5 Unique Vancouver Activities That Visitors AND Locals Need to Experience

The great thing about having visitors is getting to show them around Vancouver. I recently had some friends in town from Scotland and it was fantastic to show them around my beautiful. While some typically touristy spots like Granville Island and Stanley Park are places that I visit on a regular basis, I’m not usually doing the typically touristy things.

This time I did, and can I tell you, it’s really exciting to be a tourist in my town! Here are three unique Vancouver experiences that made me so proud to show off my city to my friends, plus two more that we didn’t have time to get to (but that you should!)

Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour

A horse-drawn tour around Stanley Park

The only way to describe Stanley Park is that it is Vancouver’s crown jewel. It is so beautiful and I love walking around it along the Seawall and through it along the paths winding through the forest. I do this a lot. But as fun as I’ve always thought the horse-drawn tours look, I’ve never hopped on one. Shame on me, because it was a great way to see the park and I learned at least five new things about the area and history. And how posh did my friends and I feel being pulled along by two handsome grey Percheron horses? Very.

For more information on this experience, click here.

Ferry Around False Creek

Unique Vancouver

Photo: Yasmine Hardcastle

I am a big fan of the little ferries that zip around False Creek. While I often hop on one to get from my work neighbourhood to Olympic Village to meet up with friends, I’ve never bought a day pass and explored every stop. Or just stayed on to experience the full loop. We did all of this, and it was such a nice way to spend time with my friends and see the sights. We spent the day travelling with Aquabus, but False Creek Ferries is also a great option – they also go over to Vanier Park, which is where the Museum of Vancouver, Bard on the Beach (on until September 22!), and the Maritime Museum are located.

Whale Watching

Photo Credit: Wild Whales Vancouver

Of all the things I have experienced in my own travels and here in Vancouver, this was probably one of the more magical ones. And it isn’t necessarily something I would have done if my friends hadn’t had it on their ‘must-do’ list. Well, it’s now on my must-do list and is worth every penny. We saw five pods of whales (the norm is one of two pods) who waved and hopped (not like in the movies; as our guide reminded us: this is the wild, not a water park) and made our entire boat ooh and ahh in delight.

Photo Credit: Yasmine Hardcastle

We went on Wild Whales Vancouver’s open-top boat tour from Granville Island, and there are several other tour companies that operate from there and from Steveston Village. Click here for more info on Vancouver’s whale watching tours!

Sea to Sky Gondola*

Sea to Sky Gondola views | Photo Credit: Melissa Ariganello

*The Sea to Sky Gondola is currently closed until Spring 2020. Updates will be released as more details become available. Add this attraction to your 2020 Vancouver bucket list!

We are very lucky in Vancouver to have spectacular sea to sky views, and the aptly named Sea to Sky Gondola is a fabulous day trip to check those views out. We didn’t have time to get here, but I went up in May. A 45-minute scenic drive away from Downtown Vancouver, the site is adjacent to the very popular Stawamus Chief hike. There are many walking and hiking trails for all ages and abilities, making the site accessible for a back country adventure or a stroller/wheelchair friendly interpretive walk.

Photo Credit: Yasmine Hardcastle

The Sky Pilot suspension bridge will give you an epic spot to take photos from, and when you’re done wandering, sit down at the lodge for a glass of wine and some lunch.If you’re not up for driving to Squamish, there is a shuttle that you can take – it’s one of the packages to choose from when you buy your tickets!

For more info on the Sea to Sky Gondola, click here.

Gastronomic Gastown

Recently named a Canadian Signature Experience by Destination Canada, Gastronomic Gastown is on my list of things to do in September. (And I’ll have to send pictures to my Scottish friends!) The Destination Canada tourism honour has been given to only ten Vancouver-based attractions, so it is wonderful to see such a foodie mecca be recognized. Designed by Vancouver Foodie Tours, this food tour takes you around the historic Gastown area with stops at local restaurants for exceptional tastings. Each tour includes:

  • An in-depth guided tour of Vancouver’s history
  • A progressive meal at 4 uniquely Gastown restaurants
  • 4 craft beer, wine and cocktail pairings
  • An expert local guide


More info on this Canadian Signature Experience can be found here.

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