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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vancouver "best cities to live in and host of the 2010 Winter Olympics"

Vancouver is the largest metropolitan area in Western Canada, and third largest in Canada, with a population of 2.6 million. Located at the southwestern corner of the coastal province of British Columbia, it is well known for its majestic natural beauty, as it is nestled between the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It is frequently ranked as one of the "best cities to live in" and is certainly a beautiful destination to visit.

Vancouver is the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Stanley Park

Step aboard one of our old-fashioned horse-drawn vehicles and meander in comfort through the natural beauty of Stanley Park, Vancouver’s #1 attraction. Relax to the gentle clip clop of the horses’ hooves and take in the fresh scent of cedar and the sea as a professional guide fully narrates your one-hour tour featuring Deadman’s Island, Vancouver’s harbour, the Lions Gate Bridge, a coastal Red-Cedar forest and the Rose Garden, with stops at the famous Totem Poles, Girl in a Wet Suit Statue, and S.S. Empress of Japan Figurehead. Horse-drawn tours are wheelchair accessible, covered, and depart every 20-30 minutes, daily, rain or shine. You can take a bus tour anytime, but how often do you get a chance to see the sights by horse-drawn carriage?

Vancouver Aquarium In Stanley Park

The Vancouver Aquarium is home to over 70,000 fascinating creatures from the Arctic to the Amazon. Be sure to catch daily beluga whale, dolphin and sea otter shows, and for an unforgettable extra try a hands-on animal encounter. Check out the interactive exhibits in the expanded children’s area, and don’t miss the amazing new frog exhibit. Relax over lunch at the Upstream Café and be sure to visit the unique Gift Shop.

Immerse yourself in our new 4D Experience theatre, which combines the high-definition excitement of a 3-D film with thrilling sensory effects! Now open: The engaging new Canada’s Arctic exhibit, connecting you to the animals, stories and people of Canada’s majestic Arctic.

Grouse Mountain

Situated only 15 minutes from the downtown core of Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is truly the marriage of wilderness and civilization. Experience the majesty of two grizzly bears in a 5-acre wildlife refuge, a rush of adrenaline as you soar high above the valley below on an Air Grouse Mountain Zipline, or the thrill of watching competing lumberjacks vie for top spot in a daring competition. Wind down your day in a stunning restaurant venue located in the Peak Chalet and overlooking the city, ranging from the fine dining Observatory to the more casual Altitudes Bistro. Whatever your adventure, don’t forget your camera!

Capilano Suspension Bridge

One of Vancouver’s most iconic and thrilling sites Capilano Suspension Bridge is breathtakingly suspended 230 feet above and 450 feet across Capilano River. But crossing the bridge isn’t the only excitement you can expect. Cross over to towering evergreens, serene trails and the award winning attraction, Treetops Adventure. Seven suspension bridges, some reaching as high as 100 feet, take you high above the forest floor for a thrilling encounter with the heart of the forest.

Guided eco-walks, a First Nations cultural experience and voices from the past at the Story Centre mingle with the sounds of live seasonal performances. Unmatched shopping at the Trading Post and West Coast cuisine round out this entertaining West Coast experience.

Harbour Cruises &Events
Dining, Sightseeing and Special Events

Harbour Cruises &Events, Vancouver’s leading boat sightseeing company, provides unparalleled views of Vancouver and offers a unique and delightful way to experience the city. Harbour Cruises Ltd. is the only boat sightseeing company in Vancouver to offer regularly scheduled daily and nightly public cruises. They include daily tours of the Vancouver Harbour, four times daily during the summer; nightly Sunset Dinner Cruises which includes a West Coast-themed dinner; and a luncheon cruise through the calm blue waters of the Indian Arm. Guests will cruise onboard one of our three distinct vessels from Vancouver’s only authentic paddlewheel, the MPV Constitution, to the MV Harbour Princess to the newly refurbished MV Britannia where tour guides will provide live commentary as we pass through the waterways surrounding Vancouver.

Vancouver Lookout

Vancouver Lookout the “Best First Stop” during your visit to Vancouver.

Come see the spectacular 360-degree view of cosmopolitan Vancouver, the majestic North Shore Mountains and perhaps even Vancouver Island. Journey fifty storeys above street level in a glass elevator in less than 50 seconds. This elevating experience will get you ready to visit the rest of the must-see attractions. Our knowledgeable staff are happy to guide you around the deck and provide you with a 360-degree city tour. Admissionticket(s) valid throughout the day and evening, enjoy the view by day and by night. Come and enjoy the night lights!

