look at another one of our favorite cities, Savanah. And here are our suggestions for traveling.

We can’t forget our other favorite Southern city, Charleston.

If you have any chance of going to Alaska by way of Vancouver, I hope these suggestions and tips will help you. PIN this post to keep as a guide.

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Things to Do and See in Vancouver
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  1. Oh, I love traveling vicariously from my computer chair! Your photography was awesome and it was lovely to see your family and the great scenery (I am one of those people who love looking through piles of other people’s vacay pix!). Thank you for taking the time to share it all with us!

  2. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures with us, Carol. What a nice picture of you and Sweet Shark! So glad you spent time in Vancouver. It is such a beautiful city and there’s just so much to see. You really did a lot in the time you were there!

    We love visiting Vancouver and go often! Before my hubby retired, he travelled to Vancouver and the East Coast often and I always got to go along. We actually considered moving to Victoria or Vancouver for our retirement but homes were so expensive — as were the many condos we looked at. However, we enjoy going for a visit. We love the drive through the mountains — just so beautiful!

    You stayed at a lovely hotel. This is usually where we stay.

    Carol, you did a great job talking about Vancouver! We look forward to hearing about your cruise! I know you had a fabulous time! You are hooked now and there will be more cruises to Alaska in your future, I’m sure!

    1. Mary~Ann, we did indeed love Vancouver. Everyone we met was very nice. The weather was perfect and the surrounding scenery was gorgeous. We love cruising and have several still in our bucket~list.