For those who visited a few decades ago, Vancouver is a town reborn. Industrial zones started giving way to trendy artists' districts and bohemian neighborhoods about 20 years ago, and the transformation was contagious. Today Vancouver has multiple shopping and dining districts, each with their own unique style and selection.
Whether it's shopping in Yaletown, perusing the outdoor markets of Granville Island or heading underground into the shopping malls on Robson Street, there's no end to the city's burgeoning commercialism. And with the diverse dining options in Chinatown, Little Italy or Punjabi Market, a dining tour of Vancouver is an international experience.
Outdoor enthusiasts have more activities to choose from than time permits. The surrounding ski resorts draw millions in the winter, while hikers are just as spoiled for choice in the summer. Water-based activities like kayaking, beach-going or simple walks on the seawall are ideal in the summer.
Downtown and Yaletown
The central district is the heart of commercial Vancouver. This is where the city's most exclusive hotels, restaurants, shops and clubs are planted. Yaletown, a warehouse district turned trend-setter, is often thrown into the mix because it's also centrally located.
Granville's roots are in industry, but this city underwent a renaissance and emerged a sublime entertainment district. It's more peninsula than island, with outdoor markets, artists' studios, boutiques, outdoor terraces and a brewery. Granville Island's many festivals give locals and visitors reason to stop by in any season.
North Vancouver is the place to be based for those planning outdoor activities to the north. The local shopping scene features antique shops and hip boutiques that cater to the outdoor crowd. On the outskirts of North Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is a popular all-season destination.
Vancouver has three districts vying for the title of ‘West'. Oddly, this one is adjacent to North Vancouver and hosts one of Canada's most affluent residential communities. The commercial venues fit right into the upscale atmosphere. Here on the North Shore, you're likely to see seals sprawling on coastal rocks.
West End is part of the downtown district and hosts part of Robson Street, Vancouver's eminent shopping thoroughfare. It's east of Stanley Park and home to Denman Street, a local hangout with reasonably priced dining and shopping options.