Richard Lam  /  AP file
A man gets a close up view of the crashing waves along the Stanley Park Seawall during a wind storm in Vancouver, B.C.
Special to
updated 1/25/2007 4:34:31 PM ET 2007-01-25T21:34:31

Kayaking, cross-country skiing, windsurfing, rock-climbing, hiking, parasailing—sounds like the list of activities at some fabulous eco-resort, doesn’t it? Instead, these are the activities that urbanites of the city of Vancouver engage in on weekends, after work, first thing in the morning … whenever they can get away from the business of pretending they live in the city. Backed by soaring mountains on one side and a deep harbor on the other, with rushing rivers, dense forests and the ski slopes of famed Whistler all within easy reach, it’s a nature lover’s paradise. Especially if that Paul Bunyan-type enjoys great restaurants and cosmopolitan neighbors. Explore the city’s outdoorsy yin and its steel skyscraper yang, on the following, day-long itinerary.

8 a.m. - 9 a.m.: Ignore the silly backstory at Slickety Jim’s Chat ‘n Chew (Jim, abducted by aliens, forced to travel around the country on a child’s scooter searching for the perfect breakfast joint) and dig in to food that looks ridiculous on the menu, but adds up to some seriously good eats when on the plate. We’re talking “bomb and a bull”, another name for eggs with a perfect benedict sauce made even more sinful by the addition of gorgonzola cheese and proscuitto; or “Revolution Eggs” where the radicalism lies in a towering stack of eggs on top of black forest ham, corn bread, tomatillo sauce and assiago cheese. You’ll enjoy the funky décor, too.

9 a.m. - noon: Hike the trails of Stanley Park , the second largest urban forest in the Americas. At nearly 1000-acres, the park will have much to catch your interest, from its collection of totem poles at Brockton Point to the Lost Lagoon Nature House (which hosts an ever changing array of ecology exhibits). One of the prime pleasures of the park is simply strolling the sea wall, a view-a-holics fantasy, but many come for the Vancouver Aquarium , which is the most-visited attraction in all of Canada. It features over 8000 salty critters in its state-of-the-art marine environments, including “thar she blows” beluga whales (wear a rain poncho or stand well back—many a visitor has been soaked by these blowhards’ blowholes over the years).

Morning Alternative
If it’s too chilly or wet for the park—and Vancouver has been getting a lot of nasty storms lately— The Museum of Anthropology is an ace indoor option. Don’t rush inside too quickly, though; part of its allure is the building it’s housed in, which architect Arthur Erikson meant to evoke a classic Native American post and beam structure. Housing one of the finest collections of West Coast Native American art anywhere, it boasts both ancient and modern sculptures, beaded jewelry, masks and more.

Noon - 2 p.m.: Vancouver is a major hub for both Asian immigrants and visitors, and beyond its location, food is now one of the reasons they love this city—the Asian restaurants here are downright spectacular. The expat Chinese community has adopted the elegant but affordable Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant as its unofficial clubhouse, particularly at lunchtime when the room is traversed by metal carts, filled with steaming bamboo trays of dim sum. As good as any you’d taste in Hong Kong, and often as unusual (up for duck tongue?), the dim sum here is more than just a tasty treat, it’s a true border-hopping adventure.

2 p.m. - 5 p.m.: Hop a ferry for a five minute float to Granville Island , Vancouver’s island artists colony set in factory buildings and warehouses that inhabited this former industrial site. Simply walking from gallery to gallery, taking in the views of the city, and shopping for unique crafts will easily fill an afternoon. One of the greatest delights of a visit here is to browse the Granville Public Market, which rivals Seattle’s Pike Place Market with its vast array of seafood, artisinal cheeses, fresh produce and other culinary treats.

Afternoon Alternative
When the weather’s warm, you may want to challenge your nerve on the Capilano Suspension Bridge . An adrenaline rush since it opened in 1889, the bridge spans a canyon, and sways some 226 feet over the Capilano River. You may want to combine your high altitude adventure with an eco-tour of the area. Rockwood Adventures will pair you with a professional naturalist to guide you through Capilano Canyon, as well as through the North Shore Rain Forest.

5:30 p.m. - 7:15: Since it doesn’t take reservations, head early to Vij’s , which food expert Mark Bittman called “easily among the finest Indian restaurants in the world.” Not your standard curry joint, Vij’s is elegantly exotic in looks and disciplined in its cooking. Its all-female Punjabi staff makes all of the dairy products (ghee, cheeses, yoghurt) fresh on a daily basis. The owners are just as rigorous in selecting the meats and vegetables that go into the food, working closely with local farmers to get just the right ingredients for their pan-Indian cuisine. The results are sublime and unusual—not to be missed.

7:30 or 8 p.m. - 10 or 10:30 p.m.: In this sports-happy town, is it any surprise that the arts scene would also have a competitive edge? Go watch the competing thespians, at the award-winning Vancouver Theater Sports League , where comics duke it out nightly in improvised sketches and songs for the title of “funniest”. It’s a hoot.

Pauline Frommer is the creator of the new Pauline Frommer guides in bookstores now.

Slickety Jim’s Chat ‘n Chew, 2513 Main Street, phone 604/873-6760

  1. Don't miss these Travel stories
    1. Lords of the gourd compete for Punkin Chunkin honors

      With teams using more than 100 unique apparatuses to launch globular projectiles a half-mile or more, the 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event is our pick as November’s Weird Festival of the Month.

