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Best Things To Do In Downtown Vancouver, Canada

Chandana
Updated Aug 23, 2019

Located in the province of British Columbia, Vancouver is a busy seaport and sits tucked between the Pacific Coast and the Coast Mountains. The city has a waterfront that extends for nearly 19 miles (30 km) providing excellent opportunities for water sport adventures and outdoor fun. Perhaps the best city in Canada to sample Asian cuisines especially Japanese and Chinese specialties, Vancouver is a foodie delight par excellence. You can also find a variety of other cuisines here such as Indian, Italian, and Vietnamese to name a few. This sprawling city has a happening cultural scene and hosts a number of music and art festivals on a regular basis. During winter, it turns into a snowy wonderland with the opportunity to pursue a variety of snow activities to pursue. Here are some of the best things to do in downtown Vancouver, irrespective of the season.

1. Shop till you drop at the luxury departmental stores


Alberni Street in downtown Vancouver is also known as the city’s luxury zone. With an array of brand name and designer stores dotting the street, you will be spoilt for choice when shopping here. Robson Street which runs parallel to Alberni is also part of this luxury row of shops. From Nordstrom’s to Hudson Bay to BCGB Max Azria, there’s plenty for you to choose from.

Nordstrom Pacific Centre

Address: 799 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V7Y 0A2, Canada

Website: Nordstrom Pacific Centre

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 9pm; Sun: 11am - 7pm

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2. Enjoy Sunday brunch at the revolving Top of Vancouver


Get a bird’s eye view of the city from this revolving restaurant located at a height of 553 feet (167 m). Enjoy clear views of the mountains and the ocean as you savor delicious brunch at this vantage location. The restaurant completes one rotation every hour and the menu features everything from soups to plates of pasta to appetizers and desserts.

Top of Vancouver

Address: 555 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6B 4N6

Website: Top of Vancouver

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 11:30am - 11pm; Sun: 11am - 10pm

Price: 31 - 50 CAD (25 - 40 USD)

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3. Sip on classic cocktails at Pourhouse

🥃 Plain & Fancy #PourhouseVancouver

Posted by Pourhouse Vancouver Restaurant on Wednesday, 8 May 2019

An ideal place to enjoy good food with some excellent drinks, this restaurant is housed in a hundred-year-old building. The highlight here is the 38 feet (11.5m) bar that has been handcrafted using Douglas Fir planks that are over a century old. Similarly, every piece of furniture and every wood beam used here comes with its own story. The drinks menu includes classic cocktails, fine wine, beer, coffee, and excellent loose leaf tea.

Pourhouse

Address: 162 Water Street, Gastown, Vancouver

Website: Pourhouse

Opening hours: Mon – Thu: 5pm - 12am; Fri: 5pm – 1am; Sat: 10.30am - 2.30pm, 5pm - 1am; Sun: 10.30am - 2.30pm; 5pm - 12am

Price: Under 30 CAD (23 USD)

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4. Let loose the scientist within at Science World


This fascinating science center run by a non-profit organization has numerous hands-on exhibits, a giant-screen theater (additional cost), and frequent live shows to keep you busy for hours on end. Just a short walk from the sky train station, this fun attraction is suitable for all ages. The center also conducts workshops onsite as well as in schools across the province in an attempt to make sun interesting for young minds.

Science World at Telus World of Science

Address: 1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver, BC

Website: Science World at Telus World of Science

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 5pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 6pm

Price: 17 - 25 CAD (13 - 19 USD)

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5. Enjoy the night at Granville Street Entertainment District


Situated at the heart of the city, Granville Street is the place to be if you are a party person. The place comes to life at night with clubs and bars taking up every available bit of space down Nelson Street to Robson Street. Weekends can get quite crowded and you may have a long wait before you can get into the hotspot of your choice. There are plenty of smaller cafes and restaurants also if you wish to grab a quick bite or just sit and indulge in some people watching.

Granville Street Entertainment District

Address: 700 - 1300 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1M7, Canada

Website: Granville Street Entertainment District

Opening hours: 24/7

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6. Pamper your taste buds with fresh seafood at Yaletown


Located in downtown Vancouver, Yaletown was an industrial locality before being made part of an urban regeneration project. This erstwhile warehouse district is now a chic neighborhood boasting of premium housing spaces, elegant restaurants, and green parks. Make your way to one of the fine restaurants serving fresh and delicious seafood for a memorable dinner in the bustling city.

