Sometimes traveling feels more like work than relaxation. Going to an exotic locale halfway around the world looks like fun when I'm at home watching the Travel Channel. In reality, when I journey thousand of miles from home (and have to pack for strange weather, schlep around my baggage, navigate the airport, switch time zones and pay huge amounts of money for the pleasure) I feel more like I'm a contestant on the Survivor T.V. show. It's so stressful that I want to be voted off my own vacation!
In contrast, I recently traveled to Vancouver, B.C. and I returned feeling rested and relaxed. The weather is similar to Seattle, they speak my language (with an occasional Canadian "eh" for good measure!) and I didn't have to worry about jetlag. It’s a relatively short drive from Seattle (about 3 hours) and the directions are easy – find I-5 north and drive straight. Granted, you have to have the necessary travel documents to cross the border, (check cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/ for details), but it's relatively quick if you avoid peak hours (we went through in 20 minutes). Even better, you can bring a Costco-sized bottle of shampoo in your “carry-on” luggage!
Vancouver, B.C. has a ton of fun, summer activities and now is a great time to go. I packed a lot into four days and still didn’t get to see everything that I wanted. For starters, though, here are a few recommendations to check out! Note: Check tourismvancouver.com for fantastic hotel deals. From now until September, if you stay two nights, you get the third night free at select hotels!
Vancouver Art Gallery
The Vancouver Art Gallery is in the middle of the downtown core making it within walking distance from most hotels. The Gallery’s current exhibit is yet another coup. Vancouver is the only international presenter of Vermeer, Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art which showcases 17th century works (paintings, pottery and rugs) from the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam. Visitors may be most familiar with Rembrandt, but Johannes Vermeer’s works are arguably the ones to see. Vancouver’s show marks the first time in decades that any of Vermeer’s works have been shown in the area. Catch it before it closes September 13.
Museum of Anthropology
I was impressed by how Vancouver’s native, aboriginal cultures are integrated into the city’s identity. The Museum of Anthropology is entirely dedicated to the subject. It is located on the University of British Columbia campus which is about a 20-minute drive from downtown. The permanent exhibits include an entire hall of totem poles, canoes and various other carvings. One of the most outstanding pieces is a modern sculpture, Raven and the First Men, by renowned Vancouver artist Bill Reid. It sits in a lighted rotunda commanding your attention and imagination.
UBC Rose Garden
If you make the trek to the Museum of Anthropology, also make time to wander the University of British Columbia Rose Garden. It is located across the street from the museum and above the parking garage where you will most likely park. It is extensively manicured and landscaped with a beautiful view of the waters surrounding the area. It is currently in full bloom and perfect for a Kodak moment as well as being free!