With warm summer and beautiful fall days, an array of outdoor activities, such as boating, gondola rides, hiking, jet skiing, kayaking, nature walks, sailing, golfing and swimming are easily accessible from downtown Vancouver. Cycling or jogging around the 10 km seawall at Stanley Park, which is directly accessible from the conference hotel is popular among locals and visitors alike. A banquet of attractions and special events await the visitor. From intriguing wilderness excursions to luxury resorts, and from innovative museums to resplendent garden festivities, the warm-weather season sizzles in the City.
Vancouver lives where the mountains meet the sea: nature’s skyscrapers lie just beyond. Groomed parks give way to lush wilderness, and city sidewalks become sandy beaches. Even in the heart of the city, nature is just around the corner.
Vancouver is a mélange of sightseeing opportunities, with a wonderful array of public gardens, parks, and beaches where residents and visitors alike frolic: there is always enough room to play somewhere around town. The unique charm and advantage of this city is the range of things for visitors to do and see…from dawn until dusk and through every successive season.
Visitors can eat at world-class restaurants, attend the symphony or major sports events, shop at exclusive boutiques along Robson Street, visit historic Gastown and other sightseeing highlights and never cast so much as glance at the surrounding sea and sky scape, and the incredible outdoor recreation available. Scenic walks are close to Downtown – stroll along False Creek and discover the Olympic Village, Science World and Granville Island or stroll along the sea wall or under the majestic trees of Stanley Park. Those with an appreciation for the outdoors can windsurf at dawn, get in a round of golf after lunch, and take in the city lights at night while dining atop a North Shore mountain. Vancouver is clean, colourful and friendly, with the open cosmopolitan flair that West Coast cities are known for.
A recent column by Suzanne MacNeille in the New York Times described her perfect 36 hours in Vancouver.
Interested in Local History and Local Architecture?
- Accompanying Persons can sign-up on site for a complimentary guided walking tour of Vancouver's downtown, from the Westin Bayshore towards Gastown, scheduled for Friday. Sign-up and additional ticket sales for others is based on availability. See details on site.
- The City of Vancouver has developed a self-guided Architectural Walking Tour of the Westend, the vibrant neighbourhood surrounding and just south of the Westin Bayshore.
Information on Vancouver attractions and landmarks is featured in several free mobile apps:
- Portrait Sonore: An independent non-profit organization developed a series of "pocket documentaries" to guide listeners to locations in various Canadian cities, including Vancouver. Highlights little-known buildings, combined with interviews, archival images and music. www.portraitsonore.org
- Vancouver in Time: developed by the Editor in Chief of the Canadian Encyclopedia, the app details history of particular locations of interest using photos, slideshows, stories and tours. Information is searchable by theme, neighbourhood, maps or trails. www.citiesintime.ca
- Pocket Guide App: audio tours of over 150 cities, including Vancouver. Content can be downloaded for use in offline mode without a mobile internet connection. www.pocketguideapp.com.
A few of the more popular and famous attractions that are easily accessible from the Symposium venue are listed below:
Remember to Show Your Badge, as many attractions offer discounts and other special offers to Conference Attendees.
LIONS GATE BRIDGE
Built by the Guinness Family, it opened Vancouver's North Shore to vehicle traffic in 1938. Its lights were turned on in 1986, celebrating 50 years from the start of its construction, and the 100th birthday of Vancouver. Watch for cruise ships entering Burrard Inlet as you cross the bridge, named after the two mountain peaks that look like sleeping lions. In 2005, the Lions Gate Bridge became a National Historic Site of Canada.
MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY & UBC
Located on the cliffs of Point Grey at the University of British Columbia (UBC), the museum features one of the world's finest displays of Northwest Coast First Nations art and artifacts. See totem poles, feast dishes, and canoes of the Kwakwaka'wakw, Nisga'a, Gitksan, Haida, Coast Salish, and other Northwest Coast peoples in the museum's Great Hall. Explore the unique galleries, where more than 15,000 objects from around the world are displayed, and stroll through the grounds of the museum, where two Haida houses and ten totem poles capture the dramatic beauty of traditional native architecture and design.
While at UBC, discover the shoreline surrounding the university campus and hike the 75 km of forest trails in the 750 hectare Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Check out UBC’s excellent Botanical Garden, and the authentic Japanese Nitobe Memorial Garden, a place for personal reflection. The Beaty Biodiversity Museum, opened in 2010, showcases UBC’s vast natural history collections.
Come and join the locals on Granville Island! You'll find artists' studios, galleries, theatres, restaurants, and Granville Island Brewing. Wandering buskers and street performers delight the crowds. Visit the lively public market for freshly picked produce, seafood straight off the boats, gourmet foods, and tasty delights from the bakeries. Enjoy street performers, and take a tour of the brewery. Try the Aquabus as a convenient way to access the Island from the downtown peninsula.
Visit the Lookout Tower, an observation deck 33 floors high atop Harbour Centre - a 360-degree view sweeps across the Lower Mainland, from the mountains in the north to the valleys in the south.
The green heart of Vancouver is the 400 hectare Stanley Park, the City's most famous landmark, and the third largest downtown park in North America. There are wooded trails amongst its 500,000 ancient cedar, hemlock and fir trees, as well as open playing fields, secluded lakes, gorgeous gardens, and the famous Vancouver Aquarium, the largest in Canada. A seawall walkway and cycle route meanders along the park's perimeter and beyond, with beautiful views of the city skyline, the harbour, beaches, and the spectacular North Shore Mountains. Stanley Park took the top spot in TripAdvisor’s second annual Top 25 Parks of the World list.
Travel back in time at the Vancouver Museum. View recreated rooms from Vancouver in the 1900s, an 1800s trading post, a nineteenth century ship's passenger berth, First Nations artifacts, and much more. The H.R. MacMillan Planetarium will take you out of this world with leading-edge astronomy and space themed shows, plus fabulous Laser Light shows. The Maritime Museum is a special place by the sea, about the sea, with lots to see and do, for landlubbers and old salts alike. Thrill to the disasters and discoveries of the Shipwreck exhibition, including real pieces of the Titanic. Discover magnificient sculptures and paintings at the Art Gallery of Vancouver and several world class galleries. Ignite your mind and discover the wonders of science at newly renovated TELUS World of Science. Check out the Vancouver Aquarium iand marvel at the sea otters and other critters, located n the hear of Stanley Park. Discounts are available at many of these museums through the Show Your Badge program.
CANADA PLACE & CRUISE SHIP TERMINAL
The magnificent white sails of Canada Place are one of Vancouver's most prominent landmarks, housing the simulation ride “FlyOver Canada”, the Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre, and the World Trade Centre. Begin your visit with a scenic stroll and self-guided Promenade into History tour of the landmarks rimming the inner harbour. The Port of Vancouver is the home port for cruise ships operating cruises from Vancouver to Alaska, one of the world's most popular vacation cruises. Every year, more than one million passengers pass through the Port of Vancouver's Canada Place cruise ship facilities during cruise seasons from May to September. Show your Badge at FlyOver Canada for admission discount.
Founded in 1867 and an everlasting memorial to John "Gassy Jack" Deighton, Gastown is the site of the original waterfront city. It is a charming mix of old and new, with cobbled streets, quaint heritage buildings, and the unique Steam Clock. Marvel at Victorian architecture and a unique tangle of mews, courtyards and passages houses cafes, boutiques, collectibles, antiques, fashions and several prominent galleries representing a fine selection of Native art and sculpture.
2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES
The legacy of the 2010 Olympic games lives on. Olympic venues in downtown Vancouver include the recently revitalized BC Place Stadium, home of the Canadian Football League's BC Lions, and site of the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, and Rogers Arena, home of the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks and the venue for the men's hockey games. City visitors may also want to check out The BC Sports Hall of Fame. It honours British Columbia's outstanding athletes, teams and "builders of sport". Other Olympic venues in or close to the City include Hastings Park – the site of the Olympic figure skating and short-track speed skating, and the Richmond Oval – the site of the speed skating events.
Explore Chinatown’s intriguing sights and fragrances and get an up close and personal look into Vancouver’s important Asian community. Glimpse into the centuries old herbal culture of Chinese pharmacy and admire the beauty of the jade, china, and silk of the Orient. A 'must-see' is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the only classic Chinese Garden outside of China, and fashioned in Ming Dynasty style. Show Your Badge discounts available.
Several other popular destinations are on the City’s North Shore across the Burrard Inlet:
- The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a wood-and-cable structure hanging 70 metres above a rushing river, while a new Treetops Adventure, the stunning cliffwalk, an interpretive centre, gift shop and restaurant complete the facilities for the visitor. Show Your Badge discounts available.
- Grouse Mountain is accessible by a gondola and offers spectacular views of Vancouver. Visitors also find a lone timber wolf, a grizzly bear habitat, a renowned restaurant, zip lines, a lumberjack show and a birds-of-prey presentation. There are plentiful hiking opportunities on top of the mountain. Show Your Badge discounts available.
- Cypress Mountain was the site of the Olympic freestyle skiing and snowboarding. At Cypress, visitors can try out one of the great hiking trails, or just relax and enjoy the stunning views of the city.
- Lynn Valley, Mount Seymour and Deep Cove are other nature destinations on the North Shore within easy reach from downtown Vancouver. While Lynn Valley and Mount Seymour offer excellent walking and hiking trails, Deep Cove is a paradise for kayakers and canoeist with its sheltered location on Indian Arm.
- Lonsdale Quay and North Vancouver offer dining and shopping opportunities a short and scenic public ferry ride across the harbour from the City. Check out the nearby Night Market.
Each year brings a wide range of festivals and events to Vancouver. The events are of all types, including cultural, sports and recreational activities. Vancouver’s best known events include Chinese New Year, the Playhouse International Wine Festival, the International Children’s Festival, Bard on the Beach, the International Jazz Festival, the Celebration of Light, Pride Week, and the Pacific National Exhibition. Events held in September include the International Fringe Festival, the International Film Festival, the Chinese Night Markets, and Farmers’ Markets; along with professional sports team games in soccer and Canadian Football, and pre-season games for the National Hockey League. See our Events page for some of the events taking place during the Symposium.