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South Granville Shopping
South Granville, which runs from Granville Bridge toward 16th Avenue, bordering the prestigious Shaughnessy neighborhood, is also known as Gallery Row. Internationally known painters are on display in the galleries here. Also impressive are the 18 Karat, an Asian design emporium for those who want modern, organic furniture and housewares, and the avant-garde designer clothing and gifts at Bacci's and Misch. South Main Street from Eighth Avenue to 24th Avenue is known as SoMa and houses the best selection of local designers in the city.—Kasey Wilson
See + Do
Vancouver Aquarium, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 3X8, Canada
Tel: 604 659 3474
Visitors with kids should plan to spend at least half a day at the aquarium—it's chock-full of activities and interactive exhibits designed just for children. Among the daily doings are shows with dolphins, sea lions, and the resident beluga whales; otter-feeding sessions; and the new Clownfish Cove, where kids can handle starfish and other gentle sea creatures in touch pools, watch puppet shows, join in sing-alongs, and create sea-themed arts and crafts. The little darlings will be screaming with delight—which is why anyone liking a quiet aquarium experience should plan to go after 4 p.m., when families tend to clear out.
Open 9:30 am to 5 pm September through June, 9:30 am to 7 pm July and August.
Go Fish!, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6J 1E8, Canada
Tel: 604 730 5040
Come early to score a table for lunch on the deck at Go Fish!, a humble seafood hut tucked into False Creek Fisherman's Wharf, where you can watch the daily catch being hauled in from fishing boats. Cod, halibut, and salmon are beer-battered in Granville Island lager then snatched from the deep-fryer at the instant of just-cooked perfection and served in bamboo steamers with fries and Asian slaw. The oyster po'boy—stuffed with three grilled Cortes Island beauties—and the cone-shaped fish tacones are irresistible. If you're planning to go after 5 pm, call ahead: Once the supplies are gone, so is the kitchen crew.—Kasey Wilson
Open Tuesdays through Fridays 11 am to 6:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays noon to 6:30 pm.
See + Do
Museum of Anthropology, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z2, Canada
Tel: 604 822 5087
You'll see a whole lot of totem poles while you're in Vancouver; they're the most striking evidence of the First Nations Indian population living in the area. The poles, usually 15 to 30 feet high and made from local red cedar, are intricately carved with faces and figures depicting important historical and tribal events. This compact museum is the best place to learn more about the totem tradition; the high-ceilinged Great Hall displays dozens of poles (many over 100 years old) and explains how they were made and what they symbolize. There are plenty of other draws, too: a huge trove of Northwest Coast art, masks, textiles, jewelry, and canoes, plus two traditional First Nations houses re-created on the grounds. In 2008, the museum underwent a $55 million expansion that increased its size by 50 percent. It's part of a larger project to relaunch the MOA by January 2010 to coincide with the Cultural Oympiad.
Closed Mondays mid-October through mid-May.
See + Do
Stanley Park, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Tel: 604 257 8400
Described as a "1,000-acre therapeutic couch" of majestic evergreens, formal gardens, hiking trails, and kids' activities, Stanley Park is the third largest public park in North America. Set at the northwest corner of Downtown, it occupies a bulb-shaped peninsula that juts out into English Bay and Burrard Inlet. The park's summit, Prospect Point, is at its northern edge and has sweeping views of the inlet, North Vancouver, and the Lions Gate Bridge. Looking straight down from the point, you'll see the parade of walkers, bikers, and in-line skaters plying the park's prize attraction, the 5.5-mile seawall path that runs along the perimeter.
The entire park can be walked in two and a half hours at a brisk pace, but if you're pressed for time or have little ones in tow, you can also drive through the park and hit some of its high points—like the eight soaring totem poles carved by the Squamish people near Brockton Point. Bring your camera and in the evenings, maybe your earplugs: Nearby is the Nine O' Clock gun, an old English sea cannon placed in the park more than 100 years ago and fired nightly. The most developed area of the park includes the Vancouver Aquarium; the nearby Miniature Train, a delight for kids of all ages; and the Children's Farmyard, a petting zoo with barns full of sheep, goats, and pot-bellied pigs (and one grouchy llama).
In December 2006, hurricane-force storms uprooted and damaged some 10,000 trees in the park. All the roads and hiking trails have been cleared of debris and are again open to the public, along with the seawall. But Stanley Park is so beloved by locals that any change to the natural landscape is an issue of study and contention. Even an offer of a free concert by hometown hero Bryan Adams was turned down, as was a request from Jaguar to use the seawall as a backdrop for the unveiling of its snazzy coupes. That said, numerous annual events are held in Stanley Park; call the Parks and Recreation Board office for information and maps.—Kasey Wilson
See + Do
Yaletown, British Columbia, Canada
This downtown district, once a maze of railyards and dilapidated warehouses, has been getting trendier ever since it was cleaned up for the 1986 World's Fair. These days, swanky residential lofts, chichi boutiques, and upscale restaurants occupy the old buildings. Most of the action is centered on Mainland and Hamilton streets. Be sure to check out Fine Finds, which stocks an eclectic mix of mostly Vancouver- and Canada-made items, like Barefoot Venus bath and body-care products, Matt & Natt and Ga Ya handbags, and fashions by Peel Designs (1014 Mainland St.; 604-669-8325). The Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery is one of the best places to view and buy contemporary First Nations art (1024 Mainland St.; 604-685-9298).
Lift Bar & Grill, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6G 3H5, Canada
Tel: 604 689 5438
Set right on the downtown seawall, super-modern Lift has the best views in the city through its enormous walls of glass (which prop open like French doors in the summer to let in the breeze). Diners near the windows get to look out over Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, and the North Shore mountains; so do those sitting on the fireplace-warmed roof terrace. Once the sun goes down, the backlit bar, softly glowing aquarium, and two flat-screen TVs create a lounge-y backdrop for enjoying the menu of eclectic small plates—they call them "whet plates" here. Options include classic moules frites, panko-crusted calamari, and a trio of wild salmon—gravlax, smoked with blini, and sockeye tartare.
Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 am to midnight, Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to midnight.
See + Do
Granville Island, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Tel: 604 666 5784
Mini-ferries called "aquabuses" take you from one of several downtown stops (including Yaletown at Davie Street and the southern end of Hornby Street) to this happening enclave underneath the Granville Bridge—home to artisans, art galleries, and one of the best daily farmers markets anywhere, the Public Market. The "island" is actually a small peninsula attached to the south shore of False Creek and just a five-minute ferry ride from the Hornby Street stop. You can easily spend an entire morning or afternoon here, munching your way through the market and browsing the fun little shops and galleries in the surrounding maze of streets. Check out the Wood Co-op, with its impressive selection of beautifully crafted wood furniture, art, and housewares (1592 Johnston St.; 604-408-2553). If you have children, hit the Kids Market for two levels of shops selling toys, books, kites, and marionettes (1496 Cartwright St.; 604-689-8447). For a full-size meal, stop in for cedar-planked salmon or sushi at the Sandbar restaurant. In the summer, a visit to the Water Park and adventure playground is a must for parents with young children.