Blue Water Cafe

Address: 1095 Hamilton St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5T4, Canada

Website: Blue Water Cafe

Opening hours: 4:30pm - 12am (daily)

Price: 31 - 60 USD

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7. Soak up the sun at English Bay

Vancouver’s most popular beach, English Bay is a great place to sun yourself, swim a bit and watch the spectacular sunset. It is also a popular venue for a variety of events throughout the year. Join the volleyball players for a game or simply lounge around as you enjoy the panoramic views and get lulled by the sound of gently lapping waves.

English Bay

Address: West of the downtown peninsula and False Creek, Vancouver

Website: English Bay

Opening hours: 24/7

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8. Go for a leisurely swim at Second Beach or Kitsilano Beach


A great place for families and located near Stanley Park, Second Beach sits adjacent to a heated, outdoor swimming pool. There is a picnic shelter that can be reserved for private gatherings while barbecues are available at Ceperly Meadow located close by. There is a playground and plenty of concession stands around for an enjoyable day at the beach. Kitsilano Beach is yet another popular swimming spot where the seawall runs along the sandy beach. Basketballs courts, tennis courts, and swimming rafts are available here.

Second Beach

Address: Stanley Park, Vancouver

Website: Second Beach

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9. Soak in the tranquility of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden


As you step into this beautifully landscaped and tranquil garden, it is easy to forget that you are in a busy city. Situated in Chinatown, this authentic, full-scale Chinese garden is the first of its kind anywhere outside China and was opened in 1986. It often hosts various events such as concerts, festivals, and even receptions. There is a public park adjacent to it and plenty of shops too. There is a koi pond in the garden which also features beautiful structures built in the typical Chinese style of architecture and Taihu rocks.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Address: 578 Carrall Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B 5K2 Canada

Website: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 14 USD (adult); 10 USD (student); 11 USD (senior); 28 USD (family)

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10. Browse through Vancouver Art Gallery


Besides being the fifth largest art gallery in the country, it is considered among the foremost innovative visual arts institutions in North America. This not-for-profit organization lays emphasis on the art emerging from First Nations as well as the Asia Pacific region and also houses the Institute of Asian Art. The permanent collection at this gallery features over 10,000 artworks and only about three percent of these are on display at any time.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Address: 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7

Website: Vancouver Art Gallery

Opening hours: Wed - Mon: 10am - 5pm; Tue: 10am - 9pm

Price: 6 - 24 USD

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11. Head over to Destination British Columbia


This agency is involved in promoting British Columbia as a tourism destination and is a valuable resource for visitors. They can suggest the best itineraries for you so that you make the most of your time in Vancouver. You can also find information about lesser-known attractions that the region abounds in. From back country trips to the best time of year to visit and safety precautions to adopt, they can assist you with anything and everything to make your trip a truly memorable one. Make this your first stop in the city and things are sure to go smoothly!

Destination British Columbia

Address: 510 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6C 3A8, Canada

Website: Destination British Columbia

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

Price: Free

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12. Watch the sunset from Port of Vancouver


With over 25 terminals, this is one bustling port! Not only is it Canada’s largest in terms of tons of cargo, but it is also the third-largest in North America. It is a popular stop for international cruise liners with plenty of ships originating and transiting from here. With sustainable practices in place, this port also hosts various celebrations on a regular basis. The firework displays are a majestic scene as they light up the night sky. Similarly, watching from a vantage point at the port as the sky explodes into myriad colors as the sun sets, is a memory to be cherished.

Port of Vancouver

Address: 100 The Pointe, 999 Canada Place, Vancouver, BC V6T 3T4

Website: Port of Vancouver

Opening hours: 9am – 8pm (daily)

Price: Free

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13. Plan a family picnic at David Lam Park


This sprawling park offers plenty of bicycling trails and walking paths for a breath of fresh air at the heart of the city. The venue of the Vancouver Jazz Festival, it is also a great spot for a pleasant picnic with the family. With plenty of playgrounds, sports arenas, and public bathrooms, you can easily spend the whole day here! There is a great seawall walk that takes you past interesting artwork and highrise glass towers from the 90s. The park attracts quite a few exotic bird species making for a couple of hours of entertainment for kids and adults alike.

