If your Alaska cruise starts or ends in Vancouver, BC, be sure to plan to stay a few days before or after the cruise. The safety, international energy and the vibrant restaurants are just some of the many attractions that will make you want to return. It is a world class city offering food, culture, nature, and more.
The city is easily walked, with a convenient light rail system that makes getting to the downtown from the airport quick and affordable. The Skytrain also makes getting around the city quick, easy, safe and affordable. If you are arriving by cruise ship and not able to stay, there is a stop a block away from the cruise terminal that will take you to the airport.
Stanley Park, one of the best parks in the Americas is minutes away from the downtown area. Like a Central Park on the water, the park offers 14 miles of ocean side paths, native totem poles, lakes and beaches. Stroll the paths or rent a bike to cover more territory.
In the Northwest, “summer” can be short and the norm is a mixture of sun, clouds and quick showers. Weather moves fast in the area and it is possible to see all within an hour, so go prepared with a jacket or an umbrella.
The melting of many cultures has created a mix of restaurants to meet all tastes. Like many large cities, competition means that the restaurants have to be great to survive. The proximity to the Pacific ocean and the milder climate provide local chefs with a mixture of local seafood and vegetables. Vancouver also has a lively food truck presence. Download the Eat St app to find your favorite food experience on a budget! www.foodvancouver.com
Granville Island is one of the must see attractions for both locals and tourists. The Island is home to galleries, shops, and restaurants overlooking the water. Be sure to visit the local Farmers Market where you can find produce, pastries, flowers and more! For a colorful ride there, take the Aquabus ferry across False Creek. http://theaquabus.com/ http://granvilleisland.com/granville-island-farmers-market
For a more authentic experience, take Skytrain to Commercial Drive. The location on the far east of the city is an eclectic community. Known locally as The Drive, you will be mixing mostly with locals. ere H Over 57 of the Best of Vancouver winners or located on The Drive. www.thedrive.ca
Vancouver is where we were introduced to the hop on hop off bus. Several serve Vancouver and are a perfect way to hit the high points of the city in a day. The buses make a loop of the city, stopping at the main attractions. You hop off, visit and catch the next bus to go by. I would recommend splurging for the more expensive lines with the nicer buses. The lower end buses can get overcrowded and cannot always accommodate everyone waiting at a stop. http://govancouver.about.com/
Insiders Tip: watch the sunset from one of the beaches in Stanley Park, or go to the bar at the Pan Pacific at sundown to watch the sun set and the lights come up across the harbor.
In short, if you enjoy music, food, nature, native American culture (called First Nations in Canada, don’t say Indian), or shopping, don’t miss the opportunity to spend a few days in Vancouver. It instantly became one of our favorite cities, and I am sure you will feel the same.