University of British Columbia (UBC) is the most prestigious university in western Canada. In addition, it's one of the top three universities in the country and placed 37th in the world in the Times Higher Education (UK) 2019 ranking.
Located 20 minutes southeast of downtown Vancouver near the southwestern coast of the city, UBC is also home to several museums, including the UBC Museum of Anthropology and the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, as well as world-famous attractions like the UBC Botanical Garden and the Chan Centre for Performing Arts. Stopping at the UBC campus on any trip to Vancouver is well worth it for the variety of popular activities it offers.
One of Vancouver's top museums, UBC's Museum of Anthropology (MOA) is world-renowned for its collections of First Nations and Coast Salish peoples' arts, sculptures, and historic works, including magnificent large-scale totems. Its most famous artwork is the iconic sculpture "Raven and The First Men" by the B.C. First Nations artist Bill Reid; an image of the sculpture appeared on the back of Canadian $20 bills until 2012.
The UBC Botanical Garden, dating back to 1916, is Canada's oldest such garden located at a university. It comprises multiple gardens and features, including the David C. Lam Asian Garden, BC Rainforest Garden, and the Greenheart TreeWalk eco-adventure.
The highlight is the beautiful 2.5-acre Nitobe Memorial Garden, which is considered one of the "top five" most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan and is one of Vancouver's top gardens.
Well-known for its stellar acoustics and cylindrical design, the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts is one of UBC’s most popular attractions. It's also one of Vancouver’s premier spaces for a wide variety of performances including opera, jazz, world music, theater, and more. The Chan Centre has hosted everyone from Yo-Yo Ma to Renee Fleming to the Kronos Quartet to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The natural history of British Columbia is on display at this hands-on museum with more than 500 exhibits, which opened in 2010. Home to the largest blue whale skeleton in Canada, a display of dinosaur fossils, as well as 2 million biological specimens (including plants, marine life, insects, and fungi), the Beaty Biodiversity Museum is fun and educational for the whole family.
Wreck Beach, one of Vancouver’s top beaches, isn’t on UBC's campus, but its two main entrances (pathways down to the beach from SW Marine Drive) are. Practically next door to the UBC Museum of Anthropology, Wreck Beach is a must-visit that many people call one of their favorite clothing-optional beaches in the world. It's a pristine Pacific Northwest beach reached by a steep short hike, with its own unique vibe: clothing-optional, hippie, isolated, magical, and a bit strange.
Swim at UBC Aquatic Centre
If you are craving a swim to cool off on a hot day, check out the UBC Aquatic Centre's recreational or competition pools. If you wish to warm up during the winter, you'll have a chance to soak in a hot tub, or heat up in a sauna and steam room. An environmentally-sustainable site with full wheelchair access, the modern center also offers food and beverages, a viewing deck, and more.
Each Saturday from early June through the end of November, the UBC Farm on Ross Drive is a lively place to buy prepared foods or baked goods for your day on the town; there is no cost to attend. Also check out the certified organic vegetables and fruits, flowers, coffee, and more, all sold by local vendors as well as artisan crafts that would make a great souvenir. The whole family can enjoy walking around and hearing live music or going on a free farm tour. It's the only market in Vancouver where produce is harvested fresh from the working farm the morning of the market.
At UBC, sexual orientation and gender identity diversity are honored. This is evident in the Pride events like summer public exhibitions that share history through books and archival materials and the opportunity to march at the early August Pride Parade Downtown in celebration of UBC students and the community. There is also an early September Pride celebration on the campus. Interested visitors can check in with the UBC’s Equity & Inclusion Office.