VANCOUVER (Reuters Life!) - You watched the Winter Olympics and Paralympics on television and are curious about the host city Vancouver.
If backdrop scenes you saw during the Games already looked familiar, that’s because Vancouver is North America’s third largest film production center, nicknamed “Hollywood North.”
Not too cold in the winter. Not too hot in the summer. Always wise to keep an eye out for rain.
Got some time to spare and want to check out the city on Canada’s Pacific coast? Reuters correspondents with local knowledge have some tips for a 48-hour visit:
6:30 p.m. - On arrival at the Vancouver International airport, or “YVR” as most people call it, you should take a moment to glance at the artwork. Bill Reid’s sculpture The Jade Canoe shows why the late Haida artist’s works are so cherished.
Head into the city on the Canada Line. The rapid transit opened just before the Winter Games and got positive reviews for handling the Olympic-sized crowds.
8 p.m. - Plenty of options for dinner in Vancouver. Two places that got good marks from visiting Olympic correspondents were Joe Fortes Seafood and Chophouse, which has a regional flare, and the Joey’s Restaurant in the Bentall One Center. They are both close to the Robson Street retail area if you need to walk the calories off. Grab a copy of the Georgia Straight newspaper to see what music acts are rolling into town. Shows at the Commodore Ballroom are always fun.
9 a.m. - After breakfast at your hotel, head to the waterfront and the Olympic cauldron. The nearly 10-meter high structure looks all the more dramatic in person with the water and North Shore mountains as a backdrop. The building next to it housed international broadcasters during the Games.
10 a.m. - Wander over to Stanley Park, which you can see from the cauldron. It’s one of the largest urban parks in North America. It’s got woodlands, gardens and totem poles and even an aquarium. Walk or bike the seawall which circumnavigates the park with views of Burrard inlet that you cannot get from any car. Give yourself two hours if you are going to walk all the way around.
Noon - Grab some lunch in the park or in the nearby West End neighborhood. Two suggestions; The Fish House in Stanley Park or the Teahouse restaurant, which looks out over English Bay. 1:30 p.m. - Back to the Games theme and a visit to the site of the athlete village. Greenpeace started in Vancouver and environmental protection was an Olympic theme. The athletes housing has won awards for its green technology. That silver dome building a stone’s throw away is the Science World museum. It was “Sochi House” during the Games. Sochi, Russia, hosts the 2014 Olympics.
2:30 p.m. - Check out some of the competition venues. Curling was at the Vancouver Olympic Center, a short walk from the Canada Line’s King Edward Station. Long-track skating was out at the suburban Richmond Skating Oval.
4:30 p.m. - Visit Granville Island with its small stores, galleries, marinas and a public market in central Vancouver. The railway tracks in the street are a clue to its former industrial life. There’s that seawall again. Head west just a bit to Vanier Park, which has a variety of summer events on the beach. A fun way to get back to downtown is riding across the water one of the small False Creek ferries.
7 p.m. - Steamworks Brewing Co. on the waterfront became a popular spot for Olympic reporters. It’s on the edge of the Gastown district and a plethora of food and beverage choices. Planning inspiration can also be found at The Irish Heather GastroPub and it’s Shebeen Whiskey House. The downtown Railway Club is good for a pint of beer and tunes on the more informal side.
For those who still have some energy after dinner and a day of walking, slip into a lounge at one of the trendy hotels to see which entertainment celebrities are in town ... or pretend you are one.
8 a.m. - Alpine skiing, sliding and Nordic competitions took place in the mountain resort village of Whistler. It’s about a two hour drive from Vancouver on the scenic Sea to Sky highway, so you will want to get an early start if you want to see those venues.
9 a.m. - If you want to stay closer to Vancouver head to the Cypress Mountain venue used for freestyle skiing and snowboarding. It is about a 20 minute drive from downtown and one of three north shore ski facilities with summer hiking options. Also popular in that area are the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain Skyride. No car? Cross the harbor to the north shore on the SeaBus ferry.
Remember you are on the edge of a wilderness area, so if you do go hiking keep an eye open for bears and stay on the trails so you don’t get lost.
12:30 p.m. - Vancouver has deep links to Asia and the downtown Chinatown market area traces its roots to Vancouver’s role as a railway hub in the late 1800s. It is also home to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden.
2:30 p.m. - Archeological evidence indicates people have lived in the area since 500 BC. Local “First Nations” were also co-hosts of the Olympics. That’s reason enough to visit the Museum of Anthropology, an architecturally stunning facility at the University of British Columbia.
4 p.m. If you are heading back to the airport see if you can avoid the airport check-in lines by checking in at terminals set at Canada line stations. Traveling by rail? Amtrak is keeping the second train it added for the Olympics.
Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith