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American Boating Association....


Quite simply, Vancouver is one of North America’s most cosmopolitan cities--and it just happens to be a great boating destination as well! Located in the southwest corner of British Columbia (the westernmost of Canada’s ten provinces), the city of Vancouver is on the western end of a peninsula that is a major extension of the Fraser River’s delta--which juts into the Pacific Ocean and allows easy boating.

Vancouver’s weather is among the mildest in Canada. From spring to fall (the best boating seasons), the days are typically warm and sunny. The U.S. border is just 24 miles south of downtown Vancouver (visit www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca for the relatively simple Canada Border Services Agency boater reporting steps).

Once there, a variety of marinas and boater services make Vancouver very easy for visiting boaters. Popular marinas in and around the city include: Coal Harbour Marina (http://coalharbourmarina.retrix.com); Granville Island’s Pelican Bay Marina (www.globalairphotos.com/pelican_bay_marina); and Sewell’s Marina (www.sewellsmarina.com), which is handy for access to the Gulf Islands and Howe Sound. In addition, the City of Vancouver operates two great municipal marinas: Burrard Bridge Civic Marina and Heather Civic Marina (www.Vancouver.ca/parks/info/marinas/index.htm). Those who’d rather fly in and rent a boat should contact Cooper Boating (www.cooperboating.com).

From the bustling port at Canada Place (mostly used by cruise ships), it’s easy to explore downtown Vancouver’s many attractions by foot. Further afield, varied public transportation makes it easy to take in many other must-sees.

The Tourism Vancouver “Touristinfo Centre” office located just across from Canada Place at the Plaza Level of 200 Burrard Street is a great place to stop for lots of printed information--as well as getting any visiting boater questions answered. From there, it’s just a short stroll to historic Gastown, the birthplace of Vancouver.

Named after a talkative Yorkshire-born saloon owner, John “Gassy Jack” Deighton, Gastown is best known for it’s Steam Clock, which provides a whistle and steam show every 15 minutes (it used to play “Oh Canada,” but no longer does). However, Gastown also features local galleries of native art, photography, and local artisans, Storyeum (“The Theatre Under the Cars” highlights Canada’s west coast history with live theatrical presentations on unique underground stages), and several excellent restaurants.

Next, it’s a short walk to Vancouver’s Chinatown, which is the third largest in North America (behind San Francisco and New York City). Visitors and residents alike head to Chinatown to peer in the steamy windows of won-ton houses or the meat stores hung with displays of crimson Chinese barbecued ducks, as well as exploring the small stalls selling exotic roots, jade, silk, and novelties.

For a break from the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, head for the peaceful Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden at 578 Carrall Street. Built at a cost of more than $5.3 million back in 1986, the garden was the first full-scale classical Chinese garden built outside China. More than 50 skilled artisans came from China with materials and traditional tools to build this retreat in 13 months. A visit to Chinatown also wouldn’t be complete without a traditional lunch or dinner at one of the numerous restaurants Science World British Columbia is nearby, with hands-in exhibits, cyclone chambers, shadow walls, and the Alcan OMNIMAX Theatre among many highlights at the province’s premier science center. From here, it’s easy to board the water taxi for a short ride over to got-to-see Granville Island (the more active can actually walk the boardwalk that connects the Science Center to the popular False Creek waterfront neighborhood of Yaletown, as well as Granville Island).

Famed for the Granville Island Public Market featuring seafood, fresh produce, and much more, Granville Island also offers lots of artist’s studios, craft galleries, other varied shopping, and many interesting restaurants. Those with certain special interests might want to check out the Granville Island Model Ships Museum or the Granville Island Model Trains Museum (both in one location)--plus, Canada’s first microbrewery, Granville Island Brewing.

Heading back across Granville Bridge and along Granville Street, Robson Street is the place to head for some serious shopping, dining, and people-watching. Many locals and visitors call Robson Street “Rodeo Drive North.”

Robson Street leads to sprawling Stanley Park, which Vancouver visitors and locals all love. Highlights of this 1,000-acre forested park have to include: horse-drawn tours; stroll or bike the 6.5-mile Seawall; the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre (Canada’s largest aquarium); the views from Prospect Point; the beaches of English Bay; and the Totem Poles (originally part of a proposed “Indian Village”).

Visiting boaters in search of more area history should head to the interesting Vancouver Museum in Vanier Park, where (in the same building) the H.R. MacMillon Space Centre and the province’s first full-motion space simulator also await futurists. Nearby, the Vancouver Maritime Museum features lots of local seafaring historical exhibits that are definitely appropriate for this boater-friendly city.

For further information, contact Tourism Vancouver, 200 Burrard Street, Suite 210, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6C 3L6; 604-683-2000; or log on to www.tourismvancouver.com. For those who can time their visit, the late-July and early-August Celebration of Light (www.celebration-of-light.com) is a water-based fireworks festival.