David Lam Park

Address: 1300 Pacific Blvd, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Y1, Canada

Website: David Lam Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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14. Admire the Gothic architecture at Christ Church Cathedral


Situated right across the Fairmont Hotel in the city, this elegant cathedral is hard to miss. Built in the Gothic style of architecture, this church was dedicated in 1895. The ceilings were made of cedar planks while beams and floors are made of Douglas fir. It is the city’s oldest surviving church and was once the city’s tallest and brightest buildings. Marvel at the beautiful stained glass within the church complex as well as the exquisite woodwork within the interiors and you will not realize the time flying by!

Christ Church Cathedral

Address: 690 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2L1, Canada

Website: Christ Church Cathedral

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 4pm; Sat: 9:15am - 10am; Sun: 8am - 1pm, 5pm - 9pm

Price: Free

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15. Enjoy ice skating at Robson Square Ice Rink


This seasonal ice skating rink is situated under the outdoor plaza at Robson Square. Having been a venue for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, this dome-shaped rink is a fun venue for children and adults alike. Enjoy a spin on the ice with your loved one or the family. Try ice skating at nice with the glittering, colorful lights giving it an other-worldly ambiance. Skates can be rented at the rink and usually, there are no charges for use of the rink.

Robson Square Ice Rink

Address: 800 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 3B7, Canada

Website: Robson Square Ice Rink

Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 9am - 9pm; Fri - Sat: 9am - 11pm

Price: Free

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16. Catch a live game at BC Sports Hall Of Fame and Museum

Posted by BC Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Get a peek into the region’s sports heritage at this museum which dates back half a century. Check out the numerous interactive displays, exhibits, and pick one of the themed guided tours for the complete experience. The museum and hall of fame throw light on extraordinary sports achievers, individuals and teams alike. You can enjoy a live football or soccer match at the stadium which offers excellent seating all around. The energy is electric and you cannot but get carried away by what’s happening on the field. The stadium has also served as the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

BC Sports Hall Of Fame and Museum

Address: 777 Pacific Blvd South Vancouver, BC

Website: BC Sports Hall Of Fame and Museum

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 12 - 24 USD

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17. Solve the riddles at SmartyPantz Escape Rooms


Put your brains to work at this fun activity that is best enjoyed as a team or a group. With five different themes to choose from, it promises plenty of entertainment for teens and adults alike. You will find hosts dressed up as the characters related to the theme and the adventures vary in degree when it comes to difficulty. Actual playtime is around 45 minutes The aim of this interesting activity is to encourage bonding and foster relationships in a fun way. You can also click all the pictures you want once you are done with the game.

SmartyPantz Escape Rooms

Address: 100-289 Abbott St. Vancouver BC, V6B 2K7

Website: SmartyPantz Escape Rooms

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 2:30pm - 10pm; Fri: 2pm - 11pm; Sat: 11:30am - 11pm; Sun: 11:30am - 9pm

Price: 19 USD

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18. Walk past the Vancouver Chinatown Millennium Gate


Since its inauguration in 2002, this towering landmark has stood majestically at the entrance to Vancouver’s Chinatown area. With four pillars, the gate stands three stories high and features a blend of Western and Eastern motifs in different colors. The gate has an elaborately adorned top section and features a tiled roof. It has replaced the old wooden gate built to commemorate a royal visit way back in 1912. There are lions on either side of the gate giving it a stately look.

Vancouver Chinatown Millennium Gate

Address: 26 W Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1R3, Canada

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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19. Pop by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation

Posted by The Vancouver Heritage Foundation on Monday, 16 December 2013

This foundation is dedicated to the promotion of the region’s historic landmarks in an attempt to preserve them for future generations. This registered charity is concerned with significant buildings and monuments in the city. They offer a variety of tours including walking tours and heritage house tours. Taking one of these is a good way of getting to know the city better. They also have a full calendar of events taking place around the year such as workshops and talks by leaders in the field.

