Spectacular by Nature
The accolades about this city just keep coming. One example: It’s been voted the most livable major city in North America by the Corporate Resources Group in Geneva, Switzerland. It also boasts Canada’s most temperate climate, although many parts of Vancouver get more than 80 inches of rain annually.
Just 30 miles from the U.S. border in British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, Vancouver is not just an exciting place to visit. It may be the site of your dream home. Vancouver has its own unique and interesting culture yet is quite familiar in its language and customs, making it easy for Americans to adapt to it.
One very special asset of Vancouver is that it is actually possible to enjoy the city and most of the sights without a car. Downtown Vancouver is a busy modern complex accessible on foot or by bus, taxi, train, and ferry. Precisely because Vancouver has put so much emphasis on the needs of the pedestrian and on mass transit, you will not find the freeway and highway systems common in the U.S. Unfortunately, it takes an hour to make the 15-mile trip to the airport.
Vancouver is naturally and visually stunning. The British Columbia coastline consists of thousands of islands, promontories, and fjords bordered by steep rocky mountains and interspersed with a few sandy beaches. The waterfront is warmed by the Japanese current.
The province is famous for its wildlife: killer whales, salmon, and bald eagles, among others. But even within the city of Vancouver it’s possible to get an inkling for the natural wonders of British Columbia. Immediately adjacent to the downtown area is Stanley Park, the crown jewel of Vancouver’s many parks. Its 1,000 acres encompass vast tracts of forest just blocks away from the city core. Most of Stanley Park’s borders are shorelines and it is surrounded by a sea wall. Another prized Vancouver locale is Queen Elizabeth Park, located on the highest point in the city. Here you’ll find a sunken Japanese garden, the former site of a rock quarry. Across the harbor, still more breathtaking sights await you in two parks with spectacular suspension bridges: the Lynn Canyon Ecology Center and the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The latter is the largest suspended footbridge in the world.
Bordering English Bay, on the grounds of the University of British Columbia, is the Museum of Anthropology, also known as the Museum of Man. The museum houses unique collections in an architecturally stunning building that is an exciting mix of glass and concrete designed to display one of the world’s best collections of full-size authentic West Coast totem poles, war canoes, and other artifacts of the Northwest Coast Indians.
Happily for the visitor, many of Vancouver’s most interesting sights are downtown. Vancouver has designed a terminal for cruise ships that reflects the city’s attitude toward development—to ensure that the development fulfills its functional purpose but is attractive, as well. Canada Place, as it’s called, also serves as a convention center that includes hotels and restaurants. The multi-level building was constructed to look like an enormous ship with sculpted sails. A favorite Vancouver shopping area is Robson Street, also known as Robsonstrasse.
For a short visit, lodging in downtown Vancouver is your most convenient option. This area, known as the West End, is within easy walking distance of many of the sights and restaurants. Buses, ferries, and taxis are also plentiful. In addition, downtown Vancouver hotel rooms have some of the prettiest views around—the Lion’s Gate Bridge, the mountains of North Vancouver, and the harbor.
Cuisine? Seafood is available in abundance, particularly salmon. Vancouver also has some of the best authentic Chinese restaurants in North America. Over the last 20 years, the growing number and prosperity of Chinese immICAants, who now make up about 40 percent of the city’s population, have resulted in the cropping up of Chinese restaurants across the city.
If you fall in love with Vancouver, as so many visitors do, why not consider moving there? The price of an average Greater Vancouver single-family home in April 2005 was $518,607 CDN (approximately $419,000 in U.S. dollars as of mid-May 2005). If you’ve got more money to spend, Vancouver can also accommodate you nicely. In West Vancouver, prime waterfront lots and properties are selling in the multi-million-dollar range. Another coveted Vancouver area is Shaughnessy. In this older area developed by lumber barons and other wealthy people in the early 1900s, prices for large mansions on large parcels rival those in California’s Beverly Hills, La Jolla, and Rancho Santa Fe.