Top 10 sights in Vancouver
Vancouver is one of those cities in which it is particularly difficult to make a “top 10” list of things to see and do. Canada’s third largest city and the metropolis of Western Canada is consistently on the list of the world’s most livable cities, and is the country’s largest port and the powerhouse of trade with the Pacific Rim. Spectacular mountains and a beautiful harbor frame one of North America’s most attractive downtowns.
In the city center, the Vancouver Lookout sits 168 meters or 554 feet above the Harbour Centre, and is reached by a glass elevator in 40 thrilling seconds. The lookout offers a 360-degree view of the harbor and the city below, a revolving restaurant and a gallery honoring Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, with the works of local artists. The Harbour Centre itself houses the downtown campus of Simon Fraser University, and is a shopping destination.
The five sails on the roof of Canada Place, jutting into the harbor across from the Harbour Centre, mark another Vancouver landmark, formerly a huge pier on which cargo ships were loaded from Canadian Pacific Railway trains. The pier was converted in 1986 into Canada’s pavilion at the Expo86 Worlds Fair, and then became a convention center, landmark hotel and cruise ship docking facility, as well as the home of the world’s first IMAX theater, now closed.
A third harbor landmark is the Science Center at Telus World of Science, a great geodesic dome also built for Expo86 and now the largest science museum in Canada. This was also, under Russian sponsorship, the hospitality center for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The dome also offers a spectacular panorama of the harbor and Vancouver skyline.
Stanley Park is adjacent to the harbor, and is one of the world’s great gardens. It began as a Marine base but has been a park for more than a century, and offers swimming in the ocean, a heated pool or a water park in season, as well as hiking and biking, visiting a farm or riding a miniature steam railroad. The park also houses Vancouver Aquarium, which opened in 1956 and houses 60,000 marine creatures in and around 166 tanks that contain over 9 million liters of water. About 30 shows are presented daily, and the chief stars are beluga whales and dolphins rescued and rehabilitated after injuries in the wild.
Near Stanley Park you will find Vancouver’s original settlement,Gastown. Although originally lighted and heated by natural gas, it derives its name from “Gassy Jack” Deighton, who opened the first tavern in town in 1867 and was known for his talkativeness and penchant for storytelling. The story is told that “Gassy Jack” did not pay the workmen who built his saloon but gave them all the whiskey they could drink, and Gastown became a center of rough-and-ready entertainment then and is filled with nightclubs, restaurants and galleries today, centered around the first steam-powered clock in the world, built in 1875.
Upscale Vancouver and its shopping are represented by Robson Street, also called Robsonstrassebecause it was the center of the German neighborhood. Robson Street is now the center of shopping and fine dining, and leads to Robson Square, where the former British Columbia provincial courthouse now houses the Vancouver Art Gallery, fifth largest in Canada. The collection of some 10,000 works is focused on Canadian artists and Dutch masters, as well as first editions of Goya prints.
Another important immigrant tradition in Vancouver, the Chinese, is represented by Canada’s largest Chinatown, built by Canada’s biggest Asian community. The many shops, restaurants, monuments and temples surround the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Garden, the first scholar’s garden to be built outside China and a memorial to the founder of modern China.
This is just one of many lists of 10 interesting and beautiful places that could be made in the cleanest, greenest and quite possibly friendliest city in Canada.