With the Royal Tour of Canada’s official announcement from Kensington Palace, I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce you all to my city – and guess what Kate might do in Vancouver, my hometown. I thought about it both based on her royal life (the engagements and locations she may visit on the Tour) as well as if she was visiting as a private citizen (also known as some of my favourite spots!)
First thing to know about Vancouver is that it’s on the West Coast of Canada. We are right on the Pacific Ocean and have gorgeous beaches, stunning rainforest greenery and majestic mountains. I may sound like a “Visit Vancouver” infomercial, but it’s true! We are consistently amongst the most livable cities in the world lists and the best places to live lists (even by Brits!).
There is a uniquely Vancouver duo of things you can accomplish here in one day. You can, on a few rare days of the year, be lying on a sandy beach getting a suntan in the morning and then be skiing down world-class ski hills in the afternoon. I’m biased, but it’s gorgeous, isn’t it?
Vancouver in September is also a great time to visit. The temperature is an average of 18 degrees Celsius, there is a 56% chance of sunshine and the record high was even 33 degrees Celsius! While we are known for our rain here on the West Coast, September only averages 8.6 days of rain – well below November’s 20.4!
So what might Kate do while she’s in town?
Stanley Park & the Vancouver Aquarium
With the couple eager to explore the outdoors on their trip, a visit to Vancouver’s Stanley Park is likely high on the list. Stanley Park is a 405-hectare (1,001-acre) public park that borders the downtown of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada and is almost entirely surrounded by waters of the Pacific Ocean from the Vancouver Harbour and English Bay. Much of the park remains as densely forested as it was in the late 1800s, with about a half million trees, some of which stand as tall as 76 metres (249 ft) and are up to hundreds of years old.
The park was designated a National Historic Site of Canada by the federal government in 1988. It was deemed significant because the relationship between its “natural environmental and its cultural elements developed over time” and because “it epitomizes the large urban park in Canada. Stanley Park was named the best park in the world in 2013, according to website TripAdvisor’s first ever Travellers’ Choice Awards. Central Park in New York took second place and Colorado’s Garden of the Gods was third place. The Park also features many different attractions, including the world-famous Vancouver Aquarium which houses all kinds of animal life from the West Coast.
While possibly unfeasible for the Cambridges to take Charlotte and George to the very public, always very crowded aquarium (or the miniature railway!), it would be a perfect spot for the couple to experience the scenic beauty of Vancouver whilst on a short day trip to the city.
Granville Island & the Arts Umbrella
Nestled into a tiny peninsula is the ever-popular Granville Island, home to a public market, an extensive marina, Emily Carr University of Art and Design and related arts centres, various performing arts theatres, fine arts galleries, and variety of shopping areas. With Kate’s patronages in the arts and young people, it’s possible she could visit the popular tourist destination and make a visit to the Arts Umbrella – a not-for-profit arts education centre where young people cultivate creativity through Performing and Visual Arts programs.
I have volunteered at the Arts Umbrella myself in the past and it’s a great location where young people are given access to the highest quality arts education that the centre believes is a basic human right, regardless of your experience, education, socio-economic background or ballet slipper size. They have recently expended to three other centres in metro Vancouver, so it’s exciting to see their good work expanding!
Granville Island is a very (very) busy area, but I’m sure accommodations could be made to allow the couple a visit – especially if they were visiting a non-profit such as the Arts Umbrella. Given Kate’s love of the arts and young people, this would be a great tour destination spot.
The North Shore & Capilano Suspension Bridge
If you cross the Lion’s Gate bridge through Stanley Park, you will arrive at the separate cities of North Vancouver and West Vancouver, and their spectacular mountains. Thee southernmost peaks of the mountains are visible from most areas in Vancouver and form a distinctive backdrop for the city. You are never truly “geographically lost” in Vancouver because if you can see the Mountains, you know that you’ve found North!
There are two Provincial Parks in the area, Cypress Provincial Park and Mount Seymour Provincial Park. Both feature downhill ski areas and extensive trail networks. Nearby Grouse Mountain features a downhill ski area and tourist attractions which are accessible by the Skyride, an aerial tramway. The area is also home to my personal “outdoor nemesis”, the Grouse Grind, which is a steep hike up the side of a mountain that is known to be killer! The areas also include the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which allows visitors to walk across some of the forest to get a sense of the majesty that exists below.
It’s not for the faint of heart, but could be a stunning spot for outdoor-loving Will & Kate to get a view of the city and forest that surrounds it. Also a reason for the visit would be William’s emergency training – there is a very busy group of wonderful hard-working people called the North Shore Rescue which provide all kinds of search & rescue functions to the area.
Amanda’s Outdoor Favorites
So what are some of my favorite spots in Vancouver (that with only one day in the city Kate will likely not be able to see)?
The Burrard Inlet
Another spectacular spot for scenery where the Ocean comes in to meet land. A hike can get you to the top of any of the various Mountains surrounding the area to show you views like these (this view is from Burnaby Mountain)
Another of my favorite Vancouver spots right next to a ferry terminal that can take you to various island destinations off the Coast. Here, you can get the most amazing fish & chips caught fresh that very same day and there are some little boat companies which will rent you small boats so you can charter your own trip up and down the coast for the afternoon.
Kitsilano (Kits) Beach
It might be a little cool in late-September, but Kits beach is an extremely popular beach just outside of downtown to relax and get some sun! The beach is also home to the longest swimming pool in Canada, the salt-water outdoor Kitsilano Pool.
Amanda’s Other Must-Sees
One of Vancouver’s most historic neighborhoods, Gastown is now home to trendy bars, restaurants and shops. Be sure to stop by the Steam Clock (which is admittedly just an old clock, but for some reason it’s famous), enjoy the cobblestone streets and be sure to stop in at Kit & Ace, a technical cashmere shop founded by the wife and son of Lululemon founder Chip Wilson.
Vancouver is also home to tons of good shopping. Everything from Canada’s luxury Department store, Holt Renfrew to a standalone Hermès store line our streets. There is now a Ladurée macaron shop as well as flagship stores of two of Vancouver’s most famous and popular brands that were founded here… Lululemon and Artizia.
I can not wait for the Tour to begin so the world can see Vancouver… And I can see Kate!!!