If you’re taking a cruise to Alaska, Hawaii or down the West Coast from Vancouver, British Columbia, it’s a fantastic opportunity to spend some extra time in this beautiful city before your cruise. Vancouver’s unique character begins with the natural beauty of its setting, nestled between the Strait of Georgia and the North Shore Mountains.
Vancouver has grown into a multicultural and sophisticated city, but it began a modest saloon opened in 1867 by a gentleman named “Gassy Jack” Deighton (so nicknamed for his talkative nature, they say). There’s a statue of him in Maple Leaf Square in Gastown, near where he once served whiskey to sawmill workers. Gastown’s residents have fought hard through the years to preserve the neighborhood’s historic architecture and cobblestone streets. It’s a great place to stroll and visit hip boutiques, restaurants and galleries by day, and theaters and nightclubs by night.
Right next to Gastown is one of the largest Chinatowns in North America. Enter through the Millennium Gate and enjoy traditional Chinese restaurants, tea rooms, open-air markets and shops along streets lit by red lamps adorned with golden dragons. Don’t miss the Sam Kee building, 8 West Pender Street, one of the skinniest commercial buildings in the world (just under 5 feet wide on the ground floor).
In addition to Gastown and Chinatown, neighborhoods worth exploring include Granville and its famous public market; trendy Yaletown; and Kitsilano, which includes Vanier Park and some fine museums.
An absolute must-see in Vancouver is Stanley Park, a huge (1,001-acre) public park that’s nearly an island, surrounded by the waters of Vancouver Harbor and English Bay. It’s not far from the cruise ship dock at Canada Place. This isn’t a manicured park, but a beautiful urban forest that’s largely been allowed to evolve on its own. There are man-made attractions, too, including the seawall where residents and visitors love to stroll, jog and bike. There’s also a swimming pool and water spray park, an aquarium, forest trails, play areas and a miniature railway.
The neighborhoods, park, museums and restaurants of Vancouver are more than enough to fill a few days before your cruise. But, you can also go across the strait to visit Victoria Island, or venture in to the mountainous interior of British Columbia.
For more and ideas about what to see and where to stay in Vancouver, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
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