Plunge into the fantastical side of travel this summer in Vancouver, Canada. Complete with a mysterious island, underwater emporium, breath-taking summit, exotic gastronomy, and family-friendly adrenaline park, this city is sure to satisfy the child in everyone.
With a magical backdrop of the sea, this island of restored warehouses and wooden boardwalks has become a popular destination for families. Locals and high-end chefs frequent the Public Market, which arguably has the freshest ingredients. The streets hum with live music, a strong characteristic of the island. The Kids Market creates a treasure hunt of hand-crafted toys, puppets, and clothing for the younger visitors’ enjoyment, but remember to go before the Olde World Fudge!
As the largest marine wildlife museum in the country, the Vancouver Aquarium is the well-loved center of a collaborative community of scientists, teachers, students and visitors. That fact is evident given the annual number roundup: 58,000 hours of volunteer time donated; 70,000 animals thriving; and 80,000 schoolchildren visitors. Train (or be trained by?) the animals, get splashed at a dolphin and reef shark shows and feedings, and watch in comfort and awe from your interactive seat in the 4D IMAX theatre.
Create memories the whole family will never forget at this controlled walk on the wild side. Complete with the classic wobbly suspension bridge, stable treetop walk, an elevated labyrinth maze, glass walkways and rainforest setting, there is something for everyone at every level (they allow ages 2-92 on the Treetops Adventure). Be sure not to miss the world’s largest private collection of totem poles here. In December, the park is illuminated specially in the event of Canyon Lights.
Come rain or snow or hail or shine, Grouse Mountain needs to be on your trip’s short list. In the winter, ski, snowboard, snowshoe, ice skate, ride a sleigh, or take the snow limo. In the warmer months, hike, picnic, tour by helicopter, paraglide, and zipline. All year long, there are excellent facilities for learning and experiencing the mountain, like the Wildlife Preserve, the Skyride Gondola, the Eye of the Wind Turbine, and a movie theater which shows real footage of an eagles’ perspective flying and the journeys of baby grizzlies.
Given its pristine location by the water, Vancouver knows a thing or two about oysters. Complete your experience with at least a taste. For a different cultural experience, head to Vij’s Rajoli, where you can order all kinds of curries (red pepper and portobello mushroom, for one) and lamb. Forty Ninth Parallel is the move for anyone with an adventurous sweet tooth, as an experimental doughnut specialty shop with well-executed flavor combinations to rock your world (Apple Bacon Fritter or Honey Pistachio, maybe?). For an early bite, arrive before 5pm (and the ensuing long wait) at Toshi Sushi, for extremely affordable and fresh rolls. Going on a picnic? Be sure to pick up the award-winning Golden Ears brie from the Fresh St. Market on the way.
Cross into the wild side; testing experimental cuisine, trekking unknown peaks, strolling through artists’ enchanting craftsmanship, diving deep into an underwater universe, swinging in the trees, and finally retiring home to a warm luxury bed. What more could you ask for? Vancouver is waiting.