Features

Northern lite

"Northern lite" Continued...

Issue: "Highway 65 hopefuls," April 20, 2002

Vancouver
Don't head back to the States without stopping for several days in Vancouver. The West Coast has its share of beautiful cities-San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, for starters-but Vancouver tops them all. In fact, blessed by stunning geography and dramatic architecture, Vancouver may be the most beautiful city in all of North America. Everyone seems to love this place. Conde Nast Traveler named it one of the 10 best places to visit, Outside magazine called it one of the world's 10 best cities to live in, and the World Council of Cities declared that its quality of life ranked second only to Geneva. Built on a peninsula that juts into the Strait of Georgia, Vancouver is surrounded on three sides by water, with a snow-capped mountain range looming just beyond the harbor. With natural beauty on every side, the whole city seems fresh and clean. (It helps that Canadians keep their cities cleaner than Americans do, anyway.) City planners were careful not to waste Vancouver's natural advantages: Beaches, bike paths, and seawalls seem to be everywhere. The city's premier outdoor space is the 1,000-acre Stanley Park, North America's largest urban park. In it are virgin cedars, several beaches, a swimming pool, an aquarium, a petting zoo, cricket greens, formal gardens, and a miniature railroad. Some families rent bikes in the city's West End, then pedal along the 6.2-mile seawall that encircles the entire park. Other neighborhoods worth checking out include Granville Island (a happy hodge-podge of shops, galleries, restaurants, artists' lofts, along with a train museum), Gastown (the city's oldest neighborhood, with lots of original Victorian buildings), and Yaletown (a hip warehouse district converted to urban lofts, high-end boutiques, and hot restaurants with al fresco dining and great people-watching). Throughout, visitors find world-class shopping at bargain prices.

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