Modern City in the Great Outdoors

Vancouver is a city like no other, effortlessly combining the buzz of a modern metropolis with the rejuvenating spirit of the great outdoors. Stunning views of temperate rainforest reflect upon glass skyscrapers, sparkling with sophistication and energy. The city’s relaxed lifestyle is apparent as you explore the blue waters along the coast and taste incredible culinary creations in vibrant neighborhoods. Vancouver also serves as the perfect launch pad to explore western Canada.

Surrounded by colorful neighborhoods and laid-back locals, the city center is the best place to start your trip. From historic Gastown with its cobbled streets to the Vancouver version of “Soho” in Yaletown, you’ll find more than 20 distinctive districts to immerse yourself in dazzling gallery shows, nightlife, festivals, restaurants and all the area has to offer. Be sure to visit Canada Place-with its recognizable white sails by the waterfront. It is home to the Convention Center, the World Trade Centre and FlyOver Canada (a virtual flight ride). Canada Place is also the main cruise ship terminal for the region, where most of Vancouver’s famous cruises to Alaska originate.

Ease into the outdoors with a walk or cycle around Stanley Park’s seawall, embark on a whale watching excursion or kayak along the shoreline and beaches. Just 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver, mountains and forests tower above the glittering city. Escape to idyllic wilderness atop Grouse Mountain, taking the one-mile Skyride journey to 3,700 feet above sea level, where stunning panoramic views of the city, sea and mountain unfold. For a change of scenery, hike through the lush temperate rainforest of Capilano Suspension Park or explore the old-growth canopy of Douglas firs and red cedars blanketing the canyons in Vancouver’s North Shore.

On the food scene, the city is known for fresh, seasonal ingredients combined with multi-cultural influences. Visit Granville Island’s Farmers Market to taste juicy Fraser Valley strawberries and fresh salmon caught the same morning. Compliment a gourmet dinner of Dungeness crab with acclaimed wines from the Okanagan Valley or opt for the best of the Orient in the famous Chinatown. Top off the night with a visit to one of the many craft breweries, spirit distilleries or cocktail bars in many trendy neighborhoods. For the best combination of cuisine and sightseeing, try a floatplane Fly ‘N Dine tour.

Beyond Vancouver, you can travel along the Sea-to-Sky corridor, ocean vistas, soaring mountains, waterfalls and bustling communities as you take in Whistler, a world-class mountain resort. Alternatively, relish in the blend of old and new charm in the provincial capital of Victoria, where you can explore colorful gardens and enjoy afternoon tea or travel afar aboard the Rocky Mountaineer luxury rail tour to view the spectacular Canadian Rockies.

Sue Shimkus is the owner of Lake Zurich Travel and Lakeside Travel Advisors, Wauconda