Vancouver, you're never out of sight of the spectacular mountains or the glimmering sea. It is a prosperous city, with flowers adorning the streets and the lush greenery of Stanley Park, the third-largest urban park in the world, beckoning to travelers and locals alike. Vancouver's Chinatown is the second largest in the world. Gastown, the waterfront district, recalls the city's colorful past as a premier port since the days of the Clipper ships.
The main Southern embarkation and disembarkation point for seven-day Gulf of Alaska cruises and round-trip Inside Passage cruises, Vancouver is sometimes a port of call for longer cruises sailing from United States ports of embarkation.
For passengers arriving at Vancouver International Airport (eight miles from downtown), transportation is available by taxi or cruise line transfers. Most cruise ships dock at Canada Place, with is right downtown.
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Gastown is a charming historic district filled with shops and other touristy things located on cobblestone streets lit by gaslights. It's also close to Canada Place and considered a must-see by many. Declared an historic district in the late 1970s, Gastown was a transfer point of trade with the Orient and development boomed. It boomed even more during the great Klondike Gold Rush until 1912 when the "Golden Years" ended. Many of these historic buildings have since been revitalized, and Gastown today is bursting with cafés, boutiques and souvenir shops.
Just blocks from downtown, Stanley Park is a 1,000 acre site consisting of beaches, the ocean, the harbor, Douglas fir and cedar forests, and a great view of the North Shore mountains. The park contains totem poles, rose gardens, a children's water park, hiking trails, and a yacht club; and it sits on a peninsula and along the shore is a 6 mi (9 km) long pathway. You can take a leisurely drive or rent a bicycle and cycle all the way around the park. Horse-drawn tours have also been offered for more than a century.
Vancouver's Chinatown is one of North America's largest. Like Gastown, it's a historic district notable for Chinese architecture and the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Garden. As was Gastown, Chinatown was declared a historic district in the late 1970s. Chinese architecture can be seen throughout the area as well as the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Garden. Almost every kind of tea imaginable is available at several shops as well as art, ceramics, and rosewood furniture. If all this site-seeing makes you hungry, there are exotic food stores and open-air markets. If you are staying overnight on a weekend, check out the Chinatown Night Market during the summer.
The Vancouver Museum
For the more culturally minded, The Vancouver Museum offers a history of the City. From the Coast Salish Indian settlement to early pioneers and European settlement, the museum has it all. You can go back in time by taking a walk through the steerage deck of a 19th century immigrant ship or sit in an 1880s Canadian-Pacific passenger car, then take a peek into a Hudson's Bay trading post. You can see how early Vancouverites decorated their homes as well as the re-creations of Victorian and Edwardian rooms.
If you are spending some time in the Vancouver area and need a few days away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, Whistler is a 2½ hour drive from Vancouver. Whistler is a year round world class mountain resort located at the foot of both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Whistler Village contains most of the night-life, restaurants and shops. The Upper Village on Blackcomb also offers some of the finest restaurants and fantastic summer fun throughout the sunny season.
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