Top Things to Do in Vancouver Before or After Your Cruise
Updated: April 19, 2023
AAA Travel Editor Katie Broome
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
3735 Capilano Rd.
If you’re looking for adventurous things to do, consider a day trip to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in North Vancouver. Fun things to do at this park include a jaw-dropping walk across a swinging footbridge, guided nature tours through a West Coast rainforest and the Cliffwalk, a series of cantilevered walkways that offer a rock-climber’s view of the forested canyon. A free shuttle service from Canada Place cruise terminal is available in summer. Be sure to allow at least 2.5 hours to explore the park, plus 20-30 minutes of travel time each way.
6400 Nancy Greene Way
Great for families and group travel, Grouse Mountain offers enough activities to fill a whole day. During cruise season (May through September), your admission comes with a free round-trip shuttle from Canada Place to the base of Grouse Mountain, where you’ll transfer to a Skyride aerial tram for a scenic trip up the mountainside. At the top you’ll find a lumberjack show and a birds-in-flight demonstration—two fun things to do with kids—in addition to ranger talks, a bear habitat and guided eco-walks. For an extra fee you can book a zipline tour or even a private helicopter ride.
Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tours
Many post-cruise excursions in Vancouver offer a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, and for good reason. It is the easiest way to see the top tourist spots in the city in a short amount of time. WESTCOAST Sightseeing's Hop-on, Hop-off Tour picks up at Canada Place and covers the city on two separate loops, one through the downtown core and one that includes Stanley Park and Granville Island. Note: If you need a place to store your bags during the tour, inquire at the cruise terminal about short-term luggage storage and airport transfers.
Courtesy of Science World at TELUS World of Science
If you only have a few hours (or if you need things to do on a rainy day), consider a trip to one of Vancouver’s indoor attractions. Kids will have a blast with the interactive exhibits at Science World, located just a short light rail ride from the cruise terminal. Adults in search of some history and culture will want to head out of downtown to the UBC Museum of Anthropology, where they’ll find a collection of totem poles, canoes, carvings and other First Nations items and artwork.
Sample Local Cuisine at Nearby Restaurants
Seafood and Asian-inspired dishes are plentiful in Vancouver, so sample the cuisine at one of many local restaurants. You’ll find dozens of places to eat within walking distance of the cruise ship terminal or a short taxi ride away. Perched over the water is Cardero's Restaurant,with fresh oysters, seafood platters and flash-fried wok dishes on the menu. Dungeness crab and live-caught seafood are specialties at Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar, a bustling dinner spot in Yaletown. If you’re wondering where to eat Asian cuisine, head to Guu Original on Thurlow Street or Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie in Chinatown.
Shopping on Robson Street
If an afternoon spent shopping is more your thing, add a stroll down Robson Street to your itinerary. Start at the intersection of Robson and Granville streets (about a 15-minute walk from Canada Place) and then browse Nordstrom’s flagship store, Holt Renfrew and 60-plus other stores at the upscale Pacific Centre mall. Continue west for more shopping on Robson and plenty of local restaurants, cafés and things to see along the way.
7500 Stanley Park Dr.
One of the most fun things for couples to do is to explore Stanley Park by bike. Rent a cruiser bike or a tandem from one of the many local outfitters stationed outside the park entrance on West Georgia Street, then follow the Stanley Park Seawall on its counterclockwise loop around the park. Allow for at least an hour to make it around the park, plus a little more if you plan to stop and soak up the views (recommended!).
Stay an Extra Day
Travel websites and your AAA travel agency will most likely recommend arriving in port at least one day prior to your cruise in order to avoid any last-minute headaches. An extra day will give you more time to explore the city, too, and you’ll have a safe place to store your luggage. Fairmont Waterfront and Pan Pacific Vancouver are two hotels near the Vancouver cruise port and within walking distance of things to do downtown.
If you have a full day to spare, consider booking a whale-watching excursion out of Vancouver. Cruise season aligns perfectly with whale-watching season, so there is a good chance you’ll be able to spot killer whales in the wild along with other marine wildlife. Tour companies provide 3- to 5-hour trips that are perfect for group travel, with many outfitters offering pickup and drop-off service in the downtown area. Consider tours from Prince of Whales Whale Watching, Vancouver Whale Watch and Steveston Seabreeze Adventures, for starters.
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AAA Travel Editor Katie Broome
Katie Broome is a AAA Travel Expert.