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Against the backdrop of the North Shore Mountains and the Strait of Georgia, Vancouver is one of Canada's largest, most cosmopolitan, and loveliest cities.
Originally built around sawmill in 1867, Vancouver's first iteration was called “Gastown.” Though comparatively much younger than North America's other major cities, it's the fourth most-densely populated after New York City, San Francisco, and Mexico City.
Vancouver is a spectacularly diverse city with stunning waterfront views, unique parks, and a culinary scene that could rival any other city on Earth. For a mix of nature and culture, don't miss these eight points of interest on your first trip to Vancouver.
Blue Water Café
The natural bounty of the Pacific Northwest — plus Vancouver's diverse array of immigrant cooking traditions — promises travelers excellent food. Explore the many Chinese eateries in Richmond (try Fisherman's Terrace for dim sum) while in downtown, the Blue Water Café serves up sustainable seafood with a distinctly Japanese flair.
A densely forested, 1,000 acre park surrounded on three sides by water, Stanley Park feels a little more wild than most urban parks (though it has plenty of the same amenities). The seawall, a pedestrian and bicycle pathway, follows the outline of the peninsula along the water, and is perfect for either a long stroll or a refreshing ride.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Built in 1985, this was the first full-sized classical Chinese garden to be constructed outside of China. Named after the "Father of Modern China," Sun Yat-Sen was a writer, doctor, and first president of the Republic of China.
Rising more than 4,000 feet above Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is home to an alpine ski area, an aerial tram, and a grueling uphill hiking trail known as the "Grouse Grind."
Capilano Suspension Bridge
A spooky but beautiful 460-foot-long pedestrian suspension bridge is strung 230 feet above the Capilano River, just north of downtown Vancouver.
Go for the shopping, not least for its famous food-oriented Public Market. Full of art galleries and artist studios, this now-hip neighborhood was once an industrial and manufacturing hub.
Nestled amid the Georgia Straight, English Bay, and Burrard Inlet, Vancouver is surrounded by water. Take advantage by boating or participating in water sports during your visit. Travelers may choose to paddle a kayak, don a wetsuit, or spend the afternoon sailing while on a whale watch tour.
Vancouver Art Gallery
The largest art gallery in western Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery was founded in 1931, and pays special attention to art from the First Nations as well as the Asia Pacific region.