Vancouver during Canada day

Old Jan 13th, 2007, 10:17 AM
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Vancouver during Canada day

Hi everyone,

Me and my wife will be in Vancouver for 2 days of sightseeing before heading to Clearwater. I would appreciate any suggestions for sightseeing in Vancouver. Below is a summary of my stay in Vancouver. I have already reserved a lodging close to Stanley Park.

29th June Friday night - arrive
30th June Saturday - sightseeing
1st July Sunday - sightseeing
2nd July Monday - drive to Clearwater

I am planning to purchase hop-on/hop-off bus tickets. I also have a rental car. I am interested in one-day sightseeing tour for Victoria.

I am wondering if there are sites or tours that I should cover on Saturday since some of them may be closed on Canada day or Sunday. Also, if there is a good place to see the fireworks and to enjoy Canada day celebrations.

One of the members has recommended Granville Island. I have seen recommendations for Grouse Mountain, Burnaby mountain and Lynn Canyon bridge. I am more interested in outdoor sightseeing and just trying to plan the activities in advance.

Thank you in advance.
mtravel is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2007, 12:17 PM
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>>>>>>I am planning to purchase hop-on/hop-off bus tickets. I also have a rental car. I am interested in one-day sightseeing tour for Victoria.<<<<<<

I don't know why you want to have hop-on/hop-off bus tickets AND rent a car. You can use the hop-on/hop-off bus, and it'll take you to all of the places you possibly could want to see or would have time to see on your first day. You'd be paying rental on a car you would not be using, and to add insult to injury you probably would be paying for it to be parked at your hotel as well.

>>>>>>I am interested in one-day sightseeing tour for Victoria.<<<<<<

That is a questionable idea. It takes about 4 hours to get from downtown Vancouver to Victoria if you go by road and ferry, and 4 hours to return. So, in order to have an even vaguely meaningful amount of time in Victoria, you have to leave early and return late. I think that's all the more questionable if you'll be setting out on your drive for Clearwater the following day.

You can make the trip to Victoria shorter if you catch the quicker but more expensive sea plane (35 minutes from Vancouver Harbour to Victoria Harbour).

This year Canada Day will be on Monday, July 2nd. Canada Day is on July 1st, except when July 1st falls on a Sunday, as it does in 2007.

All of the touristy things stay open on Canada Day -- restaurants, gondola rides, cruises, museums, and attractions of every sort. The only closure that might affect a tourist is that banks are closed on Canada Day (but ATMs still are operational).

The other thing to be aware of is that touristy places are busier than usual on the Canada Day long weekend.

Because of Vancouver's geographical layout, it makes sense to group attractions that are relatively close to each other.

Vancouver's top attraction is Stanley Park, no ifs, ands or buts about it. If you see only one thing in Vancouver, it has to be Stanley Park. That's what you should do on your first day. Then, since you're already seeing Stanley Park, you may as well see Vancouver's other centrally located attractions on that day. They include Granville Island Market, Yaletown, and Robson Street. These are all places that the hop-on/hop-off bus will take you to.

During the summer, Stanley Park has a FREE shuttle bus that takes visitors through Stanley Park. I think it's route through Stanley Park may be more comprehensive than the hop-on/hop-off bus's coverage of Stanley Park.

If you are staying near Stanley Park, you may be within walking distance. There may be merit in your walking to Stanley Park on the Saturday morning, catching the free Stanley Park shuttle bus so that you get a good overview of Stanley Park, and then catch the hop-on/hop-off bus to see the rest of the central part of Vancouver.

If people have a second day in Vancouver, they sometimes choose to spend it on the "North Shore," that is the municipalities of North Vancouver and West Vancouver that are across Burrard Inlet from downtown.

The popular attractions in North Vancouver are the Grouse Mountain SkyRide, the Capilano Canyon Suspension Bridge, and the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. After visiting those attractions it's nice to drive to West Vancouver, at least as far as Horseshoe Bay. You don't have to visit both suspension bridges. Visiting one of them will do. I like Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. For one thing it's free (unlike Capilano Canyon Suspension Bridge.) For another thing, it's located in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, a wilderness park covered in a lovely temperate rainforest that is beautiful to walk in.

A possible alternative to visiting the North Shore is to do a day trip to the mountain resort town of Whistler (2 hours' drive from Vancouver).

The North Shore attractions are accessible by public transportation. But I personally do like to have the use of a car when I visit the North Shore attractions. The attractions are sufficiently spaced out from each other that it's nice to have the flexibility of one's own wheels.

There is public transportation to Whistler (bus, train and helicopter). The options that give you the best experience (that take you to the waterfalls en route to Whistler, for example) are very expensive. I think it's more cost effective to rent a car to get to Whistler.

