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24 Things To Do in Vancouver for the Perfect Trip

Updated: April 18, 2024

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, SMT

Vancouver, British Columbia, is a picturesque city in the Pacific Northwest, with its charming harbor and surrounding snow-capped mountains. There are many attractions to see and things to do in Vancouver, so we’ve created this guide to help you decide which are the best ones to do. 

Learn more about what you can do in the City of Glass, from whale watching off the coast to taking a gondola through the scenic landscapes. 

1. Take a Walk Around Stanley Park

The first stop to complete in Vancouver is one of the city’s most iconic spots—Stanley Park. At nearly 1,000 acres, the park is full of fun activities to enjoy, whether walking on the trails through the red-cedar forest or taking in the stunning views of the city and Pacific Ocean. 

If you’re interested in Vancouver history, we recommend joining the First Nations Interpretive Walking Tour, which provides insight into the Indigenous history and culture of the area. Stanley Park is close to downtown Vancouver, making it an ideal place for visitors looking for nearby attractions. 

2. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium

Who doesn’t love going to the aquarium? Enjoy a family-friendly activity and visit the Vancouver Aquarium. With more than 50,000 living creatures, it’s no wonder the Vancouver Aquarium is the largest aquarium in Canada. 

See some of your favorite sea creatures and animals, like sea otters and sharks. Attend a touch pool session, have a 4D experience in its theater or watch a dolphin training session. Vancouver Aquarium is also in Stanley Park, so check out the rest of the park before or after the aquarium. 

3. Roam the VanDusen Botanical Garden

Looking for a relaxing activity? Stop and smell the roses at the VanDusen Botanical Garden. The garden holds over 7,500 plant varieties, including a formal rose garden and a Canadian heritage garden. You can also see plenty of wildlife within the garden, from majestic blue herons to fluttering hummingbirds. The garden is open year-round, with different plants and flowers in full bloom during varying seasons. 

4. Stroll Through Queen Elizabeth Park

The VanDusen Botanical Garden is within Queen Elizabeth Park—the highest point in Vancouver. In the park, you can check out the garden, the Bloedel Conservatory, an arboretum and public artworks. At 128 acres, there’s plenty of space for an afternoon picnic and strolls along numerous walking paths. Be sure to take plenty of pictures of the panoramic view of the Vancouver skyline. 

5. Explore Canada Place

There’s many landmarks in Vancouver to check out, but one of the most known is Canada Place. Designed to resemble a ship with five large sails, Canada Place is a prominent spot on the Vancouver waterfront. 

There’s many things to do at Canada Place, such as the Port of Vancouver Discovery Centre and FlyOver Canada. The Canada Place also includes a hotel and convention center—popular for hosting events and visitors. Outside of Canada Place, you can walk along the promenade or walk over to Stanley Park. 

6. Hike at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

The adventure enthusiast will love a trip to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. The suspension bridge spans across a temperate rainforest and the Capilano River. Visitors can tread across a treetop route of small open-ended suspension bridges, or be a daredevil and complete the 700-foot-long cliffwalk. Families with small children can also enjoy guided nature walks around the area. 

7. Walk Along the Vancouver Seawall

While visiting Stanley Park, find the large stone wall. Constructed in 1917 to protect the city from erosion, Vancouver’s Seawall spans almost six miles around the edge of the park. This area, also known as the Seawall Promenade, is great for snapping pictures of the city views or taking a leisurely walk or jog around the park. 

8. Journey Through the Museum of Anthropology at UBC

The city of Vancouver is rich in history and culture, so consider checking out a few museums during your visit. The Museum of Anthropology, located on the University of British Columbia campus, is a great museum to put on your itinerary. 

The museum holds art and cultural artifacts from around the world, focusing on the history and culture of the First Nations peoples. You can view temporary and permanent exhibits to learn more about the First Nations communities in British Columbia, as well as other Canadian communities. 

9. Discover Granville Island

Did you know there’s a small island in Vancouver? Actually, it’s more like a peninsula, but it’s referred to as Granville Island. This seaside area has many spots to check out, including the Granville Island Public Market, Granville Island Brewing Company and the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design. 

There are also plenty of restaurants to dine at, waterfront views to enjoy and water activities to partake in, such as kayaking tours of the island. Families can also embark on a Kids Vancouver Sightseeing Tour, which includes a stop on Granville Island. 

10. Shop at Gastown

Gastown is one of the oldest districts in Vancouver, evident with its charming Victorian architecture and historic buildings. The district was named after “Gassy” Jack Deighton, an English sailor who opened a saloon in the neighborhood during the 19th century.

You can either go solo or take a group walking tour through the district to learn more about the district’s popular landmarks, such as the Gassy Jack Statue and the Dominion Building. The district also includes many restaurants and boutiques to check out during your visit. Gastown is also home to the iconic Gastown Steam Clock, which chimes every 15 minutes.

11. Stop by the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

If you plan to visit Chinatown in Vancouver, stop by the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Designated as one of the world's top 10 urban gardens by National Geographic, the garden is the first of its kind outside China in the Ming Dynasty tradition. In the garden, you’ll find 150-year-old miniature trees, koi-filled ponds and beautiful limestone formations. You can try traditional Chinese tea and participate in a family-friendly scavenger hunt. 

12. Admire Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery

The Vancouver Art Gallery is the most extensive public art museum in Western Canada. The gallery holds more than 11,000 art pieces with origins from both around the world and in British Columbia, with an emphasis on work from First Nations artists. The gallery also has a variety of touring exhibitions to see and hosts events, like open studios, for art enthusiasts to enjoy. 

