Jacques Cousteau has said that Vancouver has some of the best underwater wildlife in the world, the only problem is that the waters off the coast can be rather chilly. Not interested in putting on a dry suit and submerging yourself under the frigid waters? No problem, the Vancouver Aquarium has solved that problem and brought some of British Columbia's most interesting sea creatures inside to inspire and educate visitors. The Vancouver Aquarium is a non-profit organization and they partake in worldwide marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation projects. When inside the aquarium, step into the rainforest exhibition, where you will be greeted by sleep Sloths, tropical birds, crocodiles, snakes and fish. Also, don't miss the display of fish that call British Columbia home. Make sure that you go outside and watch the Sea Otters goof around and catch one of the many shows that include dolphins, Beluga whales and Sea Lions.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: The Vancouver Aquarium is one of the best in North America and practices the ethical treatment of animals.
Natasha's expert tip: They do scheduled shows with the animals and there's a listing inside the aquarium to let you know where and when they will be happening.
The Sea to Sky Gondola takes you on a 10-minute ride up the mountain to the Summit Lodge. Once at the top, this magnificent piece of nature is yours to explore. There are hiking trails, a suspension bridge, viewing platforms, mountain biking trails, walking paths, rock climbing, a lodge and more. For the experienced hiker, there are an abundant number of trails that will challenge and inspire. Those who are less experienced, there are two walking trails that have been carved out and are great for all ages. The Panorama trail and Spirit trail are pretty flat, making them very easy to navigate. They offer guided tours every day at 11am and 2pm. If you're unfamiliar with the area, or worried about getting lost, these guided tours are awesome and take out the guess work for you. Hungry? There's a fully licensed restaurant and bar at the top.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: The views and hikes at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola are unparalleled and suitable for all ages.
Natasha's expert tip: You can purchase a season's pass to save money.
This rugged, forested park, which is located along West Vancouver's Marine Drive and 20 minutes from downtown, features several trails that lead to tidal pools. In order to keep impact on the environment to a minimum (and to avoid getting lost, a not uncommon occurrence), you'll want to stick to the designated paths. The trail from the parking lot to the lighthouse viewpoint is steep wear your hiking boots and be prepared for a strenuous return back up to your car. If you don't have a car, you can hop on a bus from downtown Vancouver and it will take you directly to a bus stop that's right by the park's entrance. When you're ready to go home, simply go to the other side of the street that you caught the bus and another one should will come by to pick you up. It doesn't hurt to look at Translink's (Vancouver and the Lower Mainland's public transport service) website for schedules.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: Lighthouse Park gives you the opportunity to step outside the city and literally brush shoulders with the ocean as you hike the pleasant trails.
Natasha's expert tip: There are a few areas of flat rock, which makes for a perfect spot to take a little rest, snack on a picnic, or take in some sun while a beautiful view makes itself at home in front of you.
Grouse Mountain is open all year long for outdoorsmen and women to enjoy and it's conveniently located right across the water from downtown Vancouver. Hike the Grind, or ride up the Gondola to reach the top, and once there, the scene of the city and ocean in front of you will captivate you, leaving you speechless and in awe. "The Grind", as locals call it, is not for the unfit and is a 2.9-kilometer steep trek up the mountain. Catering to all fitness levels, there are more relaxing walks on the mountain. If you're visiting Vancouver in the winter, you've come at the perfect time to take advantage of the mountain's skiing conditions, without having to leave Vancouver.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: Grouse Mountain is awesome year-round! Whether you ski in the winter or hike in the summer, the views are stellar.
Natasha's expert tip: Make sure to bring a camera, the view from the top is awe inspiring. If you're doing the Grouse Grind, be sure to bring plenty of water and pace yourself while you climb the very steep hike.
Constructed in an authentic Ming Dynasty-style, the garden is renowned as being the first of its type built since the late 15th century. Traditional materials from Suzhou, the Garden City of the People's Republic, were used in the construction. It was built with only carefully arranged rocks, wood, plants and water, all without using screws, nails or power tools. The principles of yin and yang opposites, such as light and dark and rough and smooth, are a strong element in this garden's design. Located in the heart of Vancouver's Chinatown, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a stone's throw from many traditional eateries.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is an important piece of Vancouver's culture and history. Plus, it's downright beautiful.
