What makes Vancouver unique? – 13 Cool Features πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Welcome to Vancouver! This is a city known for activities like hiking and surfing and being ecologically minded with its many preserved forests. It’s also notorious for being one of the topmost expensive cities in the world — like, top 3 — but Vancouver doesn’t stop attracting ex-pats and tourists alike. Come check out a quick profile about the city, then learn about some features that make this place truly special in Canada and in the world.

VANCOUVER: Quick Profile

Location within Metro Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada
..
satellite map of Vancouver and surroundings
..

Vancouver is the biggest city and urban area in British Columbia, located in the southwest corner. There are over 631,000 people in the city and over 2,264,000 in the urban area. This makes Vancouver the 3rd biggest urban area in Canada and its most densely populated one. It also happens to be the most expensive city to live in, as many of you may know.

In the greater Pacific Northwest region on the Burrard Peninsula, the city has coasts on the Burrard Inlet and Vancouver Harbour to the north, along with a strait of the Pacific Ocean to the west that separates it from Vancouver Island. Most of its southern limits are on the Fraser River. (By the way, Vancouver city isn’t on Vancouver Island. It’s also not that city in Washington, USA.)

Read more: about Toronto; about Montreal

The climate here is comparatively mild by Canadian standards as far as both cold and hot weather goes. They certainly get a lot less snow and a lot more rain than most large cities here. The area is surrounded by wet oceanic forests and swamps that lead up into mountains on the north shores across the harbor. Those mountains do get snow and form an important part of the city’s skyline.

Vancouver was first established as Gastown, a post outside of a mill. Later it was called Granville before major railroad connections were brought in. Its current name is for British Navy officer, George Vancouver, who had explored the region.

Read more: about Canada; other Canadian provinces and Earth’s Face places

So why is Vancouver unique, again? …

1. Because of Neighborhoods like Gastown & Chinatown

What are they?:

Vancouver is stocked with many interesting neighborhoods to hang in, and one of the most famous is Gastown. This is the area originally settled by Europeans and remains as a sort of historic core to the city. Several other areas and points of interest can be found throughout the city.

What do they have?:

There’s the rustic feel of Gastown with hip shops, eateries, and a cool art scene. Don’t forget the famous steam clock! Chinatown here is an elaborate neighborhood with beautiful Chinese-style settings like the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden or the strangely thin Sam Kee Building.

Commercial Drive, aka “The Drive” is a hood better known for its main street that fills with vendors, commerce, ethnic food options, and diverse people and attractions to get caught up in. Another option is the West 4th Ave area with more local shops and restaurants.

2. Because of Granville Island

What is it?:

Well, it’s not an island. Granville Island is a peninsula on Vancouver’s False Creek. Once an industrial center, it’s now open for tourism and one of the most popular spots in the city.

What does it have?:

Granville has an array of activities on it, including public art, restaurants, parks, and a popular public market. One of those is an old factory that’s been turned into a work of art. There’s also the waterfront to get a nice view of Downtown across the water, or to ride a ferry to the other side.

3. Because of Stanley Park

boat cruising by a lighthouse ahead of the seawall in stanley park
the Seawall Luc Tribolet

What is it?:

Stanley Park is one of the biggest urban parks in North America, as well as one of the best-rated parks in the world. It is a huge expanse of largely undisturbed forest and shoreline just at the opening of Vancouver’s inner waterways.

What does it have?:

The park is filled with things to do besides admire the natural setting. Along the shore are numerous sites like lighthouses, totem poles, beaches and pools like Second Beach, and statues like the Girl in a Wetsuit.

There’s also a “gun” or cannon that goes off every day at 9 pm, and the Seawall that functions as a trail for people to wander the park’s coastal edges. Within the park are attractions like a train and the Vancouver Aquarium. And let’s not forget the towering Lions Gate Bridge over the straits.

4. Because of the False Creek Waterfront

What is it?:

False Creek is a kind of harbor that cuts into central Vancouver. It happens to have a really pretty waterfront with lots of amazing urban scenery.

What does it have?:

Besides the already-mentioned Granville Island, other cool attractions to do here include sparking curiosity at the spectacularly designed Science World. Sports games and events are always happening at BC Place with the stadiums and arenas. There are also a number of parks that perfectly mix the urban, natural, and waterside landscapes like David Lam Park.

5. Because of Vanier Park & Sunset Beach

What are they?:

These two public spots are located right at the entrance of False Creek out to English Bay. Both are beachside parks that offer some interesting points to check out.

What do they have?:

Other than the park and beach settings, Vanier is home to cool-looking museums like the Museum of Vancouver and the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Just across the water — accessible by street bridge — is Sunset Beach Park, another one of the city’s many coastal hangouts.

6. Because of the Harbor Front

What is it?:

This is the waterfront of Vancouver’s port on the north side. It’s a popular stop for cruise liners in the area, as well as a major civic center.

What does it have?:

CRAB Park at Portside is a nice park right on the water with very scenic views of Vancouver’s many highrises (both manmade and geologically made). In addition to views of the mighty mountains opposite the city, there’s bustling Canada Place. With a cool sail-like roof, the place has a convention center, Vancouver’s World Trade Centre, and some fun attractions to go with them.

7. Because of VanDusen & Queen Elizabeth

What are they?:

These two green areas sit right next to each other in the inner part of Vancouver, further away from what we’ve been looking at so far. They are Queen Elizabeth Park and the beautiful VanDusen Botanical Garden.

