We are proud to welcome you to Vancouver, British Columbia. This page will help you become familiar with some of the basics about our city and recommend a few popular places and attractions to visit while you’re here.
• When locals mention Vancouver, we’re usually referring to Metro Vancouver — made up of the City of Vancouver and 22 surrounding cities and municipalities.
• With a metro population of over 2.5 million, Vancouver is Canada’s third largest city, after Toronto and Montréal.
• The City of Vancouver was built on the traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish people (the Musqueam, the Squamish and the Tsleil-Waututh); Metro Vancouver is home to 17 First Nations groups.
• The City of Vancouver was established in 1886 when the first trans-Canada train arrived, 15 years after the colony that was British Columbia had agreed to join the new confederation of Canada.
• Nestled between the shores of the Pacific Ocean and the southernmost peaks of a mountain range known as the North Shore Mountains, Vancouver is one of very few cities in the world where it’s possible to go boating and skiing in the same day.
• Vancouver is a proudly multicultural city, made up of Indigenous people and settlers from all over the world. More than half the population speaks a language other than English as their first language. The city’s Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian communities are among the largest and fastest growing in North America. Immigration from other parts of the world such as South Korea, Latin America and South America continues to rise as well.
• Like all cities, however, Vancouver has its own set of problems to address. Vancouver is home to some of the wealthiest people in the world, and yet one in five Vancouver residents lives below the poverty line. Visitors may be surprised to see the level of street poverty and homelessness in our city.
• Vancity’s head office is at the corner of Terminal Avenue and Quebec Street, proudly and firmly anchored in the cities east side and a link to our origin of serving the unbanked. We’ve chosen to remain at the doorstep of the working class people we were originally created to serve. Since the banks of the day generally viewed the working class as too high-risk for mortgages, it was the people in these neighbourhoods who established Vancity as a financial co-op and community-owned lender.
Vancouver’s Chinatown is the largest Chinatown on the west coast of North America and the original cultural centre for Chinese immigrants — most of whom settled in Vancouver after the construction of the national railroad. The settler Chinese community has left a rich history of architecture in Chinatown, including the Clan Houses, which served as a community support system for newly arriving Chinese to Canada. A self-guided walking tour to see the Clan Houses would be of interest to history buffs and architecture enthusiasts.
Vancouver’s Chinatown is also home to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the first Ming Dynasty traditional garden built outside Mainland China and one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
GastownGastown is a very popular tourist area and just a five-minute walk east from the Vancouver Convention Centre. The neighbourhood is named after “Gassy” Jack Leighton, who opened the first saloon here in 1867. In the lore of local history, Gassy Jack is both revered for his fabled skills as a storyteller and reviled for his infamous personal history with Indigenous people; to the delight of some and the disgrace of others, he is commemorated with a statue in Gastown.
Trendy restaurants, bars and tourist souvenir outlets line Gastown’s original cobblestone streets. Some of the most popular annual events here include the Vancouver International Jazz Festival and the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix international bicycle race. However, Gastown is most famous for its iconic steam clock. Blowing its steam-whistle every 15 minutes, it beckons legions of camera-waving tourists to gather beneath.
Take a water-taxi trip from downtown Vancouver on one of the two private carriers – False Creek Ferries or the Aquabus – to visit Granville Island, a former industrial site that’s been transformed into a unique cultural and commercial area located just under the Granville Street Bridge. Today, Granville Island is home to an eclectic mix of artist studios and a wide array of independently owned restaurants, pubs and retailers. Its central hub is undoubtedly the Granville Island Public Market — Vancouver’s largest and most famous public market. Circle Craft Co-op is also an interesting stop, it houses the work of artists who have been collaborating since the 1970s to bring their wares to the public.
Take the water taxi one stop further and visit the Olympic Village. Originally built as the 2010 Winter Olympics Athletes’ Village, the area is converting to a new model of private, rental and co-op housing. The Village is also home to some of Vancouver’s newest and most interesting public art installations and community spaces. A large public art installation is a feature here, which is an ideal spot to grab a coffee, sit outside and do a little people-watching.
