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10 Must-See Sites in Vancouver and Victoria

Take a trip out west and explore the stunning arts, culture and natural attractions that Vancouver and Victoria have to offer.

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1. Whistler

The 75-mile (120-km) drive to Whistler from Vancouver reveals stunning scenery, a combination of Howe Sound’s sparkling blue waters and the majestic snow-covered Coast Mountain range. Welcoming more than two million visitors each year, the side-by-side peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains are magnificent. A year-round resort, Whistler has hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. While the resort is known for its exemplary accommodations and over 90 restaurants and 200 shops, it still preserves natural enclaves of forests and five lakes.

(Photo courtesy of jsigharas/Flickr Creative Commons)

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2. Long Beach

The wild west coast of Vancouver Island’s Long Beach area offers pristine wilderness, old-growth rainforest, endless beaches, and mystical vistas. Bald eagles appear in large numbers in Clayoquot Sound, a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, while the Pacific Ocean teems with Dall’s porpoises, sea lions and seals. Surfing, fishing, kayaking and storm watching are superb.

(Photo courtesy of Ian BC North/Flickr Creative Commons)

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3. Royal British Columbia Museum

Founded in Victoria in 1886, this impressive museum focuses on B.C.’s cultures, history, geography, flora and fauna. The museum is regarded as one of the best in Canada for the striking way it presents its exhibits. It has about 26,000 sq ft (2,415 sq m) of exhibition space and houses more than seven million items in its collection. Dramatic walk-through scenarios bring history to life in four galleries, each featuring original and often rarely seen artifacts. The museum’s collection of First Nations art and traditional objects is one of the largest and most impressive in the world.

(Photo courtesy of TK Teru/Flickr Creative Commons)

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4. Granville Island

Bustling Granville Island attracts millions of visitors every year, and rightly so. Where heavy industries once belched noxious fumes, street entertainers now amuse passerby with music, comedy and magic. The Granville Island Public Market offers an enchanting mix or edibles and collectibles. More than 200 shops scattered throughout the Island sell everything from custom-made jewelry to yachts.

(Photo courtesy heydrienne/Flickr Creative Commons)   

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5. Vancouver Art Gallery

The Vancouver Art Gallery is the largest art gallery in Western Canada, and with the most significant collection of works by Emily Carr, B.C.’s preeminent artists and writer, it is well worth the entry fee. The gallery specializes in impressive national and international exhibitions, with innovative approaches to old masters as well as contemporary visionaries. The gallery’s collection compromises more than 10,000 works, including a large collection of photo-based art by Vancouver’s international art superstar Jeff Wall and renowned Haida artists Robert Davidson. Housed in a NeoClassical heritage building redesigned by acclaimed local architect Arthur Erickson, the gallery opened in 1983.

(Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

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6. Science World

Fascinating insights into all aspects of the universe are featured at the award-winning Science World at TELUS World of Science. Explorations begin with the smallest insect and progress to the farthest corners of the galaxy. A legacy of Expo ’86, the building opened as a science center in 1989 after passionate community efforts. Seven galleries feature hundreds of delightful interactive, hands-on displays and exhibits, while intriguing travelling exhibits show regularly. A $35 million renovation has added more than 14,000 sq ft. (1,300 sq m) of gallery space for even more creative exploration.

(Photo courtesy of waferboard/Flickr Creative Commons)

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7. Stanley Park

A local favourite since the Victorian era, spectacular Stanley Park is a mere 10-minute bus ride from downtown. Forest walks, beachside strolls, and a vibrant rose garden are among its natural attractions. Amusing activities include a popular children’s waterpark and farmyard, tennis courts, and a pitch-and-putt course. Located in the park, the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is world-renowned for its realistic walk-through exhibits based on scientific research projects.

(Photo courtesy of Shayne Kaye/Flickr Creative Commons)

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8. Capalino Suspension Bridge

For thrill appeal, few sites rival Capilano Suspension Bridge. At the height that eagles fly, the bridge is a swaying span across the tumbling Capilano River far below. The world’s longest and highest suspension footbridge, it crosses into the hushed recesses of a West Coast rainforest. This popular attraction now includes a walk high above the forest floor, from treetop to treetop, built using new technology. Scotsman George Grant MacKay, who bought the property in 1888, would be amazed. Today’s modern bridge is the sixth on the site.

(Photo courtesy of michellerlee/Flickr Creative Commons)

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9. University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology

Founded in 1947 and located in a breathtaking setting overlooking mountains and sea, this museum houses one of the world’s finest displays of Northwest Coast First Nations art. Here you’ll also find European ceramics, Asian textiles, Greek and Roman pottery, and African masks, as well as full-size totem poles and contemporary carvings. All are housed in a 19th-Century building designed by Canadian architect Arthur Erickson and opened in 1976. Unique visible storage galleries bring some 10,000 objects to public view and changing exhibits highlight new and historical works by indigenous artists.

(Photo courtesy of Peter E Lee (Mostly Offline)/Flickr Creative Commons)

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10. Canada Place

Built for Expo ’86 as the flagship Canada Pavilion, Canada Place is a Vancouver landmark. The roof’s sail-like lines echo Canada’s nautical roots. The “prow” extends well into the harbor. Following the highly successful world exhibition, which attracted more than 22 million visitors, Canada Place was transformed into a complex containing a cruise ship terminal, convention center, exhibition areas, and a first-class hotel. The promenade offers a terrific view of the city’s harbor.

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(Photo courtesy of somecanuckchick/Flickr Creative Commons)