Vancouver has some good museums, but what it's really mastered is preserving outdoors access in the city, with dozens of miles of seaside paths and beaches where...
Vancouver has some good museums, but what it’s really mastered is preserving outdoors access in the city, with dozens of miles of seaside paths and beaches where people can walk, jog and bike.
Stanley Park’s 5½-mile Seawall path is the best known. But a mile-long walking route along the south side of False Creek, a block-wide inlet on the edge of downtown, and part of the adjoining English Bay shows a slice of urban life plus beaches.
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You could make this a short walk or take hours, stopping at several museums along the walk or to see a Shakespeare play performed outdoors in a park. If you’re hungry, go graze on Granville Island, a two-block-long mini-island in False Creek that has a wildly popular public market, shops, pubs and restaurants.
To start the walk, go to the south end of the causeway that leads onto Granville Island (the causeway is directly under the towering Granville Bridge). Take the paved walking path that heads west toward English Bay alongside condos and a marina. The path winds under the equally towering Burrard Bridge, then emerges into the waterfront lawns of Vanier Park, where you’ll find the red-and-white tents of Bard on the Beach, where Shakespeare plays are performed all summer.
For more culture, there’s a trio of museums on the edge of Vanier Park: the Vancouver Museum (history of the city); the Maritime Museum (restored vessels, ship models and interactive exhibits for kids); and the H.R. MacMillan Space Center (a planetarium, open-to-the-public telescope, laser shows and more).
Drop down to the beach by the Maritime Museum and continue west around a little rocky point to Kitsilano Beach Park, a summertime playground with beach volleyball, bathing beauties and an Olympic-sized outdoor pool.
If you like fireworks, snag a spot along this route (or across English Bay by Stanley Park) to watch a fireworks extravaganza called the Celebration of Light, an annual competition between fireworks artists and technicians from around the world. This year’s competitors are the Czech Republic, on July 30; Canada, on Aug. 2; and China, on Aug. 6. A grand finale featuring all three is Saturday, Aug. 9. All shows start at 10 p.m. Be ready for crowds: Tens of thousands of people gather on the shores of English Bay to watch.
Vancouver Museum: 604-736-4431, www.vanmuseum.bc.ca
Vancouver Maritime Museum: 604-257-8300, www.vmm.bc.ca
H.R. MacMillan Space Centre: 604-738-7827, www.hrmacmillanspacecentre.com
Vanier Park and Kitsilano Beach Park: 604-257-8400, www.parks.vancouver.bc.ca
Bard on the Beach: 604-739-0559, www.bardonthebeach.org
Celebration of Light fireworks festival: www.celebration-of-light.com/fireworks
Granville Island: www.granvilleisland.com