The Vancouver Art Gallery

A day in Canada’s most beautiful city would be incomplete without a visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery. This internationally acclaimed art museum offers the Vancouver’s top cultural experience in a stunning heritage building. The Gallery presents ever-changing world-class exhibitions, from historic masters to today’s most internationally acclaimed contemporary artists. It also houses the most significant collection of paintings by beloved British Columbia artist Emily Carr. Weekends at the Gallery are not to be missed, with artful family fun and free activities for young visitors.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen

Classical Chinese Garden

Visit the only Ming Dynasty-style Chinese garden built outside of China in 400 years. A free guided tour unravels the many layered philosophy that inspired the gardens intricate and authentic design. Savour the beauty, balance and calm over a cup of complimentary Chinese tea. Hunt for turtles basking in the sun and watch the brilliant coloured koi swim lazily through the jade green pond! The Garden is always filled with life, offering year round inspiration and enchantment. Whether the sun is shining or the rain is falling the Garden is the perfect place to visit year-round, with covered walkways and beautiful vistas. The Garden is wheelchair accessible and family friendly.

TELUS World of Science

Science World at TELUS World of Science. Ignite your mind and discover the wonders of science. Popular, hands-on interactive displays, inspirational feature exhibitions, jaw-dropping science demonstrations on Centre Stage, immersive films in the domed OMNIMAX® Theatre and awesome shows in the Science Theatre. It’s sure to be an unforgettable day of exploration as you meet STAN, our life-sized T-Rex, freeze your shadow in the shadow room and make your own inventions in Contraption Corner. There’s even a special mesmerizing area just for kids 2-6-years-old to enjoy. Fun for all ages, Science World is sure to jump-start your imagination. Just minutes from downtown and right at the Main Street/Science World SkyTrain Station. Science World-we can explain.

Burnaby Village

Transport yourself - stroll down the streets of our 1920s B.C. Electric Railway tram stop community. Our village is a combination of heritage and replica buildings on a 10-acre site. Period costumed townsfolk welcome visitors and give demonstrations in the homes, businesses and shops. Popular stops include a chat with the blacksmith, a demonstration in the print shop, a wander through the garden at the farmhouse and a visit with the clerk at the General Store. Be sure to take in the elegance of the Interurban #1223. An exciting must for every visitor is a whirl on the historic 1912 CW Parker Carousel. Rides are accompanied by music from a Wurlitzer Band Organ. Amenities include picnic tables, a gift shop, and an ice-cream parlour which offers a menu for light meals and snacks.

Minter Gardens

Set against a magnificent mountain backdrop is a 32 acre floral tapestry of colour, sound and fragrance. Discover charming features around every bend as you stroll through 11 themed gardens, pass by rushing waterfalls, feel the mist of the stunning ‘Waterwall’ or recapture your youth in the Children’s Garden. Be sure to visit one of our fabulous restaurants; enjoy a meal in the Envision Conservatory or a delectable brunch in The Trillium. Stop by our Gift and Plant Shop for a special memento or savour a treat from ‘Scrumptious’ sweet shop. As the garden evolves with each season, one visit is never enough!

Hell’s Gate Airtram

Drive the Scenic Fraser Canyon with its’ seven mountain tunnels through the historic heart of British Columbia and relive the biggest ‘rush’ on the Gold Rush Trail. A location so unique the ‘afterlife’ have come back to use it as a playground. Early explorers refer to it as “a place where no human being should venture”, and man & nature battle here for supremacy. You can see this place for yourself as you cross over the narrowest part of the Fraser River (with twice the flow of Niagara Falls!) and exchange mountain ranges aboard one of the only descending gondolas in North America. Facilities include: Gold Panning, Education Center, Suspension Bridge, Observation Decks, Simon’s Wall, Gold Panner Gift Shop, Fudge Factory & Simon’s Café.
Get around

Vancouver is one of the few major cities in North America without a freeway leading directly into the downtown core (freeway proposals in the 1960's and 1970's were defeated by community opposition). As a result, development has taken a different course than in most other major North American cities resulting in a relatively high use of transit and cycling, a dense, walkable core and a development model that is studied and emulated elsewhere.

By Public Transit

Vancouver's public transit is run by the regional transportation authority, TransLink as an integrated system of buses, rapid transit (SkyTrain) and passenger ferry (SeaBus) . The transit system connects Vancouver with its neighboring municipalities, stretching as far north as Lions Bay, south to the U.S. border and east to Langley and Maple Ridge.

Adult fares for travel within the city of Vancouver cost $2.50. Travel from Vancouver to nearby places like North Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond costs a little bit more -- $3.75-$5 -- depending on the time of day and number of transit zones you cross. Travel on weekends and weekdays after 6:30PM is always $2.50 regardless of the destination. The ticket you receive is valid for 1.5 hours from the time of purchase and can be used to transfer to any bus, SkyTrain or the SeaBus during that time. TransLink's website and customer information line (+1 604-953-3333) both offer complete trip planning. A regional system map is widely available at convenience stores and on TransLink's website.

A more convenient option for the traveler may be the Daypass, which offers unlimited travel for a single day at the cost of $9. It is available from fare machines at SkyTrain stations. Books of 10 prepaid tickets (FareSaver tickets) are available at a discount from many convenience stores. Concession fares are available for Vancouver grade-school students and BC seniors and cost between $1.75-$3.50. If you're a student or a senior you must be carrying a TransLink GoCard or BC Gold CareCard to receive the reduced concession fare. Monthly passes are also available, which can cost $73-136, depending on how many zones they cover.

