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Visit the “Best City in the Americas” -
Vancouver, British Columbia

by Roy Witman © 2008

If you stand in downtown Vancouver and turn in a 360-degree circle, you'll no doubt find yourself in awe. Majestic mountain ranges and crystal-blue seas are only enhanced by the elaborate cityscape of this modern town. To see Vancouver today, you'd never know it had such a rocky start.

The city was devastated by the Great Fire within two months of incorporation in 1886. The wind-swept blaze lasted less than an hour but left the city with just a half-dozen buildings. The people and businesses didn't let the fire destroy their plans for growth, however. They began rebuilding immediately leading to present day Vancouver.

With the distinction of being voted the “Best City in the Americas” for 2004 through 2006 by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, Vancouver and the surrounding area provides a wide variety of unique and exciting indoor and outdoor activities for adults, kids, couples and individuals from all walks of life.

Vancouver is surrounded on three sides by water. Add to that the Coast Mountain Range to the north and east and you have stunning panoramic scenery that makes the perfect backdrop for the city. With mountains and the shore at arm's reach what else could Vancouver offer? How about a rainforest? You'll find it just minutes from the city. You'll also find over 180 parks, world-class museums and galleries as well as magnificent gardens. These attractions plus the mildest climate in Canada make Vancouver an ideal vacation spot.

Vancouver is called home by numerous cruise lines that provide voyages to Alaska from May through September. Chances are you'll find an itinerary that departs from this city so it only makes sense to book a pre- or post-cruise getaway while you're here.

Major Tourist Attractions

The Vancouver Lookout at Harbor Centre is an excellent first stop. The observation deck is located a whopping 50 stories above street level! An quick elevator trip to the top takes a mere 50 seconds and rewards you with an unobstructed, 360-degree view of Vancouver and the surrounding countryside. It's easy to see the reason Vancouver was selected as the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics from this vantage point.

Stanley Park, one of the greatest parks of the world, is Vancouver's first park. Located on a 1000- acre parcel of land set aside by Vancouver's first City Council, Stanley Park boasts a 5.5-mile seawall that completely surrounds the park. There are at least four restaurants offering fine dining in this forest-type environment that delivers park, sea and mountain views. You'll also discover playground equipment, a swimming pool, water park, miniature railway and farmyard with live animals.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is located just minutes from downtown. The bridge was first built in 1889. You find yourself 230 feet above the Capilano River when you are in the middle of the 450-foot bridge. Why bother to cross a bridge? Because on the other side you'll have the unique opportunity to trek through rainforest trails. You can participate in an exceptional Treetops Adventure described by the Capilano Bridge website as “a squirrel's eye view of a thriving coastal forest”.

Walk from tree to tree on a series of elevated suspension bridges that rise 100 feet above the forest floor and view the rainforest environment without causing damage to its structure. Be sure to visit the Totem Park and other attractions located here.

No vacation is complete without a shopping trip. The Metropolis at Metrotown can satisfy the needs of even the most serious of bargain hunters. With 470 stores, this is British Columbia's largest shopping center. Exceptional theaters, two indoor courtyards and a food court with two-dozen shops provide a variety of delights to satisfy your appetite.

Make plans to spend time in Vancouver before or after your next Alaskan cruise. Oftentimes, affordable package deals are available that provide great savings for savvy travelers who want added adventure. Check with your travel agent or cruise line for details and rates.