Vancouver Heritage Foundation

Address: 510 W Hastings St #402, Vancouver, BC V6B 1L6, Canada

Website: Vancouver Heritage Foundation

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

Price: Free

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20. Learn about the cultural significance of Sam Kee Building

Posted by Alice Yang on Thursday, 14 June 2018

Known as the narrowest or shallowest freestanding commercial building in the world, the Sam Kee Building was built in 1913. It has found a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for this distinction. While there have been other claimants to the crown, the Sam Kee Building continues to hold on to its achievement as the other claimants are not freestanding though they might be smaller. Originally, the basement housed a barbershop and public baths while the top stories were for offices and shops. The building is in use to this day.

Sam Kee Building

Address: 8 W Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1R3, Canada

Website: Sam Kee Building

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am - 6pm (closed on Sun)

Price: Free

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21. Indulge in people watching at UBC Robson Square

Posted by UBC Robson Square on Monday, 1 November 2010

The equivalent of a town square, this public space in downtown Vancouver is a popular venue for outdoor activities. You can find free ice skating here in winter while it is free dancing in summer. A great place to indulge in different types of street food, it is also a good choice if you simply want to sit back and watch life go by. Just a block away from the metro station it is also a short walk to major department stores. The square also hosts various celebrations and events all through the year – from free concerts to free movies to Christmas and New Year celebrations.

UBC Robson Square

Address: 800 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 3B7, Canada

Website: UBC Robson Square

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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22. Attend local festivals at Creekside Park


This verdant space is a popular venue for festivals, concerts, and other summer events. Situated by the water, there are grassy lawns and a huge playground for the little ones. The newly renovated playground is equipped with a rubberized surface and a zip line. There is an assortment of challenging and innovative opportunities for play such as swings, climbing tower, musical instruments, play hut, and sand play areas to name a few. You can ride a bike or simply watch people enjoying a sunny day as you munch on great food with refreshments.

Creekside Park

Address: 1455 Quebec St, Vancouver, BC V6A 3Z7, Canada

Website: Creekside Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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23. Admire Canadian aboriginal art at the Inuit Gallery Of Vancouver

Posted by Inuit Gallery of Vancouver on Monday, 23 April 2012

Founded in 1979, this gallery has been showcasing excellent examples of Inuit and Northwest Coast art from day one. You can find sculptures, graphics, jewelry, and more here. The gallery regularly has exhibitions of Canadian aboriginal art. While featuring new works by senior artists, the gallery also simultaneously encourages the new generation of artists by according them equal importance. This gallery is conveniently located just a short stroll from the cruise ship terminal as well as the Vancouver Trade and Exhibition Center. Prominent hotels are also situated nearby such as the Waterfront Hotel and Pan Pacific Hotel.

Inuit Gallery Of Vancouver

Address: 206 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2M9, Canada

Website: Inuit Gallery Of Vancouver

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm; Sun: 11am - 5pm

Price: Free

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24. Click Instagram-worthy pictures of Sun Tower

Posted by Mary Julkowski on Wednesday, 4 September 2013

This familiar landmark of the city has towered over it for the over a century. Standing 17 floors high, parts of the tower were imported from England; Staffordshire to be precise. Having housed the offices of popular newspapers such as The Vancouver World and The Vancouver Sun, this Beaux-Arts building continues to be an iconic image associated with the city. It makes for a great backdrop and is also perfect to be clicked at different times of the day.

Sun Tower

Address: 128 Pender St W, Vancouver, BC V6B 1R8, Canada

Website: Sun Tower

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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25. Take a leisurely stroll through Victory Square


The city’s provincial courthouse once stood on the site of this park. It is also home to the Cenotaph, a World War I memorial that was unveiled in 1924 and is the focal point of the city’s Remembrance Day ceremonies. The memorial is a gray granite obelisk with various inscriptions and the national flag. There are plenty of benches around should you wish to take a break after a walk around the park.

Victory Square

Address: 200 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1G8, Canada

Website: Victory Square

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8am - 6pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

Price: Free

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26. Head to the 374 Engine Pavilion for some railroad fun

Roundhouse Community Arts& Recreation Centre . อยู่ใกล้ David Lam Park.