Stanley Park has the distinction of being North America’s largest park site located within an urban area — and is also considered by many to be the most beautiful. For 8,000 years this was a rich gathering and celebration site for the Coast Salish people; it was also home to a large village called Whoi Whoi, or Xwayxway, which loosely translated means ‘place of masks’. A wonderful walking tour of Stanley Park can be taken with Talaysay Tours, an Indigenous-led tour outfit. Another option for visitors is a simple walk (or bike) around the 8 km seawall of Stanley Park that also wraps around the city and connects the neighbourhoods of Tinseltown, Coal Harbour, English Bay, Yaletown and Granville Island. Whether jogging, biking, walking or rollerblading, the seawall is an authentically local way to discover the city.
Van Dusen Botanical GardensVan Dusen Botanical Gardens is a wonderful visit any time of the year. These gardens were built to reclaim land that was a former private golf course. Covering 22 hectares of land, this year-round facility has recently embarked on a “re-wilding of the grounds,” introducing more native species and natural features. Van Dusen was the site of an international stone sculpture symposium in 1975 and the dozen unique pieces that were carved by artists of international fame remain here, offering interesting visual challenges to the natural environment. Throughout February, guided tours of Van Dusen are offered on Sunday afternoons.
Queen Elizabeth ParkQueen Elizabeth Park is another beautiful outing in central Vancouver, featuring beautifully kept gardens and a wonderful view of the North Shore mountains and the downtown harbour. The park is also home to the Bloedel Conservatory, a domed lush paradise atop the City of Vancouver’s highest point. More than 120 free-flying exotic birds, 500 exotic plants and flowers thrive within its temperature-controlled environment which contains an amazing collection of flora and fauna from around the world.
A bus trip to the North Shore and up to Grouse Mountain is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon — and see a magnificent view of Vancouver and the harbour from a crow’s nest perch via the gondola. Grouse is one of the most popular sites for ecotourism and wildlife preservation in the Metro Vancouver area. Along with the year-round breathtaking views, in the winter Grouse turns into a snowy wonderland renowned for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and sleigh rides. Travel options to Grouse Mountain in February are private car, taxi or public transit.
Museum Of Anthropology
Another spectacular Vancouver attraction is the Museum of Anthropology (MOA), located on the endowment lands at the University of BC. There is simply no better place to learn about the rich, inspiring history of the Coast Salish people who thrived here before the first European settlers arrived. MOA is unique not only because of its physical setting, but also because of the way the Museum collaborates with cultural communities on research methods and exhibitions. A stunning large-scale sculpture, “Raven and the First Men,”holds a place of particular pride at MOA. UBC is easily accessible on public transit from downtown Vancouver.
Vancouver Art Gallery
Located walking distance from the Summit venue is the Vancouver Art Gallery, a fantastic way to escape the rain and enjoy Vancouver. Housed in a former courthouse, the Vancouver Art Gallery is one of North America’s most highly respected visual arts institutions. The gallery combines historical and contemporary art and highlights the accomplishments of First Nations artists and artists from the Asia Pacific region.
Restaurants and Bars
Vancouver is home to an ever-changing food and beverage scene with options to suit anyone’s taste. As the birth place of Ocean Wise, Vancouver has an emphasis on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and fresh meat and seafood. Vancouver’s diverse and multi-cultural community is reflected in the selection of trendy restaurants and bars. Depending on which neighbourhood you would like to explore, there is always a fantastic eatery nearby. Check out Vancouver Magazine for a list of last year’s award-winning restaurants or Scout Magazine for all the latest food and beverage news.
Local Craft Breweries
Interested in seeing a growing part of the local economy? Hand crafted beer, cider and spirit-makers are fast growing new players in our community. East Vancouver in particular has earned the moniker of ‘Yeast Van’, as a growing contingent of independent local craft breweries serve up a creative array of uniquely local flavours. The craft spirit market offers tasting rooms and tours throughout East Vancouver.
Vancouverites are big believers in supporting local growers. Throughout the growing and harvesting season, there are farmers’ markets in communities across Vancouver every day of the week. In the winter months, the markets are consolidated into one central location at Riley Park — right next to historic Nat Bailey Stadium in central Vancouver and easily accessible by public transit.
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Summit host Vancity improves the financial well-being of its members while helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.