Be a Tourist in Your Own Town:
10 Must-Experience Vancouver Attractions

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False Creek passenger ferry passes houseboats along False Creek.

Back in 2019, when COVID-19 was just another unfamiliar acronym, Vancouver welcomed more than 11 million overnight visitors. But, even though we love showing off our beautiful city—brimming with nature, and culture, and food, and fun—we tend to avoid the very places that helped make Vancouver famous around the world (think: crowds).

Well, not this year.

In 2020, with borders and bubbles tight, the city isn’t seeing the same influx of visitors. Which means: locals can finally indulge their inner tourist and explore their own beloved backyard—safely and sensibly, with lots of elbow room and even more deals. (Example: book a Vancouver hotel getaway and you’ll receive a $100 credit to the city’s top attractions.)

Whether you’re looking for family fun or date-worthy diversions, there’s an activity with your name on it. There’s never been a better time. All attractions are observing strict health and safety protocols such as timed entries, physical distancing, mandatory masks, and cashless transactions; see their individual web sites for details.

Here are some top picks to get you started.

Also, be sure to check out tourismvancouver.com/comeback and stayvancouverhotels.com for more great deals on things to do in Vancouver, and visit www.vancouverattractions.com to save on attractions admittance.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park | @ursanurag, Instagram

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Capilano Suspension Bridge: The Lower Mainland’s oldest attraction (1889), this famous crossing spans 137 metres, towering high above a rocky canyon floor. Anyone who’s been there (including Mick Jagger and Marilyn Monroe), knows what a genuine thrill it is to make the long, rolling lurch across the Capilano River. Remember to book your time in advance to secure a spot. Note: Capilano will close at the end of September, re-opening for its annual Canyon Lights winter festival in December.

Grouse Mountain, The Peak of Vancouver

Grouse Mountain, The Peak of Vancouver: There’s a reason—many good reasons in fact—that tourists flock to this mountain: The gondola ride is dramatic, rising 1,100 metres in eight minutes and offering stunning panoramic views of Vancouver and beyond. Reserve your Skyride time in advance and make sure you buy enough parking at the bottom because there’s a lot happening up top besides the jaw-dropping scenery: a bear sanctuary, ranger talks, mountaintop hiking (with physical distancing protocols in place), a Kids Tree Canopy Adventure, dining patios, and zipline adventures, to name just a few favourites.

Science World

Science World: Dr. Bonnie Henry is Science World’s newest poster girl. Need we say more? The popular centre will reopen August 1; timed-entry tickets must be purchased online.

Museum of Anthropology at UBC | @dorrington

Museum of Anthropology at UBC

Museum of Anthropology at UBC (MOA): With its soaring architecture, spectacular sea-to-sky views, and stunning Northwest Coast First Nations art collection, MOA is a must-see Vancouver museum. Though you’ll need to book an arrival time, you can stay as long as you like, so try not to rush your visit—the impressive collections of global art and artifacts at this acclaimed BC museum deserve your time. Face masks are encouraged while you’re inside. The café is now open Tuesday to Sunday, so grab a snack to enjoy on the scenic grounds.

Granville Island

Granville Island: On the plus side of the global pandemic, it’s much easier to find parking at Granville Island these days—and it’s all temporarily free. The downside: “pinch points” in the public market that necessitate occasional outdoor line-ups. But who’s complaining when what you’re waiting for is a Lee’s donut? Wear a mask if you can and make the most of outdoor pleasures, such as outdoor patios and the kid-friendly splash park.

Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art

Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art: This small downtown space—named for the creator of the famous Jade Canoe sculpture at YVR and the new artwork on Canada’s $2 coin—is the only public gallery dedicated to contemporary Indigenous art of the Northwest Coast. It makes a perfect complement to the better-known Museum of Anthropology (above). On Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., gallery access is reserved for the elderly and vulnerable, and first responders.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden: Located in the heart of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown neighbourhood, this petite and peaceful park was named the World’s Top City Garden by National Geographic and Canadian Garden of the Year by the Canadian Garden Tourism Council. You’ll need to purchase a timed ticket to enter.

Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver BC | @post_photography

Queen Elizabeth Park and Bloedel Conservatory

Queen Elizabeth Park and Bloedel Conservatory: Vancouver’s “horticultural jewel” is home to the exotic Bloedel Conservatory—and quite literally the high point of Vancouver. Offering spectacular views of the city and the North Shore Mountains, this lush hilltop park is the perfect setting for romantic picnics and late-night stargazing. Book your entry in advance.

