More attractions in Vancouver, Canada.
Vancouver Police Museum
Illuminating the crime-and-vice-addled history of the region, this quirky museum is lined with confiscated weapons and counterfeit currency. It also has a former mortuary room where the walls are studded with preserved slivers of human tissue – spot the bullet-damaged brain slices. Consider adding a walking tour ($20) to learn all about the area’s salacious olden days. And buy a toe-tag T-shirt in the gift shop.
One of Vancouver’s hidden-gem museums, it has plenty of exhibits and grainy photos covering a time when the city was rougher than a 1950s X-rated film-noir movie. Speaking of which, it also screens apposite films once a month in the morgue between September and May, often including shockers such as Psycho, Silence of the Lambs and those later George Lucas Star Wars debacles (just kidding).
Engine 374 Pavilion
May 23, 1887, was an auspicious date for Vancouver. That’s when Engine 374 pulled the very first transcontinental passenger train into the fledgling city, symbolically linking the country and kick-starting the eventual metropolis. Retired in 1945, the engine was, after many years of neglect, restored and placed in this splendid pavilion. The friendly volunteers here will show you the best angle for snapping the perfect photo of the engine.
Administered by the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish (a good excursion for rail buffs), the engine is kept in sparkling condition and is occasionally wheeled out onto the outside turntable, part of the beautifully restored heritage roundhouse building that recalls Yaletown’s gritty rail history. Here around May 23? Check ahead for the Sunday anniversary that always includes free cake.
UBC Botanical Garden
You’ll find a giant collection of rhododendrons, a fascinating apothecary plot and a winter green space of off-season bloomers in this 28-hectare complex of themed gardens. Save time for the attraction’s Greenheart TreeWalk, which lifts visitors 17m above the forest floor on a 308m guided ecotour. A combined botanical garden and walkway ticket costs $20.
Check the garden’s website calendar before your visit: free tours are available on selected days and they provide a great introduction to the various garden areas. And make sure you drop into the gift shop before you leave, for its well-curated collection of green-thumbed books and trinkets. Here in October? The annual UBC Apple Fest is also staged right here; it’s the highlight of the year for the kind of locals and visitors who love Cox’s Orange Pippins.
English Bay Beach
Wandering south on Denman St, you’ll spot a clutch of palm trees ahead announcing one of Canada’s best urban beaches. Then you’ll see Vancouver’s most popular public artwork: a series of oversized laughing figures that makes everyone smile. There’s a party atmosphere here in summer as locals catch rays and panoramic ocean views…or just ogle the volleyballers prancing around on the sand.
Be sure to snap a few photos of the beach’s towering inukshuk (Inuit sculpture), south of the main area, or just continue along the seawall into neighboring Stanley Park. The beach is a popular (but crowded) spot to catch the annual Celebration of Light fireworks festival, and it’s also where the city’s annual, wildly popular Polar Bear Swim takes place on January 1.
Roedde House Museum
For a glimpse of what the West End looked like before the apartment blocks arrived, drop by this handsome 1893 Queen Anne–style mansion, now a lovingly preserved museum. Designed by infamous British Columbia architect Francis Rattenbury, the house is packed with antiques and the garden is planted in period style. Admission comes with a guided tour, while Sunday entry includes tour, tea and cookies for just $8.
The abode is the showpiece of Barclay Heritage Sq, a one-block site containing nine historic West End houses dating from 1890 to 1908. If you don a top hat, monocle and waxed mustache, you’ll fit right in. Pick up a free map covering the square’s history highlights from Roedde House. Check the online events calendar for regular live music concerts here.
Facing English Bay, Kits Beach is one of Vancouver’s favorite summertime hangouts. The wide, sandy expanse attracts buff Frisbee tossers and giggling volleyball players, and those who just like to preen while catching the rays. The ocean is fine for a dip, though serious swimmers should consider the heated Kitsilano Pool, one of the world’s largest outdoor saltwater pools.
Perch on a log on a summer afternoon and catch the breathtaking view here: one of Vancouver’s signature panoramas. You’ll be treated to shimmering seafront backed by the twinkling glass towers of downtown and the North Shore mountains beyond. It’s one of those vistas that will have you considering your emigration options.
To be continued…
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