Posted by Weerapan Mahaparnth on Sunday, 30 June 2019

This pavilion is where you can get a closer look at the iconic Engine 374 that pulled the first transcontinental passenger train into the city. That was a momentous day for the entire country as it marked the completion of a major feat of engineering wherein the whole nation was linked from coast to coast by train. Having been retired from service in 1945, the engine is now housed in this beautiful pavilion and is occasionally brought out onto a turntable outside. You can click pictures of the engine from various angles and listen to the numerous interesting anecdotes about the engine and its history as narrated by the volunteers at the pavilion.

374 Engine Pavilion

Address: 374 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Y1, Canada

Website: 374 Engine Pavilion

Opening hours: 11am - 3pm (daily)

Price: Free

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27. Dig into sushi at elegant restaurant Miku


Situated at the waterfront, Miku is a great place to enjoy gourmet Aburi cuisine. Relish an excellent blend of traditional Japanese flavors and techniques with local elements. Feast on your favorites at the full-service sushi bar and enjoy dining on the waterfront patio. Fresh regional ingredients and seafood feature in the delectable dishes. Serving lunch and dinner, the restaurant offers items such as Ebi fritters, steamed Edamame, Aburi Chirashi tarts alongside desserts such as Yuzu Mango Chiboust, spiced Oyuwari. Refreshing beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic are also served here.

Miku

Address:70-200 Granville Street, Granville Square (Canada Place Way and Howe Street), Vancouver, BC, Canada V6C 1S4

Website: Miku

Opening hours: Sun - Wed: 11:30am -10:30pm; Thu - Sat: 11:30am - 11pm

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28. Try unique cocktails at Yagger's Downtown Restaurant & Sports Bar


This sports-themed restaurant and bar is a good place to enjoy some comfort food. From innovative dishes such as cowburger, organic bison burger, and tuna poke, this cozy place is ideal for an evening of relaxation. Their pulled pork tacos are great to start off with and be sure to follow it up with a plate of chicken wings available with a selection of flavors. There are flat screens all around the restaurant and you can sit at the bar or move to the upper deck lounge without having to miss out on any game. They also have karaoke Saturdays and daily steals on the drinks. And don’t forget their unique cocktails.

Yagger's Downtown Restaurant & Sports Bar

Address: 433 W Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1V2, Canada

Website: Yagger’s Downtown Restaurant & Sports Bar

Opening hours: Mon: 3pm - 12am; Tue - Thu: 11:30am - 12am; Fri: 11:30am - 1:30am; Sat: 4pm - 1:30am; Sun: 4pm - 10pm

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29. Dance the night away at Aura


This happening club is a good spot to while away the night while you are in the city. With the colorful lights and peppy music, it is the perfect place to party with friends. However, it is likely that you will not be able to have much of a conversation here, so don’t expect to catch up with old friends here. Enjoying a few drinks and grooving to the music should be your priority while here. Hip hop, as well as R&B music, dominates the scene and there are at least two bars to keep the drinks flowing.

Aura

Address: 1180 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1L8, Canada

Website: Aura

Opening hours: Fri - Sun: 10pm - 3am (closed from Mon - Thu)

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30. Enjoy a soothing Thai massage at Smile Thai Wellness Spa

Our Signature packages are the perfect way to unwind this Autumn.

Posted by Smile Thai Wellness on Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Feel the stress leave you and relax as you enjoy a soothing Thai massage administered by qualified professionals. Soak in the serene atmosphere at the Thai themed spa that will make you feel as if you are actually in Thailand. Take your pick of massages ranging from couples massages to oil massages and deep tissue massages. You can also experience skin rejuvenation with the special treatments available at this spa. Their signature packages promise you an experience like no other!

Smile Thai Wellness Spa

Address: 235 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6B 0E7, Canada

Website: Smile Thai Wellness Spa

Opening hours: 10am - 9pm (daily)

Price: 165 USD onwards

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Just the beginning

This is but a very short compilation of all the interesting things to do in downtown Vancouver. Start exploring and you will be surprised at the experiences and sights you get to enjoy.

This article was originally published on May 30, 2019

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Chandana is a versatile writer with nearly two decades of experience in media, spanning clients across the globe. An avid traveler, she enjoys experiencing every new place to the fullest.

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