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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

Vancouver is almost as old as the nation it’s located in. The city, while it may be one of Canada’s older cities, is nothing but modern. It’s at the forefront of green initiatives and is a buzzing cosmopolitan that rivals the likes of Seattle and some might even say San Francisco.

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Set against the backdrop of the great Canadian Rockies, Vancouver is a city that needs more than just a few days to really discover, something to keep in mind when booking your flights to Vancouver. Each of its neighbourhoods, nicely laid out, has its own character and its own charm. From early morning coffee to late-hour cocktails, from city parks to cobble-stone streets, Vancouver’s definitely got it going on.

SoMa

coffee shop on Main Street

It’s a hipster kind of place, dubbed SoMa which is short for South Main Street. At some point twenty years ago cafés, art galleries and chic boutique clothing stores popped up here and became the main-stay of the neighbourhood. “Fashion District” is one name for it. If you’re looking to spruce up your Canadian-made wardrobe head to 21st and Main where you’ll find quaint shops with names like The Barefoot Contessa, Twigg & Hottie, Eugene Choo and Smoking Lily.

West End

West End skyscrapers

Skyscrapers and hurried business ladies and gents in suits brushing past on the street. This isn’t any Manhattan though. Just beyond the financial and business part of downtown are beaches, parks and pretty landscapes. One might say the West End is the perfect contrast. It’s where all the city’s money is traded, bought and sold but is also home to by far the city’s best park. It’s undeniably gay-friendly, especially in Davie Village, Vancouver’s only recognised gay village.

Stanley Park

totem poles in Stanley Park

It’s not often you find a whopping 1000 acres of forest within city limits but this is what makes Vancouver so unique. Located at the end of the peninsula which it shares with the West End, Stanley Park is the pride and joy of the city, rivalling only the  likes of Central Park in NYC. 8 million people visit the park every year to hug some of the biggest cedars, spruces and hemlocks in Canada. Third Beach is the perfect place to grab a picnic looking out over English Bay. Other draws in the park include dozens of totem poles, lakes, the Vancouver Aquarium and more than 200km worth of trails, pathways and seaside boardwalks.

Gastown

Gastown steam clock

For being Vancouver’s historic neighbourhood, Gastown sure has a lot of spunk. Here it’s all about the latest fashion trends, interior design exhibitions, swanky nightclubs and upscale loft apartments. Dozens of film, acting, music and art schools are also located here, keeping Vancouver’s hub for technology grounded in the arts. The most famous landmark in the neighbourhood is the steam-powered clock at Cambie and Water Street. It harnesses steam from the city’s steam-heating system and when the hour strikes, the “Westminster chime” is sung by whistles, not bells.

Have you been to Vancouver yet? What was your favourite part of the city?

Imgs: cafe: rickfargo / west end: kennymatic / totems: prayitno / gastown: colros / vancouver: jamesz, Flickr cc.

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