Things to Do in British Columbia
The Cheakamus River flows roughly parallel to the Sea-to-Sky Highway between Whistler and Vancouver, but its path is far different than the paved four-lane highway. Much of the river flows through Cheakamus Canyon, where plenty of exciting whitewater rapids and one sizeable waterfall make the river a popular rafting and kayaking route. None of the rapids are too challenging, so the trip is considered suitable for kids and parents alike.
The river is also a favorite spot for local fisherman. Coho and Chum salmon swim upriver between September and December; Bull, Rainbow and Cutthroat trout fishing is strong from late autumn until early spring; and Steelhead season typically lasts from March until May.
No fine-weather visit to Vancouver is complete without a walk around Stanley Park’s seawall, and starting or finishing a seawall stroll from the Lost Lagoon Nature House just makes sense. Known for its photo-worthy views, large fountain, and sometimes even a few swans, Lost Lagoon is Stanley Park’s largest body of water and one of Vancouver’s most recognizable landmarks. At the edge of the lagoon, tucked away in a former boathouse, is the Lost Lagoon Nature House. Operated by the Stanley Park Ecological Society, it is packed with interesting things to do and see.
From beavers to bats, interpretive displays of every species found in Stanley Park help make the learning at the Lost Lagoon Nature House fun and interactive. Whether you want to know about a particular bird species that lives in Stanley Park or you’d like to learn more about the park’s multiple restoration projects, the friendly staff members are almost always on hand to answer any questions you may have.
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Stretching out over an entire city block (and centered of course, around the city library,) Library Square is one of the most visually interesting areas in Vancouver. The iconic circular structure slightly resembles the Coliseum of Rome, with inventive design that seamlessly integrates the interior and exterior. The rooftop garden designed by a local landscape architect furthers this aesthetic.
Library Square consists of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, a high-rise office building, and various shops and restaurants on the ground level. Perhaps its most unique design element is the free-standing colonnaded elliptical wall, reached by bridges from its pavilion. The area contains several public reading and study sections flooded with natural light, alongside nine floors and over one million books and other reference materials. The entire square is a bustling public landmark and community gathering spot beloved by locals and visitors alike.
Popular with packs of enthusiastic school kids, this high-tech science center illuminates the eye-opening world of space. There's plenty of fun to be had battling aliens, designing a spacecraft, or strapping yourself in for a simulator ride to Mars, and there are also movie presentations on all manner of spacey themes.
The H.R. MacMillan Space Center in Vancouver is big on interactive displays. You can travel to Mars on the Virtual Voyages Simulator, or punch a button to watch a video of the Apollo 17 manned-satellite engine that stands in front of you. Or maybe design a spacecraft or maneuver a lunar robot in the Cosmic Courtyard. The planetarium hosts shows that veer from the traditional journey-through-the-stars experiences to interpretations of the skies from an indigenous First Nation point of view. Budding young astronomers can venture to the StarTheatre, which show child-friendly movies on an overhead dome.
Summer or snow, riding the Peak 2 Peak Gondola in Whistler is a must-do highlight. Gliding along the world’s longest unsupported span, the gondola is also the highest lift of its kind. The mountain-top gondola links the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain and the Rendezvous Restaurant on Blackcomb Mountain. The ride takes around 11 minutes, with services departing every minute. The total distance you’ll swing across is 4.4 km (2.7 miles), soaring up to 436 meters (1,427 feet) above the valley floor. The gondola can seat 22 passengers, with stunning 360-degree views of this spectacular mountain setting. Ride the gondola to ski the slopes, hike an alpine walking trail or take tea at the mountain-top restaurant.
Brockton Point is the easternmost peninsula of Vancouver’s Stanley Park and is best known for the good views it offers of the downtown area with its skyscrapers, and the Burrard Inlet ranging from North Vancouver and the Lions Gate Bridge to Coal Harbour. Since there are also several important shipping lanes passing through the inlet, Brockton Point is a favorite among ship spotters for watching big freight vessels heading to and from the port with goods piled high.
The peninsula encompasses several of the park’s well-known landmarks, such as the 9 O’Clock Gun, an old naval cannon that fires a shot every evening at nine; a colorful totem pole display, British Columbia’s most-visited tourist attraction; and a century-old lighthouse. The Brockton Point Lighthouse features a prominent red and white tower, which was built in 1914 after numerous shipwrecks on the treacherous shores of Stanley Park and, in more recent years, has become a favorite among photographers.
Located in the Callaghan Valley, the 141-foot Alexander Falls make for a beautiful day trip destination from Whistler Village. Just be sure to bring a picnic, as it’s a favorite lunch spot for locals and visitors alike. Picnic tables are surrounded by thick forest, and the crashing waterfall adds atmosphere to this wilderness setting that makes it easy to forget it’s only 30 minutes back to the hustle of a major tourist resort.
Alexander Falls is only minutes from Whistler Olympic Park and its cross-country ski trails, built for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, which are open throughout the winter. In the summer, the trails double as walking paths and bike trails. Hiking trails that lead further into Callaghan Valley Provincial Park offer access to more pristine nature, while campsites at Callaghan and Madeley Lake provide a beautiful– and absolutely free–place to spend the night.
To take in some of the most spectacular scenery in the Vancouver area, climb aboard the Rocky Mountaineer Train for a one-day rail trip to Whistler, home of North America’s largest ski resort. The “Whistler Sea to Sky Climb” train travels 74 miles (120 kilometers) along the shore overlooking Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains as you eat breakfast, enjoy entertainment on board and soak up the views. You’ll pull into Whistler three-and-a-half hours later, just in time to have lunch and briefly explore the village. The return train departs from Whistler mid-afternoon. Alternatively, you can stay overnight in Whistler, so you have more time to experience the mountain town, and catch the return train the next afternoon.
If you have more time, head for the Rocky Mountains. In two days, you can make the scenic journey aboard the Rocky Mountaineer to Banff, Lake Louise, or Jasper.
The centrepiece of Vancouver's gleaming downtown waterfront is made of graceful white "sails," which create a translucent pavilion above the Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal, gateway to the majestic glacier-carved fjords of the northern Pacific Coast. The city itself is stunning, a sparkling metropolis of glass spires and lush city parks atop the Burrard Peninsula, cradled in the snow-capped North Shore Mountains, just visible in the distance.
More than half a million happy passengers cruise through Vancouver Port each year, headed to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and Alaska, some of the most fantastic coastal scenery in the world. Yet many of these intrepid travellers soon realize, after spending only a day or two here in Vancouver, that this charming Canadian city is the place to which they most want to return.
Things to do near British Columbia
- Things to do in Whistler
- Things to do in Vancouver
- Things to do in Victoria
- Things to do in Sunshine Coast
- Things to do in Vancouver Island
- Things to do in Washington
- Things to do in Oregon
- Things to do in Alberta
- Things to do in Seattle
- Things to do in Portland
- Things to do in Banff
- Things to do in Wyoming
- Things to do in Nevada
- Things to do in California
- Things to do in Utah