A 2012 report of the Economist Intelligence Unit, Vancouver, voted British Columbia as the most expensive city in the North American continent. However, the locals who tighten their belts and other budget travelers can still have a great time in the largest metropolis in western Canada.
Enjoy the Nature for Free
You don’t have to spend any money to enjoy the seawall trail or totem poles in the huge Stanley Park in Vancouver. You should also visit the Lost Lagoon Nature House (admission is free) if you want to experience the diverse flora and fauna of the region. You can also go on bird watching walks in the park, but you may have to donate C$5. In many of these free-entry attractions run by volunteers, donations are generally accepted.
If you are a nature lover, you must check out Chinatown. Whereas you have to pay an admission fee to visit Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Chinatown, the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Park that reflects the same horticulture and located next to it offers free entry. Attractions in Dr Sun Yat-Sen Park include a lily pond with a lot of turtles, neon-bright koi carp as well as buildings that have terracotta tops and framed with green foliage.
Understand Vancouver’s History
If history is what you like best, then you must visit the Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown. It houses the train engine that hauled the first passenger train into Vancouver in 1887 at the Engine 374 Pavilion. There is also the wood-framed building that was built in 1860 and located near Point Grey to house the Hastings Mill Store Museum. This is the oldest surviving structure in Vancouver and it was brought by barge from Gastown during the 1930s. The curios displayed in the museum include the first city council table, salvaged artifacts from the steamship SS Beaver belonging to the Victorian era and such relics as heat-twisted forks and knives from the Great Fire in 1886 that destroyed a major part of the fledgling city.
Other historical attractions that you can visit include the nineteenth century Christ Church Cathedral for its elaborate ceiling and stained glass windows and Jimi Hendrix Shrine on the southern edge of Chinatown. The place where the grandmother of Hendrix cooked and he strummed the guitar houses the Vie’s Chicken and Steak House, a homestyle eatery. Water theme parks are the places that you must visit if you have kids coming with you on the tour.
The activities that you can involve in for free include salsa lessons during the afternoons on Sundays at Robson Square in the downtown area, the 2.9-kilometer Grouse Grind hiking trail (you have to shell out C$10 for the return trip by the gondola) and the city walking tours.
Enjoy the Outdoor Public Art
Vancouver is the place for outdoor public art. The most popular ones being the huge laughing figures near the English Bay shoreline. There are also other galleries that offer free entry such as the Charles H. Scott Gallery in Emily Carr University at Granville Island, Belkin Art Gallery in the University of British Columbia, Vancouver Art Gallery in the downtown area and the freebie gem ‘Ksan Mural, the nine-panel and 36.5 meters long First Nations carving, one the largest aboriginal artworks.