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Two full days in Vancouver

Jervis Bay...
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Two full days in Vancouver
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Hi

We are in Vancouver for 2 full days. I have narrowed it down to 15 things I want to see so I have to cut the list. We will see the Butchart Gardens when we go to Victoria. With this in mind are Dr Sun Yat Sen Gardens the best gardens in Vancouver?

I definitely want to go to Capilano Suspension Bridge and Lynne Canyon (I think), Stanley Park, Dr Sun Yat Sen Gardens and Gastown. Can we fit more in to two days?

It looks like we will have to miss Van Dusen Botanical Garden, Queen Elizabeth park, Gulf of Georgia Cannery, the Art Gallery, China town, the Aquarium, Granville Island and Grouse Mountain. Do you think we are picking the best things to see?

Port Moody, Canada
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for Vancouver, British Columbia
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1. Re: Two full days in Vancouver
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Actually no I think you are missing much of " the best" . While it's subjective I would do 2 full days like this..

Day 1 up early and off to Stanley Park. Either rent bikes for a few hours or walk the perimeter(2-3 hours in the park)

Continue on seawall along English Bay to the Aquatic center Aquabus stop and take the water taxi across False Creek to Granville Island. Have lunch and spend at least 3 hours exporing the artists studios, breweries, market etc.

Catch a cab from the market on GI and go to Van Dusen Gardens...( open till 9 pm in the summer) spend a leisurely 2 hours strolling through and sitting in these wonderful gardens. A gardener's garden with a huge variety of plantings and mini landscapes.

Next cab a short ride to Queen Elizabeth Park. Stunning in the evening. Make a reservation and have dinner in Seasons in the Park and enjoy the evening light.

You then walk down through the park over to Cambie St to catch Canada Line back downtown to your hotel.

Day 2 early start again..seabus over to Lonsdale quay then bus to Grouse..spend up to 3 hours here. Now down to Capilano Canyon ( not my pick I'd do Lynn Canyon instead but depends on personal style) ..whichever you choose you should be back at Lonsdale Quay by about 3 pm..take seabus to Waterfront then wander over through Gastown ( imo 1/2 max needed) then head to Sun Yat Sen gardens. You'll be done by 5 leaving the evening for another stroll along the seawall..maybe Olympic Village side or a watertaxi tour of False Creek. If you happen to be here on a Tuesday you could do the Art Gallery that night.

If it's cloudy skip Grouse. I've suggested cabs for time saving and ease but transit is doable for all...just an idea of a 2 day itin.

.

Gibsons, Canada
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2. Re: Two full days in Vancouver
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I completely agree with traveller47.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens are not, in my opinion, the best gardens in Vancouver, but again, this is very subjective. They're a very tiny, authentic, classical Chinese garden... if that's what you're seeking, great! They're also in Chinatown, which I also argue is no longer one of Vancouver's must-sees, but Chinatown is merely steps away from Gastown, so it's all very close. Note that you must pay admission to see the real Dr Sun Yat-Sen Gardens. There is what people call the "free" area - but this isn't a part of the garden, but was formerly an empty city lot that the City of Vancouver built to mirror the style of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen... and while it looks classical and Chinese, it's not authentic. Many people stroll into that "free" area thinking they've seen the real gardens... so just be aware of that distinction. :)

I'd also say that VanDusen Botanical Garden would be a better experience if you want to spend hours exploring acres and acres of lush gardens. Read up the TripAdvisor reviews. Note that Butchart Gardens are a show garden which emphasizes flowers in bloom, whereas VanDusen is a botanical garden, with every plant labelled, and the plants/trees aren't necessary there to impress you with their blooms. As a nature lover, I absolutely love VanDusen, and based off the TripAdvisor reviews, it seems as though tourists are finally starting to discover and appreciate this Vancouver gem.

Queen Elizabeth Park is on Vancouver's tallest hill and provides a spectacular view. I find the garden is really nice there - it's a city park built out of a former rock quarry. It's a nice place to go for a stroll and admire the views.

Gastown, by the way, is a very small area. Lots of great restaurants, coffee shops, and classic cocktail bars. For shopping, it's a blend of touristy souvenir shops, locally-designed clothing boutiques, modern home decor shops. Unless you're going to eat or drink there, you're probably not going to spend a whole lot of time there.

Edited: 6 years ago
Vancouver-by-the-Sea
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3. Re: Two full days in Vancouver
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" A gardener's garden with a huge variety of plantings and mini landscapes."

Indeed!

Vancouver, Canada
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Funny the different points of view. Van Dusen to me is a scientist's garden. It doesn't WOW me nearly as much as either Nitobe Gardens or QE Park. QE Gardens is a delight of colour and interest, IMO. BTW, the quarry cultivated garden area of QE Park takes up maybe 1/5 of the whole park which includes a ring road and a duck pond at a point on that road.