Natasha's expert tip: Chinatown is a great place to find all sorts of fun trinkets to bring home, so don't miss taking advantage of the shops close to the garden.
In 1976, the famed museum was completed and open to University of British Columbia's students, and the public. The inspiration behind Arthur Erickson's MOA, as locals call it, was architecture of Northwest Coast First Nations people, specifically post-and-beam. Today, there's something a little different that wasn't there when Mr. Erickson designed the beautiful building and that is the reflecting pool that was built in 2010. Though it's a new addition, it certainly compliments the original concept. After you take in the architectural beauty, step inside and admire the 36,000 ethnographic and 535,000 archaeological objects inside of the MOA.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: Learn about Canada's First Nations people at the The Museum of Anthropology and check out a beautiful treasure trove of totem poles and artifacts.
Natasha's expert tip: The Endowment Lands around UBC have beautiful trails, so after a visit to the MOA, enjoy the campus' surroundings.
The Vancouver Art Gallery is the fifth largest art gallery in all of Canada. The VAG has rotating exhibitions, along with its permanent collection that boasts over 9,100 items. Art junkies will be impressed by the 200 major works by the Group of Seven, Emily Carr and Mark Chagall, which are all housed in the VAG. In 1931, when the VAG was founded, it started out at a different location. In 1983 it was moved to its current address, the old provincial courthouse on Robson St. and Hornby St. The Art Gallery Cafe is the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon, grab a bite, sip on a glass of wine or tea and listen to the Classical music that surrounds the umbrella scattered patio.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: The Vancouver Art Gallery is home to both local and international artists, making it a great place to see local art.
Natasha's expert tip: Tuesday night is their cheap night, which makes it hard to resist visiting the Gallery. The cafe offers affordable meals, delicious desserts and freshly made coffee.
Located in Downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park offers a green oasis to city dwellers that stretches over 1,000 acres of land. Lord Stanley of Preston opened the park in 1888, and at the time it was a haven for gathering various material and food. Today, Stanley Park is home to half a million trees, the Vancouver Aquarium, the Malkin Bowl, carved totem poles, monuments, beaches, a lighthouse, and plenty of trails to take in the fresh air. During the summer months, the Malkin Bowl hosts a series of concerts that are the perfect way to spend a warm evening in the park. If hiking through forests isn't your thing, take advantage of the Seawall where you can run, walk, cycle or Rollerblade the 5.5 miles around Stanley Park. The lush greenery is a welcome escape from the busy city and though it's right downtown, you will feel miles away.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: Stanley Park is larger than New York City's Central Park. As if that wasn't enough, there's so much to do within the grounds.
Natasha's expert tip: There's a small water park along the Seawall and it's a great way to cool kids down on a hot day. Horse drawn tours are also offered, and a lovely way to see all of Stanley Park.
Stretching 5.5-miles (8.8km) around Stanley Park, this lovely jaunt is perfect on a sunny day to bike, walk, run and blade around. Going around the Seawall is best enjoyed with a few stops here and there, and fortunately for you, there are benches, beaches, and scenic spots to stop along the way. Wherever you decide to stop, epic views are always within reach. If the sun is shining and the temperature's rising, pack your towel and swimsuit and take advantage of the sandy beaches and cool ocean waters. No matter what your skill level is, the Seawall is enjoyable for all ages and athletic abilities.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: The Seawall is one of a kind and the best way for active folks to explore the city. Plus, the views are spectacular!
Natasha's expert tip: There are set paths for specific directions and different lanes for those walking or biking, so make sure to be in the correct lane and avoid getting in the way of oncoming traffic.
This popular West End beach is a favorite of swimmers and sunbathers. Located right at the end of Davie and Denman streets, English Bay Beach is easily accessible by bus, foot and Seawall. Driving may prove to be slightly challenging on busy days as it can be difficult to find a parking spot. The Seawall is a great way to get to and from English Bay Beach; you can walk, run, blade or ride your bike. Packing a picnic is one of the best ways to enjoy lunch at the beach, but if you don't have the time or resources, there are a number of cafes, take out restaurants and food stands either on or close to the beach.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: If you're staying downtown, English Bay Beach is the easiest beach to get to in Vancouver.
Natasha's expert tip: If the weather is warm, make sure to catch the sunset from English Bay one evening. It's pure bliss!