Vancouver is sometimes called the City of Glass, and when wandering around Coal Harbour's residential high-rise condos, it's easy to see how the glinting buildings gave the city this moniker. Vancouver's Coal Harbour is a modern neighborhood that is perfectly situated between Stanley Park, the business district and Gastown/Canada Place, making it a popular place for cruise and city visitors to stay in during their vacation.
Boasting miles of seawall that connects the park to downtown and gives visitors incredible views of the North Shore mountains, Coal Harbour combines nature and modern design to create a welcoming and walkable neighborhood. Here you'll find trendy restaurants, awe-inspiring views, and plenty of nature to enjoy.
Admire the Art at Jack Poole Plaza
The site of the opening ceremony for the 2010 Winter Olympics, Jack Poole Plaza still remains a focal part of Coal Harbour. Home to the Olympic cauldron (which is now lit for special events and celebrations), the plaza is also home to author/artist Douglas Coupland's 'digital orca' sculpture. In front of the orca is a popular place for photographers to get a great view of Burrard Inlet and the North Shore mountains. Jack Poole Plaza also has places to eat on the patio at Cactus Club or Tap & Barrel—look out for the floatplanes as they take off from the nearby terminal.
Visit the Vancouver Convention Centre
Next to Jack Poole Plaza, the Convention Centre is a popular spot to take a stroll on the seawall and visit some of the restaurants, cafes, and bars that are part of the center. Be sure to pop into the lobby hall to see the giant globe hanging from the ceiling and take a look at the grass-covered roof.
Explore Canada Place
Home to the cruise ship terminal and attractions such as FlyOver Canada, Canada Place is the best place to start a city tour. Hop on or off a trolley tour here and explore Coal Harbour and the rest of the city from here or catch a free shuttle bus to Grouse Mountain or Capilano Suspension Bridge. Canada Place is the main location for Canada Day celebrations and can get pretty busy in the peak summertime season, so book FlyOver tickets in advance if you're coming specifically to see that attraction.
Spot the Multiple Art Installations
Public art can be found all over Vancouver, but Coal Harbour's seawall is home to some especially photogenic pieces. LightShed, by Liz Magor, is one of the most striking pieces. The slanted shed on stilts can be found at the bottom of Broughton Street on the seawall by the marina. From a distance, it looks like it's part of the lines of boat sheds on the water but on closer inspection, it's a freestanding artwork that wows visitors as they walk past.
Spend a Day at Stanley Park
Crowning the downtown peninsula, the forested trails, lakes, and attractions of Stanley Park are easily accessed from Coal Harbour. Rent a bike to pedal around the park, take the mini train, or even a horse-drawn carriage to see the sights and experience a slice of nature, only minutes from the high-rise residential buildings of Coal Harbour. Within walking distance of Coal Harbour, Stanley Park deserves a day spent exploring all that it has to offer.
Relax in Harbour Green Park
Coal Harbour's stretch of greenery is a focal point for people to enjoy the outdoors with a dog walk, game of frisbee, or to simply sit and enjoy watching the floatplanes take off with majestic mountain views in the distance. Harbour Green Park, downtown's longest continuous park can be accessed via Bute Street or via the seawall.
During special events, such as the Canada Day fireworks, this park gets pretty packed with people so head there early to get a good spot and enjoy amazing views of the celebrations, with the North Shore mountains and Stanley Park as a spectacular backdrop.
Hit the Water From Coal Harbour Marina
Rent a yacht, or find a friend with one! Coal Harbour Marina is home to houseboats, mega yachts, and smaller watercraft. Most of the marina is closed to the public unless you're on an organized boat tour. Choose from local harbor boat trips or even whale watching in the Strait of Georgia to spot orcas and, possibly, grey whales. With options from slow paddle streamer style trips to dinner cruises or high-velocity Zodiac nature tours, there are all kinds of water-based adventures leaving from Coal Harbour.
Grab a Bite to Eat
Come to Coal Harbour hungry and you'll leave well-fed. Emerging as more of a foodie hub in recent years, the neighborhood is home to eating establishments such as Chef David Hawksworth's Nightingale restaurant and the trendy health food lunch spot, Tractor. You'll also find sublime sandwiches at Meat & Bread and waterside dining options such as the well-loved Cardero's, which is a popular spot for seafood overlooking the marina.
Catch a Flight From Vancouver Harbour Fight Centre Seaplane Terminal
Simply watching the seaplanes come and go is a treat but you can also catch one from Vancouver Harbour Fight Centre Seaplane Terminal and take a flight to Vancouver Island, and the other Gulf Islands. Destinations include Victoria, Nanaimo, Bedwell Harbour, Ganges Harbour, Maple Bay, Sechelt, Comox, Whistler, and even Seattle. Flightseeing tours are also available if you want to get a taste of taking off (and landing) on water, without actually going anywhere.
Near the terminal is the V2V ferry, which takes passengers to Victoria from Vancouver in comfort, with options that include unlimited alcoholic beverages and other amenities during the crossing. Take a day trip to Victoria or stay in BC's capital for a dual city break with Vancouver.
Visit the Vancouver Aquarium
Well-loved by locals and tourists alike, Vancouver Aquarium is full of family-friendly activities, from watching the playful sea lions at the Steller’s Bay exhibit to visiting Penguin Point and the colorful Clownfish Cove. Watch 4-D films that bring the sea life to your seat or head outside to take in a dolphin show as the trainers show off tricks. Look out for the cute sea otters and the mesmerizing jellyfish—the Aquarium is ideal for rainy days as there are many exhibits inside to explore with all the family.