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Exploring Vancouver: The Tourist Do’s and Don’ts

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Never would I have thought that I would travel across the country during a pandemic, but in June my siblings and I boarded a plane and were off to the West Coast for the first time ever. While there were some issues with boarding (a story for another time), we were ready to have the tourist experience that many talked about. But what is actually worth the visit, and what can you skip? I’ve compiled a list of a few of the attractions that we visited and my thoughts about how ‘worth it’ they are. 

Capilano Suspension Bridge

To preface this, these are my sisters’ comments as I am rightfully terrified of open heights and did not go to this. While the bus ride is fun, it is long, but that was not a problem as we were often taking the bus to and from downtown Vancouver. A big thing that many did not take into account is that this is the main tourist attraction, so be prepared for…LOTS of people, regardless of the weather. While it is a fun experience, it is not really worth the price. Instead, I recommend trying the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, which is free and not as well known (it was closed during our stay there, or we would have gone). 

Robson Square

If you are a fan of shopping, like me, then this is an area that you don’t want to miss. While the stores are not in the Square itself, on the opposite side of the square is Robson Street, which is a major shopping area. You can walk up and down the road for hours, browsing a variety of stores. Oh, and if you are in the mood for ice cream (which is always a top hit whenever my family goes on vacation because there are QUITE some strange flavours out there like dill pickle or cherry cola), I highly recommend checking out Perverted Ice Cream. Strange name, yes, and the store is quite odd, but the creations are huge and totally worth the price. 

Museum of Vancouver

As a historian, of course, we had to stop at a museum; however, this was not it. While the exhibits were quite interesting, my favourites being Chinese-Canadian Food Culture and the Vintage Neon Signs exhibit, it is not worth the trip. If given the time, we would have gone to the Museum of Anthropology, which has rave reviews. 

Stanley Park

Vancouver is well known for its natural beauty and Stanley Park is nothing less than stunning. While you can walk through it, I recommend doing what my siblings and I did: bike around the entire park. There are many bike rental areas near the park (we used Spokes Bicycle Rentals), to which they charge about $8-10 per hour. You may think that the area is huge, but once you start, you can take one of the many bike paths, stop and take pictures of the sights, or ride around in a circle for hours. This is definitely something I hope to do again if I return. 

University of British Columbia 

Now, you might be asking, “Carly, why did you go to a school while on vacation?” And listen, the University of Windsor has NOTHING on the University of British Columbia (#sorrynotsorry). Their campus is stunning and huge, which is something I’m not used to. Oh, and they have an entire rose garden with a picturesque mountain view as the backdrop. Can that sound any better? While you’re on campus, make sure to visit their art museum, where you can walk around and see all the current exhibits. If you are like me, you’ll want to stop by their two-floor campus bookstore and pick up a sweater to show off some school pride. 

Olympic Village

Doesn’t this sound amazing? I mean, it’s the freaking Olympic Village! Where the Olympians stayed during the Vancouver Winter Games! No? Just me? Okay, so I definitely hyped this up way more than what was actually there. If anything, I felt like I was walking down Wyandotte here in Windsor. Nothing here screamed Olympics, and honestly, it’s not worth it. However, we did find this really good ice cream store called Earnest Ice Cream and I highly recommend either the Pretzel or Brandy flavour. 

Honourable Mentions (The Secret Tourist Fav’s)

  1. Commodore Lanes – 5 pin bowling, which is much more difficult than it sounds, but I had a blast.
  2. Daiso – Japanese Dollar store that literally has EVERYTHING, and just about the cutest stationery and bags possible.
  3. Granville Island – if going, check out the farmers market! Also, for the Disney fans out there, they serve dole whip.
  4. Speeders Indoor ProKarts – Have you ever flown in a go-kart? Because if not, this is the place to do it!
Carly Coombe is currently in her last year of Teacher's College for P/J, additionally with an Honour Bachelors Degree in English and History. When she’s not busy balancing school and work, she often volunteers her time as a Girl Guide leader for a local unit or is working on her small business, which has taken off since quarantine. She will always be found with her nose in the latest book, sometimes even ones that have not been published yet. She aspires to earn her TEFL degree and become an English and History high school teacher.
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