Vancouver BC Canada Cityscape at sunset

Nestled just inland of the Pacific Ocean with mountains to the north as its backdrop, Vancouver offers residents and tourists a wealth of recreational opportunities to enjoy regardless of the time of year.

As Canada’s third-most populated city and easily the country’s main attraction in its western half, Vancouver is the jewel of the province of British Columbia. Consistently rated among the world’s “greenest cities,” the city prides itself on being at the forefront of environmental initiatives and building a sustainable community for the future.

Contrary to popular belief, Vancouver’s climate is fairly moderate with average high temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for eight months out of the year, and over 40 degrees year-round. While precipitation is prevalent, there’s still a wealth of activities for travelers to pursue while visiting the scenic British Columbian landscape.

Let’s take a look at some of the things to do for travelers visiting Vancouver, B.C.

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Restaurants

There is a myriad of cuisine options to pursue while in Vancouver. In fact, your choice may vary depending on where you’re staying in the city, time of day or the type of cuisine you’re in the mood for. We opted to give a breakdown by breakfast, lunch or dinner.

For breakfast, the first option on our list is OEB Breakfast Company. Located on the banks of False Creek, OEB is the perfect place to start your day with an array of food and beverage choices while privy to a scenic view. From classic breakfast options such as omelets to breakfast sandwiches to mouth-watering crepes, this farm-to-table eatery has a balanced menu to capture whichever mood you plan to start your day with.

Other breakfast options include Cora Breakfast and Lunch on Robson Street and The Red Wagon on E. Hastings Street.

For lunch, we suggest another Canadian staple: the El Furniture Warehouse Hastings.

Vancouver can be a pretty pricy city. So how about a menu where every single food item is the same price, just $5.95. This includes starters, salads, sandwiches and entrees. No matter where it falls on the menu, you will pay the same rate. Plus, they offer a program where you can pay that same price and purchase a meal for the city’s less fortunate.

The vibe is very much pub-ish and the menu reflects that. However, there’s enough variety of vegetarian and gluten-free options to handle any sort of special requests your party may have. A personal recommendation would have to be the spicy chicken sandwich. Maple syrup and sriracha may not sound like the best pairing, but a little sweet heat takes this slice of breaded heaven over the top. The drink menu offers a variety of draft beers and cocktails to choose from as well.

Other lunch options include the Jam Café on Beatty Street and the Cactus Club Café which has several locations throughout Vancouver.

In terms of dinner, the selection is Cardero’s Restaurant on Coal Harbor Quay. There are so many good choices here, but after a day of exploring, why not unwind with a view of Vancouver Harbour with North Vancouver’s skyline as the backdrop? Steaks, burgers, pasta and pizzas make this a versatile menu almost anyone can enjoy, but the main appeal here is the fresh seafood options available. Their signature dish is the Cedar Plank Salmon, but there are plenty of other delicious fish selections to choose from. Overall, the atmosphere and the variety of options make this a must in terms of dinner choices while in Vancouver.

Other dinner options include Kingyo on Denman Street and Coast Restaurant on Alberni Street.

Outdoor Activities

With the city surrounded by water and mountains on all sides, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to partake in while in Vancouver.

Beautiful view of Inner Harbour of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (photo via bluejayphoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

For those wishing to see more of British Columbia than just its most populous city, excursions to explore Victoria—BC’s capital city—and Whistler—a popular ski resort that was the site of the 2010 winter Olympics—are popular trips that can be done in a day or even added on as extensions to your trip. Skiing and hiking are particularly popular in Whistler, and the scenic ferry ride to Victoria gives breathtaking glimpses into the landscapes that make Canada one of the most attractive destinations for outdoor enthusiasts.

Staying closer to the city, False Creek is a body of water that flows from English Bay into the southern end of the city and forms a barrier that separates mainland Vancouver from East Vancouver. A trail that features lanes for bike riding, walking or running that is part of a 19-mile seawall that stretches around the city makes for a great way to explore the city and get some quality exercise in.

Another must-see for any nature lover is Stanley Park. What do you get when you put more than 1,000 acres of lush greenery in between two bodies of water in addition to a scenic bridge cuts through the heart of it and connects the city’s northern and western ends to its central base? The answer is one of the world’s most popular and incredible community outdoor spaces.

The park has a wealth of activities to do from taking in a bit of the city’s history at the Totem Poles to taking in a world-class experience at the Aquarium. However, if you want one of the best views in the city, head to Prospect Point and take in a close up of the famed Lions Gate Bridge as well as harbor views of West Vancouver. Your scrapbook will thank you in advance!

Vancouver Aquarium jellyfish

Nightlife

Vancouver is a bustling city with pro sports franchises in the NHL [Vancouver Canucks], CFL [BC Lions] and the MLS [Vancouver Whitecaps]. Located at the top of False Creek are BC Place, which is home to the Lions and the Whitecaps, and Rogers Arena, which hosts the Canucks. Both facilities host their share of concerts when sports are not on the agenda.

If clubbing is your thing, there are plenty of hotspots in the trendy neighborhoods of Yaletown and Gastown within mainland Vancouver. If you’re more into the bar scene, there’s plenty to choose from with that as well.

One particular recommendation would be the Prohibition bar inside the Hotel Georgia. With a diverse menu of cocktails and live music inside of a 20’s-theme lounge setting, Prohibition offers a relaxed atmosphere in the midst of the chaos in the center of the city.

If gambling is more your speed, you may want to check out the Parq Vancouver. Attached to JW Marriott’s newest property in downtown Vancouver, the Parq has blackjack tables, craps, roulette, slots and everything in between to make you feel like you just stepped onto the Las Vegas strip.

Parq Vancouver

Regardless of your preference, Vancouver offers a range of options to spend the wee hours of your nights on.

Shopping

Vancouver may not yet be known worldwide as a fashion hub, but well-known brands such as Herschel Supply Co. and Lululemon have their headquarters in the city. In recent years, the fashion scene has grown to the point where the city has its own bi-annual Vancouver Fashion Week, similar to global fashion epicenters such as Paris and New York.

To that end, the retail shopping scene has grown and local startups have grown into global brands.

In the center of the city is where you’ll find Robson Street, which is lined with stores from noted brands such as Nike, Nordstrom and Zara. But, it’s also home to Canadian upstarts such as Roots and OVO—the new clothing line from Drake.

A few blocks over on Alberni Street is where you’ll find high-end luxury houses such as Tiffany, Tory Burch and Louis Vuitton.

After you’ve shopped yourself out, there are plenty of restaurants and coffee shops around to take a breather to relax and people-watch in one of the city’s trendiest spots.

Other Attractions

Within central Vancouver, there are several areas worth exploring if you’re into getting a feel of the city as the locals experience it.

Two main areas of note include Yaletown and Gastown.

The former is on the southern end and includes rows of restaurants, bars and nightclubs that rest among one of the area’s most popular neighborhoods. The latter is closer to the Vancouver Harbor on the northern end and features more local shops and restaurants. Both areas are worth taking chunks of a day to walk around and explore.

Two more must-see spots include Granville Island and the Capilano Bridge.

You can take a ferry ride over False Creek to get to Granville Island where you can head to the market to get some fresh meats or produce to create your own meal plans or visit their food court—which has a variety of different cuisines you can enjoy with live music on the outdoor pier with fantastic views of the city.

If breathtaking views in the middle of a suspended bridge in mid-air is more your thing, then the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a must-do activity. The famous bridge has been the setting in many films and TV shows. The park also has other activities to check out such as the Cliffwalk and Treetop Adventures, both of which are bridge-like platforms that offer more views of Capilano Canyon.