Even if you had spent all your life in Vancouver, you could still spend many days discovering and rediscovering its delights. Here are just some suggestions for a whirlwind Vancouver tour.
Take a 15-minute walk from Downtown and catch one of the little ferries at the end of Thurlow Street for a five-minute trip across False Creek to Granville Island. For a few dollars, you'll be treated to a tour of one of the world's most magnificent harbours set against a backdrop of breathtaking snow-topped peaks. Granville Island is a lively mix of shops, markets, bars and restaurants, making it a great place for breakfast.
New York's Central Park has nothing on Stanley Park. The second-largest city park in North America, it's 10 percent bigger than Central Park and a route to the Sea to Sky Highway, which leads to Whistler, famous for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Walk, bike, roller-blade, take a trolley or a horse-drawn carriage. You'll see Vancouverites doing the traditional sea-wall walk. It's an easy 8.8 kilometres route that offers wonderful views of Vancouver Island.
Take the road west from the sea wall to English Bay beach. All that walking and sea air will set you up for lunch at either of The Boathouse's chain of restaurants - at English Bay Beach in the West End or Kitsilano Beach. The Kits Beach location has full-length windows that offer stunning views of the beach, ocean, and West Vancouver mountains all day.
Afternoon Cultural Delights
Vancouver has enough museums and galleries to keep a culture junkie high for days. For a manageable culture fix, try the Vancouver Art Gallery on Hornby Street. This is the best place to discover the life and work of Emily Carr, the prominent BC artist and writer after whom the university on Granville Island is named.
Vancouver's oldest neighbourhood, Gastown, is undeniably touristy, but it's still charming. Water Street is a tribute to all things moose and maple-syrup-related, but the parallel Cordova Street is not quite as kitschy. You'll find locals here, too, as well as chic contemporary furniture shops. While in Gastown, head to the Salt Tasting Room for an aperitivo. Situated in Blood Alley, it offers a huge selection of cheeses and perfect wine pairings to tempt you before dinner.
Now that you've whetted your appetite, take your pick from the range of competitively priced restaurants on Main Street, just past the Art Deco Pacific Central Station. Try Campagnolo for quality modern Italian food, a thoughtful wine list, chic surroundings and great value.
If you don't want to head back to your hotel just yet, make your way to Vancouver's theatre district on West Georgia and Hamilton streets. This is the place for live music and late-night drinks. The Railway Club is a local favourite. A little dark and dingy, it's very atmospheric, as is the Media Club. Forget your bedtime here - all bars stay open very late.