    2. Airports, airlines work hard to return your lost items
    3. Expert: Tourist hordes threaten Sistine Chapel's art
    4. MGM Grand wants Las Vegas guests to Stay Well
    5. Report: Airlines collecting $36.1B in fees this year

For full information on Stanley Park go to

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center is located in Stanley Park, phone 604/659-FISH; Admission is C$17 adults, C$13 students and seniors. It’s open 9:30 am to 7pm in summer and 10am to 5pm the rest of the year.

The Museum of Anthropology, 6393 NW Marine Drive, phone 604/822-5087; Admission is C$9 for adults and C$5 for students and seniors. See the website for hours which do vary.

Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant, 3888 Main Street, phone 604/872-8822;

The most fun way to get to Granville Island is by boat, via either the Aquabus ( or the False Creek Ferry ( It’s also possible to drive across the Granville Street Bridge or go via Fourth Avenue or Burrard Street. For complete information on the island, go to

Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park, 3735 Capilano Road in North Vancouver, phone 604/985-7474; Admission is C$25 for adults, C$19 for students and seniors. The bridge is open from 8:30 am to dusk in summer and from 9am to 5pm the rest of the year.

Rockwood Adventures, 888/236-6606 or 604/980-7749;

Vij’s, 1480 West 11th Avenue, phone 604/736-6644;

The Vancouver Theater Sports League has shows Wednesday to Sunday nights at varying times, and for varying costs. For the full information, go to

Pauline Frommer is the creator of the new Pauline Frommer guides in bookstores now.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Photos: Vancouver, B.C., 2010

loading photos...
  1. Vancouver, British Columbia, played host to the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Albert Normandin / Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A couple strolls through Stanley Park on a spring afternoon near the city's main boat marina. One of the city's most visited parks, visitors can also enjoy the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center and zoo at the park. (Joe Mcnally / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Rowers glide past a line of yachts at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.It is said that in Vancouver, it is possible to ski in the morning, sail in the afternoon and take a sunset dip in the Pacific. (Mary Peachin / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Planning to soak up some art while in town? Consider staying at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, which is located right behind the Vancouver Art Gallery. The hotel is located on the VIA Rail route for those who plan to travel to the city by train. (Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The Granville Island Public Market is perhaps the most well-known market in Vancouver. Dozens of vendors offer food-loving tourists and locals produce, seafood, meats, sweets and European speciatly foods. (Robert Giroux / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. The steam-powered Gastown clock blows out clouds of steam during its hourly sounding of Westminister Chimes. Gastown is located in the northeast corner of Vancouver, and is known as the birthplace of the city. (Robert Giroux / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia is "acclaimed for its spectacular architecture and unique setting on the cliffs of Point Grey," its Web site proclaims. (Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Totem poles and other artifacts are on display at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. The museum, founded in 1949, is world renowned for its collections. (Kevin Arnold / Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. While in the city, check out the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. The bridge spans 450 feet across and is situated 230 feet above the Capilano River. (Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A totem pole decorates Stanley Park in Vancouver. The park covers about 1,000 acres, and offers residents and tourists a wealth of options, including walking, running or biking the 5.5-mile seawall path, a pitch-and-put golf course and more. (Robert Giroux / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A young girl interacts with a sea otter at the Vancouver Aquarium. Tickets for adults cost $22, $17 for seniors (65+) and youths (13-18), $14 for children (4-12) and kids get in free. (Robert Giroux / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Pedestrians walk by Aritizia on Robson Street, the famous shopping street in Vancouver's west end. In the stretch of three blocks, tourists looking for retail therapy can find stores specializing in shoes, clothes, lingeri, candy, souvenirs and luggage, not to mention hair salons, currency exchanges and restaurants. (Christopher Herwig / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. The Library Square building in Vancouver houses the city's public library. (Danniele Hayes / Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Patrons eat in the dining room of Six Acres, a pub and restaurant located in Gastown. Six Acres is "tucked in the oldest brick building in Vancouver," its Web site claims. (Christopher Herwig / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A traditional pagoda sits on the shore of a pond in the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden in the downtown area of Vancouver. Though Canada's third largest city, Vancouver has historically been thought of as the "terminal city," the end of the line and the last remote town before the continent comes to an end at the Pacific Ocean. (Ross Barnett / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. The Granville Entertainment District is an area in Downtown Vancouver known for its vast assortment of bars, danceclubs and nightlife. The entertainment district is centered on a seven-block stretch of the Granville Mall and immediately surrounding streets. (Tourism Vancouver) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre was built in 1968, and was a gift from the lumber magnate to Vancouver's citizens. If you're visiting Vancouver on a Friday or Saturday night, you can catch laser shows to music from Green Day, Radiohead and Pink Floyd. (Christopher Herwig / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Olympic rings are illuminated in the harbor outside the Vancouver Convention Centre. (Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. The Olympic and Paralympic Village Vancouver is set on the waterfront of Vancouver. (Stephanie Lamy / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. The Richmond Oval, located south of Vancouver, served as the long-track speed skating venue for the 2010 Winter Games. (Ben Hulse / Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Skiers and snowboarders gather on top of Whistler Mountain. Whistler was the official alpine skiing venue for the 2010 Olympic Games. (Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Norway's Johan Remen Evensensoars through the air during the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup skiing event in Whistler, British Columbia, in 2009. The venue was the site of ski jumping events during the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. (Darryl Dyck / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Cypress Mountain hosted the snowboarding and freestyle skiing events during the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Tourism B.C.) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Canada's Mellisa Hollingsworth zooms around a corner during the sixth training run for the World Cup skeleton race in Whistler, B.C., in 2009. (Frank Gunn / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. The Vancouver skyline, Burrard Inlet and Lion's Gate bridge is pictured at sunset. The Lion's Gate Bridge connects North and West Vancouver with downtown. The suspension bridge is 5,890 feet in length. (Robert Giroux / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments