Vancouver is a city of magical contradictions - from rough-and-tumble Hastings Street, where timeworn brickwork still exudes a wild, beer-for-a- dime, seaport, town atmosphere, to trendy Robson Street, with its futuristic Japanese noodle houses and haute couture. You'll find artists' studios, galleries, theatres, nightclubs, and restaurants and in summer, wandering buskers and street performers delight the crowds. The centrepiece and green heart of Vancouver is the 1,000-acre Stanley Park. Gastown is a charming mix of old and new, with cobbled streets, quaint heritage buildings, and the unique Steam Clock that sounds the Westminster chimes every fifteen minutes. Chinatown is rich in culture and history. The sights, sounds, exotic medicines, curious foodstuffs spilling onto the sidewalks, and bright red pagoda-roofed phone booths make Chinatown distinctive. Granville Island, once an industrial wasteland, is a thriving hub for Vancouverites.
Ten minutes east of downtown Vancouver, the bedroom community of Burnaby boasts the largest retail and entertainment complex in British Columbia, where you'll find over 500 stores. A little further east the town of Port Moody, has 27 kilometres (17 miles) of waterfront, where boating and sailing are very much a part of the leisurely lifestyle. Every kind of watercraft or activity is available whether your idea of fun is super-charged water-skiing or just floating around in an inner tube.
Just 12 miles south is the City of Richmond. The unique Richmond Nature Park contains one of the last remnants of Lulu Island's once-extensive bogs. Visitors can pick and choose from the network of trails winding through the bog and shady birch forest, viewing the wonderful variety of birds and wild flowers. Don't miss the annual Cranberry Harvest and Slugfest. New Westminster, southeast of Vancouver is a charming mix of old and new, with a picturesque waterfront and fabulous Victorian architecture. Dubbed the "Royal City" it was founded by the royal engineers and named after Queen Victoria’s favourite neighbourhood.