When traveling on an Alaskan Cruise, one of the most popular seaports is Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. If you’ve booked an Alaskan Sailing, you’ll need to decide if you’d like to spend some time in this port city either before or after your cruise. Recently, we had this decision to make and chose to spend an extra day prior to boarding the Disney Wonder for Alaska. We found Vancouver to be a delightful city with so much to do and see! The city really does offer the best of an urban experience with the great outdoors. With the mountains behind you and the sea before you, you’ll have a hard time deciding which view to look at. Here are five reasons you’ll want to spend some time in the second largest city in British Columbia:
Hotels on the Bayshore – We chose the Westin Bayshore Hotel for our two-night stay. While it was a little bit expensive, we made the right choice. The Westin Bayshore is located right on the harbor front in the middle of everything in Vancouver. It’s a short walk to multiple restaurants in the harbor area and even a short walk to the port where you can board the Disney Wonder for your Alaskan Sailing. There was a pickup at the hotel for the Hop On/Hop Off Tour bus that was very convenient. Another option is the Fairmont Waterfront. You could also walk to the port for your cruise check in from the Fairmont. Even though it is quite a ride from the airport, I recommend staying on the harbor front to really get a feel for the city. You’ll enjoy watching the seaplanes take off and land in the harbor and have a great place to walk or jog.
Stanley Park – You could spend several days at this nearly 1,000-acre park and still not take in all there is to do here. You could ride the hop on, hop off trolley bus and listen to the driver’s narrative about the history of the park. Our driver was extremely knowledgeable of all the types of trees and fires that had burned in the park.
You could take advantage of the 17 miles of walking or biking trails or sit on the popular Kitsilano Beach. You could check out the amazing collection of First Nation totem poles dating back to the 19th Century. You could take a horse-drawn carriage ride or enjoy the water park with the heated swimming pool. There are 4 playgrounds and a miniature train that winds through a mile of forest. With so much to offer, Stanley Park is a great outdoor attraction in Vancouver.
Capilano Suspension Bridge – This 450-long suspension bridge is a fun way to span the deep gorge of the Capilano River. With lush greenery surrounding you, it’s possible you’ll spot some wildlife as well as some beautiful scenery. The name Capilano comes from a First Nations word that means beautiful river. The first bridge was built across this beautiful river in 1888 and has been improved and expanded ever since. Currently owned by a local businesswoman, the bridge has become a tourist destination worth seeing.
Restaurants – Because Vancouver is a coastal city, the seafood in this town is AMAZING. If you love seafood like I love seafood, you’ll love the food here. Even if you don’t like seafood, though, you’ll find something to enjoy gastronomically because Vancouver prides itself on being a “foodie” kind of town. We ended up eating TWO meals at Cardero’s Restaurant and Marine Pub which is a very short walk from the Westin Bayshore because we had such a delightful time the first night we ate there. We decided unanimously to eat there again our second night in town. The menu was varied enough that everyone was happy with his or her choices on both evenings. There is such a beautiful view, too, through the floor to ceiling windows on the bay side of the restaurant.
Another place my young adult children insisted that we visit was Tim Horton’s. Apparently, Tim Horton’s is the Starbucks of Canada. It’s almost a cross between Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. We went and the coffee and tea was good and the donuts were tasty.
One final place I’ll mention is Granville Island Public Market on Granville Island. Granville Island is a short ferry boat ride from Vancouver and this market has amazing food! They have rows of fresh seafood, fresh baked bread, and produce with little restaurant stands tucked in between. We ate seafood, tacos, and macaroons just like the ones you buy in France. Vancouver has great food!
Vancouver Aquarium – The Vancouver Aquarium is located in Stanley Park. I’ve visited many aquariums in my travels. I’ve been to Seaworld and aquariums in Texas, Utah, the Bahamas, and now one in Canada. My expectations were exceeded at this one in Vancouver. They have several jellyfish tanks and they were all different. They have a delightful little show that educates guests on their two different types of rescued dolphins who live at the center. I was also impressed with their penguin exhibit. While I don’t usually endorse local aquariums, I recommend this one. It was worth the visit.
Probably the best reason to visit Vancouver is if you’re sailing out on an Alaskan Cruise from this popular destination! As I’ve mentioned, the harbor front is ideal because it is home to Canada Place- the local port where many cruise ships dock on their way to sail to Alaska. You can actually walk to Canada Place from either Westin Bayshore or Fairmont Waterfront, but whether you walk or take a taxi, it’s very convenient to get to the port for your boarding.
Vancouver is a charming city! Whether you visit pre/post cruise or simply visit the city for the city itself, there is much to see and do. I’ve barely scratched the surface here of what’s in store for you when you visit Vancouver. There are outdoor activities to enjoy and museums to visit. There are tours to take and restaurants to tickle your gastronomical fancy.
If you’d like more information on sailing out of Vancouver on any cruise line or simply visiting the city, you can find me by email at Jeri@TravelwiththeMagic.com or by phone at 1-800-670-4312 x 147. Sounds like fun, eh?