Explore Canada with this list of the best things to do in Vancouver. 

When it comes to the beautiful country of Canada, a couple of things should come to mind. For starters, the kindness of Canadians is infectious. Not only that, but the beauty of Canada is simply stunning. When it comes to Vancouver, this logic holds true. There is so much beauty in Vancouver that this stunning location has to be a must visit on your bucket list. Today, we are going to go into what makes this town such a beautiful place to visit. Let’s go over some of the best things to do in Vancouver, Canada. From good foods to great locations, we have got you covered.

1. Drive on the Sea to Sky Highway

best things to do in vancouver - Sky Highway

Credit: Kyle Pearce

If you are going on a road trip in Vancouver, then this next activity is easily one of the best things to do in Vancouver. By all accounts, the Sea to Sky highway is one of the best things to do in Vancouver because of its memorable view of this oceanside strip of land.

The Sea to Sky highway is an incredible stretch of road that runs along the coast of Vancouver. Along the highway, you will get spectacular views of locations that are simply magical. This is partly due to the fact that the highway offers an experience of nature at its finest. If you plan on going on this roughly two hour long drive, then there are some of the top destinations that you need to keep an eye out for.

Porteau Cove is an adorable little cove that is situated between the village of Lions Bay and Squamish. This little cove offers a sprawling beach of pebbles that is perfect for exploring. If you are a nighttime photographer, then this is a prime spot to get shots of our beautiful milky way. Not only that but here you will find around 44 campsites. This makes it one of the most popular locations for any traveler who wants to pitch a tent and stay the night.

Shannon Falls is another location that is a popular destination on the Sea to Sky Highway. This incredibly beautiful falls cascades a stream of fresh mountain water roughly 355 above the highway. If you are looking for a beautiful location to park your car and take a quick hike, then Shannon Falls is a great place to stop by.

If you are planning on driving through the Sea to Sky Highway, then the Sea to Sky Gondola is an absolutely stunning location that you should stop at.  Ride the Sea to Sky Gondola all the way to the top of the mountain for an incredible view. When you reach the top, you can see what it feels like to be a little under 3,000 feet in the air. Once you are at the top of Howe Sound, you will get some incredibly stunning views of the Coast Mountains below you. Don’t forget to bring along your camera. This is a view that is worth snapping a couple of photos of. If you want to walk high above the clouds, then the Sea to Sky Gondola is absolutely a must.

Finally, one of the best things to do in Vancouver that the Sea to Sky Highway has to offer is the beautiful little village of Squamish. When it comes to outdoor recreation in Vancouver, Squamish is where you want to go. This beautiful town offers everything from water sports to hiking to mountain biking and rock climbing. The incredibly lush landscape and diverse terrain make it the ideal location for travelers and athletes alike.

2. Visit Chinatown

best things to do in vancouver - Chinatown

Credit: Heritage Vancouver Society

It is no surprise that there is a Chinatown nearly everywhere you travel to nowadays. But when it comes to the best Chinatown, well, Chinatown in Vancouver easily ranks as one of the best things to do in Vancouver. For starters, the Chinatown in Vancouver is Canada’s largest Chinatown. When it comes to authenticity and culture, Chinatown in Vancouver delivers. From taking a look into Chinatown’s representation of the culture to traditional Chinese food, Chinatown has got it all.

Some of the popular locations in Vancouver’s Chinatown is the ever popular Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. This Chinese Garden offers a tranquil beauty that is unmatched. You can find a range of beautiful flowers scattered along the garden. If you are interested in history, then the Chinese Garden offers that as well. Take advantage of the on site Ming Dynasty Scholar’s room. Here you can take a look at the historical artifacts that have been very well preserved.

If you are looking for some delectable Chinese tea, then the Treasure Green Tea Company is worth making a stop at. The Treasure Green Tea Company is located right in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown. This tea shop specializes in a range of teas. More specifically, you are sure to find the popular aromatic oolong teas. You can study the menu and then delicately enjoy your selection at the bar located at the far end of the tea room. If you are short on time, then no worries. Many visitors love purchasing tea packets from here. And why wouldn’t they? The tea packets make for the perfect gift for friends and loved ones back home.

3. Hike Grouse Grind

best things to do in vancouver - Hike Grouse Grind

Credit: NHL.com

If you are an avid hiker who loves to be outdoors, then one of the best things to do in Vancouver is to hike the Grouse Grind. If you ask any Vancouverian, they will simply tell you that the Grouse Grind is nature’s best staircase that you have to experience. When you see this magical location, you will quickly understand why.