Flyover Canada

Flyover Canada: Still pining for an international vacation in 2020? Try the next best thing and experience an exhilarating flying ride that lets you soar, dive, and dip through incredible Icelandic landscapes without leaving Vancouver. Visit the land of ice and fire with Soar Over Iceland, on until August 30.

Harbour Air Flightseeing Tour

Harbour Air Flightseeing Tours: Ready for the real flyover experience? Book a Harbour Air seaplane tour and get high above it all for a fresh perspective on the gorgeous city you call home.

MENTIONED IN THIS STORY

Museums & Heritage Sites, Attractions, Accessibility

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Only 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, allow 2 - 3 hours for your visit to Vancouver's iconic Capilano Suspension Bridge, hanging 450 feet...

Phone: (604) 985-7474

View Listing

Adrenalin, Sightseeing, Wildlife Tours, Skiing & Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, Accessibility

Grouse Mountain

Just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, Grouse Mountain attracts locals and tourists alike. During the summer, guests enjoy hiking, Zip Line...

Phone: (604) 980-9311

View Listing

Attractions, Accessibility

Science World

Science World ignites the imagination with hands-on interactive exhibits, jaw-dropping live science shows, and the giant-screen OMNIMAX...

Phone: (604) 443-7548

View Listing

Attractions, Accessibility

Vancouver Aquarium

With over 60,000 amazing aquatic creatures at the Vancouver Aquarium, what will you see today? Stop by and say hi to the adorable sea otters, or...

Phone: (604) 659-3400

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Accessibility

Museum of Anthropology

Explore traditional and contemporary art from Northwest Coast First Nations and other cultures across the world. See magnificent Indigenous...

Phone: (604) 822-5950

View Listing

Art Galleries, Shopping, Farms & Markets, Accessibility

Granville Island

Former industrial site has been transformed into an artsy, posh neighborhood with quaint shops, cafes and bookstores.

Phone: (604) 666-5784

View Listing

Art Galleries, Indigenous Culture

Bill Reid Gallery

The Bill Reid Gallery is the only public Gallery in Canada dedicated to contemporary Indigenous Northwest Coast Art and honours Bill Reid by...

Phone: (604) 682-3455

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Attractions

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a site of cultural heritage, learning, and reflection in Vancouver's historic Chinatown. Modeled after...

Phone: (604) 662-3207

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Attractions, Accessibility

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Only 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, allow 2 - 3 hours for your visit to Vancouver's iconic Capilano Suspension Bridge, hanging 450 feet...

Phone: (604) 985-7474

View Listing

Adrenalin, Sightseeing, Wildlife Tours, Skiing & Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, Accessibility

Grouse Mountain

Just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, Grouse Mountain attracts locals and tourists alike. During the summer, guests enjoy hiking, Zip Line...

Phone: (604) 980-9311

View Listing

Attractions, Accessibility

Science World

Science World ignites the imagination with hands-on interactive exhibits, jaw-dropping live science shows, and the giant-screen OMNIMAX...

Phone: (604) 443-7548

View Listing

Attractions, Accessibility

Vancouver Aquarium

With over 60,000 amazing aquatic creatures at the Vancouver Aquarium, what will you see today? Stop by and say hi to the adorable sea otters, or...

Phone: (604) 659-3400

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Accessibility

Museum of Anthropology

Explore traditional and contemporary art from Northwest Coast First Nations and other cultures across the world. See magnificent Indigenous...

Phone: (604) 822-5950

View Listing

Art Galleries, Shopping, Farms & Markets, Accessibility

Granville Island

Former industrial site has been transformed into an artsy, posh neighborhood with quaint shops, cafes and bookstores.

Phone: (604) 666-5784

View Listing

Art Galleries, Indigenous Culture

Bill Reid Gallery

The Bill Reid Gallery is the only public Gallery in Canada dedicated to contemporary Indigenous Northwest Coast Art and honours Bill Reid by...

Phone: (604) 682-3455

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Attractions

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a site of cultural heritage, learning, and reflection in Vancouver's historic Chinatown. Modeled after...

Phone: (604) 662-3207

View Listing

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www.julieovenell.com
WRITTEN BY: Julie Ovenell

Julie has lived on one island or another for more than half her life and is delighted to now call Victoria, BC home. An award-winning writer, she has worked at CBC Radio, Western Living, and The Globe and Mail, and freelanced for publications such as Canadian Living, Canadian Geographic, National Post, Vancouver Sun, Ottawa Citizen, Georgia Straight, Report on Business, Edible Vancouver Island, and Style at Home.