Vancouver is the hip, young kid on the block, wearing a high-top fade and Converse sneakers. Everyone else has barely gotten used to Elvis and his suggestively gyrating hips and this guy is already on top of the next big thing. That's Vancouver for you. Sure, it's short on the rich and lengthy cultural history of other prominent Canadian cities like Montreal and Toronto, but it has a contemporary flair in its mountainous backdrops, adventure-rich locations, and rapid multi-ethnic population growth that proves that it very well may be the coolest kid in the Canadian neighborhood.
Vancouver truly announced itself on the international tourist scene by hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, although for years it has regularly been amongst the most "liveable" cities in the world. Located in southern British Columbia between the Pacific coast and the North Shore Mountains, Vancouver is the type of buffet a traveler with adventure cravings may never want to leave. There are plenty of ocean-based locations that are worthwhile both for their beauty and their range of activities. Stanley Park is one of Canada's most inviting urban parks, while a short ferry ride to Vancouver Island (home to the Pacific Rim National Park, Tofino, and Nainamo), Bowen Island or the Southern Gulf Islands provides scuba diving, kayaking, hiking, and even a few hot springs. Wouldn't you like to dip your toes in a steaming rock pool after a day of kayaking ocean coves and trekking jungle paths? That's what's on tap here.
If the water is tempting, then you're going to be floored by the world of mountain-sized vistas and activities. There are a handful of ski resorts in the area, the most approximate of which is Grouse Mountain (that picturesque peak over downtown) and the best of which is Whistler, featured during those 2010 Winter Games. Hit up the town of Squamish for the best in mountain biking and mountain climbing, the Stein Valley for incredible hiking, and the much further afield Chilko River for some the best whitewater rafting on Earth. For far more on the nearly endless active pursuits to be tackled, take a look at our adventure page.
Vancouver's cuisine is spearheaded by great seafood joints and a variety of quality take-out options for the adventurer-on-the-go, while nightlife choices like Yaletown, Gastown, and the famous Granville Street are packed and plentiful, whether you want to kick back with a broad selection of microbrews or are looking to catch live music at an institution like the Commodore. And just because a city is 150 years young doesn't mean it doesn't appreciate art and culture. The Museum of Anthropology and the 'Namgis Cultural Experience are excellent opportunities to learn more about the First Nation people that once communed with this land, while the Vancouver Art Gallery and Canada Place are indicative of how valuable art is to the city. Honestly, Vancouver's only fault is the inconsistent weather, which is apt to bring you rain when you need it least. If you're an embark traveler, we know you'll be prepared.
On a final note: although Vancouver is the only big city worth a hill of beans in British Columbia, it is less than a 3 hour trip to Seattle, Washington, and even closer to more national and provincial parks than you can wrap your head around. There are a plethora of reasons for why Vancouver is that cool kid on the Canada block; it doesn't matter which of them entice you, only that you're down to come hang out.