This popular hike in Vancouver is a beautiful formation of nature. Its standout feature is the fact that it is a vertical hike that oddly resembles a staircase. In fact, many who hike it will often refer to it as the “original Stairmaster”. This winding trail is one of the best things to do in Vancouver if you like getting outdoors. The rock formations and the beautiful lush surroundings of the green forest are perfect for any getaway. The entirety of the hike is just about 2.9 kilometers. If you are an average hiker, then you can expect to finish the trail round trip in about one and a half hours to two hours.

The best time to visit this iconic location is during September. This time will allow you to beat the uncomfortable heat of summer. Not only that but hiking the trail well before winter is also ideal. This will allow for the best hiking conditions that are relatively safe. After all hiking with proper saftey in mind is key.Although it will not be sweltering hot, be sure to bring along plenty of water in your favorite water bottle to avoid the possibility of dehydration.

As always, before you head out on this hike, be sure to bring along proper hiking gear. The trail can be strenuous and uncomfortable if you do not. The view once you get to the top of the mountain is simply stunning. Overall, the 2,830 steps that it takes to reach the top are something that is definitely worth it. If you love getting outdoors and are looking for the perfect way to explore this side of the globe, then hiking Grouse Grind is easily one of the best things to do in Vancouver. Strap on your hiking shoes and pull out your hiking pants, ’cause we are sure you will love this hike.

4. Visit the Iconic Stanley Park

best things to do in vancouver - Stanley Park

Credit: Flickr

You cannot visit this part of British Columbia, without also visiting one of the best parks the country has to offer. Making a day trip out to Stanley Park is easily one of the best things to do in Vancouver. Stanley Park is the first of its kind when it comes to urban parks. This expansive park offers so much to do for a wide range of travelers.

One of the most iconic things to do in Stanley Park is to take a bike ride through its beautiful seawall bike trail. This trail offers some of the most stunning views that the English Bay has to offer. If you do not mind a relaxing yet adventurous bike ride, then this 8.8 kilometer bike ride is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

A great way to spend a fun day exploring the park is with the help of the Stanley Park Train. This train will take you through the forestry of the park so that you can get an intimate experience with all that it has to offer. Part of the trail way will take you through the ground cleared after the Typhoon Freda in 1962. To this day, the typhoon remains to be one of the most terrible storms that have ever hit Vancouver. If you happen to be here during the holiday months, then the Stanley Park train is one of the best things to do in Vancouver. You can experience the magic that the park holds once the train’s pathway is lit up with over three million twinkling bulbs.

For travelers who are looking to relax, then Stanley Park has an abundance to offer as well. You coun lounge the day away on the beautiful beach that offers fabulous views of the forestry and skyline. Along with that, you can look forward to exploring some of the most beautiful gardens on this side of the west coast. Cap your night off by taking your pick of one of their many onsite restaurants that offer some delectable food. A popular restaurant is the famous Teahouse restaurant. Teahouse offers a stunning experience in the fact that you will get an amazing view of Vancouver’s beauty. Couple the view with exceptional food and hospitable service and you are sure to fall in love.

While you can take your trip to Stanley Park year round and still get a fantastic experience, there are some time frames that we recommend. If you come during the summer months, you will get the opportunity to enjoy the warm climate and cool waters. However, if you can, we recommend planning your trip during the start of fall. This is because Stanley Park is one of the best things to do in Vancouver if you are looking for some stunning fall foliage.

5. Visit the Lovely Granville Island

best things to do in vancouver - Granville Island

If you are a traveler who likes to get in touch with the local culture, then Granville Island is one of the best things to do in Vancouver. In a sense, Granville Island is a much sought-after peninsula that is home to so much art, culture, and beauty. Granville Island once used to be the location of industrialization in factories. However, modern times have now turned into the ultimate getaway. If you are traveling with friends or with family and are looking for a great place to relax, then Granville Island is the place to go to.

The island features a range of experiences including a public market. This public market is the perfect place to go to if you are looking for an authentic farmers market to shop at. Everything from beautifully assorted food and produce to handcrafted floral arrangements, the public market has got it all. You can easily spend the better half of a whole afternoon here.

If you are more interested in the art and culture of the island, then there is plenty for you to enjoy as well. Popular locations include the popular location, the Adventure Zone. The Adventure Zone offers plenty of fun for any other traveler who is looking for an indoor location to goof off in.  The Adventure Zone is the perfect place to go to if you want to see aspects of family that are so deeply rooted in culture.

