Retire in VancouverThe only company to survive the industrial era of Granville Island is Ocean Concrete. In keeping with the ethos of Granville Island, and indeed of Vancouver itself, it is wholly environmentally clean. It’s also surprisingly and wonderfully attractive. A concrete plant attractive? Yes indeed. Recently Brazilian twins Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo were commissioned to paint the six massive grey concrete silos, with a delightful and whimsical result.

At twenty-two kilometers in length Vancouver can boast the longest uninterrupted walkway in the world. It begins downtown at Canada Place, goes west and around the entire Stanley Park peninsula, along past English Bay, up one side of False Creek and down the other, around Vanier Park, and finally ends at Kitsilano Beach. Water views all the way around. Any part of it is worth exploring.

All along the path from Cambie Bridge to Granville Island are parks and gardens. In one of the parks there are three enormous shiny jellybeans. One is red, one yellow, one black. Modern sculpture. From a distance I find them ugly: big, uncompromising, jarring in the natural environment. But up close they’re pretty cool, and kids love playing with them.

Retire in VancouverApproximately nine kilometers of this walkway is the seawall around Stanley Park, one of the most popular places in the city for walking, cycling and rollerblading. Within the boundary of the seawall lies the park itself, a little over one thousand acres at the end of the downtown peninsula, and one of the largest urban parks in North America. Included in the park are an aquarium, three beaches, tennis courts, a pitch-and-putt, picnic areas, a swimming pool and water park, a miniature train, the lily-covered Beaver Lake, and the water bird sanctuary of Lost Lagoon. But the park is really about the forest, which covers virtually all of the area. There are twenty-seven kilometers of trails through the forest patrolled by police on horseback. It is home to skunks, coyotes, beavers, raccoons, squirrels, many species of birds including a large Great Blue Heron colony, and scattered throughout the dense forest approximately twenty homeless people who are quietly left alone. The skunks, coyotes, raccoons and squirrels regularly make forays into the heavily populated West End that borders on the park looking for food in the back alley dumpsters.

Retire in VancouverIn 2014 TripAdvisor named Stanley Park the top park in the entire world.

Burnaby Lake Regional Park includes a rowing course, an equestrian centre, picnic areas, and a sports field. There are over 10 kilometers of hiking trails and the biggest lake in the Lower Mainland, which attracts large numbers of birds.

Vancouver’s Beaches: At Spanish Banks during the time of the full moon the tide goes way way out and you can walk for miles. Kitsilano Beach is for the party crowd. Jericho is for family barbeque time. There’s also English Bay, plus First, Second and Third Beaches in the West End, and more beaches across the water in North Vancouver and West Vancouver.

Queen Elizabeth Park contains two beautiful flower gardens painstakingly and lovingly created from quarries, a duck pond, forested areas, sweeping green lawns for picnicking, cascading fountains, a restaurant, tennis courts, and the Bloedel Conservatory, home to numerous species of colourful exotic birds and plants.

The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia houses one of the finest collections in the world of cultural artifacts from indigenous communities, with an emphasis on west coast First Nations societies.

Retire in VancouverScience World, is a hands-on interactive science museum for kids that’s just as much fun for adults. It’s the perfect family outing, especially if the weather isn’t co-operating.

Finally no visit to Vancouver would be complete without a ride on the gondola up Grouse Mountain for spectacular views of the whole west coast area. You can also take the elevator to the top of the Eye of The Wind, a wind turbine tower that rises 57 meters above the peak of the mountain, for even better views.

I haven’t yet mentioned the Vancouver Art Gallery, the forested Pacific Spirit Regional Park, the charming fishing village of Steveston or the pedestrian friendly waterfront at New Westminster. On the north shore is Lonsdale Quay, Ambleside, Lighthouse Park, Capilano Canyon, Lynn Canyon, and Deep Cove. All are worth visiting, especially if you love the outdoors. Greater Vancouver presents a cornucopia of natural outdoor settings coupled with a cosmopolitan urban sensibility.

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