Edited: 6 years ago
Port Moody, Canada
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5. Re: Two full days in Vancouver
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IMO Nitobe is the best garden in Vancouver but it is very specifically oriented to texture and form rather than colour. ( unless you can visit during cherry blossom season)

Queen E Gardens are always a delight with the cascade of colour and often many brides being photographed to set off the lush plantings.

The Sun Yat Sen "inside pay to see part" again is a very specific garden type and while very interesting has a re;liane again on form and texture rather than colour.

The UBC Botanical gardens get overlooked but the two differing parts have a wealth of plants and information for both visual enjoyment and gardeners interested in unique plants. The Rhodo garden in the spring is an amazing sight.

The small Rose Garden in Stanley park makes for a nice evening stroll.

Finally Van Dusen..while the plant labelling may be "scientific", the water gardens, the "field" and the maze were always a fun part for our family..my DD and her friends especially enjoyed the maze even into their early teens LOL...

I'd pick any of our local gardens over Butchart's..even though Butchart's has the "show factor" and they do a great job I always have a sense of it being an artificial construct..whereas Nitobe seems to be "meant to be where it is". just my view as a garden maintainer ( i.e. I weed lol) DH is the "gardener"...have also visited many gardens all over the world and think Vancouver does us proud with our selection.

Jervis Bay...
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6. Re: Two full days in Vancouver
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Thank you very much everyone. I guess I haven't picked the best of the best! I will reorganise my plans and try and fit in your advice, even though some of it is conflicting : )

We spent a whole day in Kew Gardens, London and it would be the first place we'd return to if we go to London again. I'd love to do all the gardens, but think I get the idea of the differences from your descriptions.

I have read other reviews and don't think Granville Island would really suit us. I think we'd prefer riding around Stanley Park.

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Two full days in Vancouver
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It's your holiday. The "best" will be what appeals to you so go with your gut. We sometimes go a bit overboard on our points of view.

But, hahaha, you started it by using the dreaded "best" word. :-))

Using your choices, I would do Stanley Park 4-5 hours, Granville Island 2 hours, Sun-Yat Sen Gardens 1 hour, and Gastown, where you can snoop for an hour and then have a meal in one of the numerous Gastown eateries. One day, a flexible guideline of 8 am to 4 pm, followed by Gastown and a meal.

Second day: Lynn Canyon Park in daylight 2-3 hours, taxi 20 min to Grouse Mtn (no car, right?) for 3-4 hours. Take the free shuttle down to Capilano Suspension Bridge 2 hours. Read the Top Question about getting to these 3 attractions. Cap or Grouse first? Check Cap's closing hour and check the entertainment show times up Grouse to see how to arrange.

And, if Grouse is covered in cloud/low ceiling/rain, consider spending the expensive gondola ride up on something else. Go to Lynn and Cap in a half day and choose one of your other selections. Getting to Steveston and the Gulf Cannery, from Cap or Grouse would take approx 2 hours. Then an hour back to the city after. I think the Cannery closes at 5 and you'd need at least 1.5 hours inside. One of your other selections would be more practical.

The Van Art Gallery is open to 9 on Tuesday nights and charges a flat half price admission after 5 pm.

Now you have two full days.

Greater Sydney...
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8. Re: Two full days in Vancouver
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"I would do .......Granville Island 2 hours ...."

Does not quite go with:

"don't think Granville Island would really suit us"

aag, I got no enjoyment from Granville Island.

Vancouver, Canada
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The Art Gallery could easily take the place of GI.

Vancouver, Canada
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Well that's interesting. I don't think I've ever spoken to anyone who didn't enjoy a couple of hours in the sun on Granville Island. I think its important to get beyond the market to appreciate it, but if you aren't into shopping, then neither GI nor Gastown will appeal much.

If you enjoy Kew (and I did as well), then you will like Van Deusen, and I would also mention the little Bloedel Conservatory in QE Park. I thought SYS was charming and I really enjoyed our visit there as well. Each of these spots is quite different, so I find it difficult to recommend one over the other. SYS is very small and it won't take long to go around and see it, less than an hour, where VanD is huge and takes hours to go around.

Good news is that you don't have to prebook any of these, so you can sort of go with the flow for the day.

As far as the north shore goes, I think that there is a lot of awareness about the paid Capilano Suspension Bridge attraction, but less awareness of the Capilano River Park that surrounds it. The park is free, and I like it every bit as much as Lynn Canyon. The one thing it doesn't have is a suspension bridge - the bridges in over the canyon in the park are fixed, but still provide fabulous views from a height over the canyon (the pipeline bridge is the best one). Its such a gorgeous park that its well worth some time to walk the trails.

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