What do they have?:

Both parks are noted for their exquisite naturally-made and manmade designs. Enchanted and royal gardens mix with pretty structures like the Bloedel Conservatory filled with exotic species. There’s also a prominent hill in Queen Elizabeth Park to view the city from up high.

8. Because of the area around UBC

What is that?:

The University of British Columbia itself is one of the oldest and best-ranked universities in all of Canada. Located a ways on the outskirts of town, the university lies at the heart of several natural and historical wonders.

What does it have?:

UBC has a famous Botanical Garden with open spaces, treetop activities, and mazes all near the coastal waters. There’s also the Museum of Anthropology which looks very unique, at the site of a former protective fort. Also among the many forested areas is Pacific Spirit Regional Park with its towering groves and coastal trails.

9. Because of Robson Street & Central Vancouver

What are they?:

Robson is a street that rides straight through Central Vancouver, the Downtown neighborhood. This part of town has a lot to do and see, being part of the city’s urban and entertainment core.

What do they have?:

Up and down the streets can be found major shopping centers and entertainment venues, especially around Robson Square. Around the square are major cultural centers like the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Commodore Ballroom, among other popular performance halls. There are important architectural feats like the Christ Church Cathedral with its gorgeous interior and the Harbour Centre, one of Vancouver’s most iconic towers.

10. Because of its Beaches (& Events)

What are they?:

Well, frankly these are the urban beaches of Vancouver’s long coastline. I can’t promise the water will be warm (it honestly won’t be) but there are some events and locales to enjoy next to these beaches.

What do they have?:

Besides the beaches we’ve already talked about, other ones with nice city views include Spanish Banks Beach, Jericho Beach, and English Bay Beach. Kitsilano is also a popular one with some great skyline views and a commercial area right near it.

Some of these places host a couple of Vancouver’s many festivals and events. English Bay Beach hosts a great view for the Celebration of Light with tons of fireworks, and Hastings Park near the coast hosts the fun Pacific National Exhibition.

11. Because of the North Shore Mountains

What are these?:

These are the general mountain range lying across the inlet from Vancouver. They are home to many natural sights and wonders for urbanites to immerse into the region’s pre-colonial past.

What do they have?:

Several pretty parks and natural areas can be found like Cypress Falls Park, Mount Seymour Provincial Park, and the Cove Forest, to name a few. Some places offering spectacular vistas of Vancouver would be Cypress Provincial Park and Grouse Mountain.

Deep Cove seems to be a great place for boating and water sports inside the harbor. A bit further from these other spots is Golden Ears Provincial Park with its amazing waterways, mountain views, and splashing waterfalls. Another feature is the Sea to Sky Highway which takes a scenic coastal route along the mountains and up to Squamish.

Read more: Southern British Columbia

12. Because of the Sunshine Coast

What is it?:

Following the Strait of Georgia, this is a large coastal region outside of Vancouver. It’s completely outside the reach of the city but close enough to be on this list.

What does it have?:

Sunshine Coast has a lot of coastal towns and villages like Gibsons to provide a quiet rural feel to the Vancouver region. There are also pretty beaches and islands like Bowen with a sort of secret exclusive vibe. Offering markets and fairs, there are also inland beauties like the rugged Tetrahedron Provincial Park.

13. Because of its Suburbs

What are they?:

These are the cities surrounding Vancouver, some of them among the biggest cities in all of British Columbia. They offer cultural experiences with the metro’s diverse inhabitants while preserving lots of natural spaces and parks. The main cities are Richmond, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Surrey, and Burnaby.

What do they have?:

Richmond is home to many Chinese cultural spots like the International Buddhist Society, among other temples. With different kinds of markets, including a night market, the region was also an important wharf and industrial center, showing at places like Steveston and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. The park around the Olympic Oval is also very pretty with some cool architecture and waterside gardens.

North Vancouver has a nice waterfront with markets at Lonsdale Quay, as well as a cool Polygon Gallery. Attractions mixing the environmental landscape with the thrill of heights include Capilano Suspension Bridge, Lynn Canyon (and suspension bridge), and the Cleveland Dam. Among Surrey’s features is Peace Arch Park on the U.S. border. All of these suburbs boast beautiful parks and green spaces, especially Coquitlam and Burnaby.

14. Because of the Culture

Vancouver is a city known for its super diverse identity. Most of the residents come from a visible minority and about as many speak languages other than English (or French for that matter) at home. The urban area has a huge East Asian and Asia-Pacific influence as can be noted throughout, though the indigenous peoples and cultures are represented in many ways too.

Pushes for technological advancements, preservation of its nature, and the struggles of dealing with an astronomical cost of living all pose constant motivations for the city to develop. I mean, logging is still the main business in Vancouver, and the city has its own style of urban design with elements of conservation and the native landscape in mind.

A bit crowded in some places and a popular tourist destination, the city is used to constant cruise ships on its waters or visitors that flock in for its many events like TED Talks or sports competitions. Vancouver is also one of Canada’s main film industry hubs and a major place for the nation’s TV and film culture.

There’s so much art, history, sports, and excitement going on, but one never feels too far from nature. Forested parks and snow-capped mountains all form a part of the nature-minded concepts of this city. Vancouver is Pacific Northwest at its heart (or just west, if you’re Canadian), and it truly is a one-of-a-kind city.

**Did you like reading about Vancouver? For those that have been there or are from there, please share more with us about your amazing city! Read more posts here on Cult-Surf, and check my email to contact or collaborate; tietewaller@gmail.com. Thanks again, and be great! Peace.

Other info:

Leave a Reply