The bus service covers the widest area and travels along most major streets in the city. Passengers must either buy a ticket or present their ticket immediately upon entering a TransLink bus. Buses accept coins only and will not give change. Tickets can also be purchased from vending machines in SkyTrain stations that accept coins, bills, debit and credit cards. In addition, several bus rapid transit lines named B Lines crisscross the city.

SkyTrain is the mostly elevated rapid transit system that connects Vancouver's downtown with some of its southern and eastern suburbs. The Expo line runs out through Burnaby and New Westminster to King George station in Surrey. The Millennium line follows the Expo line to New Westminster and then loops back through Burnaby and into Vancouver again ending at VCC/Clark. The new (2009) Canada Line connects downtown with Richmond and Vancouver Airport. Notable SkyTrain stations in Vancouver include:

  • Broadway/Commercial Drive - Accesses the restaurants of Commercial Dr in East Vancouver
  • Burrard and Granville - Most convenient for accessing the shopping areas in the central business district
  • Waterfront Station - Meeting point of the SkyTrain, SeaBus, numerous commuter and rapid bus routes and the commuter rail West Coast Express. It is also at the entrance to Gastown and is right next to the Canada Place Convention Centre/Cruise Ship Terminal facilities.

The SeaBus is a passenger ferry that connects Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. It generally runs every 15 min except in the evening and on Sundays. The exact schedule is available on TransLink's website.

Purchasing tickets for the SkyTrain and the SeaBus operates on the honor system, with ticket checks occuring at random, often rare times. It is not difficult to ride without paying, especially during rush hour, but those who do so ride at their own risk. If caught, the passenger has to pay a fine of $173. Tickets are easily available through vending machines at SkyTrain stations and either SeaBus terminal.

SkyTrain and SeaBus service ends before last call at night clubs and bars, so if you'll be partying downtown, be sure you figure out a ride home.

By ferry across False Creek

A quick trip across on a cute little-boat-that-could ferry can be the most fun, traffic-free, and convenient way to get between various points on False Creek:

  • Maritime Museum in Vanier Park on the south shore,
  • Aquatic Centre at Sunset Beach on the north shore,
  • Hornby St on the north shore,
  • Granville Island and its famous Public Market on the south shore,
  • Yaletown/Davie St. on the north shore,
  • Stamp's Landing/Monk's and Spyglass Place on the south shore,
  • Plaza of Nations and Edgewater Casino on the north shore, and
  • Science World, the geodesic dome at the east end of False Creek.

Service is offered by Granville Island Ferries with little blue boats and by Aquabus with little rainbow boats. The two ferries run slightly different routes, and their docks on Granville Island are on either side of the Public Market. Current prices for adults start at $3 for short routes to $6 for long routes.

By car

Vancouver's road network is generally a grid system with a "Street" running north-south and an "Avenue" running east-west. Arterial roads follow the grid fairly well (although not perfectly), but side streets frequently disappear for blocks at a time and then reappear. Most of the "Avenues" are numbered and they always use East or West to designate whether it is on the East side or the West side of Ontario Street. Some of the major avenues use names rather than numbers (Broadway would be 9th Ave, King Edward Ave would be 25th Ave).

Downtown Vancouver has its own grid system and doesn't follow the street/avenue format of the rest of the city. It is also surrounded by water on three sides, so most of the ways in and out require you to cross a bridge. This can cause traffic congestion, particularly at peak times (morning and evening commutes, sunny weekend afternoons, major sporting events), so factor that into any driving plans, or avoid if possible.

One of the best ways to avoid traffic congestion is to listen to traffic reports on AM730. This station reports only about traffic and can be quick to report any accidents and congestion, as well as B.C. ferry reports, Langley ferry lineups, border wait times, and other information pertaining to getting around the city and its many suburbs.

A unique feature of Vancouver and the rest of British Columbia is intersections with flashing green traffic signals. These do not indicate an advance left turn as it would in many other parts of North America. Instead, a flashing green light indicates a traffic signal that can be activated only by a pedestrian or a cyclist on the side street, but not by a motor vehicle. When the signal turns red, traffic stops as at any traffic signal. Any side street traffic must obey the stop sign on the side street and must yield to any pedestrians crossing the side street, even if traffic is stopped on the main street.

By bicycle

The city of Vancouver is a very bicycle-friendly city. In addition to the extremely popular seawall bicycle routes along Stanley Park, False Creek and Kitsilano, there are a whole network of bicycle routes that connect the whole city. The City of Vancouver provides a map of the bicycle routes that is available at most bike shops or online. Also, all buses have bicycle racks on the front to help riders get to less accessible parts. North American visitors will find that, drivers in Vancouver are well accustomed to sharing the road with cyclists.

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