Vancouver is one of Canada’s prettiest cities. Set on the country’s west coast, the city is partially surrounded by water. With a long shoreline and the North Shore Mountains as a backdrop there are countless opportunities for picturesque scenes. After seeing pictures of these gorgeous views you will be planning your own trip to explore scenic Vancouver, British Columbia.
Walking or biking is a great way to explore Vancouver’s waterfront. Here’s a walking/biking tour route near the city’s downtown that will ensure you see some of the best views that the waterfront has to offer.
Begin near Canada Place on the edge of Vancouver Harbour. You’ll love the views across to North Vancouver with the North Shore Mountains above and the Port of Vancouver below. Canada Place was built for the 1986 World Expo and has been put to good use ever since. Its roof is shaped like sails so it fits in with the cruise ships using the neighbouring docks. When we were there two massive cruise ship were blocking most of our views of this iconic building, but you can still see its unique design.
Not far from Canada Place is Gas Town. Historically it was a rowdy part of town filled with old-time saloons and gambling establishments. Today it’s a trendy neighbourhood where you can find popular restaurants, pubs and locally owned shops. What makes Gas Town really special are the heritage buildings that line the streets and the unique Steam Clock. The clock was built over a steam grate and it uses the steam to operate its whistle every quarter of an hour. It is one of only a few steam clocks in the world.
After a side trip to Gas Town, continue west from Canada Place, either follow the walking trails along the shoreline or stroll down Robson Street where you can find one of Canada’s grand railway hotels. Built in 1939 Hotel Vancouver along with Chateau Laurier, Château Frontenac and others, were built to encourage Canadians to travel across the country by train. Further along Robson you could spend your time shopping at the many stores or eating at one of the excellent restaurants.
At the tip of Burrard Peninsula is the famous Stanley Park. This 400 hectare park has a forested interior and is surrounded by the waters of Burrard Inlet and English Bay. Stanley Park Seawall is a 9 km (5 1/2 miles) path that hugs the park’s shore and takes you by phenomenal scenery.
If you arrive from downtown on the waterfront trails, one of the first places you’ll pass is the Vancouver Rowing Club which leads into Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. Both are set in a calm bay that looks out to the sky scrapers of downtown.
Near the eastern edge of the park you’ll find a collection of totem poles. These monuments have been a part of Pacific Northwest Indigenous cultures for generations. Carvings usually depict family or tribe history or folklore and are often painted in vibrant colours. Totem Poles also typically feature symbolic animals or supernatural creatures. Some of the current ones in Stanley Park were crafted in the 1960s. Seeing them brought back memories of family trips to BC when Maggie was a child.
After stopping to see the totem poles, continue walking or biking in a counterclockwise direction for views of Vancouver Harbour on the north side of the bay and the roof of sails on Canada Place in front. Soon you’ll arrive at the white and red stripped Brockton Point Lighthouse.
As you round the tip of the seawall near Brockton Point the iconic Lion’s Gate Bridge is visible in the distance. Spanning First Narrows the 1,800 m suspension bridge is the longest bridge in western Canada. The seawall walk takes you directly under the bridge to reach Prospect Point Lighthouse and views of the homes in West Vancouver. In the distance you can see the tips of Mount Seymour and Grouse Mountain. Both have popular hiking trails but we didn’t have enough time on this trip.
Continue walking a little further until you can see an interesting sea stack jutting up into the sky. Siwash Rock is an awkward looking 18 m (59 ft) tall pinnacle just off the shore.
After passing the sea stack, the seawall passes a few public beaches. On weekends and during hot summer days the beaches are filled with locals.
After leaving Stanley Park, the trail leads to False Creek as it enters English Bay. This area is much more busy than the park. New apartment buildings fill any available space on land while the water is filled with small ferries darting around and sailboats cruising by.
Catch one of the ferries to reach Granville Island Market on the other side of False Creek. This lively area is a popular spot for artisan shops and local pubs with bustling patios.
The walking paths and sidewalks continue to follow along both sides of False Creek. Even though it’s a busy area, it is a very relaxing place to walk. On the way you’ll pass several marinas filled with private boats. In the water kayakers and dragon boats use the creek to train. Along the trail, gardens are often filled with colourful flowers.
Finish your day by exploring Vancouver’s Science World on the other side of Cambie Bridge. The dome shaped building is another one that remains from ’86 World Expo.
Coming Next: Best Moderate Multi-pitch Climbs Near Calgary
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To read about more of our adventures go to Destinations.
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