20401Tourism British ColumbiaBy Judi Lees

Anytime is a great time to encourage your clients to visit Vancouver and its charming environs. And given the fact that the popular West Coast city is about to host one of the world’s biggest parties for sports enthusiasts, it is easy to sell a post-Games trip. After all, it is an all season location with plaudits piled as high as its mighty mountains but let us be more specific – here are some of the best of Vancouver.

When It Comes To Eating
To say that Vancouver boasts international dining is an understatement. It has been lauded by many food journalists as North America’s best, so dining in Vancouver is often the highlight of a visit. A cornucopia awaits – in the surroundings of some of the city’s finest hotels like the not-to-be-missed William Tell in the Georgian Court or at a hole-in-the-wall in Chinatown; there is Spanish tapas or Izakaya – Japanese tapas-style, a craze that everyone is going crazy for; taste neighbourhood Italian or savour some of the world’s best Indian, Moroccan or fusion of every genre. In the buzz of city centre or in suburban neighbourhoods, tell your clients to bring their appetites.

Sleeping In The City
While there are good transportation facilities – recently expanded thanks to the 2010 Games – there is nothing like a stay in the heart of the city. Rest your head beside the ocean in a large, luxurious hotel or choose one attached to a busy mall; stay at an intimate boutique hotel; there are unique and classy B&Bs in the west end or go for the view and convenience of the upgraded Granville Island Hotel where you can snoop in shops and galleries just outside the door. In Vancouver, day’s end is just as enjoyable as the adventuresome day.

20331Tourism British ColumbiaThe Best of the City
Helping your clients come up with an itinerary in this city is a challenge if it is a case of so little time and so much to see. Here are some must-sees in no particular order. For sure recommend a city tour. The hop-on, hop-off Big Bus Tour is an easy choice. It runs year-round and tickets last two days; stops are at all the major areas of the city. The Museum of Anthropology at UBC pleases in all ways. By mid-month this much-loved space will officially open its upgrade and new expansion. Its unique architecture, historical exhibits – with information on many cultures but a focus upon First Nations people of the Coast – plus astounding aboriginal art, makes it a memorable visit. The above-the-ocean setting adds to its splendour. For families there is Science World, another remarkable structure as it is housed in a geodesic dome. May through September the featured exhibition is Treasure! that explores the mysteries and science of all treasure-related things. Kids love the Maritime Museum, with fun exhibits relating to the history of the sea in a charming way, and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, to learn about the universe as well as our planet. Gallery hoppers will enjoy strolling Upper Granville as well as Yaletown and Gastown. For many, you can’t beat Granville Island where art and crafts are housed in what were once industrial buildings. Known for its elaborate farmer’s market, a visit to the island that is attached to the city by a causeway can easily be planned for a full day.

Uniquely Vancouver
While many of these favourite sights should not be missed, consider that Vancouver’s setting on the ocean, with a backdrop of forests and mountains, gives it a whole range of exceptional activities, many which cannot be enjoyed in other cosmopolitan areas. It is almost mandatory that visitors go up a mountain. Grouse Mountain sparkles in every season – whether you take in the panoramic view while on skis, while dining or from a hiking trail. Plus, there are a variety of activities on this mountain top. The quintessential introduction to this city is to walk the seawall that circles Stanley Park. No need to do the whole 8.8 km as an important aspect of the walk is to visit attractions in the park. Recognized as the jewel of the city, it is home to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, totem poles, children’s attractions, restaurants and green spaces with trails and views similar to backcountry. Spending time in the great outdoors is a big part of a Vancouver visit. As well as the ruggedness of parks like West Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park and Cypress Mountain (one of the 2010 Games’ venues), there are the gorgeous gardens – Van Dusen Botanical Garden and Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden, to name two of the many. One more unique Vancouver experience – walk the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a swinging wood and cable bridge, 70 metres above a picturesque canyon.

What Else?
Shopping on Robson Street, a visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery, travel to Steveston to dine on seafood in heritage buildings, visit a fish hatchery, catch some of the amazing festivals, ride on a seabus or ferry, get in a gondola, go to Fort Langley for a historical time….