If you have a third day in Vancouver, there are some attractions to the south of downtown that are worth visiting. They lend themselves to being grouped together by virtue of the fact that they're all to the south of downtown. They are the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia (fabulous Aboriginal artifacts), Queen Elizabeth Park (with a converted quarry garden that reminds one a little of Butchart Gardens in Victoria) and VanDusen Botanical Garden. Queen Elizabeth Park and VanDusen Botanical Garden, taken together, would give you an experience that was somewhat equivalent to visiting Victoria's Butchart Gardens. Oh yes, it also would be possible to visit Burnaby Mountain on this day.

Again, all of these places (museum, gardens, mountain) are accessible by public transportation. But in reality I would want a car to visit them.

So, in summary, you should spend your first day in Stanley Park and at other centrally located attractions. Then, for your second day, you should choose from amongst the following options:

* North Shore attractions (Grouse Mountain, one of the suspension bridges and, if possible, Horseshoe Bay)

* Day trip to Whistler

* Attractions to the south of downtown (Museum of Anthropology, Queen Elizabeth Park and VanDusen Botanical Garden)

* Day trip to Victoria


* Stanley Park (include shuttle bus)

* Granville Island Market

* Yaletown

* Robson Street

* Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge (offers an experience that is similar to Capilano Canyon Suspension Bridge)

* View of Horseshoe Bay

* Queen Elizabeth Park (except for Bloedel Conservatory)

* Burnaby Mountain (offers view that is about as good as the one from Grouse Mountain)

* Whistler (free, but the cost of transportation is a consideration)


* Grouse Mountain (expensive)

* Capilano Canyon Suspension Bridge (expensive)

* Museum of Anthropology (moderate cost, excellent value for money)

* Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park (cheap, wonderful value)

* VanDusen Botanical Garden (modest entry fee)

* Butchart Gardens (expensive but, if you've taken the trouble to get all the way to Victoria, worthwhile -- but there's also the not inconsiderable cost of getting there from Vancouver)

to get to Victoria, consider using Pacific Coach Lines' bus/ferry combination:

If you want to go to Victoria by sea plane, you can use Harbour Air:

If you choose to go to Victoria by car, it will be essential to have ferry reservations that weekend. You can make the reservations here:

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2007, 02:37 PM
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As a follow up to the previous information, here is an old discussion thread that provides different opinions on Capilano Canyon Suspension Bridge (versus Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge).

I belong to Sam_Salmon's "a thousand times no" school of thought regarding Capilano Canyon Suspension Bridge, but read all the opinions and decide for yourself:
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 08:19 PM
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In terms of Canada Day activities, Vancouver is a pretty underwhelming place to be. For example, there really isn't any public fireworks display and while there is an open house type event at Canada Place with live music and the local news cast broadcasting live, it's really a tiny event considering it's really the only thing Canada Day related going on in the city.

However, if you have a car and don't mind travelling 40 minutes south, and want to check out a local community Canada Day celebration (which is considered the largest Canada Day celebration in the province), you could head to Steveston village for its annual Salmon Festival. Steveston is a fishing village along the mouth of the Fraser River with the largest fishing fleet in Canada. There's quite a bit of heritage sites there and a few historic cannery structures/boatworks/docks still standing.

I make no secret of it that it's somewhat hokey, small town fun, but it's really the only large event going on within Greater Vancouver on Canada Day. It starts off with a parade at 9 or 10am which lasts about 2 hours. The Steveston Community Center hosts a large salmon bake and a huge food fair. There's a garden show (where locals submit their vegetables, fruit, flowers, for prizes), a trade show, a craft fair, children's carnival, carnival rides, free baseball games, carnival games, etc. There's live music. CBC Radio often broadcasts live. The local Japanese community (which used to be huge in Steveston prior to WWII) puts on a Japanese cultural display, and the martial arts centre does demonstrations in the local traditionally-built dojo. The Gulf of Georgia National Historic Site is open, free admission that day. There's also a fishing bullhead durby at Garry Point Park. They used to end the day with fireworks at Garry Point, but too many drunken yahoos ruined it so they've stopped it.

Anyhow. I just thought I'd mention that because it's a long-standing tradition and really the only large-scale Canada Day event going on in the area. is the website.

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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 08:54 PM
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Gee, got to Vancouver on Canada Day this year and found it to be pretty darn interesting! Particularly the public square in front of the Art Gallery. It seems Canada Day is pot day. The square was full of hippies buying, selling and smoking pot, displays set up on how to grow it, good munchies and a great rock band. You could get a pretty good contact high just walking by!
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Old Jan 15th, 2007, 05:47 AM
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Canada Day will be celebrated July 1st, even if it is a Sunday.
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Old Jan 15th, 2007, 12:57 PM
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The only thing I can add is that you should, at all costs, avoid the ferries on the long weekend if you're going to be driving - the lineups are going to be atrocious and if you go without a reservation, you'll probably get stuck waiting for 2 or 3 ferries before you get on...if you don't have one for the return voyage, you may end up spending a night on the island (last time I came back, I had reservations for the last ferry, they were turning back people that didn't).
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