When my mom and I crossed the border into Canada from Seattle for the first time, it was a disaster. The moment our rental car’s tires crossed that imaginary line into Canada, our phones were useless and so were we. At the time, we were the most inexperienced travelers you could ever meet, I didn’t even know how to read a map.
After driving around British Columbia both frantically and randomly, we eventually decided to swallow our pride and ask for directions. We stopped at a berry farm and asked the owners if they could point us in the direction of Vancouver.
This was where our trip turned around. The kind farmers gave us everything we needed and more. They offered us their phone number if we got lost again, they even gave us free blueberries. That act of kindness was what truly sold me British Columbia. This would not be the last time we would get lost on our trip and every time we struggled to get our bearings, there was a passerby who was kind enough to help us find our way.
Visually, British Columbia is an experience like no other, with cities that look like something out of a futuristic science fiction novel and dense temperate rainforests that stretch along the Pacific coast.
Canadians are known for their friendly nature but I think that does not give them enough credit because the day two awkward, stressed-out, tear-ridden Americans walked up to a berry farm in British Columbia; they didn’t turn us away, instead they gave us blueberries.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4J1, Canada
If there was one place I was desperate to visit during our trip, it was Capilano Suspension Bridge. 450 feet (137m) long and hanging 230 feet (70m) above the temperate rainforest, this attraction will make your jaw drop at the spectacular view but will then make you clench your jaw again as you shuffle along a wobbly bridge. For adrenaline junkies, it’s the perfect place to get your heart racing. As for the more wary visitors, don’t let the heights put you off. The bridge is supported by cables that can hold a 747 airliner so there is nothing to fear. Besides if you are lucky like I almost was, you might be able to see a visitor vomit up lunch off the side of the bridge. You don’t want to miss it!
Vancouver Art Gallery
750 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7, Canada
If the fear-inducing suspension bridge isn’t really your style or if you are looking for a more relaxing atmosphere where your senses can still be active, then the Vancouver Art Gallery is the place for you. It is one of the most popular and visually innovating institutions in Canada since it includes up-and-coming contemporary artists as well as historical and cultural pieces from Canada’s indigenous people. The gallery represents over 11,600 artworks, you will be in awe of the soaring talent.
Queen Elizabeth Park
4600 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V5Z 2Z1, Canada
At 125 m above sea level, this park marks the highest point in Vancouver, making it an incredible spectacle that is encompassed by mountains and the North shore. Not to be confused with England’s current reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, this park was actually named after her mother Elizabeth I. The park attracts more than 6 million visitors a year. Queen Elizabeth Park is home to the Bloedel Conservatory where you can walk among a botanical collection of tropical plants. This park also includes a landscaped quarry garden, the perfect place to sit for a picnic and enjoy the fresh smelling flowers. If that does not sound like a sweet enough deal for you, try being surrounded by glorious fauna both native to the land and exotic. This park is also free, but parking is not so keep that in mind when planning your trip.
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Believe it or not, this waterfront metropolis started out as an industrial wasteland. The land originated as a factory island monopolized by huge industrial companies. But after investing over $24.7 million into the island back in 1970, the island was reborn as Vancouver’s leading artistic hub. The appeal of Granville Island isn’t just its heritage and history but the variety of attractions it has. The famous Public Market is home to over 50 independent food vendors. There are also the Net Loft shops and Railspur District – an art and design mecca where you can find extraordinary pieces you never could have imagined. The island is also 100% operationally self-sustaining, Granville isn’t just an attraction it is a home, and it currently has more than 300 small businesses that employs over 3,000 people.
Please keep hands and feet inside the boat at all times and prepare for the ride of a lifetime. If you are planning a trip between the months of March and October, then you’re in peak season for whale watching. During this time, thousands of whales travel through Vancouver, making it a perfect destination to witness the thousand-pound titans leap from the Pacific Ocean. There are dozens of whale watching tours to choose from but the most ethical and popular tours in Vancouver are: Wild Whale Vancouver and Eagle Wing Whale Tours.
No matter where your journey to Vancouver takes you, whether its running across a suspended bridge or pursing art at the gallery, it will be a trip to remember because no tourist can make it out of Vancouver without making few new friends.