This lovely modern city lies between snowcapped mountains and the Pacific. The old city, the heart of Vancouver, juts into Burrard Inlet and culminates in Stanley Park, a 988-acre rain forest and one of the largest urban green spaces in North America, also home to the first-rate Vancouver Aquarium. Gastown, the city’s oldest neighborhood, has been reincarnated as a fashionable enclave, where cobbled streets now wind past thriving restaurants and nightspots. Robson Square is a trendy shopping and business district. Granville Island’s large Public Market makes for a pleasant morning’s meandering. Just two hours away, Whistler is a world-renowned snow sports destination.
The 988 acres of Stanley Park border downtown. Much of the enclave remains as densely forested as it was in the late 1800s, and some of its half-million trees are centuries old and stand up to 250 feet tall. It’s great fun to circumnavigate the park on a bicycle.
Museums & Gardens
After visiting the superlative Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia (6393 N.W. Marine Drive, Tel.  822-5087), walk five minutes to the Nitobe Memorial Garden (1895 Lower Mall, Tel.  822-6038). Much of the vegetation is native to the region, and almost every view within the garden appears to have been carefully composed.
First Nations Artists and Artisans
While exploring Gastown, the historic neighborhood where Vancouver began, be sure to stop in Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery (332 Water Street, Tel.  684-9222), which presents a superb selection of works by First Nations artists and artisans.
A Fine Gastown Bar
If I find myself in Gastown in the early evening, I like to have a drink at L’Abattoir (217 Carrall Street. Tel. (604) 568-1701), which serves craft cocktails, local beer and several wines from British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.