5. Vancouver Downtown: A Self-Guided Exploration by Car
Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app, which will function as your personal tour guide, audio tour, and map all in one. Purchase one tour per car, not per person. Everyone listens together! Note: This 8.9 miles-long tour covers the essentials of Vancouver Downtown in 2 - 3 hours. Once downloaded, your tour begins next to Victory Square. From there, you’ll take in the Colosseum-like Vancouver Public Library. It has over 1.4 million books inside! Next, drive past the respected Vancouver Art Gallery, highlighting a diverse range of artists, including Vancouver natives and First Nation members. Then pass the Spirits in a Landscape statue, which features creatures like fish and owls and highlights the First Nations’ influence in Canada. You’ll also hear more about the First Nations. Navigate the majesty of Stanley Park, even larger than Central Park! Unearth how this land was once home to a Squamish community, which married among the Portuguese. In addition, you’ll see the prominent seawall. You’ll continue onto the Nine O’Clock Gun, a cannon which fires a shot at nine pm. The cannon was once actually kidnapped! The tour will then guide you past the memorable Girl in a Wetsuit statue, a modern twist on the Little Mermaid! Then proceed by the Prospect Point Lookout, which offers breathtaking ocean views. Continue by the popular Third Beach and hear a story about an anchor that may or may not have belonged to Captain George Vancouver’s ship, as well as his expeditions charting the British Columbian coast. Advance past Old English Bay Beach, and hear about Vancouver’s very first lifeguard. Also find out about Chief August Jack Khahtsaholano, a guide, logger, canoe builder, and medicine man, among other things! Then head into the trendy Kitsilano neighborhood, a playground for professionals and big names like Ryan Reynolds. As the journey continues, you’ll see the University of British Columbia, Vancouver’s largest university. If you recognize the campus, it’s been featured in many Hollywood movies and shows! You’ll subsequently pass the Nitobe Memorial Garden, whose namesake promoted understanding of Japanese culture in the West. As you drive along, you’ll discover the Mounties and their roots as a militia! Learning about the Winter Olympics and Canada’s great triumph over the US in 2010, you’ll then move along to Queen Elizabeth Park. Named after the late sovereign’s mother, it’s the highest point in the area! As you continue, dig into the Great Vancouver Fire and how it was started to clear land, but exploded beyond control! Then pay a visit to beloved Granville Island. Once a seasonal home to the Salish, it became a hotbed of industrial activity. Thousands kept cranking out fiber, rope, and chain in the midst of the Depression! You’ll also glimpse the Granville Island Public Market, with more than fifty merchants and open seven days a week. Following that, you’ll enter Gastown, the original settlement and now the heart of Vancouver. Cruise past the famed clock which literally blows off steam every quarter hour! Head for Canada Place, which welcomes visitors. This is where the tour ends.