Other locations such as the Art Works Wonder Studio are the perfect place to go to if you are looking to sample some authentic local talent. Finally, be sure to stop by Beadworks. This incredibly stunning boutique offers some of the most beautiful beads and crystals that the nation has to offer. With an assortment of beads to shop through, you can easily spend a whole afternoon here.

If you are looking for a relaxing getaway that is somewhat spontaneous and close to the local culture, then Granville Island is the place to go to. Ask any local or tourist and they will easily tell you that this is one of the best things to do in Vancouver.

6. Explore Lynn Canyon 

best things to do in vancouver - Lynn Canyon

Credit: Ruth Hartnup

This next destination is straight out of any Instagrammers photo feed. Lynn Canyon is one of the best things to do in Vancouver when it comes to experience the outdoors. One of the main reasons is because it is home to one of Vancouver’s most beautiful suspension bridges. While there are two major suspension bridges in Vancouver, the one located in Lynn Canyon is awesome for so many reasons. For starters, the suspension bridge is free to enter. Not only that, but you are sure to find it relatively empty as it is never crowded with tourists. Along with that, it makes for some incredibly stunning photos that are perfect for any wanderlust traveler.

Finally, Lynn Canyon has so much more to offer. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you are sure to love it. There is plenty of hiking for you to take advantage of up here. The trails take you through some of Nature’s Most Beautiful and undisturbed scenery. If you come during the warmer months, then the canyon has plenty of ice cold blue holes to explore. These blue holes are perfect for chasing away the summer heat. Finally, there are plenty of waterfalls that will make your visit here more than memorable. For a great way to get outdoors and explore nature, Lynn Canyon is easily one of the best things to do in Vancouver.

7. Explore the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens

best things to do in vancouver - Van Dusen

Credit: Van Dusen Botanical Gardens / Facebook

If you want to step into a storybook, then this next location is one of the best things to do in Vancouver. The Van Dusen Botanical Gardens is home to some of nature’s most stunning scenery. Main attractions that you must explore here include the Rose Garden, the gazebos, and the perennial garden. Of course, it is an absolute must that you stroll through the lily pad laden lake that is straight out of a fairytale as well.

When you are here, you can take your pick between a self guided tour or a guided tour. The guided tours are pretty awesome in the sense that you will get an in depth introduction to the gardens with a trained volunteer guide. If you are getting a little hungry, then the food service options here are pretty awesome too. For example, the Shaughnessy Restaurant offers some of the most exceptional dining in all of Vancouver. For casual elegance that offers exceptional views, the Shaughnessy Restaurant is the place to go to.

What makes the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens so impressive is the fact that it is very well preserved. It should be noted that when you are here, you must follow strict guidelines. Some of these guidelines include staying off the gardens flower beds, and not bringing along any pets. You will also not be able to bring along any rollerblades, bikes, or scooters.

The preservation of the garden has allowed it to be one of the best places to go to if you are looking for a relaxing getaway.  If you are looking for a great place to stroll around in and enjoy the scenery, then the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens is easily one of the best things to do in Vancouver.

8. Whale Watching

best things to do in vancouver - Whale Watching

For the mere fact that Vancouver is largely surrounded by water, one of the best things to do in Vancouver is mainly centered around water as well. With all that water, you are sure to see some incredible sea creatures that you will not forget. One of the most popular and best things to do in Vancouver is to go whale watching.

There are a range of tour groups that you can go with when you book your whale watching adventure. However, we recommend doing your research so that you go on your trip with a reputable whale watching tour company. Finding the right tour group to go with can make or break your adventure. Once you have booked your trip, you can expect to see some beautiful sites. Some of the most popular types of creatures you can expect to come across include orcas, gray whales, humpbacks, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and more.

Some of the best times to go whale watching really depends on the type of whale you are looking for. For example, if you want to see humpback whales, then the best time of the year to go would be anywhere between late August and early December. Without a down, if you are looking for a memorable experience that you are sure not to forget, then whale watching is easily one of the best things to do in Vancouver.

Final Thoughts

From top to bottom, Vancouver is simply a stunning location. If you enjoy hiking and going outdoors, then this list is for you. Don’t forget to leave these items off your list, the next time you are in this refreshingly beautiful place.

Related Article: The 10 Best Things to Do in Calgary: Your Travel Guide

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Nadia El-Yaouti is a mother, English language arts middle school teacher, writer, and photographer. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and two little girls. Although she considers herself a workaholic, Nadia’s greatest pride is being a mom. When she’s not juggling work, you can be sure to find her traveling the world with her little family.

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