13. Explore Science World

Families with kids visiting Vancouver should consider going to Science World at TELUS World of Science. Science World includes a variety of interactive exhibits, live demonstrations and educational programs to check out. Science World provides hands-on experiences for kids to discover and learn about topics within STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art & design and math). Science World also has the Wonder Gallery for younger children (ages 0-5), which includes a Crawl space ideal for those 18 months and under. 

14. Enjoy the Views From Vancouver Lookout

In Vancouver, there’s no end to great lookout points of the city. The Vancouver Lookout is a circular observation deck that showcases panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscapes. You’ll also see popular attractions such as Stanley Park and the Harbour Centre. 

The Vancouver Lookout is ideal for first-time visitors who want to get their bearings on the city and snap some great pictures of Vancouver. The best time of the day for pictures is around sunset, but remember that it’s the busiest time with crowds. 

15. Bird Watch in the Bloedel Conservatory

The Bloedel Conservatory, located in Queen Elizabeth Park, is home to lush plants and birds from around the globe. The conservatory is segmented into three climatic zones: tropical, subtropical and desert. You’ll find a variety of plants growing in the conservatory, including orchids, cactuses and palms. You’ll also see a variety of free-flying birds, including canaries and parrots. This is a great activity for a rainy day in the city or plant-lovers interested in learning about exotic plants. 

16. Watch a Game in Rogers Arena 

Calling all sports fans—purchase a few tickets to watch a Canucks hockey game in Rogers Area. The Canadian professional ice hockey team was founded in 1945 and has been a member of the National Hockey League (NHL) since 1970. Remember to wear the team blue, green and white—the team colors—and grab a Canucks jersey at the game as a Vancouver souvenir. 

If you’re not interested in sports, Rogers Arena frequently hosts other live events, such as concerts and comedy shows. 

17. Hike on Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain is just a 20-minute drive north of Vancouver, and worth the trip. Visitors can either hike 3,642 feet to the mountain’s peak or ride the Skyride aerial tram. Once you’re at the top, take panoramic views from the mountain and check out the available outdoor activities. There are a ton of activities to do, including ziplining, skiing, stepping into a wind tunnel and hanging out in the glass-pod observation area. 

18. Spend a Day Whale Watching

If you’re visiting between March and October, book spots on a whale-watching trip. This block of months is prime time for whale watching, as it’s warmer and the whales tend to stick closer to the shores. Most whale-watching expeditions will go through the Gulf and San Juan Islands to spot humpback whales, gray whales, orcas and minke whales. 

19. Kayak in False Creek

False Creek is a small inlet between Granville Island and Yaletown. During your trip, you may cross False Creek via the street bridges to get to different city areas. This little area is a great spot during the warmer months for kayaking, paddle boarding and riding a water tour boat along the sea wall. There are also pedestrian and bike-friendly promenades around False Creek for a stroll or bike ride. 

20. Eat Street Food and Local Cuisine

Throughout downtown Vancouver and districts like Chinatown and Gastown, there are plenty of great restaurants and street food to try out during your trip. Some of the most popular foods to try in Vancouver include poutine, seafood and even salmon candy. Food trucks are also very popular, so try a couple during a leisurely walk downtown. 

21. Take a Day Trip

While Vancouver has a lot to offer for visitors, you can also break up your vacation and take a day trip to a nearby Canadian hot spot. For outdoor enthusiasts, Whistler is a two-hour drive north. In the winter, Whistler is known for its winter sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. In the summer, you can hike, mountain bike, zip line and golf. 

For city lovers, you can take a ferry to Victoria. Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, known for its regal parliament buildings, cultural landmarks and scenic beauty. In Victoria, there are many museums to check out, go whale watching or attend a local festival. 

22. Purchase Art at Pacific Arts Market

The Pacific Arts Market is a marketplace that allows local artists to display and sell their artwork. Visitors can shop for paintings, ceramics, jewelry and other handmade goods at the market. It’s also a great opportunity to support the local art community and have a personal experience with the residents of Vancouver. 

23. Ride the Sea to the Sky Gondola

Want the best view of British Columbia’s landscapes? The Sea to Sky Gondola, located north of Vancouver in the Squamish area, is a 10-minute ride to the summit station. You’ll climb 2,900 feet above the ground to see panoramic views of the Coast Mountains and the scenery. 

Once you reach the summit station, you’re free to enjoy more beautiful views from the observation deck, walk across the Sky Pilot suspension bridge and explore nearby walking trails. 

24. Go to a Nearby Beach

Looking to catch some waves? There are a few beaches in the Vancouver area that are great for all to enjoy. The beach at English Bay is a popular spot for watersports, such as kayaking, paddleboarding and swimming. Next to the English Bay Beach is Kitsilano Beach—a stretch of sand ideal for sunbathing and playing beach-friendly sports like volleyball. 

If you want to escape downtown Vancouver for the day, hop over to the western end of the city and check out Jericho Beach. It’s a popular beach for both locals and visitors, with its breathtaking views of the North Shore and opportunities for fun water activities like windsurfing and sailboating. 

Plan Your Trip to Vancouver With AAA

Allow AAA Travel to assist with your travel plans to Canada, and choose from our list of things to do in Vancouver. Make the most of your AAA membership and plan tours and excursions using exclusive perks and discounts.

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, SMT

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