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Recreation & Entertainment
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British Columbia boasts numerous recreational opportunities for both outdoor adventures and more cosmopolitan pursuits.
Vancouver prides itself as one of the top cities in the world in which to live and play. The city sits in splendour between ocean, forests, and snow-capped mountains. It boasts many neighborhoods with rich histories and ethnic diversities. Vancouver’s Stanley Park is an incredible attraction for all ages, with over 400 acres (1.62 square kilometres or 162 hectares) of forest, beaches and rocky shores; splendid gardens; wildlife viewing; a Children’s Farmyard, and the Stanley Park Miniature Railway. Other notable gardens within the city include the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden; Queen Elizabeth Park; and VanDusen Botanical Garden.
Vancouver boasts a wealth of cultural attractions. Among the larger theatres are the Centre for Performing Arts and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The Orpheum Theatre is the permanent home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, which performs 140 concerts per season.
Numerous museums reside in Vancouver. Among these, the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia showcases incredible collections of ethnographic materials from around the world. Most notably, this Museum houses a vast, permanent exhibit dedicated to the First Nations of coastal British Columbia. The Vancouver Maritime Museum provides adults and children alike with insight into Pacific Canada’s maritime history and culture. Visual art aficionados will appreciate the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Vancouver also boasts attractions for science and nature lovers of any age. The Greater Vancouver Zoo and Science World at TELUS World of Science offer educational experiences and exhibits for science lovers.
The provincial capital city Victoria offers a different flavor from Vancouver. Located on Vancouver Island, Victoria possesses an Old World feel with its splendid harbour and stately architecture. Worthy attractions include the Edwardian-style Craigdarroch Castle, the Royal BC Museum, the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, and the world-famous Butchart Gardens.
Other Vancouver Island attractions include Tofino, a nature lover’s gateway to temperate rain forests, lakes, and even surfing, located in Clayoquot Sound. The Island is also home to the Pacific Rim National Park Preserve, which showcases and protects the beautiful ecosystem of the Pacific Coast Mountain region, both in forests and shoreline. The city of Nanaimo, on the eastern side of Vancouver Island, is a pleasant harbour offering excellent diving, wildlife viewing, and many activities within the city.
The Gulf Islands rest in the Strait of Georgia, between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia. This idyllic archipelago consists of over a dozen large and countless small islands, and enjoys a Mediterranean climate and relaxed atmosphere. Perhaps most famous is Salt Spring Island, with its arts community, villages, and farms. The new Gulf Islands National Park Preserve ensures the unique setting of the islands will be protected for future generations to enjoy.
The Pacific Province enjoys over 440 provincial parks, 141 ecological reserves, four National Parks and three National Park Preserves, and six National Historic sites. The National Parks and Preserves include the aforementioned Pacific Rim National Park Preserve and Gulf Islands National Park Preserve; Glacier National Park; Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site; Kootenay National Park; Mount Revelstoke National Park; and Yoho National Park. Provincial parks are operated by BC Parks; gems among these include Canada’s only grizzly bear sanctuary at Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, the World Heritage Site of Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park (shared with parks in Alaska and the Yukon, it forms the world’s largest international World Heritage Site), and British Columbia’s first provincial park, Strathcona Provincial Park where one of the highest waterfalls in the world, Della Falls, can be found.
With the Pacific Ocean as its western border, many lakes and rivers throughout the province, and vast mountain ranges, British Columbia offers a recreational paradise for outdoor activities. Kayakers can enjoy traversing the fjords of the coast; hikers will rejoice in the many trails in various ecosystems; sailing and cruising can be enjoyed in the harbors, straits, and passages. The Pacific Province also boasts a thriving winter sports industry. Acclaimed ski resorts include the world-famous Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort; Sun Peaks Resort; Cypress Mountain, close to Vancouver; Powder Springs Resort in Revelstoke; Kicking Horse Mountain Resort; and numerous other resorts.
Sports fans in British Columbia revel in its teams. Hockey teams include the National Hockey League Vancouver Canucks and the Western Hockey League team, the Vancouver Giants. The province is represented in the Canadian Football League by the British Columbia Lions. Baseball fans can cheer the Northwest League team, the Vancouver Canadians; soccer fans can rally behind the Whitecaps FC for both women and men’s soccer. Vancouver will host the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
With its fantastic natural scenery and varied topography, its comparatively mild climate, and its world-renowned cities, the Pacific Province has something to please everyone.